Development Notes | BMW, cohousing progress, Melrose & Pine preview, Facebook Twin Toasters hot tub

These are busy days for development on Capitol Hill. We might have to make a round-up like this a regular feature to keep up this summer.

  • BMW project has some character to prove: The East Design Board faced another test of the Pike/Pine Conservation District’s mission to preserve the neighborhood’s character buildings last week — and again its answer was more preservation, please. 

CHS documented the proposal for the 714 E Pike project slated to fill the BMW lots and preserve the southern facade of the building prior to last Wednesday night’s early design review. We reported that developers are seeking a departure to allow the transfer of their preservation bonus opportunity for extra height from the southern structure of the building to its northern counterpart in exchange for the preservation of the southern brick entrance of the former BMW dealership and auto row structure that has stood since the early 1900s.

Wednesday night, the review board said, well, maybe. 

Following criticism during public comment from neighborhood activist Dennis Saxman who decried the fact the Wolff Co. is asking for benefits for “preserving one wall” and from developer Liz Dunn who said she was disappointed the proposed building wouldn’t be true to the spirit of the old building it is replacing — “The conservation overlay was intended to incentivize the preservation of character buildings,” she said. “I was hoping for a scheme that would preserve those great big timbers inside.” — the board agreed to move the project forward to the second phase of early design but reserved judgement on the departure request saying there is still concern the proposed project doesn’t go far enough to maintain the area’s character.

There was some enthusiasm for the proposal’s ambitiously concepted retail arcade that would, the developers say, create a quasi-public space in the middle of the 75-foot-tall development. But the board also expressed concerns that the arcade would not be built to “human scale” and could become a walled-off area cut off from truly public access.

The Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council supports the project saying it will “add greatly to the neighborhood’s fabric and amenities.”

Here’s more on what the proposed project could look like rising above Pike/Pine.

  • Parking for as many bicycles as can fit at 1728 Summit: Earlier in the night, the board provided guidance to the 1728 Summit Ave project we documented here. Somebody joked on Facebook that, this being Seattle the “parking for 12 bicycles to be provided at grade” would be criticized for being short-sighted. Sure enough, Wednesday night, the representative for the project found himself promising room for more bikes if possible — “as many as you can fit,” he said. The board agreed to move this project forward to but said it would like to see a plan that provides attributes like quiet hallways and ample storage space that will support a living environment where many of the units will likely be less than 500 square feet. The DPD rep reminded that the actual size of units in the building fall outside the purview of the board. 

    The Daily Journal of Commerce talked to representatives for developer Triad Capital (subscription) and learned more about the micro-unit project — and the hotness that is Capitol Hill development. “I think it’s kind of that perfect storm of financing freed-up,” a rep told DJC. “There are a lot of developers pursuing apartment projects, and certainly Capitol Hill is one of the hot submarkets.”

  • More June EDG action — 12th Ave cohousing moves forwardThe ambitious Capitol Hill Cohousing project was sent forward to the last step in the design review process after its session before the board last week. CHS profiled the 12th Ave project that will create a cohousing environment for around a dozen units prior to last week’s meeting. The board said the Schemata Workshop project and its resident-developers can move forward but need to provide more information about how the project’s proposed 10 feet of extra height will help it meet the city’s Living Building Pilot Program requirements.
  • Melrose & Pine review upcoming in July: The plan for the redevelopment of Pine between Melrose and Bellevue will finally see the light of day next month when the plan faces its first design review. The Madison Development Group has already run local journalists — including yours truly — through the line and showed their plans for the block currently home to Bauhaus, Mud Bay, the Pinevue Apartments and more. No cameras were allowed, no imagery or details were handed or mailed out after — though we’ve asked for a rendering to post — and the session was mostly an opportunity for reporters to hear about the plan and ask questions of architect David Hewitt. We’ll have more on the proposed 115,000 square-foot, seven-story development as the EDG date approaches. For now, we can tell you the preservation focus is Pine’s street-level retail with the two principal Melrose and Pinevue buildings restored and the new structures set back significantly and looming above the rebuilt character structures. There is the possibility a portion of the Melrose “Dirty Jane” building could also be included in the plan given the building’s potential desirability as a restaurant or retail space with historical character directly across the street from Melrose Market. There will be no such luck for the Melrose mound house, however.

    UPDATE: Liz Dunn has seen the plan… and tells CHS she likes it:

    “I think of all the large developments being planned for the neighborhood right now, these guys actually seem to get the whole point of conservation overlay, and seem to be trying hard to achieve the “win-win”. In other words — adding lots of housing units while actually reusing the old buildings as assets, largely intact, in a way that will drive value and street traffic, instead of just keeping a couple of pasted-on facades to satisfy the letter of the o
    rdinance. It helps that they have an architect — David Hewitt — who is taking the design challenges of merging the old and new structures very seriously.”

  • Great City looks at Pike/Pine conservation: Mark your lunch calendar for July 12th for a brownbag discussion of the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District.
  • Growing South Lake Union: The pre-backlash — pre-lash? — has already come in defense of the city’s plan to rezone South Lake Union that includes a strip of parcels that could be open to 400-foot skyscrapers. The Seattle Times wrote about the proposals here. A PDF of a city report on the proposal is here. Some 2010 CHS coverage of community issues around the changes is here. And the defense of the plan by lovers of density and city views is pretty much everywhere you turn on the Internet. This map — from that city report mentioned above — shows the proposed height limits for the area.
  • First Bauhaus, now City Market? The EDG notice for this project gave us a start. City has it listed as 2200 block of E Olive Way. It’s E Olive St. Settle down.
  • First Hill apartment building acquired: 1321 Minor’s Copperfield Apartments has been acquired by an investment company for more than $16 million:

Pacific Urban Residential (formerly Pacific Property Company) announced today that it has acquired The Copperfield apartments, located in Seattle Washington for $16,400,000. Originally built in 1991 as a 72-unit for sale condominium, the property was instead leased-up as apartments and continues to be a rental community. 

Holland Development is preparing to start construction next month on what will be Seattle’s tallest apartment tower.

The 40-story project has yet to be named, but it will go up at the southwest corner of Pine Street and Ninth Avenue, west of the Paramount Theatre.

At 440 feet, it will be about 40 feet taller than the 37-story Aspira nearby.

CHS reported on the design of the project here.

  • Facebook’s Twin Toasters hot tub: We told you earlier that the social networking behemoth was taking office space not so far from the base of Capitol Hill. Here’s a look at the Facebook Seattle “conference” room thanks to Seattle muralist Jeff “Weirdo” Jacobson. “These guys have a sense of humor, and create a fun place to work! This side says ‘Hack,'” Jacobson told us. Via Twitter.


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    4 thoughts on “Development Notes | BMW, cohousing progress, Melrose & Pine preview, Facebook Twin Toasters hot tub

    1. Liz Dunn’s comment — “..instead of just keeping a couple of pasted-on facades to satisfy the letter of the ordinance. It helps that they have an architect — David Hewitt — who is taking the design challenges of merging the old and new structures very seriously.” — sounds like a dig at Weber Thompson Architects. Justified?

    2. I’m not against this project per se, but it seems that the amount of character buildings they are saving seems very marginal: one wall. Having said that, I don’t know what other building should be saved with this project. I agree the beams should be saved, and ideally used in this project, but that would be doubtful. So in essence, is one wall worth the extra square footage?

    3. The linked CHS story is about the wrong 9th and Pine project. The one about to break ground is 40 stories and on the SW corner, while the linked one is 6 stories and on the NW corner.

    4. I think the two of you are referring to the BMW project? Liz Dunn’s comment was in regards to the Bauhaus building… just want to be certain you’re referencing correctly.