Beacon Hill low-income apartments will have a ‘mini-Pike Place Market’

Journal Staff Reporter

Social services group El Centro de la Raza plans to start construction in early 2015 on a 112-unit low-income apartment complex just south of its headquarters and near the Beacon Hill light-rail station.

The project at 2524 16th Ave. S. will be named Plaza Roberto Maestas after the longtime Seattle activist who died in 2010. He served as executive director of El Centro de la Raza.

SMR Architects is the architect of record, 7 Directions Architects is the consulting design architect, Walsh Construction Co. is the general contractor, and Beacon Development Group is the development consultant.

The $41 million project is expected to be complete by the summer of 2016.

It will have two mixed-use buildings flanking an 11,000-square-foot central Latino-inspired plaza for residents and the neighborhood. The plaza will open onto Roberto Maestas Festival Street, now used for neighborhood celebrations and events.

The development will include a 10,000-square-foot expansion of the Jose Marti Child Development Center, which is in El Centro’s headquarters. There will also be a 6,000-square-foot community center, 3,200 square feet of retail space and 4,500 square feet of office space.

The complex will have 44 one-bedroom apartments, 46 two-bedrooms, 22 three bedrooms and two units for property managers. All but those two apartments will be for people making between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income. For a family of four that is $26,460 to $52,920.

Rents will be based on income and unit size. The cheapest one-bedroom will rent for $496 and the most expensive three-bedroom will go for $1,376.

There will be five parking stalls in the basement. El Centro will also build a below-ground 130-stall parking garage on the north side of its headquarters.

El Centro de la Raza is a 41-year old Latino social services, advocacy and social justice organization.

Estela Ortega, its executive director, said the neighborhood wants affordable housing and the mix of uses, and Beacon Hill is a great place for housing with its services and good schools.

There’s a shortage of affordable housing in the city, Ortega said. For example, she said her organization over 12 years has helped 600 families find a place to live, but “because housing is not affordable in the city, we’ve had to place them all in the county.”

The residents of Plaza Roberto Maestas will include the working poor, she said. The apartment complex will be near light rail that can take them to jobs downtown and next to the 44 programs El Centro offers, from employment services to youth programs.

Ortega said she expects the plaza to become a destination for outdoor movies, carts selling food and goods, weddings and possibly a farmers market.

“In some ways it’s a very tiny, mini-Pike Place Market,” she said. “It will bring people together.”

The project team includes Bush, Roed & Hitchings, surveyor; Kantor Taylor Nelson Evatt & Decina, tax and land-use legal counsel; Shannon & Wilson, geotechnical; SoundEarth Strategies, environmental services; Springline Design, civil engineer; Nakano Associates, landscape architect; Swenson Say Faget, structural engineer; and Glumac, mechanical/electrical engineer. DKA Architecture provided early community outreach services.

Funding sources include the city of Seattle Housing Levy, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits through the state Housing Finance Commission; state of Washington funds, proceeds from the sale of office condos in the development, and equity from El Centro.

El Centro de la Raza also is in the midst of a $3 million capital campaign for the project. Impact Capital and Enterprise Community Partners have provided pre-development financing.

Additional information may be found on


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