Is developer thawing out plan for People’s Parking lot mixed-use project? – UPDATE

It’s not every day that a $125 fee on a $14 million project makes news but couple a payment from the developer behind the on-ice development that was intended to someday fill the empty lot at Pine and Belmont with rumors of a December construction start and things start to heat up a bit. Here’s what we know for certain: The company behind the stalled development of the People’s Parking lot has filed a $125 renewal of their permit to construct a $14 million mixed-use development through November 23, 2013, the maximum time allowed for the extension. The permit was slated to expire in a public process that began way back in October, 2006.

 Land Use Application to allow a six story, 108 unit apartment building with 12,602 sq. ft. of ground floor retail. Parking for 108 vehicles will be located in below grade garage. Review includes demolition of existing structures. Project includes 17,784 cu. yds. of grading.

The rest of the picture gets way more fuzzy. We’ve had a few variants of the same rumor sent our way. The basic theme? Eastside developer Murray Franklin is preparing to crank up the construction process and start building the project after years in limbo. You can read about how the project fell off the tracks in the middle of the financial meltdown and a legal assault from neighborhood activist Dennis Saxman in this Stranger article: How a Crusade to Save the Pike-Pine Neighborhood Is Turning an Active Block Into a Gravel Lot—For at Least a Year. It was posted more than two years ago, by the way. It’s also the only place to see the developer’s renderings of the project. The rest of the design review material is available only in hard copy down at the Department of Planning and Development. Buildings housing bars Cha Cha, Manray and the Kincora and retailer Winner’s Circle were razed to make way for planned development.

We have not yet confirmed that Murray Franklin is — or is not — ready to start digging. From our understanding of the situation, the project is clear to go from a permit standpoint. The construction permit was issued in May 2007.

In the years since, the lot has remained mostly empty though it was used for parking for a short time until it was determined that wasn’t permitted by zoning. CHS has worked with the People’s Parking Lot to organize events in the lot like our annual Capitol Hill Garage Sale days and Murray Franklin has been permissive if not entirely engaged with our efforts to “activate” the empty space. We’re of mixed thought about the mixed-use rumors. If they’re true, the space will definitely be activated but where will we hold Garage Sale Day?

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17 thoughts on “Is developer thawing out plan for People’s Parking lot mixed-use project? – UPDATE

  1. Too bad the building’s exterior looks cheap and more appropriate for Orlando than for hip, industrial Capitol Hill.

    Sometimes I wonder how the goofs at the Design Review Commission get their jobs. I’d rather wait for a nicer building that defines the uniqueness of the neighborhood than watch this bore go up. I bet the walls are paper thin and the windows do nothing to keep out street noise, too.

    We should demand more from Cheap-o developers who live in sterile mansions in Bellevue, Kirkland, Newcastle and Issaquah.


  2. I agree with your sentiment regarding the appropriateness and quality of the proposed development, but you are deluded to think that the design review board members are somehow responsible. Have you been to any design reviews for CH? I point fingers at the process, which gives the board no real teeth to demand better projects. In reality, the program is geared toward making things less bad as opposed to demanding good projects. Of course, there’s the whole property rights issue that the City chooses not to get involved in…

    But you are in luck!

    If you think you can do a better job of it, now is the time for you to stand up for your community. DPD is currently seeking applications for Design Review Boards across the City, and they are looking for a local residential representative for Capitol Hill. That could be you, XG. Go here for more. I’m sure you will be able to affect the change that Ms. Sutton has been unable to manage…

  3. My guess is that it’s likely just due to the fact that it’s cheaper to pay the $125 to extend the permitting than to have to potentially go through the permitting process in a few years again if/when the financing comes together. If you can’t get word from the developer, I seem to recall that Weber Thompson was the architect–someone at their office might be able to tell you if they’ve been contracted to do construction administration on the project in the near future.

  4. i spoke to the developer and he just said the permit was expiring so they are extending it. i got ‘a guy’ at w/t though; i’ll ask him.

  5. Being named Peoples Parking lot it should look like a building from 1950 Soviet Union. I wouldn’t waste any money on rebar either comrade.

  6. I spoke with two men surveying the property today.

    They told me that plans are for a 108 unit apartment complex, six stories above ground and two below. It will take up most of the lot with some area of buffer between the adjacent buildings.

    Construction could begin as early as December.

  7. Thanks Dang. I will apply!

    Maybe I’m “deluded” but if I am, so is the media (no surprise there, eh?) and so are many involved citizens who also think the Design Revie Committee is clueless. Seriously, we might all be wrong. I’m about to find out, or at least try to. At the end of the day SOMEONE has to be accountable. So, who is it?

    Thanks again,


  8. XG – You should familiarize yourself with the Design Review process and the Design Review Board’s role in that process.

    It the process that’s the problem here.

    The DRB has to act within the process as defined by DPD. Your delusion is that the DRB has the authority to dictate design. They don’t. They have to start with whatever is brought before them and then effect changes through the mechanisms provided them–the zoning code and the design guidelines. So yeah, the Board members may come off as “clueless” if you have very cursory understanding of the process and the limits to the Board’s purview.

    Make no mistake, I am not defending the DR process nor the schlock that gets approved. But it is a mechanism that is broken and desperately needs to be changed, and assigning blame to the Board members for the failures of the process and the system they are operating within is misdirected. And labeling them as “goofs” and “clueless” demonstrates your naivete of how difficult a charge they have to perform.

    Good luck with your application. And better luck to you should you be tapped to become our next residential representative.

  9. Totally agree.
    From where I live I can see the roof of that building and every winter it’s covered in standing water for months. The tarps “covering” the burned-out corner of the building have long since flapped themselves to shreds. That building needs to go; at this point an empty lot would have a better feel.