Capitol Hill’s Holy Names, reportedly Washington’s oldest continually operating school, has a modern problem: parking. Officials from the all-girl, private Catholic high school will meet with neighbors Tuesday night to discuss its plans to demolish and rebuild the 21st Ave E’s campus’s gymnasium with a new gym built on top of levels of underground parking for around 240 vehicles.
“As you well know, parking has increasingly become more difficult in the neighborhood due to increased housing density, new businesses, and people parking for other reasons,” head of school and principal Liz Swift writes in a letter sent to neighbors earlier this month informing them of the project and community meetings to collect feedback.
The plan would include Holy Names demolishing its current gymnasium, building the underground garage, and rebuilding a new gym with the “same height and comparable footprint.” The plan also includes a new parking lot on the north side of the school along E Aloha for parking large vehicles including buses.
Due to the number of vehicles involved, the project would trigger State Environmental Protection Act review. The school told city officials it needs the underground garage because it “wants to be able to offer parking for guests coming to sporting events, or other events on campus, and does not want to have to rely on off-site parking,” according to records of a recent meeting with planners on the project. The school is also concerned about efforts to create a Restricted Parking Zone in the area that would limit the number of hours non-residents could utilize street parking in the neighborhood surrounding the school.
Some in the neighborhood are ready to push back on the scope of the project. “We challenged the notion that an underground garage would in fact lead to any less congestion in the neighborhood,” one email from a concerned neighbor forwarded to CHS read.
Holy Names is part of the growth industry around private education on Capitol Hill. The school enrolls around 700 students and already completed a recent 9,000 square-foot addition to its beautiful dome-capped northern Capitol Hill campus. Its quest for better parking solutions for those 700 students and their parents could be a harbinger for similar needs at other private schools including the nearby St. Joseph School. Meanwhile, other area private schools are also in expansion mode. In November, the Northwest School announced $8.6M in property acquisitions around Summit campus and the Seattle Academy is nearing opening of its under construction “vertically-oriented middle school” building at 13th and Union.
The Holy Names community meeting will be held at the 728 21st Ave E from 6:30 to 7:30 PM on Tuesday, January 23rd.