— CapHillTOD (@CapHillTOD) February 4, 2020
While it might fall short of visions of a bustling European market above a busy transit facility, the grocery, shops, cafes, farmers market, and, yes, a daycare facility set to open in the new buildings above Capitol Hill Station later this year will be intentionally smaller in scale than the massive development they are part of.
“We felt like there was a real demand for just smaller shop spaces,” Jill Sherman of Portland-based developer Gerding Edlen tells CHS.
While hundreds of new market-rate apartments and much needed affordable housing part of the project will be welcomed to Broadway, Capitol Hill Station’s lead developer has also set about trying to meet the promises over community priorities it made to win the bid to lead the project’s development process.
But don’t expect La Boqueria, Barcelona’s sprawling public market. Instead, Sherman said the vision for the project has shifted to the realities of present-day Seattle small businesses with an emphasis on smaller spaces, lower rents, shared facilities like restrooms, and, especially, local ownership.
“We ended up going with a small shop space instead of open market or food hall,” Sherman said.
For shoppers and commuters, this is how Capitol Hill Station’s retail, food, and drink spaces will fit together.
Front and center on the Broadway street frontage near the north entry to the busy light rail station will be the relatively small but jam-packed anchor — Korean grocery chain H Mart with more than 11,000 square feet of store space on the ground level plus a 5,000+ square foot mezzanine.
H Mart’s coming neighbors are where the Capitol Hill Station retail recipe most shows through. The mix of smaller counters, cafes, and shops will include retail, coffee, food, and drink along Broadway south of the busy market and on both sides of a central “portal” through the development into the project’s large central, quasi-public plaza. Spaces range from about 500 to 700 square feet.
While none of the signed tenants is yet ready to announce their plans, one owner CHS spoke with said his shop will be an expansion of his business, creating a second Seattle-area location and he confirmed that Sherman’s promises about focusing on small and local are playing out. The rent will be below market and Gerding Edlen is “taking small businesses seriously,” he said.
And, oh, by the way, this planned tenant is now out of the project.
Meanwhile, continuing south on Broadway, the Capitol Hill Station building now rising next to the facility’s south entrance next to Cal Anderson Park will also make home to a local business as it meets a promised community priority for brining a much needed daycare to the development.
The Exploration Academy is lined up to make the ground floor of “Building C” its home. The Wallingford Center-born daycare will have space for around 74 pupils across four classrooms and will be able to use Cal Anderson Park as a playspace. Parents who commute via light rail will only need to walk a block or so while others will be able to take advantage of the more than 200 spaces in the development’s underground parking.
“There’s a paucity of quality childcare and childcare in general with attention to aesthetics, and good ratio to customers to students, good customer care, play equipment, all those things, we didn’t find,” the Academy’s Jonathan Warren tells CHS. “And if we did, it’s extremely expensive.”
Warren says the fact The Exploration Academy is not a big chain also helped them become part of the development.
“It helped that we had a good reputation. We’re not a chain. We popped out,” he said.
Meanwhile, another commercial opportunity awaits in the development’s southeast corner where a 3,000-square-foot restaurant could sit alongside the plaza on the edge of Cal Anderson.
For those looking for a more organic market experience at Capitol Hill Station, we have one more piece of good news. At the center of the project will be the new community plaza featuring the AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway remembering those who have succumbed to — and those who have survived HIV and AIDS.
The pathway’s art will be joined, every Sunday, by the Capitol Hill Farmers Market. You can also thank those community priorities agreed to by Gerding Edlen.
“It’s an amazing opportunity. We’re able to move to a home with a longterm agreement with support from the city and big support from the community,” Jennifer Antos, director for Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets.
The community process to shape the projects began years before 2011 as the Capitol Hill Light Rail Stations Site Urban Design Framework document was published, distilling information shaped over a period of years in the community. In 2013, the City Council approved a development agreement allowing developers to plan for 85-foot tall buildings along Broadway in exchange for going above minimum affordable housing requirements and for meeting community priorities.
Antos said her group is currently working out the lease that will move the weekly market from its Sunday home in front of Seattle Central to Capitol Hill Station’s plaza and into the street on the newly renamed E Barbara Bailey Way. The new street name replaces a stretch of E Denny Way that was updated as a “festival street” appropriate for closure for festivals and events near the light rail station. The market is ready to take advantage of the feature when it makes the move this fall, Antos said.
The new, more browsing and vendor friendly home for the market won’t be the only change. “Part of the motivation for moving the market is for allowing it to grow over time,” Antos said. After study of how the new location is working and how best to expand it — the market has won a USDA to fund the research — Antos says the plan will be to add a regular weekday or night market to the schedule. It will be a very gradual expansion, Antos said. Mostly out of concerns for how the changes will impact farmers and vendors, you probably won’t see the new market day until 2022.
The goal in the meantime is for the 40 or so vendors that currently make up the market to expand by four or five a year.
“One it’s got to be successful for providers and vendors,” Antos said. “Two, it’s got to be a great community space.”
Sherman says to expect Capitol Hill Station’s new buildings to open in a wave starting first in late March, then another in late April, and another in early May before the largest, most complicated building in the project — the core “Building A” at John and Broadway home to H Mart and the project’s small retail mix — debuts in late summer or early fall.
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