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Giant crane returns to sky above Broadway as Capitol Hill Station housing and retail construction takes off

After a few years of rest there is a familiar scene rising above Broadway’s Capitol Hill Station. A massive construction crane has again risen above the land between John and Denny along Broadway.

The busy giant being put to use by lead contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis is a sign of new progress. After a June ribbon cutting — and a true groundbreaking in July — contractor crews have set in on creating an expanse of housing, retail and commercial space, community spaces, and a new plaza about the bustling subterranean station.

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 WorkshopBerger Partnership is landscape architect for the entire site and part of the design super team working on the Capitol Hill Station development project. Capitol Hill Housing will develop and operate the affordable housing component of the projects. CHS reported here on the 20 years of community engagement it took to make this development a reality.

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 in October 2017.

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.

Gerding Edlen expects the construction to take about 21 months after beginning this summer with the removal a massive amount of dirt from the site and shoring up the pits. Below-grade structural work followed with above-grade work coming next. CHS reported here on how to keep track of construction updates during the two years of work the development is expected to require.

Meanwhile, work is also underway to design the AIDS Memorial Pathway project that will connect the Capitol Hill Station development to Cal Anderson Park. The City of Seattle has also been working on a project creating safer crossings and street improvements around the site.

The heavy machinery now thrusting into the Broadway skyline follows the August 2014 exit of the previous 250-foot-armed crane at the corner used to build the $110 million subway station during a three and a half-year tour of duty. Capitol Hill Station opened for service in March 2016. With luck, the housing and commercial components will be ready to open sometime in late 2020.

UPDATE: They’re multiplying! Thanks to reader James for the picture.

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24 thoughts on “Giant crane returns to sky above Broadway as Capitol Hill Station housing and retail construction takes off

  1. Such a pity that a once in a lifetime opportunity was missed here. Given this neighborhood’s demand and the block is served by a variety of mass transit options, the city should of allowed for high-rise development to maximize the potential.

    • Yeah cause we need a 300 foot tower to block even more sun and light.
      The fact of the matter is development of this site is totally meaningless in terms of boosting transit ridership. This was already a high density neighborhood. A tower full of $2000/month apartments or $800,000 condos does nothing to boost transit ridership or frankly add any usefully synergy whatsoever. Spare the “affordable housing” bull, its a gimmick. This site had the most value as public open space with views across from Boradway looking across the site and Cal Anderson to Mt Rainier. Montreal is a case study in high transit ridership without stacking towers on station sites. In fact, many station sites in Montreal are totally undeveloped and used for public plazas with just the station box entrance to subway. Seattle will never achieve the subway ridership of Montreal either per capita or total, because we’re designing/building a mostly useless gimmicky system that can’t move very many people and bypasses 90% of Seattle neighborhoods in favor of fueling speculative real estate development in outlying areas.

  2. Excited to see this project go up! This, along with Bonney Watson funeral home development, is really going to transform two full blocks on Broadway.

    Now to the most pressing question: What’s the over/under on the “didn’t build it tall enough”, “put too much parking in it”, “affordable housing isn’t really affordable” comments?

  3. Thirty-one thousand square feet and only 428 units?! That’s less than 100 square feet per “apartment.” Too small. Not livable.

    There is too little parking. I demand at least one space per housing unit and one space for each customer of the retail. Imagine how much business will be lost when people can’t park. Parking-less buildings make Seattle less livable. Just imagine what would happen if a person were to park a car in front of my house. That space belongs to me, not to Gertrude Grocery-Getter.

    And don’t give me any lip about light rail. We need parking, not trains. According to Pat Murakami, our next City Councilwoman, most people are mugged within 300 feet of light rail stations or major bus stops.* Pat told a reporter that necklaces and electronics are stolen on light rail trains.* I think I speak for everyone when I say that mass transit is a failed experiment. My car is safe. Buses and trains are not.

    Lastly, although I appreciate that some units will be affordable, it’s important that we charge livable prices to everyone, not just to the poor. I speak for everyone in Seattle when I say that $1,000 for a 500 square foot home with parking is a good price.

    Make it happen, billionaire housing developers. Seattle residents demand that you keep our city livable.


  4. I think that 216 car parking spaces is about right. It’s a recognition that at least some residents in new buildings will have cars, as opposed to “no parking” new buildings which pretend that no one will (with complicity by the City). And of course there is a need for the businesses in the complex to have some parking for customers.

    • As much as I would like to see no parking due to the proximity to light rail and many bus lines, I concede that there is demand for cars and always will be until there is a robust enough transit system serving a broad enough area and with timely/reliable enough service that it makes travel by car the less appealing option.

  5. Always amazed to see the number of parking spots they create for these kinds of buildings in Seattle. Parking on Capitol Hill is already a nightmare…things are about to get much worse it looks like…

    • Actually, parking on Capitol Hill is quite plentiful – if you’re willing to pay for it. Pay lots and pay garages are rarely full.

      Or are you expecting an abundance of free, unrestricted parking?

      • It’s plentiful because it’s too expensive. If parking were less expensive, whether in lots, on the street, or in garages, a lot of businesses and restaurants on Broadway would be doing better than they are. And not going t**ts up after a few months, or a year. But they’re not. Because like it or not, people with cars DO have options to drive and take business elsewhere, where they don’t have to pay for parking– and they do.

        Case in point– City of Seattle shoots to manage parking rates so 20% of spaces on any block are available at all times. Not a bad goal at all. But ever walk Broadway, or parts of Pike or Pine, in mid-morning and see how much parking is in-use? It’s not unusual to see blocks and blocks with barely 20% of parking in use, let alone available. I’ve been on Pike Street in the AM when businesses are open, and seen entire BLOCKS with at most 1 or 2 cars in paid parking. Not an isolated occurrence.

        It’s such a false dilemma, this constantly repeated notion that people who won’t pay $4-5/hr (or more) for parking necessarily want it to be free. In the evenings– yes, they can definitely fill up all the spaces for $4+ per hour. But daytime rates are not managed well at all. They need to refine that yield management to get those spaces 80% full, because they definitely are NOT.

      • @Jim98122x – you make a good point, but is the lack of daytime on-street parking usage really just a sign that parking rates are too high? Or does it have anything to do with what’s available on Broadway anymore? Unless you are looking to eat, there are not a ton of retail options anymore.

      • Yes, Dang, you are correct, there are not a lot of retail options there anymore. Probably because the stores aren’t viable, and paying for parking is probably part of that equation. But does business type matter? The city doesn’t factor that in, when setting the parking rates– just the % vacancies in parking spaces. You only need to look at Sundays during the day, when parking spaces are free, to see that it does matter. On Sundays spaces are about 90% full. What’s different from Saturdays? Paying for parking. I’m not saying stop charging for parking on Saturdays, or the rest of the week. But it needs to be fiddled with, because they definitely are not filling up 80% of their spaces, as they claim to be shooting for.

      • @Jim: Are you suggesting that the City should reduce parking rates in order to increase useage? That would be great….and it would benefit businesses….but it’s not realistic. When has a government entity EVER reduced rates on ANYTHING?

      • Yes, that’s what I’m saying. They always claim to be trying with parking rates to maximize untilization while making sure some parking spaces (I think 20%) are always available. At up to $4-5/hr it’s enough to make a lot of people think twice and drive somewhere else to shop or eat, where they don’t have to pay for parking.

      • From Bob:@Jim: Are you suggesting that the City should reduce parking rates in order to increase useage? That would be great….and it would benefit businesses….but it’s not realistic. When has a government entity EVER reduced rates on ANYTHING?

        From Jim:It’s plentiful because it’s too expensive. If parking were less expensive, whether in lots, on the street, or in garages, a lot of businesses and restaurants on Broadway would be doing better than they are. And not going t**ts up after a few months, or a year.

        There’s maybe 100 metered parking spaces along Broadway from Madison to the north end. That’s not enough to make or break businesses if those were all of a sudden free or cheap. Once you make street parking free or cheap, I guarantee you those spots will be harder for business patrons to use.

        So now what, do we build a garage with free parking for Broadway shoppers/diners? At a cost of up to $100,000/space, you’re looking at tens of millions of dollars to have enough spaces to make a noticeable difference. That’s not a wise investment.

        Now how about other neighborhoods? Ballard famously has no parking, but their retail/dining sector seems to be booming. Same with other neighborhoods (First Hill, U-District, Belltown, etc) that lack free or easy parking. Maybe the quality of retail/dining on Broadway is to blame?

        Plus, I highly doubt that parking is the sole cause of the demise of Capitol Hill businesses. If a business in a dense neighborhood requires parking for their patrons and they not only don’t provide it, but expect someone else to provide it for free or cheap, then the owner of that business made a very poor decision and nobody should expect that business to stick around for very long.

        Nobody likes paying for parking, but parking is expensive to build and maintain and people don’t seem to realize that.