With work underway, what the Capitol Hill People’s Parking Lot development will look like

(Images: Murray Franklyn)

The work is beginning on the Pine real estate parcel that transformed into the People’s Parking Lot over the last few years as the land sat empty and the developers waited out weak economic conditions. Those economic conditions are shifting, the construction trailer is in place, after four years of waiting, the Pine and Belmont project is underway. Here’s what they’re going to build.

The description processed back in 2007 by the Department of Planning and Development describes yet another six-story, mixed-use apartment building with below ground parking:


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.

It was one of the first in the wave of similar plans to hit the Hill and the backlash was enormous. 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. Buildings housing bars Cha Cha, Manray and the Kincora and retailer Winner’s Circle were razed to make way for the planned development. And then nothing happened. Except for an urban planning enthusiast turning the lot into a community activation experiment. A garage sale or two. And other various shenanigans. Then there were rumors. And then, activity.

And, now, even the developer — mostly silent through the years while the project sat on ice waiting for the market to heat back up — is talking. A little bit.

According to a representative from Eastside developer Murray Franklyn, while we’ve seen other developers dusting off old projects and making changes like shifting from steel-frame to wood-frame construction or cutting parking to cut costs, the company isn’t planning any changes from its early plans for Pine and Belmont mixed-use building.

The rep also sent us these artist renderings to share. It’s the only time we’re aware of that they’ve been published as the original project went through the design process before it was standard procedure to put all the material on the Web.

According to CHS commenter Seajake, the building is planned to be completed in mid-2012:

As a neighbor of the People’s Parking lot, we were told that the construction is to begin on or around 1/31, beginning in the NE corner of the lot and moving clockwise. We were also told that the construction is likely to take 18 months. Let the good times roll!

Below, we’ve embedded the project approval document from DPD that captures much of the details — and the criticism of the project leveled by community members and even members of the design board at the time. Now, four years on, they’re finally going to build it.

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27 thoughts on “With work underway, what the Capitol Hill People’s Parking Lot development will look like

  1. Not surprisingly it looks like they are doing nothing to enhance the pedestrian experience on pine, but yay 108 new private parking spaces!

  2. I thought that the whole thing with Pike/Pine was that the buildings were suppose to meld in somehow with the existing structures and feel of the block. This looks nothing like the surrounding area and frankly, just looks bland. The walk by will be a total bore. Much like Joule and The Brix. Everything is exactly the same, all the facades, so nothing stands out. I didn’t even know that there was an eyewear place in The Brix until a few months ago, despite walking by it all the time, because it just has no personality and nothing to make itself known. Not necessarily the business’s fault, but more a product of a flat facade of a building with no personality. Just like this one appears to be. The way that they’ve rendered the front, it actually looks like an office building that is designed to hide it’s innards and make it as inconspicuous as possible. Meaning, we walk by, we don’t even realize anything is there. Meaning, loss of traffic and business for Pine. I’m not sure how this got approved. It’s more of exactly what we don’t need in that area.

  3. I couldn’t disagree more about the Brix. I think that is a building that shows the neighborhood how to do mixed-use right – from the stepping down on the back side to the lease-up of great local commercial tenants, it meets the street in a graceful and exciting way. Now, it looks like this may be more like the Joule than the Brix which is admittedly underwhelming, but the addition of more people in Pike-Pine is a good thing, as well as activation of this long vacant lot. Saxmon’s complaints still stand on this building – and the main point that we should take from them is that Design Review is a somewhat broken process here in Seattle, with no real teeth.

  4. It looks identical to the lame press apartment building across the street. A closed down Kurrent would be perfectly at home on the corner in the first picture.

  5. I don’t ride my bike to work all too often either. I work in Bellevue, but I still take the bus. Go figure. Not calling drivers evil. I’m just saying that it makes little sense to have even more private parking in the most residentially dense and one of the most commercially dense parts of the city. This is especially true when a great deal of folks who live on the Hill work in places served heavily by transit or within walking distance (Capitol Hill, Downtown, U District, Redmond, Bellevue).

    It’s also kind of odd and actually pretty lame of eastside office park-style apartment developers to not imrpove upon the pedestrian experience in a neighborhood that is in the top for transit ridership and pedestrian use in Seattle.

    Although, anyone who drives that hears someone raise concerns about more parking in this environment immediately goes on the defensive. I’m just saying that increased parking (they want a ton of underground parking at the light rail station for goodness sakes) in Capitol Hill makes about as much sense as pedestrian malls in Lake City.

  6. I definitely agree about the businesses blending in too much in new construction… when you look at the block across the street from Broadway QFC, or the block on Olive with Bus Stop, In the Bowl and Arabica Lounge, you see a row of businesses. When you look at Brix you see a building.

  7. cheesecake, what is wrong with seeing “a building” along with the businesses. do you mean this to be just an observation that the businesses in the brix are a part of a much larger building and thus stand out less? or that in some way their facades don’t work or stand out on street level? the point i was trying to make is that I think the facades for the commercial at the brix work very well – from window type and glazing to how they meet the street (transparent, etc). much better in my opinion than the joule commercial across the street which is, well, just blah.

  8. Another big problem with including a spot with every residential unit is cost. Underground parking spots run in the tens of thousands of dollars per spot, and thus by not having any residential units without parking, you are essentially pricing out a significant chunk of the population, primarily those that can’t afford a car or choose to not own a car. This chunk of the population is one we should be trying to accommodate, not alienate, for many admirable reasons.

  9. There’s nothing wrong with seeing “a building” along with the businesses, it’s only a problem when it’s hard to see the business at all, which I think is the case with the eye-wear place that binoculars mentioned. Just an observation, I have nothing against Brix.

  10. Okay I love the pike pine area and have lived here for years. We have some amazing buildings and seeing yet another boring cheap building with no pazazz breaks my heart. Look at other cities and so many stay true to there look. Seattle really needs to get a grip and start to demand some style and design. I love this nieghbor hood and would love to see more trees and landscaping around these buildings. Look at Vancouver and some of there designs. perhaps cut out a couple units and ad some life around the building.

  11. As the former manager of Manray which used to happily occupy this piece of real estate I must say this is exactly the P.O.S. headstone I expected for our long-lost home. I hear all the whiners saying how emulating an old architectural style is “old-fashioned” and that this neighborhood needs updating. No, what this neighborhood needs is things that are “interesting”.

    When you look at a building (or fashion) built in the 60’s-70’s you say, “Oh, what were they thinking?” We’re already saying that about things built just years ago. Tacky! I can’t wait for another FedEx Kinkos, Subway and check cashing joint to open up in this space.

    Thanks so much for your cookie-cutter “contribution” to our neighborhood. I’m sure the people who are eager to live here are as lame as the building. They are the same people who will bitch about the “nightlife” and the noise. Hopefully the mayor will have some luck with his nightlife initiative so these people will shut up.

    More than 3 years later I still hear people bemoan (as I do) the loss of the places that used to inhabit this block. I haven’t heard anyone excited about the replacement. Why don’t the powers-that-be ever listen? Oh, right… $$$. I get population density, I really do. But urban density does not require boredom, chain stores and eye-sores. But that’s become the Capitol Hill trademark.

    Sorry, but I’ve come to terms with the favorite place I’ve ever worked being an empty lot. I’d actually prefer it to another of these disasters of “modern” architecture. But, like I said, typical, lame and expected. Go, Capitol Hill, go… -ing straight to hell…one building at a time. Sad that I find myself having to leave the Hill to have a good/interesting time these days. And as I still work with the general public it is sad when people come back to Seattle to visit and say “The Hill sure has changed a lot…and not in a good way.” Welcome back to the “Seattle of the future”.

  12. …but there are a few points worth mentioning:

    To the best of my knowledge the developers paid into sidewalk/pedestrian improvements, such as the expanded curb with plantings, bike racks and other design elements near the bus stop. Did they go far enough? No. But it’s an improvement from the previous right-of-way design. (Though, I’m still annoyed by all the colored, weathered glass that they initially laid down only to have it spread out and wash away. TOTAL waste of time and resources.)

    I really don’t like the building design and think it’s a poor fit with the neighborhood, but it’s an improvement on the original design proposal. Minor, perhaps, but an improvement. I wish more people would have turned out and spoken up at the DRB meetings.

    I’m pretty sure this building was permitted before the Pike/Pine Conservation District overlay went into place. I’d be interested to know how much the current design requirements would have influenced a different outcome.

    Last, but not least, one thing you’ll hear time and time again from developers and architects is that projects won’t get financing without a percentage of parking spaces. It’s a reality of our times, as misguided as it may be. Hopefully being located in front of a major bus stop will inspire residents to leave their car at home. And I’m hoping that patrons of the business can use the underground spaces, because god knows existing residents could use the street parking!

  13. …. more parking OR less parking, it sounds like such a crusade. Sorry, but, in fact who cares. It will be used or won’t. I take the bus, and really wonder what all the “cult like” talk on parking is about.

    There are so many enviro. issues so much more important. As far as the cost, rents will be competitive, parking space cost at construction has nothing to do with that market, except, you can maybe lease space. And, maybe big loan banking likes parking … getting the loan folks, what about that? No loans, no higher density which we all like.

    Tell me, anti parking league, how did you get so hung up on the topic> An alluring panacea? I don’t think so.

  14. Wait just a darn minute! Have you been to that block lately? They took out all the parking on both sides of the street and widened the pedestrian area dramatically. They made nice big areas for people waiting for the bus, which gets them out of the way of the sidewalk. I agree that the developer is not going out of their way, since the work I’m describing was done by the city, but to say this will be a bad pedestrian environment is ridiculous. Also a 1:1 parking ratio, while probably higher than necessary on Capitol Hill, is also lower than the vast majority of new developments in Seattle. Don’t think I love this development, but I’m sick of people making unfair kneejerk accusations.

  15. Wow, get a grip. Capitol Hill is just a victim of its own success. If business-people decide to concentrate a huge number of cool nightlife venues, restaurants, funky retail, etc. in one neighborhood, guess what? Lots of people are going to want to move to this cool, trendy neighborhood! And what if there aren’t enough apartments for all of them? Rents go way up! What happens when rents go up? Developers build more units, which often requires destroying old buildings! Bottom line is, if you don’t want your neighborhood to gentrify, maybe don’t work so hard to make it the most awesome trendy hip place in Seattle.

  16. Since you asked lulu.

    For most, having a parking spot does not encourage people to live without a car. While having access to one is worthwhile, having one at hand just encourages its overuse rather than making due without. Before you get all “what about carrying large furniture or groceries home or dropping off kids or..” on and on with all the excuses everyone easily has at hand to own and use a car all the time, let me say it is very possible to do all of that without a car. I believe it is not having a car readily available that encourages people to grab a bag of groceries on their way home from work instead of loading the back of the prius with a month’s worth or choosing day care that is close by rather than in north seattle because it’s $10 cheaper per day than on the Hill. And this is where the answer (though you may not like it) to your question lies. While it is silly for us parking brigade, or whatever you called us, to assume we can just do away with all parking from here out, we do have to start somewhere. Reductions in the provision of parking over time will help us grow into a society that uses a privately owned automobile less. Call me a behavioral engineer all you want, but it is what is needed.

    Seeing as how more than 50% of pollutants (impacting both human health and climate change) are caused by transportation (not to mention the more stressful and loud environment automobiles make of our public streets), what other environmental issues do you believe are more important than encouraging lifestyles that are car-free or -light?

  17. I don’t understand the aesthetic critiques. Never have, never will.
    Seriously people, without tangible descriptions of what you’d prefer to be built on our streets, one can only guess…I’m trying to imagine a shiny metal sphere surrounded by trees on this block, or perhaps a Disnified version of a historic Anhalt apartment complex?
    C’MON!!

  18. I don’t understand the aesthetic critiques. Never have, never will.
    Seriously people, without tangible descriptions of what you’d prefer to be built on our streets, one can only guess…I’m trying to imagine a shiny metal sphere surrounded by trees on this block, or perhaps a Disnified version of a historic Anhalt apartment complex?
    C’MON!!

  19. Well I’m sure the parking spaces will come in handy when they convert the building into condos. A building with ample parking is going to fetch a lot more dough when they do.