95 Slide Surrounded by New Construction

Changing Capitol Hill

All these cranes in a three block radius.

All these cranes in a three block radius.

Capitol Hill is changing, no question about it. Very few people are ambivalent to these shifts — they either love it or hate it. Seattle Times reporter Tricia Romano wrote one of the most comprehensive articles about the changing dynamics on the Hill, including interviews with the major players on the Hill. The Capitol Hill blog had this response and then social media exploded. Both are really good reads and we highly encourage you to check them out.

For those of us here at Team Diva Real Estate at Broadway and Pike, have front row seats to what has felt like an overnight change to our hood. During the day our little section of Capitol Hill is pretty awesome. However, if we have a late client meeting on Thursday or Friday the entire neighborhood is different. We have personally have been accosted by Bros asking us to kiss their friends because its their bachelor party. And we have seen first hand the impact to our lower income community members when out of state developers tear down older housing stock. Many of these people you can find on the street or in Cal Anderson Park. It totally sucks and makes all of us want to stop what is happening to our hood!

At the same time we know that development in Capitol Hill is both inevitable. This neighborhood is walkable to Downtown and the rest of the Seattle urban core. It’s proximity both on foot and via transit to Downtown, UW, Pill Hill and all the major freeways in the city means that people want to live here. And, as Romano writes, none of this is new. The planning for a lot of this development has been in the works since 2008. Most of the bros and woo girls we’re complaining about were still getting their driver’s permits in 2008. The apartment tear downs and clubs that attract the youngsters were well in the works before these kids even graduated high school.

And yet, we totally believe that there is a need for affordable housing in this neighborhood. It’s just irresponsible to foster development without a plan to support housing for the artists, educators, mixologists, writers and service industry professionals that make this neighborhood thrive. We want our artists and teachers to live in the neighborhoods where they work, not to commute from the boonies because that’s what they can afford.

The other really interesting point that was brought up in the article was the demise of the gay culture on Capitol Hill. As we all know Capitol Hill has long been the hub of the LGBTQ community. The Hill was the place the gays came to be safe, to let their hair down. And yet, in the last ten to fifteen years, the number of same sex couples living in the same household on the Hill has declined, while other parts of the city like West Seattle have seen a 55% increase in same sex households.

We think that’s great, folks. THIS IS PROGRESS! Gays can buy homes, raise kids and be proud all over the city. Gone are the days of the Gay Ghetto. Even the Pride Parade has moved off the Hill. Mourn the loss of your favorite watering holes, sure. Feel some nostalgia for the days past. But let’s not grieve the fact that gay isn’t segregated to a neighborhood anymore.

And, frankly, anyone who calls the Hill home during the week is making tracks off “Party Mountain” by Friday happy hour. Weekends on Capitol Hill are amateur hour in the East Pike/Pine corridor. We all have our favorite nooks and crannies on 15th, 19th, etc.

Here’s the thing about building a community: it’s an ever-morphing, dynamic goal. You don’t just build a community (gay, straight, conservative, liberal, arty, whatever) and then say done. Creating a sense of place and connection requires just that: participation. Sitting on the sidelines and commenting on social media, while inflammatory (and there is, of course, a place for impassioned dialogue), isn’t actually actively participating in creating change.

How are you participating in the dialogue? Here’s one way–join the Capitol Hill Community Council on Thursday night, March 19, 6:30 PM at the Cal Anderson Park Shelter House for a conversation about how the peeps in the community are made to feel part of it. Can’t join that conversation? Check out this article and take the survey.