COVID-19 restrictions bring most Seattle construction to a halt — including Capitol Hill Station’s hundreds of new apartments

Capitol Hill Station’s “transit oriented development” construction will come to a halt (Image: CHS)

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. Continue reading

CHS Pics | A very big crane comes safely down at 14th and Madison

The first major disassembly and removal on Capitol Hill following April’s deadly crane fall in South Lake Union was not uneventful.

High winds last Friday forced crews to stop the effort above the mixed-use construction at 14th and E Madison mid-project.

It was completed without incident — like most of the big crane projects across Capitol Hill and the Central District in the last decade —  on a much calmer day this Tuesday as Chinn Construction crews again set to taking apart the huge machine section by section above the closed 14th Ave. Continue reading

Many cranes above Capitol Hill and the CD, few safety incidents over decade of intense development

In a neighborhood full of construction cranes, you might be looking at the Capitol Hill sky a little differently after Saturday’s terrible accident on Mercer. But with a development wave of more than a decade reshaping Pike/Pine and Broadway, reported incidents involving cranes and Capitol Hill construction sites have been few and far between.

Most incidents CHS has reported on over the years have been minor and fortunately there have been few injuries. In 2013, for example, a crane working on the 12th Ave Arts building dropped a bundle of shoring beams. Nobody was reported injured and the project was not significantly delayed by the incident.

Beyond cranes, the neighborhood’s construction sites have only been the location of a handful of significant emergency situations over the years. Continue reading

Here’s how to keep track of two years of construction coming around Capitol Hill Station

Capitol Hill Housing’s Station House is slated to open in 2019

The ribbon has been cut on the project to surround Capitol Hill Station with housing, retail, and community development. Come 2020, commercial activity will return to the block for the first time since 2006 and a whole bunch of new Capitol Hill neighbors will call this stretch of Broadway home. But, first, current neighbors need to deal with two years of construction and the rise of two new tower cranes in the heart of Broadway. Here’s how to keep up to date.

This Capitol Hill Station Project Page from the development’s lead contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis will be used to keep the neighborhood alerted to coming construction, the latest milestones, and when big new elements of the construction process will be moving into place, a project representative tells CHS.

The first update for July deals with a key element of the earliest stages of the project — digging up a lot of dirt: Continue reading

Melrose Market merchants say Capitol Hill construction hurting business

The future view from Melrose of the eight-story Excelsior

The future view from Melrose of the eight-story Excelsior

Melrose Market from developer Liz Dunn, often held up as a prime example of locally friendly development on Capitol Hill, is apparently the victim of locally unfriendly construction in the neighborhood:

Russ Flint, owner of Rain Shadow Meats, says sales have dropped between 13 and 20 percent each year since construction began in earnest in 2013, while his newer Pioneer Square location remains steady. Obviously there could be tons of factors at play here, but Flint points to instances when construction shut down Melrose on a Friday or plans called for blocking all street parking the entire week of Thanksgiving (those closure dates changed after some serious pushback from Melrose Market businesses). If you’re performing repair work on a major city thoroughfare, these are the times that cause the least disruption. If you operate a business that sells food (like, say, heritage Thanksgiving turkeys), it’s the financial equivalent of a sucker punch.

Cheese monger Sheri LaVigne announced that construction headaches are enough to force her to close the market’s Calf and Kid cheese counter. Her Culture Club cheese bar opened late in 2015 on 12th Ave. UPDATE: LaVigne tells CHS Calf and Kid will live on. She’s moving the cheese counter to Culture Club where you’ll be able to enjoy cheese flights and pairings — and, now, pick up some of LaVigne’s delicious selections to take home.

Restaurateur Matt Dillon, who operates two businesses inside Melrose Market, also told Seattle Met that construction is disrupting his restaurant’s business. Dillon just opened Upper Bar Ferdinand inside Chophouse Row on 11th Ave, Dunn’s newest project.

Continue reading

New rules supposed to keep sidewalks open, streets safe around Capitol Hill construction

Detour, Sidewalk Closed, Stop!
If a new set of rules work as intended, it should be a lot safer to walk — and drive and bike — around Capitol Hill’s continuing wave of big construction projects. The Seattle Department of Transportation has new rules to govern when and if a developer can close a sidewalk during construction.

The biggest change, according to Brian de Place, street use director for SDOT, is a policy statement that changes the tone for sidewalk closures. As a general rule, it’s expected that Seattle sidewalks shall remain open during construction.

“Closures are a last resort,” de Place said.

As a result, future projects are expected to find a way to keep the sidewalk passable rather than sending pedestrians across streets and around blocks. “That’s out default. That’s our starting point,” de Place tells CHS. “You are minimizing the instances when someone has to cross the street.” The new rules mean a new effort around enforcement. If you see conditions around a construction site which you think are unsafe, report them to Specific locations and pictures can help make sure things get cleared up as quickly as possible.

The old regulations, which date to 2011, did not have as concise a phrase, and didn’t consider keeping the sidewalk open to be the goal, on a policy level. “At the time, it provided some level of consistency, but it didn’t get the city where it needed to go,” de Place said. Continue reading

Sound Transit: The ‘restoration’ of Broadway and John about to begin

This image of the “conex box” was featured in our January 16th “week in pictures” post

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(Image: Sound Transit — so don’t blame us for the E Olive Way mistake)

It sounds nearly biblical. With service slated to begin in less than a year and the bulk of tunnel and station construction complete, Sound Transit has announced that its contractors will begin a new phase of work this weekend to recreate the sidewalk, curbs, and gutters around Capitol Hill Station along Broadway and E John. Details of the construction work are below including the planned removal Saturday of the big red “conex box” used for pedestrian safety along E John adjacent the construction site. Removal of the Big Red Wall is also underway along with the art projects that have accumulated on the block over the the past five years. Sound Transit estimates the restoration will take about six weeks.

Meanwhile, we’re told Sound Transit was preparing a response to Capitol Hill Housing’s protest over details of the proposal from Gerding Edlen for the Portland-based developer to lease or purchase — and then develop — the transit agency’s two acres of land surrounding Capitol Hill Station. All sides say the issue is moving forward and that they expect to have a resolution in place before a planned May 16th open house.

Restoration of Broadway and E. John Street starts May 2nd

Sound Transit’s contractor has obtained a noise variance from the City of Seattle to remove the pedestrian conex box on E. John Street between Broadway and 10th Avenue E. from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday, May 2, 2015. Residents may hear noise from the equipment used to remove the conex box and from trucks used to load and haul the pieces from the site.

There will be intermittent closures of the eastbound curb lane on E. John Street in order to safely complete the removal. A police officer and flaggers will direct vehicles and pedestrians around the work area.

Following the conex box removal, crews will begin to demolish the red wall at this location, then install curbs, gutters and sidewalks along the east side of Broadway between E. Denny Way and E. John Street and along E. John Street between Broadway and 10th Avenue E.

On-street parking will be restricted along Broadway between E. Denny Way and E. John Street during restoration work. This phase of restoration is expected to take approximately six weeks to complete, depending on weather.
What to expect:

  • Flaggers and detour signage will direct vehicles and pedestrians around the work area. Intermittent daytime noise from demolition and saws and jackhammers as crews break up concrete and repave the area.
  • Sidewalk closures and restricted on-street parking in the work area.

Further updates will be provided as work proceeds in the area.

600+ new apartments around Capitol Hill this year, even more ready in 2016

(Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

(Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

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Seattle in Progress and more than 90 either planned or permitted (below)

Seattle in Progress shows 23 projects completed around Capitol Hill in the past year (top) and more than 90 either planned or permitted (below)

Greater Capitol Hill will be home to at least 600 new apartment units in 2015 as the most recent wave of ongoing construction projects finally finish up. A recent report from Dupre+Scott Apartment Advisors projects 729 new units will open in 2016 and 707 in 2017.

In all likelihood, the true number will be even higher as the Dupre+Scott report doesn’t count microhousing, subsidized/nonprofit housing, or buildings that have under 20 units.

Last year, the real estate analysts counted 778 new units in the Capitol Hill region, which includes Eastlake and First Hill. Across the Puget Sound, a record total of 12,000 apartments are expected to open this year, Scott said. Some 48,000 apartments are expected to open in the region by 2019.

So can all this new supply keep up with demand and put the brakes on climbing rents? Continue reading

Sweatbox trying to hang in until Pike/Pine development means new customers, not torn up streets


(Images: Sweatbox)

10542681_4272840075181_1655506004600303129_oCapitol Hill’s Sweatbox, one of the first purveyors of Bikram Yoga in Seattle, is in a fight for its life to survive years of 10th Ave construction. Thousands of new residents — and potential yoga students — are coming to Pike/Pine. The studio’s Laura Culberg is doing everything she can to hold the pose until they get here.

“We’re just trying to get a breath,” Culberg told CHS.

Culberg said that ongoing construction and torn up streets for infrastructure upgrades to support new Pike/Pine developments have severely damaged Sweatbox’s Capitol Hill business. It’s a similar situation at the other businesses on 10th and 11th just south of E Pike though the likes of Neumos have so far weathered the challenges. There is no public mitigation money for the private projects necessitating the work. Instead, Culberg said she was forced to file a claim with the city asking for more than $11,000 for lost business — one life raft she has been hoping for to help Sweatbox survive the ongoing lean times.

But in the course of reporting this story, CHS had the sorry business of informing Culberg that the city had rejected her claim. Continue reading

Celebrate Earth Day at the greenest office building in your neighborhood… and the world

This is how the corner of 15th and Madison looked three Earth Days ago. That roof looks pretty green.8656027714_cdb2af84e3_b

While CC’s won’t be part of the celebration *this* Earth Day (the bar was reportedly offered a space but at one point but opted instead for an E Olive Way move) it should still be a pretty good party at the Bullitt Center

“The greenest commercial building in the world…”

that used to be a gay bar.

Over the weekend, one of the finishing touches before next Monday’s celebration of the project was completed as students planted the landscaping inside the overhauled McGilvra Place Park that fronts the Bullitt building. A Seattle U study once called the urban greenspace “the loneliest” place on Capitol Hill but CHS liked it fine for sitting for a summer lunch as Madison rushed by. The new Pacific Northwest-lush plantings will make it even nicer.

IMG_1833 Continue reading