By Misa Murohashi The North American Post
Served by Link Light Rail, Amtrak, Sounder trains, and multiple Metro bus lines, the Chinatown-International District (C-ID) Station has become a regional transit hub over recent years. When the East Link Extension is completed in 2023, the C-ID will be directly connected to Bellevue and Redmond by light rail.
“The C-ID is at the center of this hub,” stated Vivian Hsieh, marketing manager of DA LI Development USA (DA LI).
This is why the company chose the C-ID for its first mixed-use development in the United States.
“When our developer team visited the neighborhood, we saw its tremendous potential for the future,” continued Hsieh. “In Asian cities like Taipei and Tokyo, transit-oriented developments are so much more common than here. We are new in the Seattle market, but I hope we can bring something unique — what only we can do. ”
DA LI has now completed building KODA Condominium Flats at Fifth and South Main.
A growing trend has been residents choosing transit-oriented and walkable urban areas, instead of car-centric suburban settings.
Matthew is a resident who chose the urban lifestyle by purchasing a unit at KODA.
“As a data scientist, having a place to myself at KODA is just what I need to be an effective home-based worker. It is a newly developed building with touches of modern Asian architectural designs that you could not find anywhere else,” said Matthew. He found “the decision to make this my new home became easy when Koda sales and management teams interacted with me on a personal level and made the place feel like home, even a year before I moved in.“
Another resident, Donald, purchased a unit with his wife, Midori, after living in the C-ID for four years.
“We love being in the district with its many Asian restaurants, excellent access to public transportation, easy walking distances to Seattle’s museums, waterfront, Pioneer Square, Pike Place Market, and downtown,” he stated. “We also like KODA’s close proximity to Harborview Medical Center which offers us excellent medical care in all fields of medicine.“
Since Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation was adopted in 2017 by the Seattle City Council, many new residential developments are happening in the C-ID. The MHA requires new developments to include affordable units or contribute to the city’s fund for affordable housing. In return, the City has allowed higher densities to encourage more residential development.
Under MHA, the block where KODA is located was up-zoned to 170-foot-tall buildings. DA LI paid over $4 million to the City’s Housing Affordability Living Assistance program in compliance with the up-zoning requirement.
Tomio Moriguchi sold the property to DA LI, with Hsieh noting that Tomio shared his vision with them to create a modern, quality residential building that would attract mixed-income residents to the C-ID.
When MHA was adopted, various local neighborhood and community voices raised concerns about gentrification and displacement of existing residents because of rising rents or new developments. The C-ID has successful nonprofits developing affordable housing, such as InterIm CDA and SCIDpda. Hirabayashi Place is the newest affordable housing next to KODA. Moreover, Uncle Bob’s Place is under construction at 8th and South King and other projects are under development in neighboring Yesler Terrace. These efforts need to continue to preserve the neighborhood for existing residents, many of whom are elderly, and for newly arriving Asian immigrants.
Hsieh believes that the recent growth of the C-ID, welcoming a mixed-income residential community, would support the district’s small businesses. “I have special respect for small business owners. My parents started their business as a small stationary shop in Taiwan and I have seen their endeavors all the time.“ In Seattle, Hsieh has been volunteering as Board Member of Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (C-ID BIA). She hopes that new developments and more businesses will help activate the streets and increase public safety of C-ID.
“We expect to have an Asian-inspired restaurant and a cafe at the KODA building’s street level along Fifth Avenue. This location is the connecting thoroughfare between the C-ID and downtown. However, the street has been vacant for a while which may hinder the foot traffic coming to the C-ID from downtown. I hope the new businesses will bring further vibrancy here,” said Hsieh.
With anticipation of greater control over COVID-19, the district is expected to again begin attracting increasing numbers of visitors, workers, commuters, and travelers. New residents like Matthew, Donald and Midori will join the community as well.
KODA (https://ownkoda.com) is a new condominium building located on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and South Main. Koda offers a wide selection of home types – from studios to one- and two-bedroom homes starting from $299K. In 2021, Koda received a People’s Choice Award from NAIOP Washington (a commercial real estate development association).
DA LI Development USA, LLC (https://da-li.us/) is the American subsidiary of DA LI Development Co. Ltd., a publicly traded Taiwanese company, focused on large-scale residential high-rise development. Founded in 1977, DA LI has evolved into a major force in residential development. Its first USA office in Seattle, established in 2018, is the result of a comprehensive evaluation of a city that offers the potential for long-term growth.