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Seattle Central seeks bids to develop two Broadway properties

Seattle Central is moving ahead on plans to develop two of its long-held Broadway properties as mixed-use buildings that would bring new affordable housing to the street. And it is looking for help.

The Capitol Hill school has released a call for developers to make their bids in “letters of intent” for leasing or buying the land — the Atlas / Broadway Café building in the 1500 block of Broadway, and the South Annex/ International Programs building at Pine and Broadway — for redevelopment “commercial purposes and/or housing, including a potential affordable housing element.”

The college says this early step in the development process is part of its potential acquisition and development of Sound Transit “Site D” property adjacent the westside Broadway entrance to Capitol Hill Station. SCC was given a right of first refusal to develop the site, which sits in-between the North Plaza building and the west entrance of the Capitol Hill Station just south of Denny Way. Acquiring the property would put the school on the hook with the transit agency for creating affordable housing. It appears Seattle Central could help solve that requirement by creating 38,000 square feet of affordable housing — around 44 units — at nearby projects. The “workforce” affordable units must be priced at 60% of area median household income, SCC says.

Both Broadway properties are currently in use and SCC continues to utilize the South Annex building on E Pine just east of Broadway for academic purposes. The 1500-block Broadway building where Atlas Clothing used to make its home was lined up for a possible student housing project with Capitol Hill Housing but that plan was put on ice in 2013 as the opportunity around Site D emerged. The building’s largest retail portion is home to a “#LOVETHEHILL” art installation used to activate the empty space in 2014. Burger joint Freddy Junior’s, a Tacos Guaymas, and Follicle Hair Design are also resident on the block.

Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, who was confirmed as SCC president in May, told CHS earlier this year that creating faculty housing on Capitol Hill was a major priority. “Most faculty and staff cannot afford to live on Capitol Hill,” she said. According to Edwards Lange, the average faculty member at SCC makes around $57,000 a year.

If developed, both properties will likely qualify for City of Seattle landmarks protections, Seattle Central says. How a future architect will incorporate the Atlas building’s parking lot — “one of the neighborhood’s first and only open air courtyard auto showrooms,” SCC says — could be an interesting trick. The properties are within the Pike/Pine Conservation District Overlay and would qualify for preservation bonuses including extra height allowances.

In its request, the school asked developers to present proposals and bids for a plan including the affordable housing development and an alternative without. The school has also invited proposals to include a plan for three properties it owns on Harvard between Pike and Pine as an optional component to the project. And developers can present a “phased” plan, the school says, which could put any major construction and changes off for years. Developers must respond to Seattle Central’s call for bids and letters by February 14th.

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