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12+ things CHS heard at the Capitol Hill Station development open house

Before heading to its December 14th public design review meeting, the developers and architects behind Capitol Hill Station’s “transit oriented development” held an open house to share plans with the public Tuesday night.

Attendees got the first look at designs for the four seven-story buildings including a combined 427 market-rate and affordable apartment units, more than 59,000 square feet of commercial and community space, and parking for more than 300 vehicles planned to join Broadway’s Capitol Hill Station.

Design review: 118 Broadway E — Capitol Hill Station development

At the open house, master developer Gerding Edlen broke the preferred project design down into display boards describing the overall site plan, each of the four buildings, the plaza, and the affordable housing components. Residents provided comments through conversation and sticky notes.

12 things CHS heard at the open house

  • “Parking is to me, generally useless on top of a transit center,” said Saunatina Sanchez, who lives a few blocks from the development.
  • “We don’t need parking there,” Janice Van Cleve, Capitol Hill resident since 1994, told CHS. “We need lots more housing, we need lots more low-income housing,” Van Cleve said.
  • Gerding Edlen reps said if developers think the project can be successful, they will put in fewer parking spaces because they are expensive to build. They figured .5 spaces per unit and about 80 for retail. “We certainly will not build more,” she said.
  • Capitol Hill resident Paulie Rodriguez was concerned about there not being enough affordable housing in the development.
  • One attendee wrote on a note: “Dedicated ‘senior’ housing.”
  • Rodriguez also thinks the design isn’t culturally enriched. “It just looks really whitewashed,” he said.
  • One note on a display board read: “No green roof or p-patch space?”
  • “No New Seasons market,” another note read.
  • Capitol Hill resident Andrew Haas said he there are some details he would like to see changed in the project but, “I think it has tremendous potential. I generally like where it’s going.” His biggest concern is the size of the lobby in South Site A. If the lobby is designed smaller, there would be room for a Market Hall concept, a part of the development plan Haas said Gerding Edlen should be on the hook to create. UPDATE: We’ve updated this note after incorrectly describing the situation Haas was discussing. Here is more from his email to CHS:
    The number one problem with the most recent design concept is that it greatly diminishes the Market Hall concept. Gerding Edlen won the bid in part because they promised to include a European-style Market Hall. This is a permanent covered market similar in concept to Pike Place Market with small stalls for food venders, farmers, artisans and artists to sell local goods. It is a 7-day-a-week anchor for the Capitol Hill Farmer’s market, which will be in the plaza one day a week.  
  • Haas also wants a commitment that the developers and architects will use quality materials. “We need to build something that’s going to last,” he said.
  • Ashwin Warrior with Capitol Hill Housing which is part of the development team on the project said many people expressed ideas for how the community space will be activated and well-used.
  • Chris Persons, CEO of the nonprofit housing developer, said many people have expressed concerns about the plaza being utilized and the team on the project will ensure it’s activated, he said. Capitol Hill Housing will operate Site B-North and its 110 affordable apartment units.

Some of the strongest points of interest from people who attended the session had little to do with the upcoming design review. The large chunk of the ground-floor space in the project that will go to an anchor retailer was the subject of some discussions during the open house format session.

Initially New Seasons and Central Co-op stepped up to vie for the coveted anchor retail space, but Gerding Edlen’s Jill Sherman said Tuesday night the project may not be anchored by a grocer in the end despite that type of business ranking highly in community priorities used to guide planning of the project.

Sherman said there will likely be a bid-type process for the tenant and that the business would need to fit in with community hopes for the development around the station. “If we’re going to deviate from what we’ve been assuming, we’ll make sure there’s buy-in,” Sherman said.

She hopes to have the anchor tenant selected within the first quarter of 2017, providing enough time for the space to be designed for their needs.

While talking with neighborhood residents at the open house, Sherman said she’s heard a lot of support for the community center in the Site B-North and affordable housing.

First look at Capitol Hill Station development designs — Seven stories, 427 units, and a new Broadway plaza


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6 thoughts on “12+ things CHS heard at the Capitol Hill Station development open house

  1. Residential parking above the light rail station is pure lunacy. There are plenty of folks who would like to live there without the burden of paying for a parking space.

    • Is the parking in question available on a monthly basis for residents? Or is it possibly per-day or by the hour? What about when residents have out-of-town guests who might pay daily rates? What about people who patronize businesses in the bldg, and pay for the parking? This parking could be a profit center even if nobody in the bldg pays for reserved parking.

    • It’s pretty presumptive to assume that everyone who lives there won’t have or need a car. Contrary to popular belief, that train doesn’t exactly go everywhere everyone needs to go. Further, if the parking is made available for people to drive there and then take the train, it could turn a profit.

    • Just because it could turn a profit does mean it’s a good use of the space. I agree that there shouldn’t be parking here except maybe a small number of short term spots for retail visitors.

  2. In general, parking doesn’t turn a profit in most developments, especially when you consider that there are opportunity costs to building it. (You could have made different choices without it.)

    In North Capitol Hill a vocal minority screamed about microhousing construction at 747 Harvard Avenue East, although there are more than half a dozen commercial lots offering long term parking nearby at reasonably rates, some daily and others monthly. It was this particular court challenge, more than others, that destroyed a viable low cost housing option in Seattle.

    Developers cannot profitably build parking because it is given away too often as a free or nominally priced public good. Incumbents in neighborhoods, even those who are not otherwise NIMBYs, feel they are entitled to their free parking.

    The result is bad public policy, in which developers are force to build thousands of empty parking spaces, while renters who don’t want to own a car are forced to subsidize those who do, or might.