The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and Capitol Hill Housing have been partnering to promote economic development in the neighborhood for more than eight years, applying together annually for Only in Seattle funds through the city’s Office of Planning and Community Development.
“Obviously the chamber is the primary economic development organization for the neighborhood,” said CHH senior planner Alex Brennan, “but we think this is a really important partnership, and we work together on a lot of different things for a healthy business district.”
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced this year’s Only in Seattle funding allocations on Feb. 23. The Capitol Hill organizations were awarded two pots of money this year, Brennan said.
Capitol Hill was one of 21 neighborhoods selected this year to share $1 million in funding to develop or launch multi-year economic strategies, and received $100,000.
The chamber is using the lion’s share for its work developing a Capitol Hill Business Improvement Area, marketing, outreach and the neighborhood’s Clean and Safe efforts. Chamber executive director Sierra Hansen said the Only in Seattle funding will primarily cover staffing and community engagement.
A Capitol Hill BIA will require the approval of property owners representing 60 percent of the assessed value of the area. Petitions were sent in early February to 650 property owners representing 850 parcels within the proposed BIA Boundary, which includes the current Broadway BIA and business corridors on 12th Avenue, 15th Avenue, 19th Avenue East, Melrose, Olive/Denny and Pike/Pine.
CHH will use $13,000 for updating the Capitol Hill Neighborhood Design Guidelines, coordinating with the Multi-Disciplinary Team and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, and creating a land-use review committee.
CHH is teaming up with the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, which already provides developers and the city with design feedback, and other community partners to create the LURC. Brennan said there’s enough funding to make that a reality this year.
Capitol Hill’s Neighborhood Design Guidelines haven’t been updated for at least two decades, Brennan said. These are optional, and let neighborhoods add to citywide guidelines for developers.
“It’s past time for those to be updated,” Brennan said. “We’ve been advocating for that for several years.”
The Office of Planning and Community development is providing staff and funding for a consultant for the update, Brennan said, adding the community feedback process should start later this year.
The goal is to have the guidelines updated around the same time zoning changes are implemented as part of Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program.
“We’re hoping with this funding that’s going to be possible,” Brennan said.
CHH was awarded another $40,000 for improving nightlife safety in the Pike/Pine corridor. Of that, $10,000 will be for staffing, with SDOT using $30,000 to implement the identified improvements.
Brennan said there are two high-traffic area of focus: East Pike, between 10th and 11th avenues, those intersections and a portion of Pine, from Neumos to Grim’s; and Pine and Boylston, with R Place and Linda’s Tavern.
“These are places that have huge foot traffic at night,” Brennan said, “but the sidewalks haven’t changed since probably when they were first built in the 1920s.”
The plan is to take a comprehensive look at how to make more space on sidewalks, remove tripping hazards and increase visibility.
“We’ve met with every adjacent business to those area, and we have a set of draft recommendations,” Brennan said. “It’s a lot of very tiny changes to the sidewalk.”
Brennan said CHH will be taking more feedback before working with SDOT on a priority analysis.
• The Central Area Collaborative is receiving $30,000 for a walkability and lighting study along the east/west nodes of the business district.
• The First Hill Improvement Association is receiving $50,000 for installing holiday lighting in the business district, as well as creating and promoting events in neighborhood parks and open spaces.