Capitol Hill’s Taco Time building rejected again by design review board

Screen-shot-2013-04-16-at-4.45.55-PMThe Seattle Design Review process is not a rubber stamp. Just ask the developers behind the project we lovingly refer to as the Taco Time building. Last week, the East Design Review Board — with a push from neighborhood development watchdog the Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council — sent the plans for the six-story, 70-unit apartment complex back to the drawing board where architects will have to scramble for a third early design guidance session.

[mappress mapid=”50″]While projects typically get stuffed through in one pass, the third early session isn’t entirely unprecedented. The much more complicated preservation and development project slated to take up the block at 10th and Union with 250 apartment units also suffered the indignity of having to go through the preliminary review three times. It ultimately required five review sessions before getting the go ahead — a record in the current era, by our count.

The Taco Time project, in relation, is a pretty straightforward affair but the board — and PPUNC — hasn’t been happy with the designs that have come back for this stretch of E Madison across from the glistening, just-landed Bullitt Center.

“… we feel the project is trapped somewhere between a bold, contemporary statement such as that made by the Bullitt Center or the nearby Jewish Family Center, and that of the more traditional building,” a letter to the design board (embedded below) reads.Screen-shot-2013-04-16-at-4.46.23-PM1

The family behind the Taco Time chain that owns the land where the fast food restaurant used to be and is now planned for development isn’t wasting any time getting back in front of the review board. Their third attempt is slated for late May. We’ll have more on the project prior to that review.

PPUNC chair John Feit is a frequent contributor to CHS on the topic of neighborhood architecture.

10 thoughts on “Capitol Hill’s Taco Time building rejected again by design review board

  1. Just curious in regard to one of the lines in the foregoing article: Is it a coincidence that this proposed building is close to the new Bullitt Center and its building plans have been turned down a couple of times now but other poorly-constructed buildings are allowed to be put in place elsewhere on the Hill?

  2. I was wondering the same thing, Kid.

    About the only thing I agreed with in the “rejection” letter is the canopy thing. Something about them juts looks weird to me. Can’t quite put my finger on why. The rest of the building looks very similar to many other spots on the hill where new buildings rise from old. Fits right in just fine if you ask me.

  3. I agree with the statement “why . . .this building?” Don’t like the look of development going on – but the building looks like everything else they’re
    constructing.

  4. The first point of objection in PUNCC’s letter is BS. First, the comment that there is “no suitable neighborhood precedent” for use of metal siding above brick is comical given the blog’s earlier post today regarding design review guidelines. See page 17 of the guidelines incorporated in the earlier post for a photo of what appears to be metal siding over brick. Second, since when do we not encourage top floors to be set back in our neighborhood. That is a near uniform request of developers and other buildings along Madison have similar setbacks.

  5. It’s amazing how much the community is dictating what a landowner can or can’t do with their property these days. Issues relating to life safety are one thing, but the ever-expanding desire to regulate building appearance and organization is unfortunate. Yes, Design Review may mitigate the beige boxes that developers dream of, but it cannot to hope deliver decent design. In fact, I’d argue that the process is driving us toward a middle-of-the-road blandness. It takes enlightened clients and competent architects to create good architecture, and with a very few exceptions, the mid-rise market in Seattle is lacking in both categories.

  6. I agree with Rob wholeheartedly – this trend to have a committee micromanage building design vests unfair power in a group whose exercise of this power seems to have done little to improve our neighborhood.