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City clears way for start of construction on Capitol Hill Station development project — UPDATE: Groundbreaking June 19th

Prep work at Capitol Hill Station

A major milestone has been reached in the construction process as everything from the final designs to proposed construction haul routes have been signed-off on for what could be the most important development in Capitol Hill’s history.

With a plan to begin shoring and excavation work before the end of June UPDATE: in July!, it is still springtime for the start of construction of the four mixed-use buildings and public plaza set to rise above Broadway and the bustle of Capitol Hill Station beneath, as the City of Seattle has issued the key Master Use Permits for the project.

While the paperwork came through and was posted publicly Wednesday, there has been no official announcement yet on when ground will be broken at the site. UPDATE: It’s official:

Capitol Hill Station Development Groundbreaking

In February, Jill Sherman of lead developer Gerding Edlen told CHS the four, seven-story mixed-use buildings surrounding Capitol Hill’s light rail station were proceeding toward a groundbreaking this spring. Sherman calls the issuance of the Master User Permits a “huge step” but reminds that some underlying permitting still remains to be issued.

The path to issuing the permits on a project of this scale has been a journey. With the public design process wrapped up last fall, planners from the city and the developers have been going back and forth in the past months, poring over details and singing off on a massive roster of elements for the project including key design elements — “Overhead Weather Protection,” anyone? — and the construction management plan all the way down to planned tower crane placement.

The final weeks of the process have even found time for what might be seen as relatively minor elements as the Seattle Department of Transportation signed of on the plan for the project’s Broadway bike parking to be placed along the sidewalk in the public right of way. “We have specified the Westport no scratch, surface mounted bike rack by SportWorks,” the developers informed SDOT as part of the sign-off process.

Less trivial were late-arriving elements like a plan for handling possibly contaminated soil at the site — a common element for most in-city development and especially on Capitol Hill where Seattle’s auto row once made its home. Development Site B-South is one area where the most notable contamination was observed but contaminants, “including TPH compounds, VOCs, SVOCs, and metals,” were measured “at elevated concentrations beneath portions of the project site, and residually impacted soils are present beneath the individual development site.” As part of the city’s approval of the Master User Permit, Gerding Edlen’s contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis had to show that it is prepared to handle the conditions under environmental regulations.

Lease Crutcher Lewis is also responsible for the construction management plan required for issuance of the Master Use Permits. As part of its plan, the city signed off on elements including proposed haul routes and work hours:

The contractor says some 44,000 cubic yards of material will need to be moved during the process with “12 to 15 trucks per night on both Building A & B, so 24 to 30 trucks total per night with a truck cycling thru every 20-minutes.”

Lease Crutcher Lewis also submitted this proposed “newsletter” format it will use to keep area businesses and buildings informed of project updates:

UPDATE: Even better than a draft newsletter, here’s the honest to goodness project update page — including this useful post about the work set to begin in July:

Shoring & Excavation work is currently scheduled to start July 2018. This will involve reinforcing the soil around the excavation to allow us to dig further down. The deepest excavation will be along Broadway on the North end of the site. This building will have three levels of parking, allowing for residential and retail parking spaces. The other two buildings are shallower and each have only one level of parking. The excavation work will involve heavy truck traffic and noise impacts during normal work hours. During this phase, the temporary fencing around the site will take up portions of sidewalk on 10th Ave E. and North & South sides of E. Denny Way. Beginning with the start of excavation, 10th Ave E. will become a one-way street Southbound to accommodate the heavy truck flow while hauling dirt away from the site. Additionally, Nagle Pl. will be closed to through traffic during construction hours (8:00AM – 5:00PM).

The developer also was required to complete a traffic study for SDOT’s approval. “The transportation analyses indicated that the project is expected to generate a net total of 1,130 daily vehicle trips, with 94 net new PM Peak Hour trips and 66 AM Peak hour trips,” the report reads. “The additional trips would have minimal impact on levels of service at nearby intersections and on the overall transportation system,” SDOT concluded. “Concurrency analysis was conducted for nearby identified areas. That analysis showed that the project is expected to be well within the adopted standards for the identified areas.”

Other open issues were solved last summer. Fire access and Sound Transit maintenance access along Nagle Place was sorted out and approved by the city though Nagle will not be extended to connect to Denny from John as originally planned.

Another key project planning element was also fit and finished in the past few months with details of the project’s central plaza signed-off on by city planners. The plaza “must be 6,656 square feet in size, and 53 feet wide between Nagle Pl and the vent shaft,” planners write. Developers say the plaza adjacent to Site A “will be available for public use” including “a weekly morning to afternoon year-round farmers market is planned for both the plaza and along Denny Way. Cal Anderson Park, located across the plaza and Denny Way is a publicly available open space.” A Memorial Pathway to honor the fight against HIV/AIDS will connect the plaza to Cal Anderson.

Sound Transit opened the U-Link extension and the new station below Broadway in March 2016. In August 2016, Sound Transit signed a 99-year lease with Gerding Edlen to develop the properties it had acquired surrounding the station. The Portland-based developer is leading the project with designs from Hewitt and Schemata WorkshopCapitol Hill Housing will develop and operate the affordable housing component of the projects in Site-B North. The affordable housing will be reserved for those under 60% Area Median Income (or below $40,320 for one person; $51,840 for three people).

The development’s retail component, meanwhile, has been planned to include a grocer and a daycare facility. CHS reported in March that H Mart appears to be lined up to fill the key retail component of the project.

When complete, the development will span four buildings around Capitol Hill Station. It’s planned to house 428 residential units – 41% of which (176 units) will be designated affordable housing. There will be 31,150 square feet of residential space, 216 parking stalls for cars, and 254 parking stalls for bikes. Designs for the project were finalized last October. Gerding Edlen expects the construction to take about 21 months.

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