The grand opening of Seattle’s first affordable high-rise in over 50 years

The Rise on Madison / Blake House is Seattle’s first affordable high-rise in over 50 years. (Photo courtesy of Bellwether Housing)

As the crowds gathered in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood on May 23rd, a sense of inspiration and profound gratitude soared. The ribbon cutting of our latest project, The Rise on Madison / Blake House, a 17-story affordable high-rise, is not just a grand opening; it’s a celebration of community resilience, commitment, and progress. Made possible by a unique collaboration with Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing, this impressive structure proudly stands as the first affordable high-rise built in Seattle in over half a century.

“It’s such an incredible feeling to celebrate in this beautiful space,” states Partner Jeff Reibman who oversaw the project. “So many of the people here worked together for years to make this a reality.”

Karen Lee, CEO of Plymouth Housing (left) and Susan Boyd, CEO of Bellwether Housing (right) cut the ribbon at The Rise on Madison / Blake house grand opening. (Photo courtesy of Bellwether Housing)

The Heart of the Project: Empowerment and Belonging

At its core, this building is about people. It’s about providing secure, comfortable homes for individuals and families who need them most. “Today we have reason to celebrate. This building is proof that we can make real strides toward ending homelessness in our region,” said Karen Lee, CEO of Plymouth Housing in a recent interview with KING5 News.

Operated by Plymouth Housing and named after the late Blake Nordstrom, an advocate for ending homelessness, Blake House occupies the lower floors of the building. It includes 112 studio apartments for chronically homeless seniors and veterans, providing safety, dignity, security and belonging that everyone deserves.

The Rise on Madison, managed by Bellwether Housing, is located on the upper floors, offering 250 homes to individuals and families earning 60% or less of the area median income. As Susan Boyd, Bellwether Housing CEO, noted with KING5 News, “This development represents so much of what is great about Seattle…”.

Attendees got a tour of the building during the grand opening. Weber Thompson also provided interior design services for this project. (Photo courtesy of Bellwether Housing)

Stories of Transformation

Behind every door in this high-rise is a story of transformation and resilience. Kevin Thomas Kiso, one of the first residents of Blake House, shared in an interview with KUOW NPR, “This is the coolest day of my adult life, and I’m 57 … I spent 20 years sleeping right out here … and I know that that’s what I’m being granted here.” The peace and tranquility Kiso now experiences is a testament to the life-altering power of this project.

Looking Forward with Optimism

This grand opening isn’t just about the culmination of a project; it’s about the beginning of a new chapter in many residents’ lives, and it’s a steppingstone for the future of affordable housing. For Weber Thompson, our work doesn’t stop here. We continue to shape a brighter future for affordable high-rise living.

WT Senior Principal Jeff Reibman and Susan Boyd, Bellwether Housing CEO at the grand opening. (Photo courtesy of Bellwether Housing)

“We are so honored to be a part of this work” says Reibman. “Providing affordable housing that is close to transit, services, education, and job opportunities is critical. Building high-rise projects in our urban core is the most efficient way to meet this need.”

With a new affordable high-rise already underway in the U-District, another collaboration with Bellwether Housing, we celebrate the completion of The Rise on Madison and Blake House and look forward to a future where our skyline grows to tell a story of inclusivity, aspiration, and hope.

Learn more about the project


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