Developer moves optimized Stream Belmont apartment project forward

Through a declaration that one of the properties was a biohazard, a forced demolition and foreclosure, and four years of stalled development a Capitol Hill developer has been able to hold onto his land and now has aims on building a six-story apartment building across three lots at Belmont and Republican despite opposition from some residents in the area who say the project is designed to “maximize the developer’s profit” at the cost of “what’s good for the neighborhood” and has received too little public scrutiny.

The Stream Belmont project at 500 Belmont Ave E will come before the Capitol Hill Design Review Board Wednesday night already in the recommendation phase due to earlier design reviews of the project years ago:

Project: 500 Belmont Ave E  map
Review Meeting: September 7, 6:30 pm 
SU Alumni Relations and Admissions Building  824 12th Ave  Meeting Room
Review Phase: Recommendation

Revisions to the previously reviewed design from the original 2007 project are detailed in this memo from architects Nicholson Kovalchik:

The new plan calls for a 6-story multi-family structure with 65 units,  and underground parking for 39 vehicles. “The original project was a concrete structure that was not designed to the fullest zoning capacity, and was seemingly economically infeasible,” the design packet’s “major change rationale” section reads. “The proposed project is a wood structure that has increased the overall building capacity, while keeping within the permitted zoning and building code allowances.”

Neighbors watch the “biohazard house” come down last summer (Image: CHS)


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Resident Michael Keigley is asking for neighbors to speak out against the project at Wednesday’s meeting and sent CHS his objections to the updated project:

The changes requested essentially are to maximize the developer’s profit with little, if any attention to what’s good for the neighborhood. The proposed project has changed from condos to an apartment complex, increased the number of units from 40 to 65 (making them tiny units), decreased parking from 65 to 39 stalls (.6 parking stalls/unit), increased the building mass on every side (including zero-lot lines and reduced green space), and changed the red brick exterior façade to metal paneling, among other changes…

It’s also interesting to note that this almost made it through DPD without a public meeting or review by the Design Review Board (because it is a revision of a MUP). In addition, DPD has only notified the neighborhood of the proposal and public meeting by posting 4 signs on the 500-600 Ave E Block of Belmont and has curiously not sent notices to taxpayers as would happen with a new Land Use permit.

The recent history of this block of Belmont Ave E has not been the happiest. Last June, CHS reported that the fire-damaged home on the corner lot had become so contaminated by squatters that SPD refused to enter. The city sued to force the demolition of the house. Owner Kyle Clark managed to retain ownership of the lots despite a foreclosure process earlier this year.

NK Architects is also active elsewhere on the Hill right now as the designer and developer behind the project at Federal and Republican.


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22 thoughts on “Developer moves optimized Stream Belmont apartment project forward

  1. I agree. It’s not only ugly, but too tall and too bulky. And it’s a shame that the previously planned brick exterior has been shelved.

    Hopefully, the design review process will result in some changes to the current plans.

  2. Maybe Mr. Keigley could elaborate on what exactly his idea is of what’s “good for the neighborhood”? Sure, I’d love to see more use of brick, but a developer trying to maximize land use and profit doesn’t automatically make me dislike a project.

  3. another oversized piece of garbage – people, the Hill has cancer.

    I cant wait for the rest of the economy to come crashing down and kill these projects and ruin the developers

  4. i hope there’s a special place in hell for my former slumlord. how he managed to hold on to these properties (after years of criminal neglect) is beyond me… and now he’s going to make an even bigger, uglier monstrosity on top of his formerly neglected houses? there really is no justice anywhere in this country anymore. it’s almost like he made these changes to the building out of spite after the forced demolition of the “biohazard house.”

    yeah, the trees are gonna go too… that’s not even in question. no one ever tries to save them when they put up these tin can condos. i wish there were a real opportunity to be involved in the process here, but these review meetings seem to have little impact.

  5. I like the new units, having had to live in rat traps all over the Hill. Change, OK. Better housing, OK.

    Ugly, you will adapt. Good plumbing, good electric system, bigger windows, and not a slum.

    Sorry for you misplaced agony. Fight world hunger, solves a lot of angst on the small stuff.

  6. What you read was an excerpt. Other examples of what’s not good for the neighborhood include numerous requests for variances for design standards. Bumping put the structure such that it takes up nearly the entire footprint of the land; the increased height will cast a greater shadow over the neighborhood, including the adjacent park; the upper floors have greater square footage than before, which means the building doesn’t taper up as it goes; the cheaper-looking building materials; if the number of units are increasing that much, the size of each must be getting quite tiny. None of which is good for the neighborhood.

  7. I’m OK with everybody arguing their points, and I hope you bring your concerns to the design review. But assuming that you know what’s best for the neighborhood is very off-putting.

  8. This was voter approved.

    They are designing what they are allowed to design and what they feel the market will bear.

    It may not be my aesthetic and am glad the public design review process is in place, but I sure am in favor of the voter-approved urban density to which this development responds.

  9. Strictly speaking, this is not what people voted for. Yes, it’s density, and in all the negative commentary about this project, I don’t believe there is much of an “anti-density” complaint.

    The complaint is that the developers are seeking numerous variances to existing design codes in an effort to construct a building that uses up every available inch of ground.

  10. I’d rather see them doing something with the property, since they had their panties in such a twist to get people out of that building and pretty much allowed it to become an infested waste of space. It’s about time they started cleaning up their mess.

  11. sure, everyone likes new buildings. and maybe after everything in capitol hill looks like a tin can it will just blend in. of course, only a select few can afford to live in these tin cans. it’s not like these developments just come along and upgrade everyone. i’ve yet to see something new go up on the hill that was comparable in price to existing decent buildings like the one i live in now; they’re usually at least 50% more, and often with less sq ft, which makes me wonder why people choose to live in them. also i would question the assumption that these new developments are well constructed. i think there’s plenty of evidence that cheap materials are used, corners are cut to save time and money, and people move into these nice, new little apartments with granite countertops and track lighting only to find plumbing and electrical problems too. for as inefficiently low density and outdated those two remaining houses on the street may be, they are very well constructed and if someone had actually wanted to take care of them, they could have lasted many more decades. i don’t really care about urban density. i’m not a city planner, and i’m still not sure how we can fit 200,000 more people in Seattle anyway when we’ve barely gotten started on light rail and have no other ideas beyond painting pretty bike logos on a street. it seems like we could at least redevelop parts of the city that are dying and have no character first, instead of demolishing and redeveloping an already healthy, vibrant neighborhood that still has enclaves of affordable housing for younger and older people who may not have $1500 each to spend. but i guess that’s just too socialist, right?

    i’ve lived in plenty of rat traps myself, but i didn’t have to move into the Joule to get into a decent building still within my income level. but i worry about how much longer that will be the case.

  12. It’s not a given that the trees will go. Sometimes they are preserved, such as at the 230 Broadway development (on the 10th Ave E and E Thomas St sides) currently under construction at the corner of Broadway Ave E and E Thomas St. The City Arborist office has a specially designated person whose job it is to work with developers to try and preserve as many trees as possible, and I urge those who care about those trees to contact that office and voice their concern. The person to contact is Bill Ames and his email is It would also help for people to come to the design meeting on Wednesday and voice their opinion…I plan on doing so.

  13. Of course what’s best for the neigborhood is subjective. but to criticize someone who actually comes to the table and makes such a claim based on things like property values, zero lot lines, reduced parking space availability and 75 year old trees being taken down is anything but “off-putting”

  14. Keep cramming bigger & more “development” onto the Hill & trying to turn it into a version of downtown – soon the already rapidly worsening “safety” of the neighborhood will go the way of similarly urbanized to the max areas of other larger cities. This neighborhood will require doormen & body guards & high priced limos & all the trappings of “success” & development. I have been there & seen that 3 times now in 3 other once-livable cities. And I am here to say, once again & with sadness, There goes the Neighborhood”.

  15. Wondering what is so off-putting about having an idea about what is best for one’s own neighborhood, or “pragmatic” for that matter? I find it much more off-putting that someone doesn’t want to listen to the concerns of neighbors.

  16. No, the city arborist decided that the trees would be too damaged for long-term health and unsightly once they received the heavy pruning required by their position under the phone wires.

  17. I’ve lived on the hill for many years, as have most of you I’m sure. The hill is filled with ramshackle disgustingly dirty little buildings built in the 50’s and 60’s that never should have lasted as long as they have. Every block has these ugly little buildings. On this lot, sit two eyesores, and a former flop house. And people are complaining about a brand new construction building to replace them? Not getting it folks. While this building may not win any beauty contest any time soon, it’s a helluva lot better than what currently stands there, and what’s in the neighborhood in general. I say bring it on.

  18. Yes, almost anything will be an improvement over what was there. But that doesn’t mean we should not try to get the best possible building for the site….so that it doesn’t later become like the places you describe from the 1950s and 60s.

    Too many of the new apartment/condo buildings in Capitol Hill are being done on the cheap, with little design regard for the neighborhood. There are exceptions, such as the Brix, and it would be nice if this new building is of that kind of quality. But I’m not very optimistic.

  19. The trees are definitely planned to be removed. A shame as there are only 2 that are actually under power lines. The other 2 trees, the healthier of the group are on Belmont proper and there only sin is that they are in front of the newly planned aprtment. SDOT, apparently responsible for trees on city easements, conveys their health is questionable. Clearly they are healthy and thriving.The Chestnuts on Republican , not so much. With all that the trees add to Belmont ave. , it’s shame there is any removal plan. Please contact Bruce Rips, City of Seattle- to voice your concerns. CC any council member and Tell Jesse!