Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Awards 2019 Winner: Plaza Roberto Maestas

Plaza Roberto Maestas is a landmark equitable transit-oriented development project in the Beacon Hill a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Seattle, WA. It is owned by El Centro de la Raza, a civil rights organization grounded in the Latino community that provides a range of services including child and youth programs, human and emergency services, and skills building. In addition to providing housing, the project supports small and local businesses through the creation of new retail and commercial spaces.

Making efficient use of a one-acre lot next to light-rail, this development locates affordable housing in close proximity to high-quality transit, economic opportunities, retail, and recreational amenities. Creative place-making was at the heart of the transformation of the formerly vacant lot on which Plaza Roberto Maestas now stands. This project anchors the affordability and diversity of the Beacon Hill neighborhood while accommodating increased density and activity.

The project team’s vision was to create a culturally sensitive development to serve as the anchor project in the redevelopment of North Beacon Hill. El Centro de la Raza has worked in partnership with local residents and organizations since 2008 to develop a shared vision for the neighborhood. The project responds to multiple goals outlined in the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan including: encouraging a mix of uses, providing a flexible and inclusive civic gathering space, providing higher density near transit, and increasing housing options. Extensive public engagement with neighbors, the local merchants association, and community leaders ensured the community’s input and concerns were addressed.

Now, 275 individuals live at Plaza Roberto Maestas, including 110 children. Currently 142 children receive accredited bilingual early childhood education services. A total of 13 small business owners have been approved and licensed to use vendor carts or tabletop vending space. In the project’s first two months, 33 individuals or community groups utilized Centilia Cultural Center for community events, celebrations, and meetings/conferences. Plaza Roberto Maestas also incorporates numerous sustainable strategies to improve the project’s environmental performance under Washington’s Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard (ESDS).

Plaza Roberto Maestas directly addresses the urgent need for affordable family housing and economic opportunity in the Beacon Hill neighborhood and is a model for community-inspired transit-oriented development. For its innovation and exemplary contribution to affordable housing, Plaza Roberto has been recognized with many industry awards, including the 2017 AIA/HUD Secretary’s Creating Community Connection Award.

Location: Seattle, WA
Developer & Owner: El Centro de la Raza
Partners: Beacon Development Group (development consultant); SMR Architects; 7 Directions Architects/Planners; Third Place Design Cooperative; Walsh Construction Company

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