Seattle Fire battles blaze in Bellevue Ave lowrise lined up for redevelopment — UPDATE

UPDATE: An image from the blaze sent to CHS by a neighbor

Thanks to reader Mark for the pictures from the scene

A small apartment lowrise at Bellevue and Harrison destined for redevelopment as a six story, 20-unit residential building burned overnight on the western slope of Capitol Hill.

Seattle Fire was called to the scene around 4:21 AM to reports of smoke and flames coming from the two-story building. The fire was reported knocked down and under control just before 5 AM. There were no reported injuries. Continue reading

Seattle downtown Convention Center expansion developers say won’t need loans from city, county, and state

A model of the Washington State Convention Center expansion (Image: WSCC Addition)

Developers of the downtown Washington State Convention Center expansion will turn to the muni bond market to raise much needed cash to continue construction on the project after a year of economic uncertainty.

The Pine Street Group announced a deal Wednesday for the sale of $342 million in 10-year bonds with an interest yield of 2.801%. PFM Financial Advisors of Seattle managed the bond offering.

The financing plan required state approval.

The group had been asking the City of Seattle, King County, and the state to help patch a $300 million financing hole to keep construction on the $1.9 billion project moving forward.

The Pine Street Group said “roll out of COVID-19 vaccines and significant stimulus support from the Federal government” have led to “changing financing markets” allowing the private deal to move forward. Continue reading

Plan for new City Market building: eight stories, mass timber, and a new home for the longtime Capitol Hill grocery — UPDATE

A rendering of the preferred design showing the proposed basic layout of the development (Image: Ennead Architects)

Plans spawned pre-pandemic for a mixed-use development to replace — and create a new home for — Capitol Hill’s City Market along with eight stories of new apartment and retail space just off E Olive Way will move forward Wednesday night with the “mass timber” project’s first pass through the Seattle design review process.

The review will be a test for Juno Residential, a San Francisco real estate startup launched only last summer with Apple and Tesla pedigree that is seeking to change the residential development market with mass production and pre-fabrication techniques. New York’s Ennead Architects is designing the project while Capitol Hill’s Board & Vellum has provided the landscape plan.

UPDATE 4/1/2021: Wednesday night, the review board agreed the project is ready to move forward in the city’s development permitting process. It will move on to its second and possible final review in coming months.

CHS first reported on the Bellevue Ave and E Olive Way development plans from local firm Barrientos Ryan for the property and early promises that City Market would remain in the mix in the fall of 2019.

Juno’s just revealed plans propose an eight-story, 102-unit timber apartment building with 6,200-square-feet of ground floor retail including a new home for City Market. Parking for two vehicles — presumably for City Market’s needs — is included in the proposal. Continue reading

Examiner: Plans for E Union affordable cross-laminated timber apartment building can move forward

An early concept for the planned mass timber project (Image: Atelier Jones)

Affordable developer Community Roots Housing can move forward on its the cross-laminated timber Heartwood Apartments project near 14th and Union.

Formerly known as Capitol Hill Housing, the developer faced an environmental appeal of the city’s approval of its plans for an 8-story apartment building on what is now a parking lot on the corner of 14th Ave E and E Union, diagonally across from Skillet Diner. Continue reading

Surrounded by taller buildings with room for more people on all sides, two 1906-built houses set to finally make way for development on Bellevue Ave E

A rendering shows how the building will fit in on Bellevue Ave E

Already surrounded by buildings ranging from three to eleven stories, the last remaining single family-style homes on a stretch of Capitol Hill’s Bellevue Ave E just off E Olive Way will meet with demolition crews if a project coming before the East Design Review Board is approved. But questions remain about whether or not a small stand of trees will meet the same fate.

The project involves properties and two 1906-built homes that have been lined up for redevelopment for most of the past of decade as new buildings sprung up in the nearby area and filled the neighborhood in.

The around 170-unit project comes amid ongoing demand for new housing in the city despite the COVID-19 crisis and economic fallout.

The plan is for two adjacent parcels at 123 and 127 Bellevue Ave E, roughly where E John hits Bellevue and stops – about a block north of Denny. Each of the two sites is currently occupied by a building constructed in 1906.

One is still a single-family home. The other started that way and has been renovated and expanded to become a 13-unit apartment building with a small parking lot. The proposed building is surrounded on all sides by apartment buildings, ranging from three to 11 stories. Continue reading

From market rate to affordable, Low Income Housing Institute buying brand new Capitol Hill apartment building

(Image: LIHI)

A newly constructed Capitol Hill apartment building destined to become part of the neighborhood’s market rate housing will instead be used for affordable housing.

With a mix of public financing, Low Income Housing Institute says it is buying the newly constructed, seven story, 76-unit apartment development in the 600 block of E Howell. LIHI announced the Clay Apartments deal late last year but the Seattle Times reported on the transition of the “building planned for upscale market-rate rentals into affordable housing for people who are currently homeless” this week. Continue reading

QFC to shutter 15th Ave E grocery as company axes two Seattle stores over COVID-19 hazard pay — UPDATE

Blaming the city’s newly imposed $4 an hour COVID-19 hazard pay for grocery workers, QFC announced Tuesday it is closing two “underperforming” Seattle stores including its Capitol Hill grocery on 15th Ave E.

“Our business provides affordable groceries, good jobs with growth opportunities to thousands of Seattle residents, and proudly supports thousands of local community organizations,” the statement from the Kroger-owned grocery company announcing the closures reads. “We need a level playing field to deliver on these commitments. Unfortunately, Seattle City Council didn’t consider that grocery stores — even in a pandemic — operate on razor-thin profit margins in a very competitive landscape. When you factor in the increased costs of operating during COVID-19, coupled with consistent financial losses at these two locations, and this new extra pay mandate, it becomes impossible to operate a financially sustainable business.”

Kroger’s most recent reports show the company smashing forecasts with a surge in revenue and profits during the pandemic.

The 15th Ave E store will remain open through April 24th, the company said. The 35th Ave NE store in Wedgwood is also on the chopping block. Continue reading

Hoped to help address displacement in the Central District, Mount Zion’s affordable senior housing project taking shape on 19th Ave

(Image: Rolluda Architects)

Mount Zion’s affordable senior housing development hoped to help address displacement and gentrification could begin construction as soon as this summer.

The property is on 19th Ave just north of Madison and is being developed by Mount Zion Housing Development, the housing arm of the nearby Mount Zion Baptist Church. The property is currently occupied by the Price Arms apartments on a lot shaped roughly like a triangle with one end cut off. The existing building, a two-story, four-unit apartment building that county tax records indicate was built in 1901, would be demolished. Mount Zion housing has owned the property for decades.

The project will add to a small wave of new housing for seniors in the area and could be part of a series of new buildings related to Mount Zion as one of Seattle’s leading Black churches moves forward on long-held plans to develop its property holdings. Continue reading

It will be affordable and environmentally innovative but here’s why a neighbor is fighting plans for the cross-laminated timber Heartwood Apartments

An early concept for the planned mass timber project (Image: Atelier Jones)

The fate of a proposed affordable housing development on Capitol Hill that will also help trailblaze the construction of “mass timber” buildings in Seattle should be known in the next few days after an appeal from a neighbor put would looks like a temporary kink in the plans.

Community Roots Housingformerly known as Capitol Hill Housing – has planned to build an 8-story apartment building on what is now a parking lot on the corner of 14th Ave E and E Union, diagonally across from Skillet Diner. The new Heartwood Apartments would include some ground floor retail, and 126 units. Rents in the new building would be designed to be affordable to people with an income level between 60% and 100% of the area median. The building would include no parking.

The city had approved the construction of the building, but that decision was appealed by Naomi Ruden, a resident of the adjacent Helen V apartments.

Developments in the area — and the city — have faced these kinds of appeals with regularity even as City Hall has looked to rein in the use of tools like landmarking or the State Environmental Policy Act to slow or stop approved projects.

The Heartwood case came before the Hearing Examiner January 26th. Hearing Examiners fill a quasi-judicial role and are meant to provide an impartial decision reviewing city decisions.

In the appeal filed December 1st, Ruden noted that the existing parking lot is used by resident of the Helen V. Ruden is one of several residents of the Helen V who require handicapped parking access provided in the lot, she said. She was concerned that that access would be lost, and there are no plans to replace the spots for those in need. Continue reading

Developer: City of Seattle will consider loan to help patch $300M convention center expansion financing gap

The City of Seattle is exploring providing a loan to help the Washington State Convention Center “overcome a coronavirus-induced financing gap,” the developer of the $1.9 billion project says.

The announcement follows December’s efforts from King County officials to shape a possible $100 million loan to help patch a $300 million financing hole in the “4/5ths” complete project to expand the downtown convention center along Pine between downtown and Capitol Hill.

“The City believes that completion of the WSSC Summit Addition project is critical for the long-term future of Seattle’s economy. In addition, continued work on the Addition will provide hundreds of family-wage construction jobs right now, which will help the community more quickly recover from the current recession,” City of Seattle Senior Deputy Mayor Michael Fong said in a letter committing to the proposal, according to expansion project officials.

Any loan from the city would require City Council approval. Expansion project developer the Pine Street Group says both the county and the city loans would “depends on participation by the State.” Continue reading