Largest development yet planned for backside of Pike/Pine

The Madison Park Greetings building will live on (Image: CHS)

Plans for a 250-unit apartment building with a whopping 12,000 square feet of retail space on the backside of Pike/Pine will be revealed to the public next week as the 1020 E Union project begins its path through the city’s design process. Beyond height, bulk and scale, there are some big questions to ask. As the largest site to ever be developed in Pike-Pine — a half block with frontage on three streets — does the project do enough to preserve the character of the neighborhood it is planned to be part of?

Developers of the project that will fill a 44,000 square-foot half-block at 10th and Union say they plan to take advantage of the neighborhood’s programs that reward preservation of character structures with the right to build taller, thicker and bigger.

“We’re excited about the Madison Park building at the corner,” a rep for Alliance Realty Partners tells CHS. “It really can be quite spectacular. They want to go beyond restaurants. We will be sitting down Friday with retailers to brainstorm.”

This massing proposal will be part of the discussion Wednesday night (Image: Alliance)

Project: 1020 E Union St  map
Review Meeting:March 21, 6:30pm
 Seattle University Casey Commons
 901 12th Ave  map
 5th Floor 500E
Review Phase:EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number:3013040 permit status | notice
Planner:Lisa Rutzick

Plans for the development call for a six-story apartment building with 250 units, 12,000 square feet of ground floor retail along Union and 10th and 11th Ave and underground parking for 180 vehicles. The project is directly across the street from this 10th/Union project where demolition is just being completed and just across Union from the development planned to take the place of the Undre Arms apartment building (that we’re told is still happening, by the way). Additionally, Alliance tells us that they are planning the 1020 E Union project’s north wall as if there will soon be yet another project built in the Hunters Capital-owned parking lot behind the recently-sold Winston apartment building.

Project Goals (from design packet, below)

1. ENHANCE CONNECTION BETWEEN NEIGHBORHOODS — Currently the 12th Ave Urban Center and the Pike/Pine Urban Center are connected via 12th Avenue,which has emerged as a lively street with a varietyof shops, restaurants, and bars. Our project’s streetlevel character will create more reasons to go a littlefurther on 10th, 11th, and Union, enhancing the connectionbetween these two neighborhoods.

2. REINFORCE CAPITOL HILL CHARACTER — Capitol Hill is a diverse and lively community, withextensive street life both in the daytime and the evening. Boutique shops, arts venues, bars, and some ofthe best restaurants in the city fill the street level. Amixture of historic brick residences, industrial “autorow”style buildings, and contemporary mixed-usedevelopments frame these street level activities. Ourproject will respond to and enhance both the historicand contemporary aspects of the neighborhood.

3. CREATE HIGH-QUALITY URBAN HOUSING — This project will be a long-term investment in theCapitol Hill neighborhood. Therefore, the materialsand design are intended to have a lasting and positiveimpact on the stock of contemporary urban living in Seattle and inspire other builders and designers to do the same.

This 1915 building? Doomed (Image: CHS)

Set for a major windfall in all of this is the Jacobsen family. Judi Jacobsen started the Madison Park Greetings company in 1977 and she and late husband Conrad acquired the various parcels on their half-block over the years including the purchase of the 1406 10th Ave E building in 1997 for $850,000, according to King County Records. Alliance won’t say what they are paying for the land but we’re told the sale will close in the next year. For what it’s worth, the parcels had a combined “appraised land value” in 2011 of just under $6 million.

While the masonry 1920 Madison Park Greetings building is currently planned to be preserved as a commercial facade on the southeast corner of the new building, other character structures on the seven parcels that will be combined for the project are most likely doomed — including the 1915 building that has been home to Capitol Hill Housing and the Pravda event space.

“The Pravda building is the most difficult,” the Alliance rep said. “Its basement comes up above street level. It’s a very complicated site zoning wise.”

The developers say requirements around making the building’s street level comply to pedestrian requirements make it impossible to incude the 1406 10th Ave E building in their plans.

From the design review document, here’s a look at the buildings that will make way for the new development:

Other developers and land owners in the area who have been briefed on the project said they would like to see Alliance do more to address the spirit of the Pike/Pine Historical Overlay District.

“At the end of the day, the overlay is an incentive not a mandate, and developers like Alliance will still prefer to do the kind of project they’ve done on other large sites around the country,” developer Liz Dunn said. “I think it is hard for them to see that a more granular approach to the site might give them a more successful/valuable piece of real estate in the long run, especially given the institutional nature of the money that drives this kind of development.”

At next week’s Early Design Guidance meeting, the discussion will be, as usual, limited to issues of height, bulk and scale. The preferred option put forth by the developer shows a segmented block designed to create breaks along 10th and 11th Ave and present a friendlier front than the block-long walls running east to west. The architect on the project is Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects.Their work will also become part of the Hill at the project destined to fill the space where the Marion Apartments were just knocked down. You can see other Ankrom Moisan projects in the project design packet, below, on page 28.

The packet also provides some details on the planned preservation of the Madison Park building:

(Image: Alliance)


From the beginning of the design on this project, we have wanted to conserve the architectural character of the neighborhood by saving the best elements of our site. We believe in preserving in a way that maximizes the benefit to the neighborhood in general, meets the city’s development goals, and the serves future residents of our site.In addition to conservation, other development goals of the Capitol Hill Pike/Pine Urban Village are to build on the network of vibrant street level activities, and create more urban housing. Our response is to conserve the Madison Park building, which meets these criteria:

1. Has significant architectural appeal

2. Has retained original architectural character for preservation

3. Is compatible with future vibrant street uses

4. Is compatible with urban housing density goals

These criteria weigh the desires of preservationists, the city, the neighborhood, and future residents who want to live in Capitol Hill. By these measures, we believe only the Madison Park Group Building on the SE corner of the site is desireable and feasible for conservation. The development bonuses recived makes the conservation feasible.The other brick buildings on the site have undergone significant modification, lack the finer detailing and architectural character of the corner building, and are not compatible with creating vibrant and active street level uses which would extend the pedestrian network in the neighborhood.Saving the Madison Park Group Building’s facade is viable and desireable architectural solution for meeting the neighborhood’s architectural conservation goals.

Alliance also says that it is planning to include smaller retail spaces in the development averaging 2,000 square-feet or less in size.

The Alliance representative tells us if all goes as planned, demolition could begin by this time next year.


Correction: When first posted, this article included a quote from an unnamed Pike/Pine landowner. That landowner was talking about the other 10th/Union project. We have removed the quote.

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22 thoughts on “Largest development yet planned for backside of Pike/Pine

  1. Dunn hits the nail on the head here. These are institutional investors that could care less about neighborhood character, and as long as the vacancy rate on Cap Hill is at 2 or 3%, these buildings will be built. Hope that CHH can finish 12AA in time to move!

  2. My impression of Liz is that she has always been able to do this because she controls the finances/investment on her projects. Most development projects of this kind involve other people’s money and things many of us are invested in and don’t realize it: REITs (real estate investment trusts), insurance companies, State pension programs. Next time you open up your 401k statement you should think about how some of your investments might be involved in this kind of real estate. Then people might start to understand why these investors are so driven by returns, and not neighborhood character. Capitol Hill is hot right now, precisely for all the reasons we love it (close to transit, bustling biz districts, close to downtown, cool nightlife) and the consequence of this is that investors are clambering to get into the market. Good old capitalism at its finest!!!

  3. “Next time you open up your 401k statement you should think about how some of your investments might be involved in this kind of real estate.”


    You’re right. The short sightedness is just sad though. Yes, these investments will put bodies in buildings and big retail in buildings near the things that bring people into the neighborhood, but what they’re going to see soon enough is the crowding out of great affordable amenities and small scale businesses. Then they will just follow this crowd of folks onto the next blossoming neighborhood to tear apart it’s established character and fill it with bland development. Meanwhile, these poorly constructed, mostly ugly, buildings will still be here while their desired tennants are in Ballard, or Fremont, or Georgetown, or Columbia City, or somewhere we haven’t even thought of yet doing the exact same thing that they’ve done here. The area will change. Eventually, Capitol Hill will not be the development “hot spot” that it is now, and it’s partly due to bad development.

    This market is so fickle. The same thing happened to Belltown (tearing down buildings, ugly condos go up, Jersey Shore crowd moves in, neighborhood loses character, blends with downtown, the end) and would have happened to Pioneer Square had there not been National Historic District restrictions in place. Who’s next on the chopping block when Capitol Hill loses it’s “hip” factor over the next few years?

    They’re just shooting themselves in the foot.

  4. @oiseau
    I don’t disagree with you. bland is the word for a lot of these buildings. Except I do think they are built to a fine standard. Maybe you meant that they could be “greener” or “fancier” in some way. In general, these buildings are sound, and built a lot nicer than in some cities (i.e. you don’t see much vinyl siding up here, right?) Sure, the 5 over 1 wood-frame construction might seem more solid if it were steel and concrete, but then rents would be REALLY unaffordable, because of how expensive that is to build. And personally, I don’t think these buildings differ (architecturally bland-wise) all that much from the schlock that was built in the 60s, 70s and 80s on Cap Hill, that replaced all the lovely Victorian houses. If you walk Republican and Harrison from 15th to Broadway every other lot is a crappy multi-fam building with a carport under it, built in the 70s when you could depreciate your building in about 10 seconds – the main factor driving crappy development then until the tax code was revised in ’86. So this is not a new phenomenon to say the least, except the scale of it is just more massive now, because lots are larger in Pike Pine and zoning is higher, allowing for so much more investment in one parcel. The only way to make this marginally better is design review and local design codes that have teeth. The only way to stop it is for people to refuse to live in these buildings, and honestly, it seems the opposite is happening. This a market need is being met. Back to my original claim, ahhhhh capitalism!!!

  5. I suppose, I should clarify. What I mean is the obnoxious children of the Eastside that you see in Pike/Pine on weekends and ever increasingly on weekdays. The Jersey Shore reference is just sort of in reference to behavior and personality. This is my road. This is my sidewalk. Look at me. Look at me. Look at me. Typical night: [drinks to excess] [drinks even more] [throws up] [yells a loud “woooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”] [punches bro] [Yells at others on the street just because] [Gets in Range Rover] [Drives 5 or so blocks while honking at people and speeding drunkenly] [stumbles home]

    I grew up in Washington and don’t drunkenly drive from my apartment to harass the folks at Rancho Bravo and weave between people on the street while yelling explatives at gay couples, so yeah, there’s that.

    Sorry if this comes off as ranting. It is. I just really miss living above 15th. :(

  6. @kgdlg

    Agreed on the topic of blandness from 60’s – 80’s. It’s a shame that preservation isn’t taken more seriously in some places. I mean, yeah, everything should not be preserved (tear down those ugly beige 60’s – 80’s motel style buildings first?), but anyway…meh. Nothing we can do but vent and maybe go to San Francisco and think “Ohhhhhh this is what it looked like. Neat.”

    Also, yeah…agreed on the prices. I was really just thinking of the lifespan of these buildings. Older buildings were built so solidly, but you are right, the costs are probably way more prohibitive now.

  7. I don’t think you can really tell the difference between a Capitol Hill resident, an eastside resident, and someone from the Jersey Shore. You Capitol Hill residents who do are out of touch with the neighborhood.

  8. You have no sense of people from outside of your neighborhood? It’s usually pretty obvious based upon a person’s behavior. People usually appreciate where they live and will make it a point to not treat it as basically an adult Disneyland. Hill residents, Fremont residents, Ballard residents, Greenwood residents, Queen Anne residents, etc all show at least an ounce of respect for where they live, well, because they have to see that place every day. It’s not a manner of dress, it’s a manner of behavior.

    Anyway, yeah I feel like the Jersey Shore (i.e. that horrible reality television show) reference kind of came off wrong with most people. It’s a matter of behavior. That’s all.

    You can see what I mean in the days during and following Block Party. Overflowing and often turned over garbage cans, trash everywhere really, lots and lots and lots of people just generally not caring at all about the state of public spaces, etc.

  9. The last thing we need is an out of town (and out of state developer) spreading their Arizona values in our neighborhood. These folks are vultures and nothing more. This project is a monstrosity, and totally disrespects the community. They really must think we are idiots with their whole “look ma, we are the same size as a completely nonexistant building next door”.

  10. I’m fully in support of added density and bringing new people into the neighborhood. I’m a long time resident and I don’t buy the ‘bellvueification’ of Capitol Hill, neighborhoods change – its a sign of life.

    That said, I’d really hate to see -only- the facade of the Madison Park Greetings building retained. It’s a beautiful old building inside and out and it’s a real shame to see this sort of structure go (not to mention the real, live business & local jobs inside it). I’d be far happier if this was developed more akin to Dunn’s Piston & Ring & Agnes lofts: new meets old. Mixed commercial, retail & residential.

    In fact, I’d even be in support of greater height/mass on the rest of the lot to retain this part of auto-row.

  11. kgdig: your assertion re those blocks of Harrison and Republican is incorrect. The blocks you mention are dominated by approx 80-year-old apartment buildings and single family houses, with some recent townhouses and rare examples of the carported type. Maybe you’re thinking of the block of horrors on 13th south of Harrison?

  12. Sorry, I may have misidentified the location. I was thinking specifically of some buildings I know of around 14th and Thomas. I should have just said “those crappy 70s era multi-fams with carports under them” all over Capitol Hill.

  13. I’m all for development on the hill. However I believe that it is crucial to include parking that is *at a minimum* sufficient for the building if not generous. By that I do not mean by the standard, but in stead by as many spots as will *really* needed by the folks trying to make use of the new building.

  14. I’m sorry but i totally dissagree. Parking isn’t a god given right. This developement is in the heart of one of the densest neighbourhoods in the city with great transit. We should be encouraging buildings to have less parking (i think the city’s current minimum is 0.8 spots/unit). Anything more is -really- a subsidy for car owners on the backs of transit riders: it pushes up construction costs & rents.

  15. @Oiseau : Heh– I lived in Belltown many years ago, it was my first Seattle neighborhood. There wasn’t much there at the time, but it was close to everything downtown. I haven’t lived near there for a long time but I pass through often and watched the changes with a nostalgic eye. I knew *exactly* what you were talking about when you said the Jersey Shore crowd; it’s an apt, accurate and colorful description of the kind of people that swarm into the neighborhood of a Friday or Saturday night. The “look at me, I’m so f*cking wasted, ain’t it cool, check out my car, woohoo bro!” crowd. Say what you will about hipsters (and plenty do), at least they don’t throw up on your shoes while bragging about the size of their car payments.

  16. I’d have to disagree with Tonya on the parking issue as well. Providing levels and levels of parking under this project would just mean that many more cars going in and out of this neighborhood on streets approaching capacity. We will soon have a light rail station and a streetcar (unfortunately not on 12th, but B’way will do) just blocks from this site, so a car isn’t really needed. In theory if developers don’t have to provide a parking garage spot for each resident or unit, they can pass that saved cost onto the renter.. though really, they will charge the max they can and pocket the profit. But at least we’ll have less traffic in our neighborhood.