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January 31, 2017

Seattle Central offering sites on Capitol Hill for new development

By LYNN PORTER
Journal Staff Reporter

Photo from The Johnson Partnership [enlarge]
The Atlas Building is at 1515 Broadway. Seattle Central is asking the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board to consider whether it is a city landmark.

Seattle Central College is looking for someone to develop five parcels it owns on or adjacent to its main campus in the rapidly growing Capitol Hill neighborhood.

It is seeking letters of interest from real estate developers for these properties:

• 1515 Broadway, home to The Atlas Building

• 1519 Broadway, site of Broadway Cafe

• 907 E. Pine St., home of The South Annex

• 909 E. Pine, site of the International Programs building

• a parking lot just south of the East Pine buildings

SCC will also consider developers' interest in three parcels it owns on the east side of Harvard Avenue between Pike and Pine streets, though it may not dispose of the properties, according to Lincoln Ferris, a consultant to Seattle Central President Sheila Edwards Lange.

All the properties are zoned for construction to 65 feet, with office, housing or retail. But Ferris said developers could get extra height through preservation incentives as well as incentive zoning that will be considered this year under the city's Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

The Broadway properties total 14,400 square feet. The East Pine parcels and the parking lot are 15,360 square feet.

The sites on Harvard are 42,222 square feet. They house The Egyptian Theatre, the Erickson Theatre performance space and Siegal Center. Seattle International Film Festival leases the Egyptian, which was built in 1915, and could potentially be a landmark, Ferris said.

The properties can be developed separately, together or in phases. The college prefers to have a ground lease, but will consider selling, he said. The RFI is at http://tiny.cc/kczuiy/. Letters of interest are due Feb. 14, and will be used to determine which developers are asked to provide proposals.

Ferris said the sites are quite valuable. They are near South Lake Union, First Hill and downtown, easily accessible by transit, and in a vibrant neighborhood where people want to live, work and play, he said. “We are one of the few landowners that has this combination of available land in a high demand district.”

Revenue from them would be used to construct a 140,000-square-foot educational building with classrooms and faculty offices on a surplus Sound Transit site and adjacent property. The building would provide a new entry on the north end of campus. Seattle Central envisions that the building will connect to the light rail station entrance, so students could go directly from rail to classes.

Ferris said this is partly why Seattle Central plans to focus future development north of Pine and west of Broadway, and is offering the south of Pine sites for redevelopment. It plans to relocate classrooms and student support now in the East Pine buildings to the Broadway-Edison Building on the north end, Ferris said.

Focusing new development in that area would provide a contiguous campus (now blocked to the south by The Walgreen's Building at Broadway and Pine) and mean safer access for students. Ferris said it is easier to maintain and operate a contiguous campus with newer buildings.

Photo from The Johnson Partnership
This is 1519 Broadway. It was built in 1925, and was home to one of the neighborhood's first open air courtyard auto showrooms.

Seattle Central has the right to make the first offer on the 10,423-square-foot Sound Transit property, called Site D, because it granted the agency an easement to tunnel under the campus, he said. That construction staging site is now surplus and is zoned for 65-foot buildings, he said.

Seattle Central is offering to create 44 low-income apartments on one of its development sites to help Sound Transit meet a requirement of ST3 that it make available 80 percent of its surplus property for development as affordable housing, Ferris said. The college believes the 44 units at its development site would be equivalent to development on the surplus site, and allow Sound Transit to sell the surplus site to it at a below-market rate, he said.

The college is asking the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board to determine if the Broadway properties are city landmarks as that status would affect what can be done with them.

The board will consider nomination of a former 1912 auto factory loft (The Atlas Building) and the former Eldridge Tire Co. building (Broadway Cafe) as landmarks at a meeting at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in Room L2-80 of Seattle City Hall. The Johnson Partnership prepared the nomination applications at http://tiny.cc/h55uiy under current nominations.

Eldridge is a parking lot with two retail spaces. It was built in 1925 and was one of the neighborhood's first open air courtyard auto showrooms, according to the college.

Ferris said the South Annex building on East Pine may be a potential landmark, but it has not been brought before the board yet. It was built in 1906 as a design school and boarding house for Broadway High School.

Seattle Central has nearly 16,000 students, but enrollment has declined somewhat since the economy improved.

However, Ferris said it needs more instructional space for STEM and information technology programs, which have waiting lists.

He said Seattle Central would like to have housing nearby that is affordable to students and faculty, but is not dictating what developers propose for its sites.

The real value will be determined by talking to the developers, he said. “I think the only real, true test is the market.”


 


Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.



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