While Capitol Hill has gone mostly quiet under COVID-19 restrictions, there was a louder than usual buzz of saws, hammering, and heavy equipment as contractors worked Wednesday to wrap up projects and secure work sites across the neighborhood.
Monday’s latest round of restrictions to slow the outbreak’s spread include a shutdown of businesses and industries deemed “non-essential” — late Wednesday, word spread that would, indeed, include most residential and commercial construction.
Across Seattle and on Capitol Hill, the decision will ripple through the area on a project by project basis. Most will also go quiet.
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“At this point, we have identified which are essential and nonessential projects,” a spokesperson for Lease Crutcher Lewis told CHS about the lead contractor’s shutdown of work at the neighborhood’s largest and most important development currently under construction — the transit oriented development along Broadway at Capitol Hill Station.
Working with Portland-based lead developer Gerding Edlen, Lease Crutcher Lewis says the project owner determined the site did not meet Gov. Jay Inslee’s threshold for essential construction work.
In a Wednesday memo, the governor’s office tried to clear confusion around the impact from this week’s increased COVID-19 restrictions on the construction industry. Construction related to essential needs like infrastructure repair or telecommunications can continue. Most commercial and residential work cannot.
The restrictions are currently planned to continue through April 8th but could be extended.
Around the Hill, large projects still underway include a new gym and parking garage at the Holy Names Academy, a new Uncle Ike’s on E Olive Way, and several new market rate apartment buildings and townhome projects. Smaller home residential projects will also come to a halt though some contractors said they planned to continue working at sites with only one or two workers.
The Lease Crutcher Lewis spokesperson declined to comment on the impact to the hundreds of Capitol Hill Station project workers. Many of the crews involve union industries and any work stoppages will be handled under bargained contracts.
The construction of “publicly financed low-income housing” has also been deemed essential but that component of Capitol Hill Station development has already been mostly wrapped up. A Capitol Hill Housing representative tells CHS that the affordable apartments in the Station House building just east of the station’s main entrance have already begun to fill with new residents.
With its 110 units, Station House is part of about 170 affordable units set to be part of the 430 or so new apartments being created above Broadway in the development. CHS reported here on the decades of community work that went into shaping priorities for the project.
When complete, the full development will span four buildings around Capitol Hill Station with hundreds of new apartments and more than 30,000 square feet of commercial space including a new H Mart, new retail, food, drink, and daycare businesses, and a new home for the farmers market, plus more than 200 underground parking stalls for cars, and 250 parking stalls for bikes.
The full project has been planned for a late 2020 opening. It’s not clear at this point if that goal is still possible.
Wednesday, King County reported its 100 death of the COVID-19 outbreak that started in late February. Officials are hopeful the increased social distancing efforts will continue to slow the spread of the virus in the area.
UPDATE: Add at least one major transit project to the construction shutdown. The Montlake Project to complete the western side of the 520 replacement project including a new lid over the highway has been put on pause by the state:
- 5/4/20: COVID-19 updates: Phase 1 begins, what’s in Phase 2 (and 3 and 4), King County removes antibody testing case counts, COVID-19 yard art
- 5/1/20: Washington extends COVID-19 restrictions through May, readies ‘four phase’ plan for reopening with limits on groups, restaurant capacity, and travel
- 4/30/20: Washington investigating state totals after COVID-19 ‘excess deaths’ report
- 4/30/20: Facing opposition from mayor and chamber advocates, Seattle tax on big businesses for COVID-19 relief and housing moves toward May vote
- Plus: Capitol Hill Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes offering takeout during COVID-19 ‘stay home’ restrictions