Q and A with Christopher Persons
- Executive Director
- Capitol Hill Housing President
- Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce
"SU has been reemerging as a force in the community."
You’ve been in Seattle two years now. What were you doing before you came here?
I worked at Inspiration Café in Chicago. We provided homeless services, including housing and food service training, and we operated cafés for homeless people.
What do you and Capitol Hill Housing do?
Capitol Hill Housing develops and manages affordable housing in a community context, largely in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. We’ve got 42 projects altogether —1,102 units, 1,600 people. The median household income is under $17,000 a year. These are low-income folks who probably wouldn’t be able to live in the city if it weren’t for our housing or similar housing.
Are there ways in which you partner with Seattle University and other organizations?
We are working together with a number of groups that think about and make decisions about development along 12th Avenue—how to define that and have it meet decent standards for community, re-tail and livability. Betsy Hunter, who is our developer, is on SU’s Citizens Advisory Committee. We’re also exploring ways to partner more with SU.
A small step was the Monster Street Sweep we had on Halloween.
What excites you about 12th Avenue?
There is already some organic retail and housing development on 12th Avenue and SU has been reemerging as a force in the community, turning its front door away from Broadway and toward 12th Avenue. Having this vibrant economic engine so close to downtown helps create a viable economic retail center for the whole city.
What are your thoughts on the possibility of a streetcar on 12th?
Along 12th there isn’t any public transportation so it would be just good public transportation. But also the current plan coming up from King Street Station to John on Broadway connects Capitol Hill, the Central District and the International District. So it would be a lot easier if you go down to the I.D. for dim sum, you can hop on the streetcar and be on Capitol Hill in moments. You don’t have to worry about parking. You can hop off along the way and get back on. It makes human-scale transportation that much easier. It will continue the boom that we’re seeing in retail and economic development in some of these areas.