Design board set to sign off on ‘Dick’s’ apartment building, challenged 14th Ave 4-story

The work of the East Design Review Board this week will be focused on the assessment of two new Capitol Hill apartment projects that could not have taken more different paths to the public process finish line. On Harvard Ave, a long-time Capitol Hill real estate investor is prepared to cash in on his long-held property behind Dick’s Drive-in in a project the design board seemed eager to send on its way during its first round of deliberations. Meanwhile, the board will get its third look at a four-story project in a more residential area of the Hill that has become a bit of a target for anti-height frustrations as well as garnering criticism from the board that its developers weren’t doing enough to understand the Hilltop neighborhood around 14th and Republican.

1406 E Republican
Our introduction to the project back in February 2011 may have been overshadowed by a massive First Hill apartment tower also featured in the write-up. By the time its second attempt to pass through the early design guidance phase came up last March, it was apparent that neighbors — and the design board — were a bit frustrated by the four-story, 35-unit project. Here’s a sampling of the public comment recorded that night by DPD:


The Board noted that the DR packet did not convey an understanding of the neighborhood’s urban patterns. A keener analysis should produce better design options. At the next meeting, an analysis of these patterns will need to be presented. The proposed design concepts should respond to this analysis and to the guidelines.

By the next session, however, members were ready to move forward with a few requests:

These include the following: 1) stepping back the building mass at the upper floors along the north façade or shifting the entire volume away from the north property line, 2) stepping back or eliminating the bridge above the entry portal, 3) varying the cornice or roof line along the west and south facades, 4) reducing the plinth height by another foot or 18 inches, and 5) introducing modulation along the Republican St. facade.

Wednesday night, the board and neighbors will have their first chance to discuss if the challenged project has gone far enough to meet the desire to scale the building back as well as possibly sign off on a small pile of departures and the plans for materials used to finish the building. Will cedar siding win over the neighbors? Seems unlikely. The board? We’ll find out Wednesday.


Project: 1406 E Republican St  map
Review Meeting:February 6, 6:30 pm
 Seattle Vocational Institute
 2120 S Jackson St  map
Review Phase:Recommendation past reviews
Project Number:3012837 permit status | notice
Planner:Bruce Rips

120 Harvard Ave E
Sure to become one of the Hill’s more notable new buildings as it provides a back-drop to the legendary Dick’s Drive-in, real estate investor Ron Amundson’s Harvard Ave property is best known for guerilla gardening and occasional shenanigans by the late night crowd in search of a burger. With another smooth sail through the design process Wednesday night, it might soon be known for one of the few new apartment projects on the Hill with larger-than-studio offerings.

The architect on the project is Hewitt.

We first introduced you to the planned seven-story project just off Broadway in this 2012 profile of Amundson who is slowly moving forward with developing some of his Capitol Hill parcels after holding the properties for decades.

Next to Dick’s, the Broadway Lofts are also on track toward construction as an “adaptive reuse” of the old Del Teet Furniture building where Hollywood Video finally shut down.

For the Harvard project, public comment at the apartment building’s first design session last August consisted mostly of tweaks and fine points vs. the scale issues raised for the 14th Ave project discussed above. The board notes indicate members were generally agreeable to the plan’s non-standard setbacks designed to allow for larger units in the project. The building, by the way, will also have 40+ stalls of underground parking but no commercial elements are planned.


Project: 120 Harvard Ave E  map
Review Meeting:February 6, 8:00
 Seattle Vocational Institute
 2120 S Jackson St  map
Review Phase:Recommendation past reviews
Project Number:3013471 permit status | notice
Planner:Shelley Bolser


“Instead of competing with large buildings with smaller units, we’ll have larger units with more space to live,” developer Maria Barrientos who is consulting Amundson on the project told CHS last year.

The project, only a stone’s throw from the future Capitol Hill Station, is also part of the affordable housing incentive program, allowing it to be built to seven stories.

For the most part, it seems like the right project, for the right space. No wonder the board seems unlikely to slow it down in the least.

The future view from Dick’s

1831 24th Ave
Here’s a bonus item for you. Small enough to be fast-tracked (but not small enough to skirt the process completely, right?), this townhouse project is planned to replace an hold home on 24th Ave near Madison. If you have anything to say about it, the planner info is below. The area is busy with construction already. This six-story assisted living apartment complex at 22nd and Madison is rushing toward completion. 


Project: 1831 24th Ave  map
Review Meeting:February 6, 0:00
 Streamlined-No Meeting
Review Phase:EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number:3014492 permit status | notice
Planner:Bradley Wilburn


Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

9 thoughts on “Design board set to sign off on ‘Dick’s’ apartment building, challenged 14th Ave 4-story

  1. How is it that the neighborhood’s concerns are a factor when it comes to an apartment project at 14th and Republican, but ignored completely when it comes to the “apodment” project 2 blocks away at 13th and Mercer (not to mention destroying the historic Mercer Mansion in the process)?

  2. I live on 14th and Mercer and have been following the 14th and Republican project closely. Whether seen as positive or negative, it will no doubt have a significant impact on the area.

    Does anyone have information on the 13th & Mercer project? I understand aPodments are going up but no specifics on the project. Perhaps I missed it or didn’t look in the right spot but curious as to any details on what and when something is going in. While it was really run down and some may have considered it an eyesore, I was sad to see the old mansion demolished.

    With these projects and the notice posted for the pending Mercer and Malden development (town homes I believe), this neighborhood is going to change quickly!

  3. I attended a design review meeting for the 14th and Republican project. A few things to note:

    -The neighborhood analysis was biased to the developer and showed a lack of understanding of the neighborhood. It could have been done without spending any time on the ground.
    -The developer stacked the audience to make it seem like their was more support.
    -One of the developer’s representatives routinely laughed at people making comments not in favor of the project.
    -The design review board showed it was weak and had limited power unless they were asking for departures.

  4. anon, your question is a good one. The answer is that the apodments do not go through “design review,” because of the loophole which allows their developer to deceptively claim that the buildings consist of 6 “boarding house units” where in fact they contain 48 (or so) individual living units. A new building must have 8 or more units to require design review. This loophole is a travesty and must be closed.

    Meanwhile, people like Richard Conlin (head of the Land Use Committee), and also DPD officials, twiddle their thumbs and say they are “monitoring” the issue. That is SO helpful, isn’t it? (he says, sarcastically).

  5. Pingback: What Broadway’s planned ‘Hollywood Lofts’ will look like — Plus, ‘affordable’ apartments on Summit | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle