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April 15, 2014

14 firms vying for Capitol Hill light rail station TOD parcels

Journal Staff Reporter

Fourteen developers and partnerships responded to Sound Transit's request for qualifications to build on parcels near the future light rail station on Capitol Hill.

The station will be on Broadway between East John Street and Seattle Central Community College.

Meeting June 2
Sound Transit and Capitol Hill Champion will hold a public meeting with the developers chosen for the short list at 5:30 p.m. June 2 in Broadway Performance Hall at 1625 Broadway on Capitol Hill.

Information provided by Sound Transit showed the developers are both local and national groups, and several have developed projects on Capitol Hill before.

The local companies are Bellwether Housing, Capitol Hill Housing, Emerald Bay Equity, Lake Union Partners, Security Properties and an entity related to Maria Barrientos. They want to develop some or all of the land.

Eight non-local developers also want a piece of the action, ranging from a company that has built malls all over the West Coast including in Wenatchee, to one of the most prolific high-density office and residential developers in Vancouver B.C.

Many of the national companies that responded have projects in Seattle. They are: CenterCal Properties of El Segundo, Calif.; Gerding Edlen of Portland; Lennar Multifamily Communities of Miami; Lowe Enterprises Investors of Los Angeles; MacFarlane Partners of San Francisco; The Wolff Co. of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Westbank Projects Corp. of Vancouver B.C.; and Jonathan Rose Cos. of New York, which is working with Capitol Hill Housing.

A minimum of 397 apartments could be built on the four sites. Construction could begin in 2016 after the station is complete.

Each site has specific requirements. Some must be mixed-use, others must be low-income housing and others must participate in the city's Multifamily Property Tax Exemption program.

There is a fifth parcel but Seattle Central Community College has the right of first refusal for that site. If Sound Transit and Seattle Central can't reach an agreement, that site will be offered as well.

Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray said the agency got more responses than it expected and is encouraged by the level of interest.

“It just shows what a great site this is, and what an exciting set of projects this is going to be on prime real estate in the middle of the city,” he said.

Gray said Sound Transit expects to notify firms by May 28 if they are on the short list.

A request for proposals for each site will be issued in June, with responses due Sept. 12. Winning firms will be notified later this fall.

After that, Sound Transit will work with developers to get purchase-and-sale agreements for the parcels. Gray said Sound Transit wants to get those agreements to the Board of Directors early next year.

Gray said the RFQ asks firms to show work history, financial capability and the knowledge of team members.

“What we want to know is that these are people who can get the job done, who have experience with these sorts of projects, and who can deliver the project in a timely manner,” Gray said.

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