April 24, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Can aPodments save Capitol Hill?
Capitol Hill is booming, and not just with those low-rent aPodments that are causing so much controversy, as The Seattle Times reports.
Stroll through the neighborhood, down Broadway or around Pike/Pine. It’s teeming with new, market-rate apartment buildings. Stainless appliances and quartz counter tops abound. If you’re looking to rent a $1,400 studio apartment, you won’t have any trouble finding one here. That is, in fact, the average going rate for a Capitol Hill studio now, according to real-estate firm Zillow.
The neighborhood has gone upscale, a word that you would not have used to describe this part of the Hill until recently.
Funky, hip, gay, artsy, young? Sure. Upscale? No.
Think back just a decade ago. The Hill had no shortage of slightly run-down, older apartments where kids who were working in retail, waiting tables, or going to school could afford to live.
But that’s changing, and the young folks are leaving.
Data from demographics firm Experian show that Capitol Hill is trending older. Even if 20-somethings still flock to the Hill to hang out, far fewer of them actually live there now.
The chart above illustrates how young people — those aged 18-24 — are projected to decline in number faster than any other age group on south Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, the two fastest growing groups in the neighborhood are a very different demographic — children under five and adults 35-44.
And as you would expect, the neighborhood is getting wealthier, too. The accompanying chart illustrates how the percentage of higher-income households is increasing while the percentage of lower-income households is decreasing. By 2017, the two will cross.
Against this landscape of rapid gentrification on Capitol Hill, micro-apartments are helping keep people in the neighborhood who would otherwise be pushed out. Certainly some of the concerns of property owners who oppose these developments are valid and need to be addressed. But ultimately Seattle has to decide, as a city, if it wants to maintain diversity — in both age and income — in its urban core.
On Capitol Hill, that diversity is vanishing. Micro-housing is one of the only things helping to stem the tide.
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