Spectrum Development Solutions, a real estate developer with several properties around Seattle, just got a unique opportunity in Capitol Hill. Along the block of 12th Avenue and Alder Street, Spectrum will have a chance to pursue what its representatives call “a place-making project.” Already in the process of constructing the mixed-use Anthem on 12th building, Spectrum acquired two more nearby sites that will rise as new apartments and businesses over the next several years.
The buildings planned for the new sites will be called the Decibel (301 12th Avenue) and the Reverb (1023 East Alder Street). The former will be a mixed-use apartment and retail space, while the latter is only zoned for residential units. The two sites are located just a few blocks from the Anthem on 12th construction project, which is at the intersection of 12th Avenue and East Yesler Way.
The Anthem is the first private development in the Yesler Terrace Redevelopment Project. Yesler Terrace was Seattle’s last public housing project, and the redevelopment of the area involves a massive, 20-year construction plan in multiple stages to establish a new, mixed-income urban village. The Yesler Terrace redevelopment has been a contentious issue, spurring protests by resident groups like Citizens Rethink Yesler and Friends of Little Saigon. Citizens Rethink Yesler claims that the scope of the redevelopment is too big for the neighborhood’s infrastructure, while Friends of Little Saigon is wary of what impact the developments will have on owners of small businesses in the nearby Vietnamese community along 12th Avenue.
Spectrum’s two newly acquired sites are not a part of the Yesler Terrace Redevelopment, but the buildings will border the redevelopment and be of a piece with the mixed-use, mixed-income nature of the Yesler Terrace plan supported by the Seattle Housing Authority. As with the Anthem building, Spectrum plans to make the Decibel and the Reverb a mix of market-rate housing and what is known as “workforce” housing.
The City of Seattle defines workforce housing as residential units that are costs adjusted for those earning between 60 and 100 percent of the Area Median Income. The Decibel and Reverb will provide a portion of their units to residents living on no more than 80 percent of the AMI, with some studios at the Reverb being offered at as low as 65 percent AMI. These reduced rents come from government programs, such as tax incentives, that last for anywhere from 15 to 20 years. Spectrum also expands its workforce-focused philosophy to the labor that it’s hiring for these projects.
“Our goal for all three projects is for 100 percent of all new hires to be at or below 80 percent AMI,” said Jake McKinstry of Spectrum. The developer has contracted with Walsh Construction to build the Anthem building and handle pre-construction issues like hiring for the two new sites. Walsh Construction will be responsible for certifying the workforce credentials of any new hires on the Decibel and Reverb projects.
The Reverb building’s current plans account for 84 residential units, including studios, lofts, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. It will also have a rooftop terrace with room for a community garden, barbecue space and community programming for residents, with the possibility of occasional public events.
The Decibel will follow the mixed-use model that has become especially popular with Seattle-area developers over the past decade. It will include 75 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, as well as 3,000 square feet of commercial space. Rather than strictly street-access businesses, Spectrum’s plans for the first floor of the Decibel depict an open-plan indoor market, similar to the Melrose Market. It’s too early in the development process for Spectrum to seek tenants for the commercial space, but their hope is to bring a mix of food and retail to the building, as opposed to the food-only plan of the Melrose Market.
“One of the ideas we had was perhaps a bicycle shop and a brewery. It depends on what we can do with the tenant mix,” McKinstry said.
Along with the Anthem building, which began construction in March of this year, the Decibel and Reverb will pursue LEED Silver sustainability certification. The Anthem is set to open its doors sometime in 2016, while the other two buildings are now in the early stages of the design review process. When the East Design Review Board is ready to review Spectrum’s plans for the two sites, there will be opportunities for community input on publicly available design proposals. There is no word yet on when the review board will address the plans or whether the sites will be reviewed together.