What you’ll someday see across the street from Cal Anderson

Behold the Sunset Electric apartments and retail project. As we showed with this article on the stalled project at Bellevue and Pine, in the current economic climate, big development is a fragile creature. But after Wednesday night’s meeting of the Capitol Hill Design Review Board, there is now one less barrier to the Sunset Electric project breaking ground at 11th and Pine.


Wednesday night, the Design Review Board agreed on a ‘recommend’ for the project clearing the way for developers to finalize the exceptions they’ve requested to land use rules in the neighborhood. The project will be the first to benefit from the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay as its developer will be allowed to build 10-feet above the 65-foot limit in exchange for preserving the facade of the 1926 auto-row building.

During the public comment period, Capitol Hill super developer Liz Dunn expressed concerns that the bulk and height of the building was too much for the neighborhood. Dunn said she didn’t know how to solve the problems she sees in the design but said she was not satisfied that the Design Review Board and the new conservation district had produced a plan that the public would be happy with.

“We don’t want another project that gives density a bad name rather than a good name,” Dunn said.

Meanwhile, it’s less likely problems in the economy will sink this project as its backers are expected to utilize the HUD 221d program, which guarantees mortgage loans on rental and cooperative housing projects. CHS discussed the project and updates to the building’s design here.

Here are some other views of what the developer Pryde + Johnson says the Sunset Electric building will look like.

Look. They even made room for a ‘poster wall.’ Historical preservation, indeed.

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16 thoughts on “What you’ll someday see across the street from Cal Anderson

  1. Looks pretty good to me. Not the most fantastic looking building, but it’s a safe design. The scale is good too: at less than a quarter-block, it will come nothing close to Joule. Also fits in pretty well with the surrounding context. I like the look of it from Cal Anderson; makes it look like an awesome park in an urban setting…which is what it is.

  2. I didn’t make it to the Recommendation meeting last night, but I’m not buying their rationale for reducing the setback of the new building above the old to almost nothing. The setback helps avoid the flat taxidermy look, though I know it adds complexity to the structure and reduces usable floor area.

  3. Great, another apartment building with no balconies. Why is almost everything new (or renovated) lacking in balconies? Is it in some planning code I don’t know about or do architects think city dwellers hate to be outside? Balconies are wonderful for people inside and out, they create more eyes on the street (Jane Jacobs) and it’s nice to sit outside and watch life go by. Plus dogs love them.

  4. Looks acceptable to me as a “background” building in the neighborhood. Seems to be reasonably well detailed, and in my opinion the scale is totally appropriate for Pike/Pine. Seven stories is not something we should be scared about.

  5. Balconies make new buildings look clunky most of the time. Or they are so small that no one sits on them. They become places to keep the mop and old mountain bike. There is a park directly across the street. Seems like a fine place to be outside.

  6. hey, you make no sense. I have a great use for even a small balcony- a plant, one chair, me, and a cold beer.

    So the balcony police like everything sanitary and uniform!!! God, where do you people come from?

  7. And the old mountain bike cost 4,500.00 new – you want I should just leave it on the street for a night or two?

  8. I think it looks reasonably nice and in keeping with the neighborhood aesthetic, but how in the heck can they meet the new energy code with all that glass?

  9. I went to the Design Review meeting but decided not to comment since my intuition told me this project was going to be approved on the general merits of a much improved design from the original proposals at the first Design Review meeting. The new architectural team helped considerably. But, my concern is with the bulk and scale of the South facing wall. It has no windows and no architectural detailing or relief. They plan to drape green plants over the top edge. But plants are fragile, take considerable maintenance and expense to consistently maintain over such a large expanse. Check out the photo to see what people will be staring at for many years to come.

  10. I’m no expert, but my understanding is that most (if not all) new buildings are required to have a certain amount of “open space” as part of the design, and that architects use balconies as a short-cut to satisy this requirement.

    But most of the balconies are really tiny and not very useable. The usually add only “visual clutter” to a building, and are certainly not an amenity, except to maybe a few birds in the neighborhood.

  11. I’m sure the south wall was left blank so if a future development where Purr and the Crypt sit goes up, windows won’t me blocked. It’s quite typical. And as for the greenery, if they choose correctly, it will thrive here. Check out the condos at 16th and Olive if you wanna see!

  12. I saw the first proposal and hated it. This is a huge improvement but I still feel like something is lacking. I like the new structure; simple, modern, yet with some nice detailing. I appreciate the preserved facade – maybe swap out new black framed windows. Overall I like it, but something is just not meshing with the colors of this things yet.

    (And that poster wall, cool idea!!! But swap out those black panels above the door for glass please!!!!!)

  13. I too love balconies and avoid living anywhere without them. But developers here see little value in that expense when it’s cloudy and rainy 70% of the year here. I also remember seeing the plans for the building with an open-air core with open corridors to the units (either a U or donut shape, can’t remember). Not the best view but it lets you step outside directly from your unit…

  14. …bland. Who too hell are the architects being hired for these projects? All of the latest projects going up around the hill are some of the most boring buildings I have seen anywhere. Old historic buildings with boxes attached to the top. Wake me up when Cap Hill gets something exciting.