Finishing what she started, Dunn’s 11th Ave project designed to light up Pike/Pine’s days

The Chophouse building is sticking around for change (Image: CHS)

It’s a little like finding out there’s going to be a new Star Wars. Capitol Hill super developer Liz Dunn has been waiting — patiently — on a plan to develop a new building incorporating the current home of Chophouse Studios on 11th Ave that will connect with her 12th Ave Piston Ring and Agnes Lofts creations.

It’s a sequel, of sorts, to her work on the much-loved Melrose Market. It’s also a prequel.

“We have reconceived the project, and it will integrate significant portions of the existing building,” Dunn writes.  “The project will be a mix of retail, restaurant, and creative office targeted to co-workers, startups and small companies.”


The view from 11th Ave

Slated to come back before the design review board next week, Dunn’s mixed-use project has been on ice since 2009 when the economic downturn and hopes for an improved environment for historical-minded development conspired to shut down the project that would have demolished the Chophouse building and erected a 60-unit apartment building in its place. The project sat idle as Melrose Market — and many of the same good ideas — moved forward. It’s not the only post-Melrose project underway on the Hill, by the way. Scott Shapiro, Dunn’s partner in Melrose Market, is moving forward with plans to build microapartments on 12th Ave.

Designed by an all-star architectural cast including Sundberg, Kennedy and Ly-Au Young and Seattle food and drink experience design firm Graham Baba, Dunn’s new project is apartment-free and will incorporate much of the Chophouse building in exchange for increased height for the project thanks to the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District’s incentives. Dunn plans to build on the experience gained operating the Agnes Underground space and build the new project as office and coworking space connected through to the 12th Ave buildings to create a new retail and restaurant corridor bisecting the block. Inside, there will be some of the feel of Melrose Market’s local showcase. It’s a vision from 2009 brought forward by Dunn in a new light to reflect the changing trends in the neighborhood. For those reading the tea leaves, office space is what’s hot next.

The introduction to the design proposal for the new project sums it up:

Since then, the design goals for the building have evolved, in part because of an existing character structure on the site, and because of the changing balance of residential and office, and daytime and nighttime uses, on Capitol Hill. We are now proposing a mixed use office building, with groundlevel retail and upper floor apartments. We are also proposing to incorporate the character structure into the new construction.

“The 11th and Pike project is the next piece of the puzzle, and is intended to complete the urban courtyard envisioned by the first two projects,” the introduction concludes.

Project: 1424 11th Ave  map

Review Meeting: November 21, 6:30 pm
  Seattle University
  824 12th Ave Admissions & Alumni Bldg  map
  A&A Room
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number: 3014325 permit status | notice
Planner: Bradley Wilburn

First, however, will be a return to the design review process slated to begin next Wednesday night. The board will weigh in on a roster of changes to the project:

  • Change of use at middle part of building from residential to office
  • 75’ height proposed instead of 69’
  • Incorporation of character structure
  • Setbacks added at 11th Avenue over character structure, and further setbacks at 4th and 5th floors
  • Amount of parking reduced

The board will also be charged with determining how to move forward on a short set of requested departures related to plans for a smaller-than-usual parking and driveway structure squeezed into the relatively narrow lot.

While enthusiasm is likely to be high and goodwill solid for Dunn’s new effort, not everybody living nearby is looking forward to the addition of a five-story structure to the block. Dunn + Hobbes sent an email about the project to neighbors to try to get in front of any possible pushback as much as possible. “Parts of the building are 75 feet tall instead of 69 feet, because we get a bonus for incorporating the historic building,” the email reads. “The taller piece is less than 4,000 sf, on a 10,000 sf site, so we have kept this much smaller than we could.”

The rest of the numbers for the project shake out to a planned five-story structure with 9,800 square-feet of ground-level retail and restaurant space, 22,000 square-feet of office space and underground parking for 20 vehicles.

And we weren’t entirely accurate at the top of this post — there is a small amount of living space planned in the new development. Dunn’s plan calls for two or three penthouses above the project. Yes, we’d like to live in one of them, too.

12 thoughts on “Finishing what she started, Dunn’s 11th Ave project designed to light up Pike/Pine’s days

  1. I’m a big fan of Dunn’s work, and I have a lot of faith in her desire to maintain the integrity of the Pike/Pine neighborhood. But I feel bad for the condo owners at 1111 E Pike. Does this proposal block out all of their light and views?

  2. Lesson to be learned: When buying a condo, know the surrounding zoning of your block. Buyers shouldn’t purchase properties thinking that the state of affairs surrounding the property is to remain stagnant; on that note, architects shouldn’t design buildings under that presumption either.

  3. Yes, I’m about to stare at a a blank wall (or have office workers ogling me in my place?) however, I was aware of this inevitability before moving in. This project has been in the works for several years. Unfortunately for me, I just don’t happen to be in an income bracket that allows me to afford a view.

  4. No condos. Offices. But, sure, point taken re: Chophouse.

    Here’s what Dunn says about the studios:

    We are working on a new home for the Chophouse music practice business but it will continue to operate in the existing building until at least next summer.

  5. I’m a south facing owner and was full aware of the zoning and the project itself. Interestingly, the original plan was to replace the existing structure (chophouse) and have a substantial walkway joining 11th & 12th plus a public space (courtyard?). In essence, though my view would be blocked, I’d overlook a cool, urban common area. Now I’m not so sure and that’s a bummer. I still love my Kundig condo though!!

  6. Pingback: What Liz Dunn’s 11th Ave office+’mews’ project will look like — Plus, early look at 12th/Pike apartments | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle