In Development: Station House Update

Last June, we celebrated the groundbreaking for transit-oriented development above the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station. CHH will build 110 apartments affordable to households earning at or below 30%, 50%, and 60% of area median income in a mix of studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units at the corner of 10th Avenue East and East John Street. The building is being built with a goal of reaching a LEED Platinum standard and will also include a 1,409 square foot community room. CHH plans to complete the framing of the top story on this, our 50th building, during the week of May 20th.


  See below for an animated look at the evolution of Station House since June!

Photos courtesy of Charles Hall. GIF by Yiling Wong.

Partner Spotlight: Q&A with A-P Hurd

Recently, CHH Housing Development Associate Charles Hall sat down with A-P Hurd, President of SkipStone, a consulting firm that provides real estate and planning services to private and public clients. She is the former president of Touchstone, a real estate development company that built nearly 3 million square feet of office, retail, hotel, and residential space between 2007 and 2017 and won the national Developer of the Year award in 2016. With our real estate team, she has been developing a model for alternative financing which could make the creation of affordable housing less dependent on government funding. Earlier this month, she gave the keynote speech at CHH’s Top of the Town dinner.

Q: What do you think are some common misconceptions about developers and the kinds of changes that occur when cities grow and neighborhoods transform? What would you want people to know about this work?

A: In a growing city, developers are the people who create capacity for new arrivals. For many people who don’t like that their city is growing (and therefore changing), it’s easy to blame developers. But the reality is that development is a consequence of population and job growth, not the cause.

Human migration is the biggest cause of urban growth in places like Seattle. Regional migration for economic reasons is an even bigger demographic force in the US than immigration, but people talk about it a lot less. There’s a lot of “good liberals” in Seattle that are pro-immigration but anti-growth in Seattle—however, the people coming to Seattle from other parts of the country are driven by the same search for economic opportunity as immigrants. So why shouldn’t we make room for them?

We talk a lot in Seattle about “preserving neighborhood character”, but that may be less important than housing everyone who needs it in our region and doing so in a way that is transit-connected to areas of economic opportunity. If you’re a good liberal, that should be the biggest goal of all.

Still, developers make a convenient bogeyman when people aren’t feeling brave.

Q: Last fall, the Seattle Office of Housing received more than $250 million in applications for housing but had only $40 million in its coffers. That seems to indicate great need as well as great motivation on the part of developers to build affordable housing. Tell us more about why helping Capitol Hill Housing is important to you and why a market rate commercial real estate developer might be a good partner?

A: Capitol Hill Housing is one of the most innovative affordable housing providers in the region. I love that CHH thinks big and thinks about environment and housing. CHH also thinks creatively and systemically about problems and gets things done.

In fact, the workforce housing project that we are working on together recognizes the need for housing at all price points and the importance of getting housing into production quickly. We’re hoping to come up with private sector capital strategies that can build workforce housing (80-90% of average median income) in larger volumes in the hands of an experienced non-profit like CHH, and get it built faster than we might otherwise be able, given the limited availability of public funds for a traditional non-profit capital structure. If we can do something replicable, it will be a huge win.

Q: Do you have a life philosophy that ties to the work you do?

A: Hmmm. Yes, but haven’t boiled it down to 200 words yet. How about this:  Be kind, be myself, think in systems, own the problems and work them, and live like someone who’s only got one planet.

Q: Describe an ideal developer in three words.

A: Creative, empathetic, realistic.

Press Release: SCIDpda leads new development for 158 apartments for Yesler family housing

March 25 – The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), and Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) announced a joint venture to develop 158 apartments of affordable homes for working families in a location near Yesler, Little Saigon, and the Central District.

The majority of the residential units in the development will be two- to four-bedroom units in order to address the growing need for housing for medium- and large-sized families. Additionally, the development will include an 8,000 square-foot child care/early-learning center to be operated by the Denise Louie Education Center. It will also feature units that can be licensed for in-residence operation of childcare. Other amenities will include common areas for resident gathering and activities; exterior courtyards for the child care/early learning center and community gardens. One thousand square feet of the portion of the building facing Yesler Avenue will be dedicated to community-based commercial/retail services. Thirty-nine parking stalls will serve housing residents and childcare center staff. The project is expected to be completed in 2021, and is the first new construction developed by SCIDpda since 2004.

Read more in our joint press release.

Press Release: Liberty Bank Building Ribbon Cutting March 23rd

Three more days before our Ribbon Cutting Celebration at the Liberty Bank Building!

Click here for our joint press release out (external link to Liberty Bank Building website) on the Ribbon Cutting Event for the newly-open building this Saturday March 23rd 11AM-2PM. See the press release for particulars on the village that helped make this building happen, and other exciting details.

RSVP for the event at http://bit.ly/lbb-2019.

That Brown Girl Cooks! at LBB

Kristi Brown and Damon Bomar of That Brown Girl Cooks! Photo courtesy of Kristi Brown

Kristi Brown, Chef Goddess of That Brown Girl Cooks!, alongside her son and business partner Damon Bomar, will open their first restaurant at the newly minted Liberty Bank Building (LBB) in just a few short months. How are they feeling about that? Elated.

“This is not going to be your typical restaurant. With so many expectations from such a huge spectrum of Seattle communities, we’re finding our middle ground,” she explains. Chef Kristi spends a lot of time thinking about what she wants people to experience from her expansive history in cooking. In a community that used to be 75% African American and is now 80% White, she plans to honor an ancestry of women who cooked in the Central District while also carving out a space for herself.

“The Liberty Bank Building is a pilgrimage back home,” she reflects. She’s not just speaking about herself coming back to the Central District but of LBB residents, as well. Having been a long time CD resident, Chef understands. She currently lives in affordable housing at Plaza Roberto Maestas on the El Centro de La Raza campus and recognizes the impact of living in intentionally equitable communities here in Seattle.

Chef Kristi wants to use the significance of the Liberty Bank Building, her skill as a chef, and her ties to the African American community to “bring everyone to a table!” particularly in a time of political upheaval.

To perform these miracles, she knows that she and her team have to be ready for this great responsibility. In order to put her talk about community into action, Chef Kristi is collaborating with Trisha Arcaro and has enrolled her entire company in boxing classes at Arcaro Boxing, a long standing tenant in the Jefferson apartments, a Capitol Hill Housing building. Trisha suggested the exercise as self-care, strengthening, and meditation for the upcoming task. Chef Kristi knows she’ll need it – her entire focus is on manifesting this long-awaited dream and building the next level of the That Brown Girl Cooks! empire.

Winter Storm Office Closure

Due to snow, the Capitol Hill Housing office is closed on Monday, February 11.

As possible, site staff are working at the apartment buildings and clearing snow from walkways. Many office staff are working remotely, so you may be able to contact them via email.

For CHH residents, please see this letter from Capitol Hill Housing’s Property Management for building information and winter weather tips.

For emergencies, please call the emergency line at: 206-204-8777.

Meeting Change Notice

Due to inclement weather, Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) might change the Board meeting originally scheduled to be held in the Pike Pine Conference Room at the CHH Main Office at 1620 12th Ave, Suite 206, Seattle, WA 98122 on Monday, February 11th from 5:30-7:30 pm.

This meeting might occur telephonically, at the same time, in which case the conference line below may be used to participate in the meeting.  

Dial:   862-902-0241      Access code:   5271708#

Thank you,

Capitol Hill Housing


Meeting Change Notice

Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) has changed the date of the Property Development Committee meeting originally scheduled to be held in the Belmont Conference Room at the CHH Main Office at 1620 12th Ave, Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98122 on Tuesday, February 5th from 5:30-6:30pm.

This meeting is now scheduled for Wednesday, February 6th from Noon-1pm in the same location.

Thank you,Capitol Hill Housing

Q&A with Senior Design Manager Jess Blanch

CHH Staffer Jess Blanch. Photo courtesy of Harry Connolly.

1. Congratulations on your recent promotion to Senior Design Manager. As a Rose Fellow at CHH, you’ve been instrumental in guiding our internal environmental work – greening our building portfolio. What does that work entail and how do you foresee it continuing under this new role?

Thank you! I am thrilled to continue my work with the team here at Capitol Hill Housing. Greening CHH’s portfolio includes not only ensuring our new buildings are designed to be as sustainable as they can be, but also finding opportunities to improve the energy and water efficiency in our existing properties which span building types, time periods, and sizes. The first step is called benchmarking–understanding how well our buildings perform, and then analyzing that performance to identify places where we could upgrade systems to reduce energy and water use. We have been working with a number of partners to do this work, and many of their recommendations are being wrapped into building renovations that will be happening over the next few years. These retrofits–things like toilets that use less water, low-energy LED light fixtures, or more efficient heating systems–will ultimately make our residents’ homes more comfortable and less expensive to operate with lower utility bills for both residents and CHH.

Beyond efficient buildings, we are also focusing on healthy materials. We are proud to partner with the Healthy Building Network’s HomeFree Initiative, which helps affordable housing organizations improve resident health outcomes by using less toxic products in our buildings. The Liberty Bank Building is the Pacific Northwest Demonstration Project for HomeFree, and we’re taking what we’ve learned from that project to develop design and operations standards that will reduce staff and resident exposure to toxic products. This work is being supported by the Washington State Department of Ecology and includes resident education and outreach. 

2. Your background is in architecture – what drives your passion for working in affordable housing?

For me, pursuing a career in architecture has always gone hand in hand with a commitment to helping others. The built environment plays a huge role in social, economic, and environmental justice, diversity, and equity. I strongly believe not only that housing is a human right, but that everyone deserves an affordable, well-designed, sustainable, and healthy home. Working in affordable housing development means I can affect decisions earlier in the process and ensure these priorities are baked into our work from the start.

3. In addition to driving environmental goals at CHH, you will be extensively involved in moving our pipeline of building projects forward. What there are you most excited about? 

I am really excited about some new developments I led during my Rose Fellowship and will continue to contribute to in the future: the White Center Community Hub and Jazz House. Both projects are collaborations with community organizations to build affordable housing co-located with social services and education opportunities in neighborhoods with high risk of displacement as our region continues to grow.  For the Hub we are partnering with Southwest Youth & Family Services, the White Center Community Development Association and King County to build affordable homes as well as social and community services in White Center. Jazz House is a partnership with local nonprofit Seattle JazzED, which will create an iconic new home for JazzED’s music education program for kids along with affordable homes in Rainier Valley.