by Michael Sarko
- The Capitol Hill Times -
On the last day of January, 2014, Sound Transit released the official Request for Qualifications (RFQ) guidelines to potential developers at the Broadway light rail station site. This is a major step toward shaping a major part of Capitol Hill’s future. Four development sites amounting to more than 95,500 square feet of retail, housing, and organizational space are up for consideration. It is now the task of potential developers to submit their qualifications for review by Sound Transit.
The proposal process for the Capitol Hill Link light rail area is scheduled to take place for the better part of 2014, consisting of two stages (The current RFQ phase does not include proposals for actual projects and designs). Interested firms must submit Statements of Qualifications (SOQ) to be eligible for the short list that will receive the official Request for Proposals (RFP) in June of this year. In that second phase, the proposals will go under review before firms receive the award of contract to develop on one of the sites.
A key component in the RFQ process is a mandatory meeting with community groups and members for all interested firms. Capitol Hill’s residents and business-owners have a history of being vocal and highly involved in new developments around the neighborhood, especially in relation to the design review process. Groups like the Capitol Hill Champion and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce have been engaged with the future of the light rail station site since it was announced, most notably pushing for a permanent home for the Broadway Farmers’ Market in the public/private plaza space included in most Site A concept designs.
Site A is at 118 Broadway East. It will be a 46,487 square foot development that is required to be mixed-use (retail and residential), with a minimum of 132 residences and implementation of the Multi Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) program that gives developers a tax break in exchange for creating housing for people who earn a fraction of the median income of the area. Site A is the largest of the four lots and it must include certain amenities, such as the aforementioned privately owned, publicly accessible plaza, pedestrian throughways, at least 266 bike parking stalls and the designation of the adjacent stretch of Denny Way as a “festival street” that can be closed to traffic for public events.
Site B-North at 923 East John Street has been designated as a 100-percent affordable housing building. It must have at least 86 residential units in its 15,878 square foot space, and include residential stoops and courtyards facing 10th Avenue, and will be in an area with an, as yet, never implemented “parking maximum” to limit the number of cars in the transit corridor.
Site B-South at 123 10th Avenue East is similar to B-North, though it is slightly smaller at 15,459 square feet, and is only required to have 20 percent of its 85 units at MFTE affordable standards. Sound Transit has agreed to award extra points in its still-in-development proposal review rubric to developers who opt to exceed the minimum amount of affordable housing. B-South will also have residential stoops and courtyards.
Finally, Site C at 1830 Broadway includes the actual light rail station entrance. It is a 17,683 square foot space that, like Site A, is intended for mixed-use development. It must have 94 residential units above its retail space and, as with B-South, must have a minimum of 20 percent MFTE residential allowance with preference given to developers who exceed that minimum.
Sound Transit has not committed to anything related to the Broadway Farmers’ Market at this time but a survey conducted by the Capitol Hill Champion indicates that a permanent home for the market is the top priority for respondents. Just slightly fewer people also want to see each site developed with pedestrian and green space in mind. There is also an ongoing conversation about what kinds of retail will ultimately occupy the ground floors of Sites A and C. The RFQ makes no stipulations in this regard, though it is likely to be a major topic at any upcoming community meetings with developers.
All Statements of Qualifications are due to Sound Transit at 4 p.m. on March 24, 2014. Sound Transit will announce its short list in the middle of May and accept proposals through September. Ground is expected to break on all awarded projects in 2015.
Article and graphic updated at 3 p.m. on February 13.