Do we really need more arts space?

Capitol Hill’s beloved Egyptian Theatre

After breaking ground in February, construction is underway and on schedule at the 12th Avenue Arts site. Last month Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn declared “Capitol Hill Housing Day” – in recognition of our work, particularly on the 12th Avenue Arts project, which will create new space for arts and culture as well as affordable housing.

During the development of 12th Avenue Arts, the question has been raised many times: Do we really need more arts space? Occasionally a theater closes, and the question is asked even more loudly. Last week, the big news is that the Landmark Theatres chain, the nation’s largest collection of art house movie screens, is not renewing the lease on Capitol Hill’s beloved Egyptian Theatre.

When we set out to develop 12th Avenue Arts, we had a general idea of performing arts space – likely a 300-seat theater. Convening a group of artists, arts administrators and funders, we received a much more concrete answer. The most pressing need was for smaller theaters, well designed and equipped, and configurable to multiple uses. We took this feedback and designed two modern black box spaces of 150 and 80 seats. The theater companies that will occupy the building are thrilled – the capacities are more appropriate to their audiences, and it allowed the inclusion of scene shop space, dressing rooms and storage.

At 600 seats, the Egyptian is way too large for most theatre produced on Capitol Hill. But the demand for the space remains. The word on the street is that five groups have already expressed interest in leasing the Egyptian.

There goes the neighborhood?

See more photos on our Facebook page.

On June 11, Capitol Hill Housing hosted its 8th annual community forum at Broadway Performance Hall. The focus of this year’s forum was the massive amount of development happening on Capitol Hill and how it is changing the neighborhood.

CEO Christopher Persons showed that there are over 30 proposed developments with more than 2,800 apartments and more than 250,000 square feet of commercial space coming to the Hill. Yet currently, the only affordable housing being developed on Capitol Hill is our 12th Avenue Arts building.

Panelists Knute Berger, Sally Clark, Elizabeth Dunn, A-P Hurd, Stephen O’Connor, and moderator Michael Wells talked about the increasing demand for development in the area and discussed possible ways to maintain affordability.

So how do we preserve affordability and diversity on Capitol Hill? Follow us on facebook and join the conversation.

Watch video of the forum here at the Seattle Channel.

Read an interesting run-down of numbers from the forum here at the Capitol Hill Seattle blog.

Providing homes – creating great communities

We are very proud of our buildings – both the character properties that we have preserved and dramatic new construction. But the real reason we do what we do is to provide homes for our neighbors and to create great communities.

In 2012 we opened our 44th building, the Jefferson, in the Central District – welcoming 40 new households to the neighborhood. Three of the first residents to move in were Nicole and Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy and their 15-month-old daughter Vivienne.

Nicole recently completed her Bachelor’s degree and works for the Seattle Alehouses, travelling between Columbia City and Queen Anne. Ben works as a security guard at the Frye Art Museum and is a musician in a number of Seattle bands.

Before finding the Jefferson, they lived in a small one bedroom apartment on Capitol Hill. It was a tight fit for two. Once Vivienne arrived, it was vital that they find a home where a toddler could have room to grow. But affordable homes in central Seattle are few and far between – especially homes that are clean, safe, and quiet.

By providing affordable and high quality housing to families like Nicole and Benjamin’s, we ensure that central Seattle and all Seattle remain vibrant and diverse, and we help our residents to have more spendable income to meet their needs.

GiveBIG on May 15: Donate to CHH through the Seattle Foundation website on May 15, 2013 to support our Resident Services program, which works to build community for all CHH residents.

Advocating for housing

Capitol Hill Housing Foundation joined more than 650 advocates from around the state in Olympia on February 11 for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day. Participants attended workshops, rallied on the steps of the capitol, and met with legislators to share their stories.

Advocacy doesn’t stop after a visit to Olympia! There are a number of ways to stay involved throughout the legislative session to be sure our leaders know how important it is to support housing.

We encourage you to urge your elected officials to support $175 million for the Housing Trust Fund in this biennium’s Capital Budget. And at the Federal level, you can advocate for maintaining Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which are a key funding tool for affordable housing developments.

Learn more about how you can advocate for crucial housing policies through the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

Join CHH at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day

Monday, February 11, 2013
8am – 3pm

At the State Capitol in Olympia

Join CHH staff, residents, and other advocates as we urge our elected officials to increase access to affordable housing and to protect services that prevent and end homelessness.

Attendance is free; suggested donation is $20.

Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. Transportation may be arranged.

RSVP: to Ashley Palar, CHH’s Resident Services Coordinator at 206-204-3808 or

For more info on Advocacy Day, check out the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

Jefferson grand opening

Capitol Hill Housing is pleased to announce the grand opening of our 44th building – The Jefferson!

Friday, October 19, 2-4pm
1206 E. Jefferson St. 

A vacant lot for 40 years has been transformed into a home for many families and individuals in the neighborhood.

The building consists of 40 affordable apartments and 4,500 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. The Jefferson has many green features and meets Washington State Evergreen Standard requirements.

Join us for this community celebration, with food from Lemongrass, building tours and brief remarks from City, County, and State officials and Capitol Hill Housing leadership.

More voices to be heard

CHH Resident Services Coordinator Ashley Palar is working with the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance on a non-partisan voter engagement campaign. They are committing to increase voter turn-out in underserved communities.

Ashley says:
“At Capitol Hill Housing, we often interact with individuals who may experience barriers to voting. We have an opportunity to help folks overcome some of those barriers by providing voter registration materials at application or lease signing time and at community events planned throughout the summer. This makes it possible for more voices to be heard and the issues that are important to all of our communities to be addressed.”

Learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved – read Ashley’s post at the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance blog.

The Jefferson: Halfway there

Construction of our new development at 12th & Jefferson is more than 50% complete!

What was once a gas station, and sat vacant for many years, will soon become 40 new affordable homes for members of Seattle’s workforce and their families. In addition to five floors of apartments, the building will offer street-level commercial spaces that we encourage neighborhood businesses to consider leasing. The centrally located Jefferson is set to open in late summer 2012.

View more photos on facebook.

12th Avenue Arts – Final Design Review

Capitol Hill Housing’s project to build a vibrant home for the performing arts, locally owned retail, community & nonprofit office space, and affordable housing in the heart of Capitol Hill – has reached a key juncture in its decade long journey.

This Wednesday, May 16th, Capitol Hill Housing will take 12th Avenue Arts before the Seattle Design Review Board for its final design and zoning review. Achieving approval by the Design Review Board is a critical step in 12th Avenue Arts moving forward in order to start construction this year.

We invite you to attend the Design Review Board meeting and share your support for 12th Avenue Arts! There will be a short presentation by the project team followed by an open period for public comment.

Wednesday, May 16, 6:30 – 7:30pm
Seattle University Student Center, Room 130

UPDATE: Corrected map to location

View the full presentation to the Design Review Board (PDF, 66Mb)

Creating an EcoDistrict

How do we make Capitol Hill a model of sustainable development?

Capitol Hill Housing’s 7th Annual Community Forum   

Moderator: Former HUD Deputy Secretary and King County Executive Ron Sims

EcoDistrict report cover imageDistinguished panelists:
•    Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn
•    Denis Hayes, President of the Bullitt Foundation and founder of Earth Day
•    Naomi Cole, EcoDistrict Program Director at Portland Sustainability Institute
•    Llewellyn Wells, President of Living City Block
•    Rebecca Saldaña, Equitable Transit Oriented Development Program Director at Puget Sound Sage

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway, Seattle, WA  98122
•    5:00 PM Doors open
•    5:30 PM Presentation & Panel Discussion
•    7:00 PM Reception

Capitol Hill Housing is leading the effort to create an EcoDistrict in our neighborhood.

We invite you to hear a presentation on Capitol Hill EcoDistrict research, join a discussion with a panel of local and national urban sustainability leaders, and find out how you can become an active participant in the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict. Together we can make Capitol Hill a model for sustainable development!

Free and open to the public – RSVP required – Register now.

Learn more about the EcoDistrict.

Produced by the Capitol Hill Housing Foundation in partnership with The Bullitt Foundation, GGLO, Preservation Green Lab, Seattle University; Event sponsors: Boeing, Weyerhaeuser