Capitol Hill Housing will submit an application to Seattle’s Office of Housing next month for funding to move forward with plans for the city’s first LGBTQ-affirming affordable senior housing development.

LGBTQ community members living in Capitol Hill and abroad helped inform the design during a visioning workshop in December 2017, but the project was not among the many affordable housing projects selected for OH funding. Capitol Hill Housing CEO Chris Persons said the public corporation and its nonprofit partners took 2018 to regroup and focus on what services to offer. CHH will also seek funding from the state.

When the project was first announced, the LGBTQ-affirming senior housing development was set for construction on a parking lot adjacent to CHH’s 38-unit Helen V Apartments for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

Persons said the city pushed for the project to be moved to one of its sites on Broadway in Capitol Hill. This will create new opportunities and challenges, being so close to the neighborhood’s nightlife scene.

CHH now intends to build an eight-story senior housing development with 100-122 units — up from 72 — where the old Atlas and Eldridge Tire buildings sit on Broadway, between Pike and Pine streets.

That site had been targeted for 78 affordable housing units when the Sound Transit Board approved swapping it for its Site D property near Seattle Central College. The surplus property, leftover from Capitol Hill light rail construction, is now being used by the college to expand its campus.

The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board approved designating the Eldridge Tire building — home to a salon and Tacos Guaymas — as a city landmark in November 2017, and the city council approved the designation in July 2018. That means the facade of Eldridge Tire, with its distinctive porte-cochère, must be preserved in the new development.

CHH senior development manager Mason Cavell said 80 percent of the units will be studio apartments, and 20 percent one-bedrooms, available to folks making 30 to 80 percent of the area median income. The goal is to make as many as possible available at 30 percent, he said, which would mean monthly rents of $581 for a studio and $622 for a one-bedroom.

Design is expected to be finalized by spring 2020, and financing secured for a fall construction start. The LGBTQ-affirming senior housing development is targeted to open in late 2022, but everything hinges on funding being provided.

Environmental Works architect Freya Johnson shared aspects of the schematic design during a community meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 7, and also emphasized the importance of the project. She said the senior housing system can push people back into the closet and is often not an inclusive environment for LGBTQ seniors, both in operations and its populations.

“Many of the people that will be in this building were alive during Stonewall, maybe even some were actually at Stonewall,” she said. “Not only will this building be full of survivors, it will be full of stories.”

The senior housing complex will provide a range of services geared toward the needs of aging LGBTQ residents, with Generations Aging with Pride (GenPRIDE) being the primary service provider. GenPRIDE will have offices on the ground floor, at the back of the building, along an alley connecting Pike and Pine. Known as Neighbours Alley, referring to the popular nightclub next to the senior housing site, CHH and other community partners are working to activate the space and make it cleaner and safer for people to use. GenPRIDE offices will have windows that put more eyes on the alley, Johnson said.

The ground floor will also have spaces for a community meeting room, Seattle Counseling Service, and a Country Doctor clinic space staffed several times a week by a nurse practitioner. There will also be 4,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.

“Those are going to help supplement some of the cost of the building, and they’ll be market rent,” Johnson said.

The L-shaped building will use the Eldridge Tire facade as an entry to a courtyard, with a second-floor roof deck accessible through another community/TV room.

There will be no on-site parking or drop-off access, so CHH is working to provide it through an adjacent property it owns.

Environmental Works executive director Roger Tucker said the units will be designed to work for folks in wheelchairs, and 10 percent will have features that accommodate those with hearing or sight issues. An emergency call system is planned for bathrooms, living rooms, bedrooms and common areas.

GenPRIDE executive director Steven Knipp said the nonprofit is spending this year testing out various service programs, and is also expanding training to senior centers in King County.

“Because we do realize that coming to Capitol Hill isn’t for everybody,” Knipp said.

That programming is being informed by surveys and studies conducted by Aging with Pride board member Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, who is also director of the Healthy Generations Hartford Center of Excellence at the University of Washington.

“I now say I’m old enough to complete my own surveys,” she said.

Out of 17 communities examined, Seattle had the least services for LGBTQ community members, which is why it was so important to establish GenPRIDE, Fredriksen-Goldsen said.

She said her work has led to findings that LGBTQ seniors of color and transgender populations are disproportionately impacted by chronic health issues. LGBTQ seniors also struggle more with issues surrounding isolation, she said.

Aging with Pride also found LGBTQ seniors suffer memory loss and issues with memory at a higher rate than other populations, and has developed a program it hopes to offer at the senior housing complex, said Diane Biray Gregorio with the Aging with Pride research team.

Debbie Carlsen, executive director for LGBT Allyship, another partner attached to the senior housing development, said the organization does a lot of work around intergenerational training, including worker’s rights. Even though many folks are retired, she said, many have to continue working.

Fred Swanson, executive director of Gay City in Capitol Hill, said the LGBTQ center provides the most AIDS and sexually transmitted infection testing of any organization in King County, and it’s well known that sexual activity doesn’t stop when people reach their golden years. This is one area where Gay City can be a partner, Swanson said, as well as helping seniors navigate insurance issues, and through its referrals program. Gay City has a large library and arts program, which Swanson said the nonprofit also wants to offer at the senior housing complex.

The Broadway site will provide access to a pharmacy up the street on Pine, and the QFC on the corner of Pike, Johnson said, but the move from 14th and Union has raised safety concerns.

“As you know, Capitol Hill has some safety issues,” Johnson said.

Attendees at the Aug. 7 meeting were asked how the developer and operator could address safety, receiving ideas that included secured access, a front-desk concierge, self-defense classes for seniors and an evening shuttle service. One attendee also called for creating a tenants association that could address any concerns with building management in the future. The Neighbours property is for sale, Johnson said, so it’s not likely the nightclub will remain in the neighborhood much longer, which satisfied a concern one attendee had about the senior housing project’s location.

Cavell tells MPT that a funding decision from the city will hopefully be known by early 2020.

CHH is also working with YouthCare and the Washington Department of Commerce to create housing units at the corner of Broadway and Pine where a homeless youth opportunity center is planned for development.