Watching Seattle Develop From Capitol Hill

Preserving Capitol Hill: A quick guide to battling development angst

When I think about Capitol Hill these days, I think about the neighborhood institutions we’ve lost and the drastic shift in the crowds and nightlife. The visual transformation in its own right is so dramatic that there are corners I stand on, and much like development in South Lake Union, find myself completely lost without landmarks to orient me. But! I still love you, Capitol Hill. There are familiar faces no matter where I end up. There is a shared rich history I feel particularly as a pedestrian during the day, a foot traffic hustle, a dance that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Seattle. And nothing will ever replace Dick’s at 1:30 on a Friday night. Nothing.

So rather than focus on what buildings we may lose or are definitely gaining– Let’s talk about the organizations and initiatives working to preserve and enrich this incredible space in our city. If you cringe at the cranes and yell expletives when the Hummer from I don’t know where blows through a crosswalk – I’m here to help. We can chain ourselves to historic architecture and bellow at poorly behaved bros together.

In the meantime, I encourage you to get in touch with these folks and support the important work they are doing. Listen, I’m sad that Piecora’s is gone too but there is hope!

Capitol Hill Housing

Historically recognized as the main player in affordable housing on the hill, Capitol Hill Housing also focuses on sustainable economic development and community preservation. As they continue their tremendous work to maintain an affordable housing stock on Capitol Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods, they’ve launched Capitol Hill EcoDistrict. Looking holistically at ecological, economic and social sustainability, the initiative works with the community to launch proactive solutions to the challenges that rapid growth brings to Capitol Hill. This includes projects such as a community solar program, Seattle Public Utilities Green Business Program and the 12th Avenue Arts development.

Capitol Hill Champion

This joint project between Capitol Hill Community Council and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce serves as a sort of liaison for stakeholders during redevelopment around the Link Light Rail Capitol Hill Station and advocates for community goals identified in numerous outreach events over the years. The website itself is an incredible resource for community members and developers alike. If you’ve ever wondered what transit-oriented development looks like in action, this is your one-stop shop.

Capitol Hill Arts District

I love it when the city does cool stuff. Capitol Hill has been named the first “Arts District” in the city’s new Arts and Cultural Districts program. As part of the program’s intention to preserve creative spaces and foster a “louder voice” for the arts community in planning and development issues, the city is gathering a series of tools to support artists and arts organizations trying to navigate the system, narrowing down ways to incentivize creative space in new developments and working to increase visibility and wayfinding for public art throughout the neighborhood.

It’s important to note that if you end up cruising the links above (and I really hope you do), you’ll see a lot collaboration and partnerships. This is the byproduct of actively-engaged residents and business owners on the hill and the beauty of community development in general. Not one organization, project or initiative is standing alone. Rather, there is a strong, organized front working to maintain and strengthen Capitol Hill’s culture and environment for generations down the line. And I am so very thankful.