There’s more going on with The Stranger building at E Pine and 11th Ave than we originally reported. CHS has learned that the preliminary plans for a development we documented here — The Stranger building next for Capitol Hill mixed-use redevelopment plans — are much more ambitious in size and scope than originally reported. Meanwhile, an effort to overhaul the neighborhood’s preservation incentives for developers even as the ruleset faces a test in front of the city’s hearing examiner is moving forward.
Representatives for longtime owners of the old REI buildings that now house the alternative weekly and Value Village met last week with the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council to describe their early concepts for a mixed-use development that will incorporate the two old structures and the adjacent southern parking lot and create an ambitious 11th Ave office development smack in the heart of the neighborhood.
Legacy provided CHS with this rendering of the concept and the following statement on the planned project:
Legacy’s vision is to create a true mixed-use project with office, ground floor retail, as well as residential components.
We believe, if or when we proceed, that our approach and commitment to the architecture of the existing structures will be a tribute to the neighborhood and its history. The project has the ability to bring more day time workers/uses to support existing retail and restaurants, in addition to providing Capitol Hill’s growing businesses the opportunity to expand their footprint within the community.
The early 1900s-era structures are known as the site on Capitol Hill where REI first grew to prominence after its early start lower on Pine. Long ago, these buildings, too, were part of the area’s auto row past. A possible office project at 11th and Pine would join Liz Dunn’s 11th Ave office and mews project about to start construction on the other side of E Pike.
CHS reported earlier that the new development project including new ground level retail space (likely not a returning Value Village), office space, and residential units probably won’t move forward for at least a “few years.” In the meantime, a representative for Legacy said the conceptual planning for the project will move forward under the auspices of the Pike/Pine Conservation District incentives as they currently stand even as many in the development community are hovering to see the outcome of an appeal filed against new, more onerous preservation standards being considered by the Seattle City Council.
Under the proposed new requirements, developers would not be able to pick and choose which facades to retain when multiple historical structures are involved in a project.
City Council’s Tom Rasmussen said he hopes that new revisions to the overlay incentive updates to make it easier for developers to determine the mix of housing, retail, office and, yes, even hotel uses will solve any lingering uncertainty for projects in the neighborhood.
“I would hope they would find that an appeal may not be necessary,” Rasmussen said.
The updated proposals and potential appeal come as some of the original neighborhood backers of the incentive plan are questioning its impact.
A great deal of the discussion at the most recent PPUNC meeting was dedicated to talking through the potential REI/Value Village/Stranger project in light of the proposed changes to the incentive program. While some on PPUNC said they had hoped to see more elements of the old buildings preserved in the concepts discussed by Legacy, the developer representatives at the meeting questioned the possibility of creating a profitable project without overhauling the internal structure of the character buildings given current height restrictions. In other words, the only solution to improving the incentive program may be to give developers willing to more fully preserve Pike/Pine’s oldest buildings an even bigger, taller incentive to shoot for.
You can learn more about the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council on its Facebook page facebook.com/PPUNC.