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Three affordable housing projects on Sound Transit property move forward

One TOD will be on the original planned site of the First Hill light rail station


Three affordable transit-oriented developments (TOD) on Sound Transit property are moving forward after a board meeting Thursday: One in Capitol Hill, one in First Hill, and another in Roosevelt. All are within a short walk of current or future light rail stations.

The First Hill project will be the first high-rise affordable housing project in more than 50 years. The Sound Transit board voted to allow staff to negotiate with Plymouth Housing Group and Bellwether Housing over a 21,600-square-foot property on the corner of Boylston Avenue and Madison Street. (That property was originally the site of the planned First Hill light rail station before the idea was scrapped.)

Plymouth and Bellwether’s proposal imagines a 13-story building, home to separate projects from both organizations. Plymouth would take the first five floors for 111 units affordable to those making 30 percent of area median income (AMI) and below. That project will be geared toward senior citizens that have experienced homelessness.

Above, Bellwether would build nearly 200 units for households earning 30 to 60 percent AMI—30 of them “sized for families.” Family-size housing is few and far between in Seattle, with more than 75 percent of new units since 2011 being one-bedrooms or studios.

The ground floor will consist of two retail spaces and community rooms.

Another deal reached this week: Sound Transit entered a land exchange deal that will allow them to work with Capitol Hill Housing to build affordable housing on Broadway between East Pine and East Pike streets. That’s a seven-story, mixed-use building with just under 80 affordable apartments for those making up to 60 percent AMI and retail below.

That project will include historic preservation of the Eldridge Tire Company building, and will incorporate details from the auto row building into its final design.

A third deal moves forward with a TOD near the future site of the Roosevelt light rail station. Sound Transit will begin negotiations with Mercy Housing and Bellwether to build around 245 apartments from one to three bedrooms on a land parcel at 6600 Roosevelt Way Northeast. The project will also include retail space, a daycare, a community room, and a pedestrian walkway and public space that connects to the ligh rail station.

Sound Transit is in the middle of a rapid expansion, authorized by ballot measures in 2008 or 2016—critical in a growing city. But it can get expensive to live near transit. To help mitigate the effect of transit on rising housing costs, Sound Transit created a strategic plan for TODs in 2010, which eventually evolved into policy.