SEATTLE - On a busy downtown corner, a new green building balances the needs of a demanding neighborhood, formerly homeless residents, and the nation’s largest pharmacy chain.
Capitol Hill Housing developed 10,000 square feet of retail space for Walgreens at Broadway Crossing. The developer also built 44 affordable apartments above the store and 25 parking spaces on two levels underneath. Despite rising construction costs and all the different stakeholders that needed to approve the development, it finished the building on budget and met its goal to win a certification under the strict Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver standard for new construction created by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Walgreens has exact specifications for its stores, from the position of electrical outlets to the shape of the space, usually a one-story building with surface parking and a drive-through window. The retailer had to redraw its standard plans when community activists demanded a taller building for the prominent corner—and affordable housing.
“Walgreens was forced to deal with a building that was not designed for their exclusive use,” said Betsy Hunter, Capitol Hill’s director of property development.
The Seattle-based affordable housing developer put itself between Walgreens and the neighborhood in a process that called for constant giveand- take. For example, to please locals, Broadway Crossing includes awnings that protect pedestrians on the sidewalk from rain and large windows that allow them to see into the store. The typical Walgreens covers its windows with advertisements and has no awnings.
Walgreens also needed to be included in every decision that involved the store, so it could replicate its usual arrangement of displays and infrastructure as much as possible.
Despite the extra negotiations and the discovery of contaminated earth from an old gas station on the site, the developer finished Broadway Crossing on budget in March 2007, just two months later than Capitol Hill planned.
Work began at the $14 million project in the fall of 2005. The financing includes $5.6 million from the sale of low-income housing tax credits to Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.; $3.7 million from the sale of the commercial space as a condominium to retail developer S.E. Granger Development Group, which rents the space to Walgreens; $1.8 million in soft financing from the city of Seattle; and $1.8 million in soft financing from the state Department of Community, Trade, & Economic Development.
Broadway Crossing has a mix of lowincome tenants who have full-time jobs but earn no more than 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), as well as recently homeless people and people living with AIDS. The more disabled residents at the building should benefit from living among more stabilized residents in a location near transit and convenient to the offices and shops of downtown.
“It’s about putting people where jobs and services are,” said Hunter.