With the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station now entering its next phase of development, Sound Transit has issued a Request for Proposals aimed at retailers and developers who have made Sound Transit’s short-list of potentials that hope to reserve a spot at the new site.
“Sound Transit has published its request for proposals (RFP) from bidding/short-listed developers for the Capitol Hill TOD sites,” said Cathy Hillenbrand. “The RFP includes site specific evaluation criteria, scoring for inclusion of community benefits, affordable housing tool, and an updated timeline. This marks another huge milestone for the Capitol Hill community. Big thanks to the community for all of your hard work and support over the years!”
The station, already confirmed to become the future home of the Broadway Farmer’s Market once construction is completed, will offer four sites for developers to utilize. In addition to retail spaces, each site will also include a minimum number of housing units, with one site’s residential space restricted entirely for affordable and low-income housing.
At a community meeting held on June 2nd to assess resident’s preferences for how the space will be utilized, some residents asked that the retail space near the farmers market house permanent storefronts similar to those at Pike Place Market, mirroring transit stations found in European countries.
The north and south portions of Sites A and B will stand on opposite ends of the Farmer’s Market. Site A, located at the Main Station Block on 118 Broadway East, will offer the largest space for developers at 46,487 square feet. The remaining sites will all be approximately the same size, with 15,878 square feet of development space at Site B-North, 15,459 square feet at Site B-South, and 17,683 square feet at Site C, located at the South Station Entrance at 1830 Broadway.
A real estate appraisal conducted for Sound Transit has calculated the land value of Site A at $403/square feet, $166/square feet for Site B-North, $374/square feet for Site B South, and $402/square feet for Site C. Regarding the comparatively high price of Site A, which will only partially be open for development, Hillenbrand said that Sound Transit may have created a hard situation for developers.
“The implications of that are financially difficult,” Hillenbrand says. “That developer is required to build a plaza, and will be required to pay $403 per square foot for both the business space and the plaza. So really, they’d be paying $806 per square foot for their development space. If that’s really true, [Sound Transit] has a problem on their hands.”
Business proposals will be awarded points based on a number of criteria divided into four subsections: development program requirements, financial capacity and project financials, project approach, and transaction structure. Each applicant must address certain business aspects in their proposal, with adherence to the development program’s requirements being weighted the most heavily. The requirements for development includes address their approach to sustainability, amenity area, retail plan, and parking.
The RFP states that participation from small businesses and “disadvantaged business enterprises” are encouraged in the development, but has not indicated a preference for such businesses in their selection. Attendees of the development meeting on June 2nd vocalized a preference for giving priority to smaller, independent businesses rather than national chains or more established franchises.
“At site A -North, it is most likely that an anchor tenant will occupy that prime location adjacent to the light rail entry,” said one comment. “It is important that this tenant be reflective of Capitol Hill values and attitude. Generally speaking a much needed retailer such as Trader Joe’s, PCC or Central Coop would be preferable to a big box national retailer such as Target, Albertsons or Safeway.”
However, according to Hillenbrand, Sound Transit has made it clear that community input regarding selection of businesses will not be taken into consideration.
“When I read how they’re evaluating it, it sounds like they’re really not putting a lot of stock in the community engagement piece,” said Hillenbrand. “It was made very clear to the community years ago that we have no voice in the selection and not sit on the selection panel. Other cities have citizens sit on the selection panel, but Sound Transit is completely in control of the process. We have had a lot of say along the way to try to say what the neighborhood wants, but it’s their process. I would like to see an evolution in how Sound Transit does their RFP.”
A pre-planning meeting will be held on August 11 at 10 a.m. at Sound Transit’s Ruth Fisher Board Room, 401. The last day for submitting questions and Requests for Information will be on September 5th at 5 p.m. The deadline for submitting all proposals will be on October 13th at 4 p.m, and awards for negotiation are planned to be announced sometime in November.
More info here: capitolhillchampion.org/resources/