Ah, when this was bylined "Dan Savage" I wondered why Dan was interviewing in Seattle.

Amen to all this. Why is it that we don't have a tougher minimum height retirement for new construction right on top of a rail station?
The parking will make it more attractive to renters who have cars. If you have a car you will choose to rent in a place where you can park it near your home and in Capitol Hill that would be impossible.
@2: Increasing numbers of young people are opting to live without cars or to rent a car when they need one. Huge sections of NYC and Chicago are covered in apartment buildings that don't have any parking — zero — and people rely on transit, bikes, and foot to get around. That's the future we should be building for.
Also... building hundreds of parking spots drives up the cost of development, driving up rents (if it's an apartment being developed) or the purchase price (if it's a condo). Want to make it possible for more people to be able to purchase or rent apartments in this city? Build more condos and apartments without parking. People with cars will still have options, people without cars won't have to pay more, and people with cars might consider getting rid of them if it means a cheaper apartment in a central location near (or on top of!) a transit hub.
Dan, please make a strong effort to come to the MHA meeting for District 3. There's an open house on the 29th, and a hearing on April 16.

Your voice will go a long way imo. Hope to see you there!
@2/3/4: Eliminating parking is a great long-term solution, but it's a risk that developers for these types of projects don't want to take on right now. When you have NIMBYs and local businesses screaming to high heaven about losing parking in a neighborhood, and threatening to delay projects, it's not worth the trouble.

A better solution? Stop thinking of buildings as static and unchanging. Push design standards for structured parking that can be repurposed into other uses once we transition into a less car-dependent society.
216 parking spots made for cars Capitol Hill streets cannot handle. Build without parking options. If you want a car, live in a neighborhood that will accommodate that. The great thing about the hill is that you walk to stores. I'm aghast when I see the ridiculous jams in on Deny where it takes a bus the better part of an hour to make it from lower QA to the Deny Triangle.
Wait, are people actually arguing that apartments/condos - being built on top of a light rail station - NEED vehicle parking? I get that some people just can't live without them, but seriously, given the huge influx of new arrivals showing up here on a daily basis, I simply cannot imagine there wouldn't be enough without cars to fill several high-rise buildings, and then some.

Well, that's mainly due both to the construction along Denny between Fairview & Stewart, and all the cars avoiding Mercer and using Denny instead to get to I-5.
Thanks for this post, which validates something I have been complaining about this for ages. And it's not just Capitol Hill - all the stations currently built and under construction/planning have two major flaws. First, the up-zoning around them is massively inadequate. Second, the stations themselves are designed as stand-alone suburban structures, wasting all the airspace above them, which could easily be public affordable housing instead. Given our housing crisis, this is a major problem - and one that can never be fixed once the mid-rise housing is locked in place (no one is going to tear down a new 7 story building to build a a 30 story high rise). Huge missed opportunity.

Also, the same thing seems to be happening at the Yesler Terrace redevelopment, where the 20 story towers proposed by SHA in promotional materials a decade ago are being built as 7 story apartment buildings instead. Another missed opportunity.
@3 "Increasing numbers of young people are opting to live without cars or to rent a car when they need one" is only kinda sorta true, for a small window of a person's life. Going by current data, those young folks are merely delaying purchasing cars, not choosing never to own cars. A 25-year old may not want/need a car today; the 30-year old version does when they can afford that sweet Tesla. I'd also imagine that if/when a person elects to have kids, the idea of Lyfting around is much less appealing.

"This year, a study from J.D. Power's Power Information Network reported that the share of millennials in the new car market jumped to 28%. In California, the country's No. 1 car market, millennials outpaced baby boomers for the first time."…

"Also known as Generation Y, they did not rush out to get driver's licenses like preceding generations, they eschew car ownership with car- and ride-sharing sites like ZipCar and Uber, they don't like the commitment of a car and all its trappings, it has been said.

Yet they account for nearly 30 percent of all new car sales."…

Which isn't to say you shouldn't dump the parking requirements for a building on top of the Capitol Hill station. Just that personal car ownership is more nuanced than what you think you're seeing in this specific urban area.

As for the article, would people really dig a Cal Anderson park shrouded by a giant skyscraper apartment? Wouldn't it literally be shadows for the majority of the day with a giant building there? And assuming we're fine with covering it with shadows, why have it at all? Just build over it and say, "Go to Volunteer Park."
@12: 15-20 stories isn't giant. There are buildings that taller — and much taller — around the perimeter of Central Park in NYC and people still seem to enjoy that park.
@12: The site in question is north of Cal Anderson, so I believe the answer is, no, the proposed mid-rises would not cast shadows.
@13 Cal Anderson is about 7 acres. Central Park is about 700 acres. You might want to consider a different comparison: it would take a wall of 200+ story buildings roughly 2 miles long to shade Central Park.
@13 Last time I was in NYC, I recall Central Park being a wee-bit bigger than Cal Anderson, so shadows at its edges would have less of an impact. Still, even New Yorkers are hand-wringing about bigger and bigger buildings impacting the park. Someone even made a video:

And here's a story on NPR:…

Regardless, if the building is north of the park, who cares; I was thinking it's west of the park. But I was sort of curious if a building due west of the park would cover it and found a shadow casting map thingy.,-122.3…

If I'm reading it correctly, a building due west of the park at 15-20 stories would pretty much blanket the park in shadows from 3PM - 5PM, at least at this time of the year.
The lack of heights and big thinking is embarrassing. Do we have to wait another 20 years for all the boomers to die before we can build a real city?

The infill around Capitol Hill station should be much, much bigger. As in every other big city with transit.
Yes, in retrospect, the low-rise buildings now ready for construction over and around Capitol Hill Station do represent a missed opportunity. Most likely a failure of imagination. There's no single-family zoning nearby, where homeowners might object.
Dan: The average cost per below-grade parking stall in Seattle is about $30k. Multiplied by 216 stalls, that's $6.5 million that could've gone to building more apartments instead.

@14: I just renewed my lease in a modern 25-story building in downtown Seattle, and I'm paying about the same rent I was for a roach-infested hellhole in a dilapidated walk-up building in far northern Manhattan three years ago. Rents in those towers lining Central Park are orders of magnitude higher than anything in Seattle.
Tenants at Capitol Hill Station could rent parking nearby, for short term or long term use. Check on monthly parking rates using the BestParking app, or view parking rates at

Two nearby buildings currently offer monthly parking for rent. The large building at Thomas/Broadway owned by Equity currently charges $305/month. Broadway Market, two block further north, charges $150.

We should encourage the development of paid commercial parking underground, both long term and short term, and the best way to do so is to eliminate free parking aboveground. Keep the aboveground parking only as paid and metered short term parking, for customers of local businesses (but not the bars, please, unless there is a designated driver).
The ignorance and lack of homework by people commenting here is astounding. You obviously have not been part of the process over the past 10 years. There have been dozens of public events such as hearings, focus groups, charettes and post-it note exercises seeking public feedback and input. And there was alot of it - as a result TOD at Capitol Hill Station will include the following:

~ A permanent home for the Capitol Hill Farmers Market, which will now be open seven days a week. The contract has been inked.

~ Affordable housing will make up about 30% of the mix of new residences.

~ The covered indoor market is not a done deal but is in the works. It was the result of public feedback. I know because it was my idea. I was interviewed by Dominic Holden in The Stranger in 2008 about this concept. I took it up with the Capitol Hill Champion, Sound Transit, the City of Seattle, Gerding Edlin, Schemata workshop and anyone else who would listen. I hope it becomes a reality.

~ Also from the public feedback was that we did NOT want big box chain stores such as QFC, Safeway, Office Depot as the anchor tenant. That HMart might be that tenant is promising.

~ A day care center is to be included.

~ A LGBTQ community center has always been discussed but that part is not firm to the best of my knowledge.

~ The public plaza was also a public request and besides that, Sound Transit will not allow construction directly on top of the station box.

I too was disappointed at the parking involved but guess what? I lost that one and have moved on with my life. However, at no time during this whole process do I recall anybody at these events requesting high rises. If anything the community demanded TOD blend in with Capitol Hill and was steadfastly against upward growth. Anyone who was here at the time knows getting the height limits raised for this project was tantamount to giving birth to a kidney stone.

Regarding the discussions for greater density for The HIll. Where have you been? The number of new apartments on Broadway and the Pike/Pine corridor has been stunning over the past 10 years. Where once were BMW and Mercedes dealerships, where once was a Safeway and an old QFC, where once were public storage facilities and warehouses (12th Ave. area) are now hundreds if not thousands of new apartments. And the list goes on and on.

Simply stated, we do not need high rises for increased density nor did the community want them. Only the Johnny-come-latelies who did not participate in the process are demanding this change so late in the game.

My biggest disappointment in this discussion though is that someone of Dan Savage's stature has completely overlooked the facts and history of this entire journey over the past 14 years, when the location for the station was first selected in 2004. I don't ever recall Mr. Savage attending any of the public events though I could be wrong - I have seen him at HUMP! more than at TOD hearings. Sorry Dan, love you and always have but you are wrong on this one and should have gotten your facts straight before diving in. I would like to meet for coffee though and continue this discussion.

As for this architect who claims to be an expert on all things Seattle in just two years, where was he during this entire process? How many public feedback events did he attend? I know architects actively working on this project and from my interactions with them and from what I have seen they are doing a fantastic job.

All you naysayers had your chance but the train has left the station. Get over it and move on.
@ 20 you are seeing the $6.5 million investment as if the use of that money for parking means it is not available for some other use. That is not how a developer makes investment decisions.

To the developer, that $6.5 million is part of a larger stream of cash outlays over time to complete the entire project. When the project reaches completion, the building’s owners begin to collect revenues. Although capital expenditures are complete, they continue to have operating expenses and taxes. So there is a stream of net revenues and costs that are discounted to the present using an interest rate that represents the cost of capital. A sophisticated investor understands that different interest rates may be appropriate for different parts of the project, with different risks and time horizons.

The first thing to understand about the $6.5 million for parking (your estimate) is that current market rates for parking are not high enough for this to pencil out as an investment in commercial parking. Any accounting or finance student could create estimates for what daily or monthly parking rates would suffice. My back-of-envelope thoughts ... $25-30 per day or $500-600 per month.

If the project is worth investing in on a financial basis, the investors will finance it. Remember that the investors are justifying it on a marginal cost basis, not an average cost basis. Since they are already paying for the land, the land is free in these calculations. But time to completion is not free. A huge underground excavation will delay completion, and hence collection of revenues, from the aboveground structure.
I'm so tired of people - including Our Dear Dan - who live in the fairlyland world of not providing parking because "young people don't have cars". When I was a "young person" (an era that roughly coincided with Dan being a young person, although Dan is FAR old than I) I didn't have a car. Now we have three. Everyone I know who was formerly carless has at least one car.

But much more to the point: When we allow developers to build buildings with no parking, or very little parking, we are saving them considerable amounts of money, with no expectation of reciprocation. It's a gift by the city so that the city - and certain naive citizens - can pat themselves on the back and congratulate each other on how forward-looking they are.

You don't want to provide parking? Fine. But don't be a sucker. Insist that if they don't put in parking, the owners of the building (and all subsequent owners) provide a percentage of below market rate housing for thirty years. Stop giving away stuff to developers.
Tall buildings on the NW corner of a park will not shade that park. We live in the northern hemisphere, so the sun — aside from the moments just after sunrise and just before sunset when most everywhere is in shadows regardless — the sun is always to our south. In the fall and winter, the sun is ALWAYS to our south, even and sunrise and sunset.
@25 thanks for letting everyone know how well you are doing. 3 cars does not represent anyone I know.
@ 23 We are in an extraordinary time when the urban planning process from 6-10 years ago no longer applies. We need more housing now!

There will always be people that want to live in a microhousing arrangement, whether temporarily or permanently. Bring back the congregate microhousing (of which the aPodMent Brand was but one example) by making it once again legal in Seattle. Capital Hill Station is the ideal place in Seattle to support it.

If the developers want to build parking underneath to rent out daily, weekly, or monthly then fine, but let’s make sure the people who live in apartments above aren’t being forced to subsidize that parking.
@23 describes the situation well. I was involved with various Capitol Hill community organizations from 2004 until 2015 or so and found the author's apparent lack of even recent historical perspective on neighborhood development to be disappointing.
@25: I fully support your proposed requirement, Ms. Vel-DuRay.
If the city and it's urbanist cheerleaders are going to push for no on-site parking and insist that everyone will just bike and bus everywhere and give up their cars (because bus service rocks and we love biking uphill in the rain), fine. Then deny RPZ stickers to anyone who moves into new construction with no on-site parking. Offer a certain number of RPZ stickers, say or 3 or 4, per lot. Grandfather in renters and owners who already live here. Otherwise, developers (and the newcomers moving into their buildings) will treat parking needs as an externality to be foisted onto neighboring streets.

I know, I know, people will scream "That's not fair!" But tell me, why should all the burden and sacrifice be put upon people who've lived here for a long time and been paying ever higher taxes for "affordable" for a long time? If you're going to assert we don't need a car, then lead by example.
There are a half dozen train stations with nothing but tumbleweeds around them already, yet all we hear is screeching about NIMBYS who can walk to bus lines if they have an hour or two extra to spare.
Dan dear, It's MRS Vel-DuRay. Please make a note of it.

Agrippa dear, it's a used F-150, a used Leaf, and a used Land Rover. Hardly anything glamorous (and I am truly mystified as to why we have the Land Rover)
From here in San Francisco--welcome to our world.
This article and the arguments could be lifted from any number of projects here.
The cluster-fuck of progressives, no-growth advocates, professional "housing" organizations, neighborhood groups trying to expand their power and people who want to control every aspect of the blocks around them have helped create a housing nightmare here. They all have to piss on any project so everyone knows they've marked it.
The no-car crowd wets themselves at any off-site parking.
People moving into condos in what was a bustling entertainment district SOMA are outraged that there are BARS!!! With NOISE!!!
Two different projects in the Mission are being delayed--on plots of land with no current housing-- because it'll bring in the wrong kind of people.
And they all seem to insist on a one-size-fits-all solution which makes no sense.
Thank God for rent control here.
Dan and David Cole seem unaware that no middle-class condos are being built because of the condo liability law passed a decade ago. The first rung in homeownership for Millennials is missing. So is any place for seniors wanting to downsize but stay in their communities of church or temple, clubs, health care providers and support.

Please write an article to remind yourselves of the bad condo siding scandal that caused the law and ask Sen. Jamie Pedersen what he is doing to solve the standoff with risk-averse developers. If seniors had middle-class condos to downsize into, we'd see more inventory and less price pressure in single-family homes.

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