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Seattle Central looking for partners to build new Broadway tech building, EcoDistrict heating system for Capitol Hill campus

Seattle Central’s proposed Information Technology Education Center

As Seattle Central College wrestles with a near-term budget crunch that threatens some of its most popular programs, long-term plans to upgrade its Capitol Hill campus with a new up to $25 million EcoDistrict project and a development effort to create a new six-story Information Technology Education Center on Broadway are moving forward.

The school is currently seeking proposals for the major projects that are quickly moving from long-term plans to reality — the EcoDistrict plan to “generate as much of our heating, cooling, and electric power needs on campus as possible and without the use of fossil fuels” by partnering “with private entities to construct and operate a clean energy central power plant on
campus” is being lined up to be operational by 2023.

CHS reported in spring of 2021 on the school’s efforts to update its master plan including the vision for the ITEC building.

Now SCC has opened the call for developers to step forward with proposals to lead the project with applications due by June.

“We own 25,000 square feet of land on Broadway adjacent to the new light rail station on Capitol Hill. Our development rights are vested through our major institution master plan,” the pitch reads. “That means we do our own environmental (SEPA) reviews and we can build to a height of 105’ feet on an expedited timeline.”

The school is hoping for a partner who wants to stick around and also use the building in a “co-location” capacity — “You can help us expose students to how your company and the tech industry really works by practicing the skills they are learning with your employees,” the pitch reads.

The mixed-use project planned for the 1800 block of Broadway would neighbor the west-side Broadway entrance to Capitol Hill Station with room for classrooms, laboratories, and other student uses as well as office space, would be funded by the college from sources outside the state, officials have said. It would also have room for nearly 200 underground parking spots — accessed from Harvard — as the college’s long-term plans also include replacing its large parking garage along E Pine with a new student housing development above a smaller, but still robust underground parking structure.

The school is optimistic about growing its ITEC offerings. “By housing associate and bachelor degree programs together with industry partners in the same space, it is possible to build a certificate-to degree-to-job pipeline with the benefits of scale realized by making infrastructure and technology investments in one place,” its call for developer letters of intent reads.

Meanwhile, the EcoDistrict project is more pressing. School officials says the campus’s steam heating infrastructure is “at the end of its anticipated life” and, without money in the state budget, a new partnership must be forged to replace it.

“Failure of the system would require closure of the main campus,” the call for proposals reads. “At present, the State board’s capital funding model is unable to fund replacing this steam system. Therefore, SCC needs to find innovative solutions to reinvest in our existing assets without State capital funding. This EcoDistrict is our proposed solution.

The project could cost as much as $25 million to upgrade and replace the campus’s “corroded piping, heat exchangers, steam traps, and water-wasting condensate sewer connections” while installing new “zero-carbon” electric water heating systems, create a new water storage facility on campus, and remove and upgrade other failing and soon to fail equipment around the campus.

CHS reported here on the old pipes still bringing heating steam to Capitol Hill and beyond from the Seattle Steam Company. On cool mornings and late nights, you’ll see steam rising from the streets around the area.

Seattle Central’s project would be the latest in the city as large institutional customers transition to new, cleaner, more efficient sources.

In March, CHS reported on development plans on First Hill that will forge an EcoDistrict in partnership with Swedish Health Services and Providence Health to divert excess heat from their First Hill Campus to an energy sharing platform.

Seattle Central says partner candidates must be ready to move fast to put a new system into place. It wants to have the EcoDistrict system operational by November 2023.


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3 months ago

“the EcoDistrict plan to “generate as much of our heating, cooling, and electric power needs on campus as possible and without the use of fossil fuels”

How do they plan to do this? Wind turbines on campus? Solar panels on all the buildings? Nuclear? Great goal, but short on details.