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600+ new apartments around Capitol Hill this year, even more ready in 2016

(Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

(Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 4.40.55 PM

Seattle in Progress and more than 90 either planned or permitted (below)

Seattle in Progress shows 23 projects completed around Capitol Hill in the past year (top) and more than 90 either planned or permitted (below)

Greater Capitol Hill will be home to at least 600 new apartment units in 2015 as the most recent wave of ongoing construction projects finally finish up. A recent report from Dupre+Scott Apartment Advisors projects 729 new units will open in 2016 and 707 in 2017.

In all likelihood, the true number will be even higher as the Dupre+Scott report doesn’t count microhousing, subsidized/nonprofit housing, or buildings that have under 20 units.

Last year, the real estate analysts counted 778 new units in the Capitol Hill region, which includes Eastlake and First Hill. Across the Puget Sound, a record total of 12,000 apartments are expected to open this year, Scott said. Some 48,000 apartments are expected to open in the region by 2019.

So can all this new supply keep up with demand and put the brakes on climbing rents?Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 9.18.59 AM

“Who knows,” Mike Scott says in the report. “In the past five years new demand averaged just over 6,000 units a year. That won’t work.”

So far, demand seems insatiable. Vacancy rates in the region are still declining to historical lows and the flood of new units already online haven’t yet translated into overall cheaper rents.

Rents in the region rose 7.4% in the last year, though that appears to finally be slowing down, according to Scott.

The new wave of openings across Capitol Hill probably won’t be of immediate help. The Beryl Apartments slated to open at 12th and Pike are advertising 580-square-feet, one-bedroom units starting at $1,300. Around the corner at 10th and Union, the gargantuan Broadstone Infinity building with its larger units is advertising one-bedroom apartments around 900 square-feet for around $2,200 a month. Its smaller one-bedroom units are  listed for $1,850.

Dupre+Scott found that average one-bedroom rents on Capitol Hill and the Central Area were currently around $1,425 to $1,533, as detailed by the Seattle Times.

Last year, Seattle had the fastest rising rents among major U.S. cities and rents on Capitol Hill were rising even faster. CHS reported that average rent in the neighborhood had reached $1,557, a 12% increase in just one year.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray’s affordability task force is trying to work out how to build 20,000 more affordable units in the next decade. City Council member Kshama Sawant is also making affordable housing one of her key issues heading into this year’s race to represent District 3.

Later this month an Affordable Housing Town Hall will be held at City Hall.

By May, the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee has been tasked with delivering recommendations on how best to make it easier for people to continue calling Seattle home.

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22 thoughts on “600+ new apartments around Capitol Hill this year, even more ready in 2016

  1. Who can afford those rents? No wonder the 15 an hour wage increase. Seattle is turning into a version of San Francisco pushing out the low wage earners and the poor have not a chance. I live 40 minutes from Seattle and my rent on my one bedroom apartment including garbage and water is 660.00.

    • Exactly, you live 40 minutes from Seattle, so the reality is, you don’t live in Seattle. I live on the hill, I work downtown. However, if I lived 40 minutes from Seattle there are a few factors you have to plug in. Commute. Do I want to sit in traffic for over an hour each way, every single day? My time is worth more than that, as it stands now, I walk to work in 8 minutes. Do I want to buy a car? Payment, gas, insurance, maintenance are going to be a minimum of about $450 a month. That alone almost puts your 660 in rent + 450 for a car I’d have to buy, in line with the rent I pay on the hill. It’s just not worth it when overall I’d maybe save $200 a month total by moving out where you are. My time, my lifestyle, my friends, my freedom is more valuable to me than finding the cheapest rent possible in the suburbs.

      • Its a false comparison. I work a professional office job at an advanced pay level and can’t afford to live on Capitol Hill unless all I wanted in life was to live on Capital Hill, go to bars on the weekend, and do little else. Many of us aspire to greater things and to have resources to do them. As well, a functional city REQUIRES work and a job structure with numerous layers. There is no diversity of useful services on Capitol Hill. There are two colleges on Capitol Hill and what student affordable housing there ever was is vanishing. The 600 units mentioned in the article are useless to most people and saying that residing in a city neighborhood where you don’t NEED a car justifies the rents we are discussing here is a weak defense of the development model we are seeing here. .

      • Its a valid comparison indeed. But people choose different lifestyles. If I had to live in Lynnwood, drive to strip malls, drive do my friends and my dining options were limited to the likes of Applebees I’d go insane.

        Many of us choose to live on Capitol Hill, not because we’re partiers (most of the partiers travel in from the likes of Lynnwood) but because we like an active, outdoor lifestyle with close proximity to jobs, friends, diversity (not cookie cutter chain retailers) and the ability to leave our cars at home (or not drive them daily). These are the reasons Capitol Hill is popular and 600 apartments coming online this year is not enough to support the demand. Not to mention the lack of available homes for purchase – something that the hill is in dire need of.

      • Seriously? I live in Cap Hill and I don’t go to bars and if I want to go to a top-tier university (UW), I hop on the 43 or the 49 and I’m there in 15 minutes.

        If you’re at an “advanced pay scale” and can’t afford one of the numerous $1100/month studio or 1BR apartments (or $800/month to share a 2BR), well, you’re not.

        Seriously, Seattle is not expensive. Go spend a week in the Bay Area if you want to know what expensive looks like.
        Otherwise, really not sure what your point is.

      • I live in/on Capitol Hill but I don’t work anywhere near home. I do just fine drinking my remaining funds away paycheck to paycheck….

      • How lucky you are to be able to afford an apartment in capitol hill. I would like to live on the hill because then I too could have a shorter commute to work and closer access to coffee shops, bars, theaters, etc. As a recent college graduate (who is not working in the tech sector), I am struggling to pay rent in this city. Several of my friends who go to SU commute from Beacon Hill, Columbia City, etc because they can’t afford to pay rent in the neighborhood where they go to school. I imagine the same problem exists for SCC students and minimum wage workers at the bars and restaurants where you and everyone else who lives on the hill can go out with your friends. Where are us entry-level twenty-somethings supposed to live in this city? Too broke to buy a car and get cheap rent in the suburbs, and too broke to live in the neighborhood which used to be the center of nightlife for people my age.

      • What’s so bad about having to commute from Beacon Hill or Columbia City? Those aren’t bad neighborhoods and they aren’t all THAT far from SU. Sound Transit light rail opens next year and will connect CH to the SE neighborhoods even more effectively.

        When I was an undergrad (in the Northeast), I couldn’t afford to rent an apartment right next to campus – it was too expensive. I lived in the same city but had to rent an apt in a neighborhood that required me to commute to campus everyday on public transit. That’s just part of the deal of being a college student.

      • Pretty sure a lot of New Yorkers would love to live in Manhattan too. As for the San Francisco comparisons in the original message, that city (like many parts of NYC) hasn’t been affordable for “low wage earners or the poor” for many, many years before the current bubble.

        And outside of special housing, Capitol Hill hasn’t been a neighborhood for low wage earners or the poor because, even removing the appeal of its lifestyle, of its relative location to most of the important parts of the city and surrounding areas makes it a premium neighborhood. But let’s really cut to the chase: the increased focus on gentrification on the Hill is, not coincidentally, due in large part to white people finally being the ones being displaced, this time by wealthier white people. When rents in the area were lower, they were still higher than they were in the CD or ID, or other “less desirable” neighborhoods. Those that could afford higher rents on the Hill probably weren’t bemoaning the lack of low-income or poor housing in those days.

      • It sounds like you just answered your own question?

        Door-to-door light rail opens up in 9-12 months on Cap Hill. Is it really so bad to have to spend 30 minutes on a modern light rail train to get from one Seattle neighborhood to another?

  2. The rule is supply and demand. If you want prices to go down let them build 10-16 stories instead of five. Less process and more building. Put an effective subsidy process in place that serves the market as well as the less capable/fortunate.

    You’re not entitled to housing in the city, but you can help make changes to policy that will make it more likely.

  3. You can always make it work. I did. I’m now pretty successful and can afford to live in a Studio on the Hill but while I was attending SCC, I was working part time and living with roommates. Figure out your NEEDS vs WANTS.

  4. So why don’t we up zone larger parts of the area to the 6-7 floor wood construction limit and then bump up the central areas to 12-16 floors where concrete starts to pay for it’s self effectively. This would help quite a bit on releasing the pressure around here.

    side note: why aren’t there any condos available?!?!

    • We don’t have condo new builds going up due to the lawsuits that came from many HOAs to the developers when we had issues like faulty stucco siding of the early 2000’s. Then we had the housing crash of 2008.

      I predict some of the new/newer apartment developments will convert to condo once the 5 (or whatever year it is) threshold for liability expires.

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