CHS Pics: First Hill breaks ground on its ‘first high-rise apartment building in 35 years’

Wednesday morning on First Hill featured an unusual event for Seattle — and the nation for that matter. A group of business representatives, land owners, developers and public officials gathered near the corner of Madison and Minor for a groundbreaking ceremony on the 16-story 1200 Madison high-rise apartment tower.

Seattle City Council president Richard Conlin told CHS he couldn’t remember the last private construction groundbreaking he had attended in the city after the economic slump ground development to a halt. Conlin said he’d heard the Holland Partner Group project was only the second high-rise project in the nation to start construction this year.

Details on the development and renderings of the tower’s design are here but here’s the summary provided by Holland:

Holland Partner Group is proud and excited to commence construction of the first high rise apartment building in the First Hill neighborhood in the last 35 years. 1200 Madison marks a major milestone in the revitalization of Seattle’s First Hill and will provide 237 market-rate units with high-end finishes, modern amenities, and expansive views. Nearly 7,000 square feet of ground floor retail is also incorporated into the project. The project is planned to be completed in October 2012.

Holland’s Tom Parsons said the project could represent “the start of a new economy, perhaps.” He talked about creating “237 new homes in the First Hill neighborhood” and noted that the project will employ about 150 construction workers during its 20 months of building.

Jim Erickson, First Hill resident and representative for the First Hill Improvement Association, was part of the ceremony and recalled that the site of the construction that was most recently a bank was also the site Sound Transit had discussed as a possible home for a First Hill light rail stop back when the area was still being considered for the line. The space will instead be put to use for the new tower — First Hill’s transit consolation prize is the streetcar.

During the brief ceremony before the family that owned the land until 2009, representatives from the developers and Conlin and Erickson used gold shovels to turn the first dirt, more history of the location was revealed. Long ago, the Robinson family owned the Hotel Clark at the site. There was also an eight-seat diner at the location before the bank moved in — here’s hoping that somebody opens a new Tank and Tummy on First Hill someday soon.

You can follow reports on the project at

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7 thoughts on “CHS Pics: First Hill breaks ground on its ‘first high-rise apartment building in 35 years’

  1. At the risk of being picky: First Hill Plaza is the building in the background of the first photo and I recall touring it when it opened in ~ 1983, a mere 29 years ago.

  2. Please see the following web site for a history of the San Marco Apartments — we are just behind the building-to-be. One could think of it as a box for the historic San Marco. The web site was developed by some tenants. It includes information about the original Clark Hotel.

  3. Apparently the 17-story MStreet building at 8th and Madison doesn’t count as a high-rise apartment building? Or are they choosing to ignore it because it’s mixed-use? Regardless, I’m glad to see these development projects restarting around the city.

  4. First Hill Plaza only dates to 1983? I would have thought that much ugly would have come straight out of the ’70’s. You look at it, and you can almost see the brass and smoked glass ;-)

  5. AT: good call on the construction date, but isn’t First Hill Plaza a condo, rather than apartment, bldg?

  6. This project is in a prominent location on Madison Street and should command a prominent building, but this design is as banal as it gets. The developers should consider starting over. Is this another failed Design Review project?