Ambitious Sunset Electric apartment project on pace for summer start of construction at 11th/Pine

Pike/Pine’s poster wall is going to be a busy place this summer. A flurry of activity involving city paperwork this week and an expected invitation from the Feds has the development project that will engulf and incorporate a 1916 brick building at the corner of 11th and Pine on track for the first walls to come down and the first shovels to dig in sometime this spring or summer.


This week, the city’s Department of Planning and Development conditionally approved the master use permit for the Sunset Electric project, an ambitious mixed-use development powered by new zoning rules in Pike/Pine and, it is planned, the federal HUD 221d program, which guarantees mortgage loans on rental and cooperative housing projects. Meanwhile, the project has also applied for permission to subdivide the land to ease the way with the HUD program and maintain the private alley behind East Precinct headquarters as a service area for garbage and fire access.


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According to Jeff Reibman, senior associate for architect Weber Thompson, the burst of activity around the Sunset Electric project this week is a coincidence of the multiple process going on behind the scenes to bring the more-than-$9 million project to reality. “The project is going forward on a fairly normal process,” Reibman said. Even so, it’s been a busy week. As we were reporting this story Friday morning, Reibman contacted us to let us know they had also received a key invitation to submit their application in HUD loan guarantee process.

If there are no appeals regarding the master use permit, it could be issued as early as the end of March putting the start of construction on course for sometime “this building season,” Reibman said. First, however, the team lead by developers Pryde + Johnson must work out solutions to the conditions placed on the permit and manage their way through the federal loan guarantee program.

The Sunset Electric project will include 95 residential units above the restored auto row building with two-floor tall commercial spaces at ground level. The name refers to a manufacturing company that called the 1916 building home for a time. It is also known as the Spray King building and was once home to Winton Motor Co., according to neighborhood activist Dennis Saxman. The project is going for LEED Gold and Built Green 5 Star certifications and is participating in the city’s new Priority Green Pilot Program. You can read more about the features planned for the new project in this June 2010 CHS report on the development. We also published this series of images of realistic artist renderings of the project here.

When completed sometime in 2013, the project will bring a large injection of residents into a part of the Pike/Pine neighborhood known for its nightlife and live music. How the neighborhood continues to evolve to support both “daylife” and nightlife will also be part of Sunset Electric’s story. The 11th Ave poster wall will be part of the new project as rendered in the artist drawings but whether it will still be used is another question. Across the street, the longtime offices of the Stranger look out on the building front that will become a facade in the new retail space. Value Village is across the street as is Velo Bikes. Sunset Electric’s neighbors to the south will be The Crypt, Purr and Grim’s.

It’s an ambitious project and part of the continuing change in the Pike/Pine neighborhood. “We’re very very proud of it,” Reibman said, “and looking forward to bringing it into the physical world.”

Meanwhile, as a reminder of just how tricky it can be forecasting the start of work on large projects of this scale, demolition to make way for the 230 Broadway project continues to be held up as information is still being collected and DPD has yet to approve tearing down the old Bank of America building and the building currently home to Noah’s Bagels. We’ll let you know when that approval finally comes in.

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3 thoughts on “Ambitious Sunset Electric apartment project on pace for summer start of construction at 11th/Pine

  1. Another box…hooray. I’m all for the development and cheaper housing (it won’t really be cheap that’s for sure–prob around $1200/month 1BR I am guessing) but this permanent building mirrors that stuff above boom and barrio and just does not fit. If this is what we can do then oh well. But excellent for transit purposes and keeping an eye on the stranger staff.

  2. Obviously new construction will be expensive, duh. On the other hand, increasing the supply of apartments by almost 100 units will put downward pressure on the apartment market in Capitol Hill, lowering the average rents. I’m tired of people complaining about the cost of units in new buildings without considering the larger implications.

  3. Also, sort of to play off of Zef’s point, this building will be forced to have actually affordable units. It’s getting money from HUD.

    Secondly, my own point, yeah it’s a box, but boxes are easier to fix than the mish-mash buildings like the ones coming in on Belmont/Pine, 15th/Pine, etc. This is why the city planning gods created design reviews. Hell, also at least it’s not a massive gated mega-project either. I’ll take this development over the block engulfing car-encouraging character-killing projects that have been popping up on the hill in the past 5 years. At least the façade is preserved. The Belmont/Pine pit, for example, used to house what 4 buildings and multiple businesses? Now that hole will be filled with one massive building, and it’s looking like fewer businesses.