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Yesler Terrace Transformation Underway

The revitalization of Yesler Terrace, Seattle’s oldest publicly subsidized housing community, is moving from vision to reality as the first of several new residential projects open their doors this year. These projects welcome new and returning residents to the area, while also bringing new retail opportunities to the neighborhood with amenities that come from mixed-use projects.

Years of collaborative planning with stakeholders has led to a mix of public, private and community partnerships involved in the redevelopment. O’Brien & Company’s residential team is delivering technical assistance and verification services to a number of both publicly and privately held projects following a range of sustainable building frameworks and certification systems. Whether owned by the Seattle Housing Authority (Yesler Terrace’s master developer) or private owner/developers, we have been impressed with how the mix of projects all cohesively demonstrate and align with the redevelopments’ core values of equity, economic opportunity, and environmental stewardship.

Seattle Housing Authority’s Kebero Court was the first publicly owned apartment building completed this spring. As an affordable housing multifamily project, SHA received funding and support from Enterprise Green Communities, and was required to follow Washington State’s Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard (ESDS). Such funding requirements for affordable housing developments always present a unique opportunity for our team to help clients navigate through both Enterprise and Evergreen’s frameworks, which often refer to pathways under other rating systems such as LEED for Homes and Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes.

Spectrum Development Solution’s Anthem on 12th was the first privately developed mixed-use apartment building to open its doors this year. The project includes 4,000 square feet of retail space, bringing in new amenities and business opportunities to the neighborhood. As a transit oriented development, Anthem demonstrates Yesler Terrace’s vision of improving mobility within and around the neighborhood. O’Brien & Company worked with renowned local architecture firm Mithun, to target LEED Gold certification for the project. We are also providing LEED technical assistance and verification services on two neighboring Spectrum projects, Decibel and Reverb. Expected to open next year, both projects are targeting LEED Gold certification. This trio of multifamily buildings will primarily offer a mix of market rate and workforce housing, helping to create a more integrated and inclusive community with the Yesler Terrace’s affordable offerings.

In addition to celebrating these recently completed projects, we are excited to continue our work in the neighborhood with other projects currently underway. We are delivering a suite of services similar to Kebero Court to another Seattle Housing Authority project currently in design, the Hoa Mai Gardens. Just north of the new 10th Avenue South Hillclimb, a landscaped pedestrian staircase and ramp serving as the southern gateway to Yesler Terrace, Hoa Mai will offer 111 affordable housing units. In addition to technical support and verification, our residential team is also conducting the documentation review for ESDS.

And finally, we are proud to continue our work with Vulcan Real Estate, who is redeveloping the two blocks between Boren Ave and Yesler Way. Ambitious as always, Vulcan expects to hit LEED Gold and is striving to achieve the Seattle 2030 District Goals for energy and water conservation, in a very different environment and market than the South Lake Union revitalization which solidified their reputation as one of our region’s most thoughtful and transformative developers.

While our work to date has focused on individual developments within Yesler Terrace, and our services sought after to help project teams successfully use green certification frameworks to achieve funding requirements or broader project goals, we are encouraged by the opportunities for these frameworks to help link projects together to achieve the master plan vision of a renewed, cohesive community. Consideration of nearby amenities, infrastructure improvements or development, and open space, for example, all factor into individual project decisions, but also help strengthen the overall fabric of the community and opportunities for those who will call Yesler Terrace home.

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