The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) and Dallas-based developer, Mill Creek Residential Trust LLC (MCRT), announced last Wednesday that MCRT has purchased a 1.2 acre parcel. The parcel is located on the southwest corner of Yesler Way and Boren Avenue, in the downtown neighborhood of Yesler Terrace, where SHA is spending an approximate $1.5 billion to redevelop.
“We are committed to building relationships and communities in which people thrive, which is why we are attracted to Yesler as a truly diverse and vibrant community in a desirable location, with existing and planned amenities that will benefit all residents,” said Sean Hyatt, a managing director for MCRT in the press release.
The master plan was developed for what we’re engaged in now, taking the 561 dilapidated units and turning them into a vibrant mixed-income community with open spaces, more density and more apartments
According to Kerry Coughlin, the director of communications for SHA, MCRT plans to build retail space and 290 residential units, of which 26.5 percent will be affordable housing. The firm is the third private developer to purchase property at Yesler Terrace. In 2012, Seattle-based Spectrum Development Solutions purchased a half-acre parcel for $2.88 million, where it built 120 residential units and around 3,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. The development, called Anthem on 12th, was completed in May 2015. The second private developer, Vulcan Inc, purchased three parcels for a little over $22 million for a total of 3.7 acres and is scheduled to break ground on 650 residential units this month.
“I think it’s such an awesome opportunity for a city like ours to undertake something of this magnitude,” said Gil White, a vice president for Seattle-based Orion Commercial Partners LLC. “It’s been neat to see Seattle Housing Authority sell off some of the land and provide the opportunity to private firms to develop it.”
Coughlin says the private developers have been exceeding the affordable housing requirement set by the city. “These developers are really buying into the concept of the mixed-income community, they are actually extending far beyond their requirement on affordable units,” said Coughlin. “Vulcan has been attending all of the Yesler Community Council meetings to really become embedded into the community. One of the things they are going to do is put in a community kitchen on the ground floor, which will be open not just to the building but to the entire Yesler Terrace community.”
The planning for the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace, a 30-acre site developed by SHA in the early 1940’s, began in 2006 when it became evident that the infrastructure of the existing 561 housing units needed to be replaced. The vision moved forward in 2013 when the first housing development, Kebero Court, broke ground. Since that time, one other development has opened, a third is scheduled to break ground mid 2017 and a fourth is still in the design phase, says Coughlin. The overall project is being built in stages and is roughly one-third complete.
“The master plan was developed for what we’re engaged in now, taking the 561 dilapidated units and turning them into a vibrant mixed-income community with open spaces, more density and more apartments,” said Coughlin. “These are all at the extremely low affordable level, the workforce level and at the market-rate level.”
When completed, the redeveloped community will provide 5,000 housing units, of which 1,800 will be subsidized for low to moderate-income households and 3,200 will be at market-rate. There will an additional 65,000 square feet of neighborhood services, 88,000 square feet of retail space, and 900,000 square feet of office space that is for sale to private developers. Outdoor amenities include a 1.8-acre central park, three pocket parks, a half-mile green street loop and one acre for community gardening, which will be managed by Seattle’s P-Patch program.
“The blocks of area that we’ve identified as office space could be mixed retail, perhaps a little bit of mixed-residential, but the primary goal is to create a community where its residents can live and work,” said Coughlin. “There’s some flexibility around that because we haven’t engaged with a developer yet, it’s still on the market. Obviously there are some parameters around it, but there’s also some flexibility depending on what a developer wants to propose.”
According to Coughlin, one of the significant aspects of the redevelopment is the 10th Avenue South hillclimb, a landscaped pedestrian staircase and accessible ramp that connects Yesler Terrace to the International District. “It has really become a primary key connection,” said Coughlin. “This beautiful hillclimb is really opening up the ties between the neighborhoods. That’s what this community has been all about in its master plan, creating connections.”