Two decisions published by the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development on Thursday are critical to the future of two Capitol Hill food+drink businesses.can stay and continue to operate as a restaurant at 17th and Galer. ? It will have to go. For now. Details on both, below.
Here’s a text message CHS received from VPC’s Ericka Burke about the decision that was finally published on Thursday approving a formal change of use for the property and allowing the cafe to continue to operate in the residential neighborhood it has called home since 2007:
In a nut shell- glad it’s, hopefully, all over. Thx to my biz partner, heather, and my staff for roughing out this very hard period of time. Huge thx to our supporters! Thx to System Six, our book keeping firm, who has keep us from going bankrupt thru thus very difficult financial time. Hope that the divisiveness of neighborhood heals and I can focus on my business and creative development.
We’ve included the entire decision, below. In addition to formalizing the conditions a group of neighbors required of the cafe, it documents the value of a business like Volunteer Park Cafe to a modern city neighborhood:
One of the benefits of living in a dense city, and of living in Seattle particularly, is the close proximity of multiple sources of commercial service and entertainment. Among these are restaurants and coffee shops that are accessible locally. The most highly valued of these are often small enterprises which become a part of the neighborhood and are highly valued for the addition they provide. These local uses do not come entirely without negative impacts such as noise, odor, traffic and parking congestion. The density of living necessary to suppor (sic) these kinds of amenities in urban communities also creates an ambient level of potentially irritating impacts.
Impacts from a common use, such as a neighborhood restaurant, although in many instances negative, are not of the extreme kind or degree which would be considered inherently injurious to property in the zone or vicinity.
The decision brings to a close a year-long DPD process that was mostly nailed down in the days surrounding a community meeting held in April but on hold as VPC was required to finish paying the more than $18,000 in fees required to permit the change of use. CHS first began reporting on the situation between the cafe and some of its neighbors led by resident Paul Jones in early summer 2010.
Appeals of the decision can be made through September 15.
Meanwhile, the decision affecting B&O Espresso wasn't really about the E Olive Way cafe at all. The 1650 E Olive Way project can go forward, DPD ruled almost two years after the initial application, even though people generally hate the proposed design and it will slice away an already dwindling western view from Capitol Hill:
View shed studies provided by the applicant illustrate that the placement of building mass at the wedge shaped corner at E. Olive Way and Belmont Ave. E. produces the greatest amount of view blockage from E. Olive Way east of the site. Based on the initial view study for the proposed project, DPD requested that the applicant reduce the amount of view blockage. The view analysis performed by the applicant‟s architect showed that some views from Olive Way would be blocked by the proposal. The applicant responded by pulling the building back from the corner, increasing the size of a small open space at grade. This resulted in increasing the scenic view from E. Olive Way from east of the project site but still producing some obstruction of the scenic view. As part of the consideration, it is understood that future development west of the project site could potentially be permitted without SEPA review (e.g. adding new mechanical equipment and screening on the roof of the brick apartment building to the west) and could cause similar view blockage. It would be unreasonable to reduce this proposal to the extent necessary to maintain fully all of the existing view only to have the view blocked later by projects not subject to view mitigation.
While the impact of the revised proposal is adverse, it is not expected to be significant. No further mitigation based on SEPA public view protection policy is warranted.
The conditionally approved project calls for a six-story, 78-unit building with 3,600 square feet of retail and two live-work units at ground floor and underground parking for 52 vehicles. Architects Nicholson Kovalchick also designed the Roy Street Townhomes project in Lower Queen Anne. The property is being developed by John Stoner.
At the beginning of 2010, the developer of the project told CHS that B&O was slated to return to its longtime home once construction was completed. But that was a long time -- and a string of design reviews and DPD decisions -- ago. CHS asked B&O representatives at design review meetings over the past two years about their plans. Majed Lukatah refused to answer specifically when we asked him if B&O was planning to leave and not come back to the new development. We'll check in with B&O but maybe a regular can fill us in first.
Regardless of B&O's fate, the old (not a historical landmark) building won't be coming down anytime soon. There are no demolition permits on file for the location yet and no paperwork has been filed for any construction permits. But given the number of cranes at work on and around Capitol Hill, you have to think it's only a matter of (more) time.