Murray Franklyn’s 14th/John apartment building plans unveiled — landmark process for 1904 house

For anybody wondering if Murray Franklyn’s development plan for 14th and John includes preserving the lot’s 1904-built home, we have a short answer for you: nope. But that wasn’t the Capitol Hill Design Review Board’s biggest problem with the project as it passed it forward to the recommendation stage Wednesday night at a sparsely attended public review meeting.

The design packet that wasn’t available earlier in the week has now been posted and is embedded below. It shows the basic scheme for the development at this point featuring four stories, 46 apartment units, room for parking for 24 vehicles and, the bone of contention Wednesday night, 1,500 square feet of live/work units to meet the area’s zoning requirements for commercial space.

The live/work spaces will present the building’s E John face and the board was concerned that live/work lofts being designed as mostly live and not enough work won’t “activate” the street. The issue is a bit of a trend, by the way. A second project being reviewed Wednesday night — the project that will replace the office building above Pillars Park — also substitutes a live/work scheme instead of retail or restaurant appropriate space along its Minor Ave front.

The E John stoops of the Weatherford’s live/work spaces


Back at 14th and John, the public comment centered the size of the Weatherford Apartments project and the old house. “It would be great if you didn’t tear it down,” one speaker said. “These kinds of houses don’t exist anymore.”

Representatives for the developer at the meeting said they plan to start a city landmark process for the 1904 structure soon. As we’ve reported in the past, the landmark designation process can be used as much as to establish that a building is *not* a landmark as to establish that it *is” and even structures that the city board deems worthy still can be developed and altered.


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23 thoughts on “Murray Franklyn’s 14th/John apartment building plans unveiled — landmark process for 1904 house

  1. So I understand the need for development and actually am in favor for most of it but this structure should be a landmark and not be torn down. This countrys need for change also means removing our history.

  2. “46 apartment units, room for parking for 24 vehicles”. Yeah, that’s exactly what the neighborhood needs. More people with not enough parking for them. This building should be blocked on that fact alone. If anymore building is to occur anywhere within downtown, Belltown, First Hill, Capitol hill and I’m sure I’m leaving out a few over crowded neighborhoods, MORE than enough parking needs to be provided. There are already too few for the people who LIVE here. Then you have all the tourists flock to the areas from the suburbs (yes, they are tourists too) on Thurs, Fri, and Saturday night, making it impossible to park or god forbid have a visitor after 5pm. Then you look at the fact that they are stacking this building right next to the Safeway which generally doesn’t have enough parking either. Have you ever gone there on a weekend or busy day? You can waste a gallon of gas just circling the lot. This is a very bad idea and I hope everyone in the neighborhood does everything they can to block it. Send them back to the drawing board to come up with something that works for the tax payers of the neighborhood.

  3. Gosh, developers just can’t win….some people criticize the new projects for having too much parking, thereby encouraging residents to own cars…and some people criticize for having too little parking, thereby encouraging residents to not own cars, especially in a location which will be convenient to the light rail station. And the more parking spaces there are, the higher the construction cost and the higher the rents.

    The trend is for most parking on Capitol Hill streets to be RPZ restricted, so only residents with the RPZ placards can park there for more than 2 hours.

  4. The developers have followed the city’s zoning. The city is encouraging fewer spots for each development. I don’t agree with this, but there you have it. Call it social engineering, call it environmentally correct, I don’t know. I think this will be a challenge going forward.

    It seems to me that the new projects come in at a hogher price point, and generally people who can afford that price point will also have a car. Thet may also be more environmentally conscious and not have one, I’m not certain, but it seems like this is a gamble we’ll be taking in our neighborhood for years to come.

  5. Parking is not the issue here. Neighborhoods should be designed for multiple ways to get around, and not just driving. If you want 1 unit to 1 car, move to the suburbs. Walking and biking is why some people live this close to the city.

  6. The Capitol Hill Design Review Board is basically useless. What are they reviewing? Why save something historic? No, we really need more half empty apt buildings. This city is so sad…..

  7. C’mon people, let’s rally to save this really nice old house. I’m all for urban infill, but there are too many parking lots and truly ugly buildings that could be replaced first before we start tearing down nice old houses.

  8. This is a sad event indeed,growing up at 15th and Denny and living on the Hill for 53 of my 58 years,absorbing the inevitable change,at this turn, I feel moisture gathering behind my heart.
    Returning from trips, driving or walking up Olive Way and East John Streets,the majority of the structures are established buildings holding history and beauty, they reasure me I am home.I will miss this landmark at this significant corner, greatly.
    To me the sad irony is, over the years, I’ve witnessed this beautiful “Weatherford house” deteriorate from lack of maintenance and neglect (or has this been the plan), and have been appalled, yet,the items in the home are prized for their history and “value”. Now, something that is priceless and irreplaceable, to some, will be destroyed. Shame on you Mr. Weatherford.
    This adds a burdensome straw to my fragile back.

  9. After witnessing all the changes on the hill, in the name of progress, growth and density, I’ve accepted the fact that Capitol Hill is turning into a neighborhood that I don’t want to live in. When I do move again, whether it’s to another neighborhood, or another city, I won’t be returning here.
    I’ve lived on Capitol Hill since 1991, with the exception of a year in New York City, and a year on Queen Anne.
    I give up. Turn it all into a bland, shiny new, ubiquitous, reproduction of every boring development inching across every city, with the illusion of cleanliness and safety, the familiar predictibility.

  10. Completely agree with the sentiment but I don’t think it’s that the DRB is useless, rather their role and jurisdiction are severely limited. What most people want to talk about regarding new buildings have to do with zoning and other substantial code. But the DRB is really only responsible for simple aesthetics at best. The DRB meetings are the major points of contact for community members to talk about new development but the confusion of their actual purpose makes them incredibly infuriating. It definitely a process that needs to be revamped.

  11. “Then you look at the fact that they are stacking this building right next to the Safeway which generally doesn’t have enough parking either. Have you ever gone there on a weekend or busy day? You can waste a gallon of gas just circling the lot.”

    Seriously? That lot has nearly 100 parking spaces. I’m hard-pressed to think of another surface lot that large anywhere near there, and especially one that is completely free to customers of the business to which it is attached.

    Also (and I feel pretty confident in my data here, because I have a lovely view of said parking lot from my living room) it is NEVER full. Certainly busy on occasion, but I have never seen every space occupied.

    That has to be one of the most underutilized pieces of commercial real estate on the Hill. If I owned it, I’d be trying to figure out how to put another business on it, put the parking underground, and start charging for parking (with validation available to customers, just like Whole Foods or Uwajimaya.)

  12. Perfectly stated, Josh Mahar. If only our City Council members, especially the heretofore useless Sally Clark, chair of the “Committee on the Built Environment,” developed some urban leadership skills to provide for real citizen involvement, whether as a volunteer member of a Design Review Board or as a neighbor-stakeholder being given a genuine platform for input at a DRB meeting. Until then, I guess we just gotta expect continuing to be infuriated at the pretense of having “design standards” that schlocky developers like Murray Franklyn (and schlockier architects like Weber Thompson) circumvent with impunity.

  13. Amen. Neighborhoods change though, I’m just glad I probably won’t see the day my house is torn down to make room for some monstrosity, but sooner or later they all go by the wayside. This has always been a special house, and Capitol Hill loses a little soul every time these fall to the wrecking ball.

  14. You bring up an important point. When the home was sold not long ago by Mr. Weatherford (or whomever owned it), for a very large profit I’m sure, it would have been with the knowledge that a developer would most likely raze it. It’s too bad that sellers aren’t more conscientious in who they sell to, and try to ensure that the new owner will preserve the property. Even better would be innovative legislation to allow a seller to stipulate preservation of the property over other uses, but probably that would not be legally binding.

    When I bought my home in 1980, the seller wanted to add a requirement in our real estate contract that I would not cut down the three large cedar trees on my property. I was willing to agree to this, because I would never even think of cutting down “my” beautiful trees, but the seller’s lawyer said that this would not be legally binding.

  15. Identikit condos all across the Hill which was a varied and lovely part of the city, in some places it makes sense like the development on 15th and John where the Kidd Valley was… but the Weatherford building is an irreplaceable part of architectural history and grandeur. From the supplied plans we can see that nothing of grandeur or even interest comes to replace it.

    The power of developers in Seattle over common sense, community value and neighborhood integrity is repellent.

  16. Yes, density is good, but why are the majority of the buildings being designed for Capitol Hill more appropriate for the ‘burbs? They don’t even TRY to fit in with the neighborhood…just big blobby buildings that overfill their lots and loom over the neighborhood. This shit tastic building looks like it was designed for an office park in Bothell.

    And, ya know, the whole “let’s encourage people to get rid of cars and use public transit!” thing is awesome…in theory. But, does it really work? No. I live in a 1920 building with 12 units and zero parking. Two apartments do not have apartments (myself included.) More than one of the other ten have more than one. The reality is, you might like for there to be a need to have one space for every two units, it doesn’t really happen. If you have a 46 unit building with 24 lots replacing a single family home, you’re going to end up with at least ten more cars in that neighborhood looking for on street parking.

    Also, the whole, “we don’t have have enough money to fund our current public transit needs, let alone increase capacity for denser neighborhoods” thing…

  17. I no longer have a car. I am speaking for what I see with my eyes in my neighborhood. I got rid of my car because of the lack of parking. Began to rely on public transportation, which was the biggest mistake of my life! I can’t remember the last time Metro got me to a location on time. Even if you plan on being a half hour early, one of your buses is going to have either shown up early while your first bus ran late or like on a few occasions not show up at all or my personal favorite when I’m standing right by the sign they fly right past. Not full, just in too big of a damned hurry to stop for their customers. Now I would have no problem with not enough parking if this city supported and enforced a timely bus system but since they don’t, they need to insist on enough parking so that people who need a car can have one. I don’t want to live in the suburbs because then that would require more commute and more exhaust and more pollution. If this county is really interested in doing things environmentally sound then they should think about cause and effect. Now if the Metro buses were reliable I would be all up in arms for everyone to join me and get rid of their cars. But the reality of it is that if you do that you will waste about 3 hours of your day just making sure you make it to work and your appointments on time. When you work only a 15-20 car ride in bad traffic across town. Or you can go off of what the Metro schedule says and be fired with in the first few weeks because they get you to work late every day. Or buy a car that you can never find parking for(there is never any parking on the streets for the zone people, for the smarty pants who piped up with that one). There is also the possibility of riding my bike but I would rather take my chances playing Russian Roulette with the way the drivers around here pay attention to bikers. So thanks for all of your ideas on the subject. But in a practical sense they all fall short!

  18. This is an important comment on the realities of using busing transit, from someone who has been sincerely trying to make this option work for him (?her). Of course, cars can get stuck in traffic too, but at least the person then has the possibility of taking another route and getting to work on time. With busses, you are at the mercy of system failures.

    Your comment is a good example of why we need other forms of transit…the light rail system and streetcars, both of which are more likely to be on-time. Seattle has started to get these things, but unfortunately it will be years (? decades) before we have a truly city-wide system.

  19. Wow. So I have lived in Germany for 3 years, in Canada for 5 and have traveled around a bit. I have seen lots of great historic houses and moreover I have seen neighborhoods with true density and everything working properly (public transit notwithstanding).

    I understand that this building has grown on people, but without the intent to offend anybody, I must say that it does not compare in character to some other buildings the Hill has. Look at the Buckley or Sherwood just 2 blocks up on 17th and John. Those buildings are pieces of art. This is just a wooden house – it is likely that when it got built it was also controversial and disliked by people.

    I think people should have their priorities straight. You can’t save every building and in my opinion, this one is not worth fighting for.

    Now, on to the replacement. What I’ve seen in Hamburg and Bremen (Germany) is that successful high-density neighborhoods tend to have exactly that kind of 3-6 story developments. They all line the street like a wall on both sides. Wall? Sounds horrible? Well, it it’s not. Just imagine the vibrant pedestrian environment with all the shops lining the ground level. I can see how people think this is out of scale with Capitol Hill, but Capitol Hill currently does not have consistent high density and I believe it is the city’s plan to fix it for the designated corridors (e.g. John, Olive, Broadway, Pike, Pine, Madison, 12th, 15th, 19th, etc.). So expect to get a 3-6 story wall lining those streets. The outlook, the views, everything will be different.

    And now on to this building – it is one of the better architectures… especially the big windows really open it up. There are so many hideous looking buildings (like some that look like a 60s motel from a horror movie on lower Capitol Hill) I am glad this one actually looks decent.