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Why there might* be a temporary** hotel above Capitol Hill Station

Building C is lined up to be apartments above a daycare and and a dentist office… eventually.

* COVID-19

apartments are worth more than hotel units?

As construction on the buildings rising above Capitol Hill Station is completed, the project’s lead developer has been looking for ways to put the properties and their hundreds of new apartment units along Broadway to use as quickly as possible. You might see a new hotel operating in the neighborhood next to the busy transit station — for a while, at least.

Developer Gerding Edlen is securing permits for a possible temporary transition in plans from apartments to 60 hotel rooms managed by the WhyHotel chain on the project’s southwest edge above Broadway and E Barbara Bailey Way, Jill Sherman of Capitol Hill Station master tells CHS.

WhyHotel is a Washington, D.C. based player in the growing “apartment hotel” industry that is targeting a more premium, extended stay and work housing-focused cut of the hospitality market. CHS reported in January on Sonder, another industry startup, stepping in to replace planned office space in an eight-story, 65-unit apartment and mixed-use building rising on the land where a surface parking lot once spread out on Pine just above downtown. Two floors of the under construction building will be dedicated to the hotel units while the rest of the upper floors will be standard apartment units. The change in plans in this project was a simpler effort — the city treats office and lodging as the same use category.

The proposed plan on Broadway, meanwhile, comes as a solution to construction on each of the “transit oriented development” buildings set to be wrapped up over the course of the rest of year. Some, like the 110 affordable units in Station House are being planned to be ready for new, qualifying residents in only a matter of weeks.

Others like the “premium” apartments being planned for the “B-South” building overlooking Cal Anderson won’t be ready until August at the earliest, Sherman said. The hotel proposal could help put the “Building C” property into motion — and generating cash — as soon as its construction is complete.

Building C is lined up to be part of more than 400 new apartment units and thousands of square feet of commercial space above Capitol Hill Station. 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. An unidentified dentistry practice will also be part of the building below its upper floors of apartments.

A representative for Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections confirmed the existing use of Building C “is permitted as residential use (apartments or condos).”

“However, a 6-month temporary use permit has been requested to allow the building to be used as lodging (hotel) in the short term,” the rep writes. “Once a permit is issued, a series of 6-month renewals can be requested for up to a length of two years. Afterwards, the use reverts back to the permitted residential use.”

The temporary hotels are a bit of a trend in the city’s most recent development. At 210 Wall Street, a similar proposal is in the works. “In that case, the applicant stated that high rise residential buildings take an average of 12 to 24 months to fully lease, leading the applicant to propose to change the use to lodging, as a temporary use, for four floors of the completed building,” the city rep said.

Even with the permit in hand, a temporary hotel at Capitol HIll Station might not happen. Like most plans right now, concerns over COVID-19 could put everything on hold.

“Due to the current disruption to travel, this may not end up going forward,” Sherman said.

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1 year ago

How does this help shortage of housing – turn it into a giant Airbnb basically !? WTF. If it’s zoned residential then force them to provide housing.

1 year ago
Reply to  Nope

Feels like a giant bait and switch. While the neighborhood’s favorite (dog 😉) park was surrounded by construction, at least we could be satisfied with the promise that the construction was new housing to meet the needs of the neighborhood. Nope! Instead we get a giant AirBnB.

Rather than lower rent to meet actual demand, the strategy is clearly to keep the rent artificially high–for up to two years!–while a slow trickle of affluent buyers gradually fills the occupancy.

What good is building more housing when we allow the developers to manipulate the market, keep massive vacancies, or in this case, set up a massive AirBnB. A huge hotel does nothing for our neighborhood.

1 year ago

TurnCalAndersonIntoADogPark, Nope, you both nail it. It’s amazing that Seattle’s planning is amongst the best in the USA, yet our planners and the council overseeing them are full of crap or just stupid. They refuse to take drastic actions to create affordable housing en masse (e.g. rent controls, setting up a public utility to build housing), saying that the private sector will build and build until there is so much housing that it’ll catch up to demand and then rents will level off or decrease. Rrrright. What a crock. Only an imbecile or a complicit person would utter such BS. Grrr.

BTW, why are there only 400 units on this huge sight DIRECTLY ABOVE A SUBWAY STATION and amidst all services in an already high density area?! This should have been 2, 3 or 4 times bigger with 1,000+ affordable unites. Seattle planning and council are so incompetent, even if they are far from the worst. Ugh.