On August 23, the Board of Directors of Sound Transit unanimously approved a zero-cost transfer of land the agency owns in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood to Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing Group for the construction of an affordable housing high-rise building.
The vote marks Sound Transit’s final sign-off on a Transit Oriented Development Agreement formulated in November 2017 when Sound Transit selected Bellwether and Plymouth to develop the site. Sound Transit has owned the parcel (located at 1400 Madison Street and 1014 Boylston Ave) since 2001 when a First Hill light rail station was still under consideration. Sound Transit is acting on its mandate to dispose the majority of its surplus land to affordable housing development.
The zero-cost land transfer makes it possible for Bellwether and Plymouth to maximize the site’s density capacity by building the first affordable housing high rise constructed in Seattle in over 50 years. Ownership of the project will be divided between the two non-profits. Bellwether will own and manage approximately 250 apartments affordable to low-income households, with an estimated 45 apartments sized for families. Plymouth will own and operate approximately 115 apartments for seniors who have experienced chronic homelessness. The development will also include ground-floor commercial space.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan spoke enthusiastically about the development at the August 23 Sound Transit Board Meeting.
“It’s very exciting that we have our first approved project for Transit Oriented Development that will provide much, much needed housing. I think it’s great to see the project be even more ambitious than originally planned,” Durkan said.
Bellwether and Plymouth are applying for City of Seattle funding for the project this fall. If funding commitments are secured in 2019, construction should begin in 2020 and be complete by 2022. The Mayor indicated a desire to expedite the completion of the development.
“The City of Seattle stands ready to work with Bellwether and Plymouth to see if we can even move [completion] up from 2021-2022 since we in Seattle want as much affordable housing now as we can get,” Durkan said.