Melrose and Pine — and its popular plan for public parking — approved

Screen-shot-2013-05-14-at-12.36.26-PM 8446503804_9ec0ebb348_o 8446503558_8011b70654_oThe East Design Review Board put the final touches on the public process Wednesday night surrounding the planned multi-million project to transform E Pine between Melrose and Bellevue into an eight-story, 180-unit apartment, restaurant and retail development.

Architect David Hewitt said he and the Madison Development Group had been “very sensitive in our efforts” to integrate the old buildings on E Pine in a unified design.

“The composition is as one structure,” Hewitt said. “This isn’t a series of little buildings.”

The final approval paves the way for the project that will retain the facades and character of the Melrose Building — currently home to Bauhaus — and the Pinevue Apartments building — both rejected as possible Seattle landmarks during the process to finalize the project’s approval. By the way, one of the elements that left the Pinevue short of landmarks protection was the loss of its original cornice. The Hewitt design includes a faithful restoration of the lost element.

Two other apartment buildings will be demolished to make way for the project — as will one of the last remaining Capitol Hill “mound houses.”

Thanks to preservation incentives in the neighborhood, the building will soar to 75 feet. A planned publicly accesible terrace above Melrose — during business hours, of course — will likely be a popular feature for restaurant or bar-focused commercial tenants.

The project will also include underground parking for 170 vehicles with plans for the lot to be available to the public in the increasingly busy area around Melrose Market. The developers were successful in their bid for a departure from zoning to allow the parking levels to be accessed from Melrose instead of Bellevue as code would have required. Public comment at the project’s first design review expressed mainly concern at the plan. Wednesday night, speakers said commercial tenants in the area were eager for the future parking relief. The board agreed that Hewitt had done the massaging necessary to squeeze a safe entrance/exit onto what is regularly a street bustling with people and traffic. Hopefully history will be as kind.

Much of the public comment was supportive of the project though some speakers expressed concern that the apartments would likely command exorbitant rents and the retail spaces below the Pinevue would no longer be affordable to small businesses.  “The apartments are extremely costly,” one speaker said. “I’m just not convinced that this is a sustainable approach to creating density in the neighborhood.” Figuring out how to translate that concern into architectural and zoning-related arguments will be the challenge for any opponents of future developments of this scale.

CHS looked at the final proposed design for the project earlier this week.

The approval comes just a little more than one year after CHS first reported that development of the block was imminent. Bauhaus has since opened in Ballard and its owner says he plans to return to the corner when the construction is completed in the next two years. Other businesses are making plans to close or find new homes as summer winds down — and demolition, preservation and construction begins this fall.

12 thoughts on “Melrose and Pine — and its popular plan for public parking — approved

  1. “retain the facades and character of the Melrose Building”

    Why rune it? Make it beautiful! Imagine if we made all new buildings look like caves? So many projects are stunted and uglified by ideas like preservation. We have an opportunity to create something nice here to improve and to better ourselves and we have to break it in order to have it at all. Where are the people screaming we need more buildings like The space needle. How did that ever get built with this hoarder mentality? Maybe they should bring back the Manray too? How did that ever get built with these destroyers of new and better? Good thing they tore it down first so they “retain the facades and character” of that building.

    These people are destroying the look and feel of our future city. They cant stop it so they get to make it look ugly. Why are they continually allowed to ruin these things? Look how they ruined Broadway. Broadway had the potential to be the jewel of the emerald city.

  2. Three cheers for PARKING! While we can’t stop (clearly) the giant people farms from coming, we can accomodate for all forms of life car and otherwise. I am gald to see that even pay for parking was considered for this.

  3. As someone who’s lived on that block for 20 years and will have to put up with the noise, dust, and sudden closures of sidewalks and bus stops I will say it is good that they have so much parking. Surface lots in this area have disappeared over the years with nothing publicly accessible to replace them so parking is a nightmare! But the sudden unplanned closure crap is going to have me calling to complain if they start that up with that crap of putting a sidewalk closed sign not at the blocks end but at the closure forcing me to jaywalk or turn back to use the other side. Construction projects in this city get too much use of public property and the ones who suffer are pedestrians and bus riders.

  4. Rather unfortunate that the developers chose to have the parking entrance on Melrose rather than Bellevue. Bellevue is fairly dead along that stretch, with not much pedestrian activity. Melrose, on the other hand, is brimming with pedestrians thanks to the very human-scale Melrose Market development. Adding a busy public car ingress/egress point there seems like a bad idea.

    Love that they’re restoring the cornice on Pinevue though. It’s a delightful building from the ground all the way up to the point where you notice something missing at the top. Too bad I’m sure there will be “luxury apartments” hiding behind that beautiful facade, rather than the nice old units that exist today.

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