As city considers strengthened rules for Pike/Pine, developer says 8-story project is how preservation should be done

Preservation of a 40-foot stretch of masonry wall qualifies this 14th Ave project for an extra floor of apartments (Image: CHS)

Preservation of a 80-foot stretch of masonry wall qualifies this 14th Ave project for an extra floor of apartments (Image: CHS)

Meanwhile on E Pike, a leading Capitol Hill developer says his project will be a model for preservation (Image: Hunters Capital)

Meanwhile on E Pike, a leading Capitol Hill developer says his project will be a model for preservation (Image: Hunters Capital)

Last week, the final design plans were approved for the eight-story building at Melrose and Pine that benefitted from generous incentives for melding a modern apartment structure with two auto-row era buildings. One of Capitol Hill’s leading developers says he can do it better.

“It’s clear during the recent uptick in development, especially studying the larger projects going through [Master Use Permitting] that there are loopholes and shortcuts in how the current Pike/Pine Overlay language was written,” reads a statement from Michael Malone’s Hunters Capital sent to CHS about incentives in place since 2009 that trade the right for developers to build larger and higher in exchange for preserving the facades and basic dimensions of historical structures in the Pike/Pine neighborhood.

Screen shot 2013-05-20 at 1.01.18 PMMalone says that the design for his eight-story project on E Pike that will soar above the CK Graphics/Dunn Motors building Hunters recently acquired can be a showcase for what is possible — and what should be expected of developers who want to develop within the conservation district. The project comes before the design review board on May 29th.

“In the case of the Dunn Motors site (the CK Graphics building) we will be taking advantage of the overlay bonus, abiding by the required setback, retail height, etc.” Malone writes. “Yet we would like to set the standard when it comes to building a mass out of/on top of a pre-1940s building. It is our intent that the additional mass over the building will be built of high grade finish materials, to a design that compliments and enhances the historic façade below it. Far too many times this additional mass carries none of the original design features into the upper levels.  Inside and out, the finished product will celebrate the unique history of a wonderful 1920s auto row building.”

The Studio Meng Strazzara-designed building at 501 E. Pike is planned to include 118 apartments above 4,000 square feet of commercial space and 6,000 square feet of offices. Parking will include 61 vehicle stalls plus another 31 for bikes. CHS wrote about the early plans for the building and the old Brocklind’s building across the street that Hunters also acquired earlier this year. The now-scuttled mayoral campaign for City Council member Tim Burgess had been putting the Dunn Motors building to some early office-related use, by the way, prior to last week’s announcement that his campaign was ending.

Hunters Capital has also been busy on E Pine with this multi-million restoration of the Colman Automotive building.

The CK Graphics/Dunn Motors building (Image: CHS)

The CK Graphics/Dunn Motors building (Image: CHS)

City Council member Tom Rasmussen, who spearheaded the initial creation of the conservation district’s incentive programs, said that there are plans to strengthen the requirements for developments involving Pike/Pine’s character structures:

To be more certain that we will succeed in our goal  to retain character structures i.e. buildings that are at least 75 years old, I will be proposing some changes to the land use code and to the design guidelines for the Pike-Pine Overlay District.   Council staff and staff of the Department of Planning and Development have begun working on the changes and I anticipate that we will have those ready for public review late this spring.

Malone says that he is part of the discussion in shaping the updated requirements.

“Hunters Capital along with several other business and building owners in Pike/Pine are working to update the language in the overlay to try and help preserve as many pre-1940’s buildings as possible on Capitol Hill,” Malone says. “Just one example of a change we are pushing for is: If developers want to take advantage of the overlay bonus, [we] would like to see them forced to save all pre-1940s structures on sites with multiple historic structures on it. Currently this is not the case.”

In the meantime, Malone says this next big project for Hunters Capital on E Pike will represent the spirit of what the new rules need to do.

We’ll have more on the project prior to the May 29th review meeting.

17 thoughts on “As city considers strengthened rules for Pike/Pine, developer says 8-story project is how preservation should be done

  1. Too little too late. Capitol Hill has already lost everything that made it special. Has already lost its character and its soul. It’s now just a clone of every boring, conservative East Side neighborhood, complete with the same type of narrow minded bigots who like living in cookie cutters. Capitol Hill, along with all of Seattle, sold out. And in the process, became pathetic.

      • It’s clear that John misses the day when naked people were dancing in the rubble of the rundown buildings along the corridor.

    • Having just been to the Eastside recently, I can say that this is patently untrue. Cap Hill looks nothing like an Bellevue or Kirkland neighborhood, even with the new construction.

    • Agree. Even the buildings that “are doing it right” look like generic city USA. When developers start selling a neighborhood for “its charm” you can bet its time to move the scene. The place is looking like the midwest.

  2. For those missing the shabbier days, who equate all new construction to devastation…I hear Tacoma still has a lot of its historic, um, “charm”.

    • Well said Jim! While not all the development on the Hill is visually pleasing and we are losing some gems like the B&O Espresso set of buildings, the neighborhood looks amazingly better than it did when I moved here in 1998. It was a sad dump of a neighborhood that had seen better days and now is happily seeing a rebirth of glory but for today.

  3. Glad to see some taller buildings cropping up in areas where they make sense. The hill has too many 5 story boxes as is, this will add some nice contrast.

    Love seeing all that is happening on the hill!

  4. I moved into a cute (and long gone) apartment building at the corner of Olive street and Boylston in 1985, and lived there for 15 years. Pike and Pine Streets were rough in those days – most businesses were industrial places that closed shop at 5, leaving the streets empty.

    I think the sweet spot for Pike/Pine was the 90′s – there were lots of fun little bars and restaurants, and some great vintage shopping, because everything was affordable.

    The neighborhood is still great, and the nightlife is wonderful, but the days when a Secretary at the Olympic Hotel could afford a spacious one-bedroom apartment with a real balcony, swimming pool, and covered parking are long, long gone.

  5. I believe that the buildings being re-developed by Hunters Capital (Michael Malone) will age very well and will be considered the classic standard of how preservation should be done. In contrast, many of the new buildings (not all) will age poorly and be considered cheap/ugly in the very near future.

    Thank you, Mr. Malone! And thanks also to Tom Rasmussen, who is spearheading the effort to tighten the guidelines for redevelopment and also for the new atrocities called apodments.

  6. …..it’s nice that he thinks that’s a preservation of style, but that is one absolutely huge building and it will overshadow everything else in the neighbourhood. I’m sure the construction noise and dust from it will also be considerable.

  7. Preserving the facades when they are attractive is a win-win situation. It adds a uniqueness to the new building. People are so cynical but I think it is a step in the right direction. I only wish more of the ones I’ve seen torn down over the years could have been saved.

  8. I believe this building will look wonderful when finished. It will be a challange for sure, but if sucessful, should be a good example of how developers can place a little more thought into the exterior facade to better compliment existing facades. I will take local developers all day long over national merchant developers on Capitol Hill. Malone and Dunn are great examples of local developers we can trust.

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