Plaza Roberto Maestas project moving forward

A proposed design for the plaza and stage at the Plaza Roberto Maestas project.
A proposed design for the plaza and stage at the Plaza Roberto Maestas project.

To the community from El Centro de la Raza:

In late February El Centro de la Raza presented to the community its latest designs for Plaza Roberto Maestas (PRM). We have been delayed in getting this post out to the wider community by the significant fight for State housing resources for this project in Olympia right now. PRM is the mixed-use community-inspired transit oriented development project that will be built on El Centro’s currently vacant south parking lot, next to the Beacon Hill Light Rail Station. It will be 113 units of affordable housing over 30,000 square feet of daycare, multi-cultural community center, retail/restaurant and office space. The latest design renderings incorporate feedback gathered from over ten community meetings and focus groups that took place in 2012. ECDLR just scheduled its first City of Seattle Early Design Guidance meeting for June 25th at 6:30pm at Wellspring Family Services on Rainier Avenue. This meeting will kick off our permitting process and is open to the public.

A rendering of a design for the 17th Avenue South side of the project.
A rendering of a design for the 17th Avenue South side of the project.
Plaza Roberto Maestas will be built in the spirit of Dr. King’s “Beloved Community.” It will be a physical place that honors the history and culture of El Centro de la Raza, while serving as a “town center” gathering place for the larger Beacon Hill community to utilize and enjoy.

For those that have not been able to attend community meetings to date, we have compiled this post and the following Frequently Asked Questions to maximize information sharing and community awareness of the project. In the near future, El Centro de la Raza hopes to co-host a meeting with the North Beacon Hill Council, Beacon BIKES and SDOT to talk about parking, traffic and pedestrian safety in the Beacon Hill neighborhood around this project. We will announce a date for this meeting soon.

Please feel free to contact Kate Gill de la Garza, Project Manager, with any questions about PRM. She can be reached at 206-860-2491 ext. 202 or at

Read on for the FAQs about the Plaza Roberto Maestas project:

What is the program at Plaza Roberto Maestas (PRM)?

PRM will be a new mixed‐use project in two buildings around a central 11,000 square foot “Latino inspired” public plaza. There will be 113 apartments, affordable to individuals and families making between 30% and 60% of Area Median Income. There will be 22 three‐bedrooms, 51 two‐bedrooms and 40 one‐bedroom apartments geared towards low to moderate income working individuals and families. The “West Building” will be more family‐oriented and the “East Building” will contain more one‐ bedrooms more suitable for singles and seniors. On the ground floor of each building will be commercial space including an expansion of El Centro de la Raza’s Jose Marti Child Development Center, a Multi‐Cultural Community Center and retail/restaurant space geared towards the local business owner. On the second floor above the Multi‐Cultural Community Center will be office space intended for Beacon Development Group (BDG), ECDLR’s development consultant. BDG is owned by Paul Purcell, longtime Beacon Hill resident.

Will PRM be an affordable project that specifically serves the homeless and/or mentally ill?

No it will not. PRM will serve low‐ to moderate‐income working individuals and families.

Will the plaza be open to the public?

A design for the entrance to the plaza.
A design for the entrance to the plaza.
Yes, ECDLR has specifically designed this project around the concept of an open, public central plaza for the community to use and enjoy, as laid out in the neighborhood plan. The plaza is being designed to both honor El Centro’s history and to create open gathering space to celebrate the Beacon Hill neighborhood, specifically for events such as Beacon Rocks and a potential farmer’s market, should one ever be located on Beacon Hill. It is anticipated that the plaza will be closed at dusk, similar to Seattle Public Parks, in order to maintain safety and security on site for the residents and the neighborhood.

How many kids will the new daycare expansion serve?

The new expansion will create four classrooms, or approximately 60 new daycare spaces.

What kind of businesses will El Centro rent to?

ECDLR will rent commercial space to locally owned small businesses. We have been working very hard with the Beacon Hill Merchants Association to understand the needs of both the business district and local business owners. We anticipate doing a formal request for interest in the approximately 7,000 square feet (which can be sub‐divided into as many smaller spaces as necessary) of retail/restaurant space sometime soon.

What will happen in the Multi‐Cultural Community Center?

Flexibility was the overriding common theme in community discussions about this space. As a result, ECDLR has purposefully designed this 9,000 square foot space to be as flexible as possible. Currently it has two main rooms that can hold medium to large performances, gatherings, and events but that can also be sub‐divided into more intimate classroom, performance or meeting space. There is also a commercial kitchen planned, for catered events or for use by the community or small business person.
ECDLR will use this space for their own large internal events (Dia de los Muertos, Cinco de Mayo, Annual Dinner that seats 500 people) but will also rent it out to community members and private groups for various cultural and civic meetings and events.

How many parking stalls are planned?

PRM currently has one floor of underground parking, or about 135 stalls. As a transit oriented development project (TOD), we are currently planning for residential units to have about half of these stalls, with the remaining uses utilizing the other half. ECDLR will encourage shared parking whenever possible and will also advocate for a car‐sharing service on site. There will be ample bike storage on site as well (50+ bike stalls). During evening events at the Multi‐Cultural Community Center, valet parking (in the parking garage) will increase the number of cars that can park in the garage.

How will this project impact traffic in the surrounding neighborhood?

By City of Seattle transit overlay code, projects are not required to build any parking next to Light Rail stations. Despite this code, El Centro de la Raza has planned a floor of structured parking under the project in order to accommodate families with cars at the project, and to minimize impact on the surrounding neighborhood. While it is our goal to encourage as many people to ride the Light Rail as possible, we also know that some people must drive to work. We currently have two options for the parking garage entrance – one option with the entrance on 16th and one on 17th. We plan to commission a traffic study soon on these options to understand their impacts on the surrounding neighborhood. We also hope to partner with the North Beacon Hill Council and BeaconBIKES soon on RPZ enforcement around the Light Rail Station and a potential traffic calming strategy for 17th Avenue.

The corner of the Plaza Roberto Maestas project from the corner of Beacon Avenue S. and Maestas Festival Street.
The corner of the Plaza Roberto Maestas project from the corner of Beacon Avenue S. and Maestas Festival Street.
How will El Centro de la Raza ensure equal access to the apartments at PRM?

When it comes time to pre‐lease the apartments, El Centro de la Raza and the third‐party property manager that will run the building (not hired yet) will advertise the units far and wide, online and in traditional print media, in multiple languages throughout the City. ECDLR will also make sure that leasing agents are assisted by translators from multiple language groups during lease‐up. Once the project is fully funded, we will also do specific outreach to various neighborhood and cultural groups to make them aware of our timeline to completion and lease‐up.

What is the funding for this project?

PRM will be funded by a mix of public and private resources. We will utilize public funds from the City of Seattle, State of Washington and King County. These funds will leverage federal Low‐Income Housing Tax Credits (purchased by an investor), permanent debt and private fundraising through an El Centro de la Raza Capital Campaign. All together the project will cost approximately $40 million to build.

13 thoughts on “Plaza Roberto Maestas project moving forward”

  1. A little more discussion of the funding mechanisms would be helpful, both immediate and long-term. It seems premature to go to design review if such a major funding source is in jeopardy. It implies other mechanisms are available, which would be great considering current State finances, and the scale of the project is set in stone. A while back, a proposal was floated that would sell some property back to the City that is intended to remain public anyway. Did that idea die? Is there any chance that the project may be adjusted to provide greater revenue to offset the loss of public funds, such as incorporating market rate housing?

  2. Where can either an e-copy or a hard-copy of the Beacon Hill neighborhood plan be found? (This plan is referred to in the response to the question, “Will the plaza be open to the public?”.)

  3. Hi Chris, these are very good questions. And I am happy to talk or email more about this if my response here is not sufficient enough due to space. The short of it is that yes, the State Housing Trust Fund is a very important source on this project. And it is in flux right now due to politics in Olympia. That being said, it is my job as ECDLR’s development consultant to have a number of different budget scenarios as viable “back-up” plans if certain sources of funds don’t come through for some reason. So we are working on this and we are confident enough to start the design review process while everything gets sorted out in Olympia. We also hope and believe this is a high priority project for the City of Seattle. We did float the idea of utilizing Parks money on the central plaza space (since this will be public space) but this idea went no where with Parks and we did not make the cut for the Levy presentations a few months ago as a result. Your last question about market rate housing is the hardest to answer here. It is very difficult to incorporate market rate housing in a project like this for a variety of very technical reasons. We do continue to look at it as an option, however, but thus far have not been able to make this work. I am happy to talk more about why this is. Feel free to email or call me at the contact info in the post.

  4. Hey chris! you take your bigotry and legitimate questions elsewhere! social justice for la raza! this is our neighborhood!

  5. @Chris There are two market rate buildings going in on 17th and beacon by the light rail and another on McClellan. this one can be work force housin and low income with no big problems.

  6. I’m not sure about the proposal of selling the property back to the City but I will try to see if further information is available in terms of funding mechanisms!

  7. Roseanne: Google tells me the neighborhood plan is found via links at .

    Monster: You’ve been warned before to stop it with the aggressive flame-warring here. You do not speak for all of Beacon Hill and your comments are going to be moderated again unless you can be civil. And consider posting with your real name, because it is cowardly to post flamebait from a pseudonym.

  8. @Susan, I should probably give more context on the “selling the land back to the City”. When Parks had their Levy funds available, we inquired about selling just the land under the 11,000 sf plaza back to the City since it will be a publicly open space. Parks did not like this idea and disqualified us from the competition. However, this has not changed ECDLR’s mission to provide this space as open to the public per the neighborhood plan – it is still being planned this way for maximum use by the community. In the future we will talk more with the community about safety in the space as well as different community activities we hope to happen here (movie nights, possible farmer’s market, community festivals, etc.

  9. The Neighborhood Plan update is also available in the Beacon Hill Resource Center, open during Beacon Hill Merchants Association operating hours and by appointment if you contact the N Beacon Hill Merchants Association.

  10. I was wondering if this development will change the characteristics of our Beacon Hill neighborhood which a small, residential one.

    Thank you.

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