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August 6, 2013

Residents pack Capitol Hill micro-apartment project

Courtesy Abby Inpanbutr

Another micro-apartment project on Capitol Hill is filling up.

Representatives of ONEONE6, a four-story, 57-studio building at 116 13th Ave. E., said 45 of the units have been leased.

The project, developed in a joint venture between Eagle Rock Ventures and Gordian Development, opened in June.

The studio units are between 175 square feet and 280 square feet and are grouped into eight “dwelling units,” each with a common kitchen.

Rents vary between $675 and $950 per month. According to Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors, average rent in the Capitol Hill/Eastlake area as of March is $1,213.

There is a 2,300-square-foot roof top deck with views of the city skyline and the mountains.

S+H Works LLC is the architect on the project, and Cascade Built LLC is the general contractor. Other team members include: Nick Bossoff Engineering, civil engineer; CT Engineering, structural engineer; The Riley Group Inc., environmental and geotechnical engineer; Heier Design Group, landscape architect. Sound Community Bank was the lender on the project.

Micro-apartment complexes have started to pop up in dense areas like Capitol Hill and the University District.

According to city records, there are approximately 45 micro-apartment projects built or planned, with a total of 2,139 studio units.

The complexes have been a source of controversy for neighbors. Proponents say they provide low-income housing, while opponents say they don't belong in single-family neighborhoods and need to be more tightly regulated, especially when it comes to parking.

Seattle's Department of Planning and Development earlier this summer said the units are a valuable source of low-income housing but need to be further defined in city code. In a series of preliminary recommendations, DPD said micro-apartments should not be allowed in single-family neighborhoods and should be subject to design review based on the size of the building rather than the number of “dwelling units” in the project. DPD also would require one parking space for every four studios in areas that require parking in projects.

The biggest regulatory issue was clarified before DPD weighed in. DPD and the Seattle Office of Housing learned some developers were using different unit numbers for their projects. By calling eight studios grouped around a common kitchen one “dwelling unit,” developers could avoid design review. But they counted all the studios as dwelling units to win a property tax exemption for low-income housing.

This inconsistency was fixed back in April.

DPD presented these preliminary recommendations to the council's Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee in June. DPD is now putting together draft legislation on micro-apartments, which could go in front of the City Council in November or December.

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