Post navigation

Prev: (07/28/16) | Next: (07/29/16)

$2.65M deal for affordable housing site puts Capitol Hill Station development in motion — UPDATE

Early concept of the development coming to "Site B North"

Early concept of the development coming to “Site B North”

Sound Transit is finally ready to sell off the first of five properties surrounding the Capitol Hill light rail station that will transform Broadway and serve as a new gateway to Capitol Hill.

The board is expected to approve the $2.65 million sale (PDF) of Site B-North to developer Gerding Edlen during its Thursday afternoon meeting. The Portland-based developer previously selected Capitol Hill Housing to develop and own an 86-unit affordable housing project on the site, which runs along 10th Ave between John and Denny Way.

UPDATE (4:35 PM): Sound Transit board members approved the Site B-North sale agreement during their Thursday afternoon meeting. Despite a Sound Transit staffer reminding the board the action was “a very, very big deal,” the approval was rather unceremonious as one member had to be pulled in from the hallway to make a quorum for the quick vote. There was no board discussion of the measure.

“The Capitol Hill community has repeatedly and strongly expressed its desire for affordable housing,” said Brie Gyncild, co-chair of the Capitol Hill Champion community group. “We need truly affordable housing as soon as possible and we near it near the light rail station.”

Screen-Shot-2015-06-22-at-11.24.05-PM

(Image: Gerding Edlen)

According to Gerding’s winning proposal, half of Site B-North’s units will be restricted to households making no more than 30% of the area median income. The other half will be made affordable to households at or below 60% of AMI. A quarter of the units will have two or three bedrooms. Initial plans call for a community center and a daycare, as well as a rooftop deck and computer lab.

The $2.65 million price tag for the “transit oriented development” “Site B North” comes just under Sound Transit’s estimated price last year. A substantial percentage of the proceeds will go towards paying back federal transportation grants that were secured for the project.

In August, the board is expected to approve land leases for three other sites so Gerding Edlen can move forward with its plan to build 100,000 square feet of commercial, housing, and community space. Seattle Central College has been given a right of first refusal to develop a fifth parcel, Site D, due to the site’s location directly next to the school’s Broadway promenade. 

Last year, Gerding Edlen Development was selected as “master developer” for all properties. Plans call for more than 400 apartments with more than 150 units to rent for below market rate for 12 years and 86 units designated for “permanent affordable housing.” A third of the units will have at least two bedrooms.

Gerding estimated the project to cost $124 million for three sites, not including the affordable housing site.

No underground garage is planned for the affordable housing site, but Gerding Edlen may elect to build one for its other properties. In that case, CHH’s sale price will be reduced and Sound Transit will enter into a lease agreement with Gerding Edlen for the underground space.

Thursday’s vote would clear the way for Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff to sign the purchase agreement. $132,600 will be due at signing and CHH will seek local and federal funding to help fund the rest. For a 4% increase in the sale price Sound Transit’s agreement will allow for CHH to delay the final purchase for a year if it can’t secure funding in 2016. The purchase price may also be reduced if environmental remediation is required on the site.

After the sale, Site B-North developers will move through an “expedited” design review phase. Gerding has agreed to hold two community input meetings prior to the design review meeting.

Sound Transit launched its TOD program in 2007 to encourage dense development around high capacity transit stations. Site B-North has the potential to become a shining example for affordable housing advocates who want more income restricted housing located in a dense urban environments with easy access to light rail.

Screen-Shot-2015-06-22-at-11.12.06-PM

The light rail station and the 3.1-mile U-Link subway line between downtown and the University of Washington via Broadway opened in March.

Affordable housing at the TOD site was among the top demands of the Capitol Hill Champion, a group that worked for years to insert community priorities into the Capitol Hill Station project. The project is subject to the community development plan based on those priorities and agreed upon by Sound Transit and the City of Seattle.

The project is expected to break ground in 2018 and finish in 2019.

In the meantime, the Champion is starting to kick around ideas for how it may be able to “activate” the fenced off sites during the 18 months before construction starts. Sound Transit and Gerding Edlen had previously said the paved over areas would remain off-limits until construction was complete, but Champion co-chair Brie Gyncild said there may be an opportunity to open some of it to the public.

To further involve Capitol Hill in the project, the Champion is seeking residents to take part in one of four focus groups that will steer the next round of community input on the TOD sites. To sign up for the fall focus groups, the Champion is asking those interested to complete a short questionnaire.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

22 thoughts on “$2.65M deal for affordable housing site puts Capitol Hill Station development in motion — UPDATE

  1. I’m confused as to who will actually own the siteB-north land and building. The article says that ST is selling it to the developer, but also that CHH will own and develop the project. Is the developer going to own it briefly and then sell it to CHH? Can someone please clarify?

  2. Congratulations taxpayers. You are now going to be paying people’s rent to the tune of $600-$1000 per person per month for eternity. Ever wonder why rent is so high? Part of the reason is because you are paying other people’s rent to live in subsidized housing.

    Normally when one pays taxes for such things as roads and parks, any and all can make use of such facilities; however, in this case our tax dollars will go towards somebody’s private residence that they will not be sharing with the rest of us. In many cases somebody will move into their unit and stay their for years which in effect means that we are collectively paying for somebody’s lifestyle. Should we pay for somebody’s meals as well? Should we pay for somebody’s car for them? The assumption that housing in Seattle’s most desirable neighborhood should be available to all is the same as saying Mercedes Benz should adjust their pricing to allow all to buy their cars. You pay $50,000 for a car and I will pay $20,000 for the same car. That’s fair right?

    When a welfare system such as ours creates dependency, you will have an ever growing population on the public dole. The result of this is decreasing economic growth and a reluctance to work hard when taxes have to inevitably be increased to support the myriad subsidies out there. I can tell you with certainty that if the government were taking 50% of my earnings to pay for somebody else’s apartment, food, and other services, I would certainly work less hard and produce far less.

    After all, if I start earning a low enough amount, I will get that same housing as if I worked hard. So at the end of the day what is the point of working hard?

    • Dear James,

      Maybe you need reminding that we do not all come into this world on a level playing field. People are not inherently lazy and entited. You seem to resent participating in society and contributing to the common good. In fact you strike me as rather libertarian and Ayn Randish. I hope your career at Amazon or Tech Inc. or wherever is soul-crushing and fleeting; I don’t want you as a neighbor.

    • Yes, a few hundred bucks for a few hundred, or even a few thousand people to not be homeless, will really hit a few hundred thousand people really hard, to the tune of a few bucks a month. Maybe $20. Dear god, we’re all screwed. That’s, like, a latte a week.

      Also, your comments about taxes are amusing, because we’ve already had significantly higher than 50% tax rates and incredibly high productivity; it was during those golden 1950s that old white people love to remember with such fondness. Yet people like yourself continue to whine about your historically low tax rate and a death spiral of productivity and welfare for “others,” as if we don’t have ample evidence of everyone’s desire for as much cash as possible.

      Case in point, people who whine about historically low tax rates being too high.

    • I am so happy to subsidize rent and live in an more inclusive community. It’s hardly any cost at all. Better than living in a city with a bunch of entitled people who hate the poor.

      We all have a right to safe and affordable housing. End of story! What’s the alternative? A bigger homeless crisis? A city only for the rich? No thanks!

      Besides, we are so busy subsidizing mortgages with tax write-offs and propagating a land use system that allows for gross accumulation of wealth for the few – a little tribute for subsidized housing is the least we can pay.

    • Taxes go to support many things that are not used by all – schools, for instance. I don’t have kids, will not be having kids, I don’t even like kids! But I support my taxes being used to pay for schools because a supported and educated next generation indirectly benefits us all.

      You probably don’t think that lower income folks benefit you in any way, but they do – who are the people who take those jobs that you would never consider?

    • “Congratulations taxpayers. You are now going to be paying people’s rent to the tune of $600-$1000 per person per month for eternity. Ever wonder why rent is so high? Part of the reason is because you are paying other people’s rent to live in subsidized housing.”

      FALSE.

      You don’t pay a specific tax whatsoever to support affordable housing.

      Most affordable housing is made possible through a Federal Tax Credit that developers utilize in exchange for housing low income families and individuals. So it’s not that you’re paying the tax, it’s essentially that the lack of tax is an “opportunity cost.” The Federal Government makes slightly less money from the developers of affordable housing.

      “Normally when one pays taxes for such things as roads and parks, any and all can make use of such facilities; however, in this case our tax dollars will go towards somebody’s private residence that they will not be sharing with the rest of us. In many cases somebody will move into their unit and stay their for years which in effect means that we are collectively paying for somebody’s lifestyle. Should we pay for somebody’s meals as well? Should we pay for somebody’s car for them? The assumption that housing in Seattle’s most desirable neighborhood should be available to all is the same as saying Mercedes Benz should adjust their pricing to allow all to buy their cars. You pay $50,000 for a car and I will pay $20,000 for the same car. That’s fair right?”

      Again, false. You’re not paying taxes directly to affordable housing.

      The government just takes less money away (less tax) from affordable housing developers, which allows the rent to be lower.

      “After all, if I start earning a low enough amount, I will get that same housing as if I worked hard. So at the end of the day what is the point of working hard?”

      There is an EXTREMELY limited supply of affordable housing, so chances are you wouldn’t even be able to get in if you tried.

      And here’s the point:
      1. Some people work hard in jobs that have less compensation monetarily but still contribute to society and/or their needs as a human. Think service industry etc.

      Anyway, I certainly do not support a welfare state because I believe in individual responsibility. At the same time, if we can help out some families, then let’s do it. You’re making a big deal of 80 apartments going to families who will pay less than market rate at no direct cost to you.

  3. James – I make a very solid living and I disagree with much of what you wrote. I think that this collection of housing units is not enough of a threat to our economy to lead to a tax rate of 50%. I seriously doubt that it would have anywhere near the negative economic impact, in terms of raising our tax rate, in comparison to the long standing subsidies we pay to fossil fuel companies and numerous other industries. IF my tax rate goes up to help people in need I will continue making the most of my life and job and not simply phone it in because I have to feed someone with a slice of my pie. Pushing people to less desirable parts of the city seems more of a deep rooted punishment than a real solution. We are in this together and ignoring anyone because they can’t afford the same baubles as you is shameful.

    • James is bumming cause his entire pull yourself up by the bootstraps narrative is causing some psychic pain, thanks for your response, I agree with you!!!!

  4. someone correct me if i’m wrong but chh is a public, non-profit corporation that runs off of income derived from rent on residential and commercial buildings; as well as grants and donations. it’s not run on our tax payer dollars at all.

    so let me try and answer some of your questions @james:

    1) paying tenant’s rent. incorrect, they are getting subsidized rent based upon their income and the market rate for the units that chh owns. nobody’s getting a free ride. renters of chh apartments have to pay rent.

    2) let’s talk about “paying for someone’s lifestyle”. i rarely drive a car so i think putting my tax dollars towards streets and freeways is a waste of money to support your mercedes driving lifestyle. but i don’t bitch that my taxes are going towards that. i realize that as part of a community i’m helping to pay for things i rarely or never get to use – for the good of the community.

    3) about that mercedes. if mercedes benz wants to charge you $50K for their new car, because you make $250K/year and can afford it, but decides to charge someone else $20K because they make only $40K, then that’s their business.

    4) finally, if you don’t like how our community is run; you can leave. there are plenty of other communities in the area who’d rather not support the less fortunate. there are numerous cities around the country that put little to any effort to helping out those at or below the poverty line or need a helping hand – and you’d fit in quite well in those places.

    in fact, if everyone who thought like you would just go settle your own little city somewhere, and leave the rest of alone, we’d all appreciate it.

  5. If a family of four is making 53K a year and can afford 1.2K a year in rent, how will they afford to live on Broadway. For example, the two closest groceries are QFCs with have high-rent neighborhood pricing. Are people expected to take the light-rail to SODO to shop at Grocery Outlet?

    I by no means want to exclude people who need affordable rent. An inclusive neighborhood is a healthier approach; however, I feel that the inclusion needs to be more organic.

    I don’t know the solution. Like most things, this conversation will stagnate into a dichotomy of either “Kick all the poor out,” or “Everyone can live anywhere they want no matter their capital.” If this happens, the people who really need help will suffer.

    • “If a family of four is making 53K a year….”

      Then the children are not working hard enough to justify feeding them. Have you considered leaving the children outside of the QFC on the sidewalk to beg for food, smokes, and or spare change? It might put you over the allowed amount for affordable housing though.

    • QFC is not Dean & DeLuca. They sell regular food, including cheap store brands, and it’s possible to shop cheaply there.

      Safeway is just up the hill from the station. If people want to go to Grocery Outlet, as you suggest, the 8 goes directly from the station to the Grocery Outlet at MLK and Union.

      Capitol Hill already has subsidized housing, including for families with kids, and we need more.