Design doc reveals what’s next for farmers market lot and block of Broadway

This upcoming Wednesday there will be an Early Design Guidance Meeting for the mixed-use apartment complex proposed for Thomas and Broadway (details below). The site includes the properties that house Cafe Septieme, Noah’s Bagels, Pho 900, Bank of America, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, and the Broadway Farmer’s Market, among others and will have approximately 24,000 sqft of commercial space, 235 residential units, and about 250-275 parking spaces. The project is being developed by SRM Development and the Merrill Gardens Company, a family-owned, Seattle-based company behind the Merrill Gardens Retirement Communities throughout the United States (and most recently at U-Village).


The project is pretty standard in terms of new Capitol Hill development. Ground floor retail will front Broadway and wrap around Thomas St with upper floors consisting of mainly studios and one bedrooms, with a few 2 bedrooms interspersed. The building will drop from 65ft along Broadway to 40ft along 10th Ave and 7 Live/Work units will front the ground floor of 10th. Since it is early in the design process there are no official designs for the facade but the proposal does include a few sketches of possibilities. In talks, SRM Representative Andy Loos has repeatedly mentioned Brix as something similar in scope and design.

First Floor Plan

While all the existing buildings will be demolished, Loos said that current commercial tenants have been contacted and offered space when construction was complete. Bank of America has already agreed to return to the new building and are currently looking for a temporary location in the vicinity. No others have confirmed. Loos also said that the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce would “certainly be welcome” when construction was completed but the Chamber’s Jack Hilovsky said that they are looking for a new location for when their lease is up next Fall and don’t have plans to return at this time.

The most intriguing part of the proposal is a community space that would be available to tenants as well as community groups and organizations. While nothing has been confirmed (entrance location, square footage, included equipment, etc.) I am told that Merrill Gardens incorporated a similar space in their U-Village development.

Idea for 10th Ave Entrance

The least intriguing part is the parking. Even though the site will be less than one block from the new light rail station, the First Hill Streetcar, and bus routes 8,9,43,49, and 60 and is zoned with no parking requirements, the developers are still proposing more than 250 parking spots. I asked Loos if there was any chance that the parking could be reduced. His reply:

We have discussed the parking spaces and will do further review to determine how many we will provide.  We certainly don’t want to be under-parked since finding spaces on the street in Capitol Hill is virtually impossible today and if our residents were to have to find street parking in order to park their cars we’d be adding to an already significant parking problem.  There could be a segment of the residents that have cars but choose to use public transportation anyway.  They will still need a parking space even though they don’t use their car every day…we want to be able to accommodate them.  We certainly don’t want to build parking spaces that

I guess you can’t win them all.

Project: 230 Broadway E  map
Review Meeting: November 18, 6:30 pm
  SU Alumni Relations & Admissions Building
  824 12th Ave  map
  Meeting Room
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance past reviews
Project Number: 3009249 permit status | notice
Planner: Lisa Rutzik

22 thoughts on “Design doc reveals what’s next for farmers market lot and block of Broadway

  1. Why is the city promoting neighborhood blight? How in the world can anyone justify tearing down the center of a neighborhood to build yet another condo, when there is absolutely no indication the market is receptive?

    While I am all for mixed-use buildings, I’m extremely worried about the number of projects beginning on the Hill, when the existing developments aren’t selling. I live just down the street from a gaping whole/pit that was meant to be a luxury high-rise. On Summit, there is another project halted mid-stream and is now being trashed and vandalized. Property values, anyone? The homes may not have been glitzy, but they were neighbors who contributed to the base of our community. Now, these lots are just menacing reminders of the busted economy.

  2. This is the 3rd meeting I have been aware of to discuss this … and wonder just what does the Council raise as problem areas in the design, or any part where real community input would be valued?

    The parking thing is their call, and as long as no public money is involved, I think it is their investment dollars. Perhaps make the parking level roof higher for possible future conversion to other uses…. the visual change from one story retail to this is amazing. But, density proximate to a light rail station has to be important.

    Can we give them three more stories in trade for low income units? Or other zoning trades for community needs?

    What about art? Plantings? All green to the max? Roof Gardens?

  3. And – there is no way to restrict the flow of investments and re-development to any degree. Capital invests, markets respond and the old gives way to the new.

    In fact, the rental market on the Hill is hot. No condos, rentals.

    Change is the essence of life, even in the cities we live in. Sorry, even kings of old tore down cities and started over.

    You would freeze density near a new light rail station, costing billions of public money to build – mega trans. option, to the status quo? Based on the city of thirty years ago?

    And some positives in change – Cal Anderson Park and the soon to be light rail. I don’t not like these giant mid rise boxes, and would support more stories to break the mold … but that is another issue.

  4. Agreed. It is a democracy and they are using _their_ dollars. Presumably their market analyses tell them that potential buyers will want cars. It’s probable that many of the residents will work nearby and will commute by public transit, but will want cars for recreational uses.

    After all, many of us live here both for the urban attractions and the stunning rural areas and wilderness that are all around us (We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto). It’s really not practical to try and transport your bike to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail by rental car, try and go ski-ing by Smart Car or to take a shiny new Zip Car down the bumpy dirt road to many of our trail-heads (Harvey Manning always advocated clunkers for that).

    Our Mayor-elect has proudly pointed out that he’s car-less and has been camping by rental car, but even he’s admitted that it was to a State Park and that that he wouldn’t go wilderness camping that way.

    Finally, if these urban areas evolve to accommodate families (it’s happening in the Miller area townhouses), people really will want cars. You try schlepping your schoolkid’s harp around by bus! (Been there, done that).

  5. Yay…more over priced apartments with empty store fronts below! If we are lucky maybe we will get another checks cashing place. Poor Broadway you used to be so much fun.

  6. Mike, sure they are constructing the parking with their money, but eventually it is the future tenants that will pay them back for the parking…whether they want it or not. Kinda contradictory to those affordable units you were talking about.

    Andrew, I guarantee they did not do a market analysis for parking demand. They ass-u-med that parking is absolutely necessary because people complain about finding parking on the Hill. Well, people complain about parking everywhere…let’s not build Bellevue Mall sized parking garages because someone complains they have to circle the block looking for parking.

    Hopefully someone pressures them into selling the parking spaces separately from the units so that the future tenants are able to make the choice.

  7. Unfortunately here in Seattle we have yet to zone any parking maximums so it is true that developers are able to do whatever they want in terms of parking for their property. But it is important to note that parking tends to be the source of many of the common concerns regarding new development.

    The real problem is that building parking is expensive at an estimated cost of $20,000-30,000 per space. Right there, affordability is thrown out the window, and this is why you end up with major chain stores and rich yuppies in these things.

    It is also why these developments are so massive. They need to spread the capital costs of the garage out over as many units as possible so they build these huge block/half-block long buildings.

    I can understand the desire for at least a single car when you have a family, but with over 80% of these units being studios and one bedrooms, I have a hard time believing that many families will live here.

    As someone who has lived without a car for over 5 years I think that getting to the wilderness is probably the toughest thing. Having done a substantial amount of traveling, I find it endlessly ironic that it is easier for me to get to national parks in other countries (by bus, train, walking) than it is here in my own. Because so many people can drive, we have never developed a good system of shared transport to get people into and out of our parks. But this certainly doesn’t mean we can’t.

    This building is at possibly the most urban, transit-friendly location in the city, if not the entire Northwest. If we can’t build units without parking here, then where?

  8. Josh – the new C. Hill has tons of families – not sure where they all live, but, they are here.

    Remember, fewer kids, = modern family in Seattle.

    Parking might also impress bankers, who over the long term think a parking space will increase occupancy rates. Loans run 30 -40 years remember. Projects like this will carry tens of millions of long term loans.

    Also – let’s be smarter – at some future point this building will most likely convert to condo, and again, a parking spot for sale will be a good advantage for top dollar.

    I enjoy the parking debate but think the Community Council should define their concerns and not just turn into a random pressure group for the latest planning trend, a trend which does not work for every household, autos are here to stay – modern mobility – and when pollutions problems are solved auto makers will solve a major issue with the public well being.

  9. What they should do to increase density is be sure to make plenty of units with 3 and four bedrooms so that families can move in. (ones that aren’t the $1 million penthouse on the roof but ones that families can afford) Families in Seattle seem to think its a necessity to have a free standing house with a yard – well, Seattle will never get good urban density with that being the prevailing paradigm. The only people who can live the urban condo life are single people or couples. (which is me – but I hope to always live that life) Most units are 1 and 2 bedroom only.

  10. Really…yet another Giant Block of Demolition in the middle of our neighborhood to be replaced with generic condos that nobody wants to buy except at auction? Is this urban strip mall decor the new and desired “flavor” of Broadway? I spoke with staff at Cafe Septieme and they will simply close up shop for good. They have no plans to relocate elsewhere, which is disappointing. Although, I’m sure the new facilities will eventually attract a starbucks or two to placate tourists who visit the hill looking for evidence of its reputed diversity.

  11. The Bank (of America) building’s pretty much a commercial rambler, a mushroomy eyesore, good riddance. The noah’s building isn’t much better, though I kinda like the unintended skate parky area between them. The CHCC house is far too lowdensity for being a stone’s throw from Broadway. No one’s going to miss that oily parking lot (at least 6 days a week, you know this is true). And the capitol apts and *hack* castle will still be standing, right?
    What exactly are folks lamenting aside from a displaced Septieme?

  12. Even regular old apartment buildings used to be built with attention to detail. Now we get spaces that look like pre-fab Ikea lite. The First Bank building–where Pho 900 sits–is a beautiful, solid, old building. Definitely gotta tear that thing down.

  13. is anyone else concerned by the enormous amount of commercial square footage here? 24,000 sq feet? that equals what currently exists on the north half of broadway i bet…

  14. Josh,
    I guess you implied there’s an understood truism about parking = bad. Could you please elaborate on the science, not opinion, of this position? Perhaps cite a study or two?
    Being as not all cars are gasoline powered, & not all vehicles are cars, I don’t always equate cars, or their storage, with bad planning.
    As a city and region, many dollars/hours/resources/years have gone into lobbying developers to not neglect proper levels of parking, right? This was because studies showed irresponsible developments put burdens on city transportation depts when they skimped on parking.
    Where’s the precedence for building 200+ marketrate units (and a block of retail) in one building and not including a parking plan? In what city has this occurred and traffic/street parking/commerce did not suffer as a result? I don’t get your tone in your article, so help, please.

    My inner armchair-city-planner thinks 1 parking spot per 1 or 2 BD unit (many likely roommate or partners situations) plus 25 or so spots for an entire block of retail seems not …enough? – though, ideally I imagine a mixed use parking garage here, like Broadway Market’s: commerce and residents both using it, and not just those connected to that particular building.
    The best hope? That more parking = fewer cars end up on the street and we could remove a lane of parking (or two) from Broadway. Then, widen the sidewalks. Little is more ped friendly than that! (Paris, anyone?)
    Even NYC apt buildings have garages. People in dense cities do own cars- especially families and especially those with non-regular work hours (like small business owners, freelancers, service industry, and those holding down more than one job). The difference with a mass transit option: you can leave that car parked and out of traffic more often, and only use it when you really need/want to. The odds that every resident in those 235 units will work/play/live their entire life along that one line to Downtown/Rainier Valley? Zero.
    Or perhaps I should ask: What level of pedestrian-oriented are you dreaming of? (for Capitol Hill’s commercial arterial)? Pioneer Square? Little Italy? Athens’ Plaka? Disneyland??

  15. Rev.Smith
    Even with the enormous amounts of parking you propose, which would never see full occupancy, business owners would still fight any notion of removing the parking lanes for sidewalks…unfortunately, it just won’t happen.

    And I can’t stress enough: the amount of parking you talk about sounds frighteningly massive. Not sure about everyone else here, but I’d rather house people–yuppies, trustifarians, scary people, whatever–rather than cars in our neighborhood retail core. Overkill on the amount of parking provided will not bring the Bellevue, Northgate, and Southcenter Mallers to the Hill…sorry.

    What we should be aiming to do is continue to make it more pleasant for the people you see going there everyday already and build up the retail supporting density in and around the core. Massive parking garages–mixed use or not–do not achieve either of those.

  16. I live very close to this planned development, and am definitely not looking forward to the construction mess/noise, but I am hopeful that the result will be worth it. Many of the messages here seem to be taking a very short-sighted view…none of the units will sell, empty storefronts, etc…but I think these opinions will be moot once the economy improves, and especially when the light rail station opens. When this happens (hopefully sooner rather than later) I can see a building which is totally occupied, and vibrant, local businesses at street level. The Brix building/retail is a good example of what will happen at this site.

    The site is currently occupied by close-to-urban blight. The BOA building is extremely ugly, the parking lot is a wasteland of litter, and the buildings in the middle of the block are of no real architectural interest. The only thing I will miss is the cute little house on the SW corner of 10th Ave E/E Thomas, currently the home of the Capitol Hill Chamber. And also Septieme, which hopefully will relocate somewhere nearby, or even in the new development.

    As far as the parking issue, of course there needs to be some inside the new building…the project would not be economically feasible without this. I think that one space per unit would be adequate..residents do not need more than that, especially considering that light rail will be easily available. Most can use light rail for their commuting, and their (one) car for everything else.

    This development is happening and will be a strong positive for my neighborhood.

  17. kstineback: 24K isn’t much: wasn’t Brix building alone originally designed with 50,000? The broadway building in the south anchor (on the First Christian church site) has a little under half that on the ground floor, plus a second floor full of offices.
    the idea is that commerce will be needed for all those residences going in above, and hopefully people will be inspired to just walk downstairs -after all, 235 households need somewhere to buy their ___™, _____™ and the occasional ____™. Trick #1 is, you need the residents to move in first to make it work. Trick #2 is you need somewhere for those residents to work so they can afford to consume: looks like none of the rents will be such that a lone BOA teller, bagel jockey or parking attendant will be able to afford to live above their job.
    jz: I’ll happily amend my comment: the first bank building (exterior wise) is actually pretty cute. Good call.
    BB: you want diversity, then please, open up a shop. If you can’t afford that, then try what I do: shop carefully at places you love. I for one am glad to see Hollywood Video finally outta here; just crossing fingers we can get mom&pop / small local biz to move in. Was also glad when safeway left. Still lament the loss of the piroshky place (though kudos to newcomer Zhivagos!) pink zone, games&gizmos, the ernie room, etc etc.

  18. I live two blocks from this block being discussed. I am very saddened. Yes, some of the buildings are not worth saving, however the couple of little houses and The old bank where the Pho place and the bagel place are located in has potential. When are we going to get some designers and urban planners with some taste. I mean do we really want Cap Hill to look like anywhere USA? Seriously this is what is happening. Seattle is starting to lose any originality. So sad. WE are turning into a city of the one with the most money can bulldoze anything they like, with little regard for what the citizens of the city really want. Stop progress? No, but cant we be original in our thinking? Soon there will be nothing but Boxville Cap Hill. Why move to the burbs, the city is bringing to us. So sad.