Next new development project ready to Tetris into Pike/Pine

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 9.39.20 PMAmid what just might be the biggest construction boom Seattle has ever seen and with rents on Capitol Hill through the roof, the development game in Pike/Pine has switched from poker to Tetris.

The next development project to squeeze itself into the neighborhood will fill a jigsaw-shaped set of parking lots in the middle of a block between 10th and 11th Ave behind the E Pike buildings home to Quinn’s, Caffe Vita and the Winston Apartments. The first public review of the project’s proposed design is Wednesday night.Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 9.37.05 PMIn a project developed by Texas-based Mill Creek Residential on land sold by Capitol Hill real estate and development company Hunters Capital, the planned building will rise six stories and make space for up to 149 residential units. The Studio Meng Strazzara-designed project is planned to include more than 11,000 square feet of retail spread across its 10th and 11th Ave-facing ground floor spaces. Underground parking for around 130 cars is planned.

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“The owner’s aim is to create a market rate rental community that appeals to a wide range of Capitol Hill neighborhood dwellers,” the design packet for this week’s Early Design Guidance session reads.

The development will be designed in context with the distinguished character of the surrounding neighborhood in architectural elements, building scale, and massing. We are committed to using quality, long-lasting materials, and an aesthetic design that appeals to and blends with the neighborhood.

Mill Creek’s developments in the Seattle area are relatively limited but it has plans for more. In 2013, it added the 18-story Skye highrise apartment building to its holdings and projects in 20 states:

The acquisition is part of Mill Creek’s ‘buy where we build’ strategy: acquire a high-quality community with redevelopment potential in an irreplaceable downtown Seattle location. We are well-positioned to build a meaningful presence in the greater Seattle metropolitan area in the coming years through acquisition and development. Other West Coast markets of interest include Seattle, Portland, the Bay Area, and Southern California.

Last week, Mill Creek representatives discussed their proposed project with the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council.

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 9.38.48 PM Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 9.38.25 PMThe developer comes to the project after Capitol Hill developer Hunters Capital worked out a deal to sell the property last summer for $5.3 million to local real estate investor Sidney Andrews. The project was first on the board for a design review last fall but the people behind it including Hunters opted to hold off and “explore the market,” CHS was told. Apparently, the deal with Mill Creek Residential is the result of that search.

Wednesday night, the East Design Review Board will weigh the project’s proposed massing and hear from the architects on the project’s “preferred” design option for a building that extends through the middle of the block. A second option included in the proposal packet is for a project that would include two separate buildings. No departures from zoning rules in the neighborhood are being requested.

Review Meeting: January 29, 6:30 pm
Seattle University
824 12th Ave
Stuart T. Rolfe Community Room
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number: 3015966 permit status | notice
Planner: Shelley Bolser

Once approved, the project will join a neighborhood bursting at the seams with projects in planning, beginning construction and opening for new tenants. It also joins the wave as a residentially-focused building while the latest Pike/Pine projects have shifted to focus on adding daytime office resources to the neighborhood. Office space or not, it’s busy. Across the street on 11th Ave, local developer Liz Dunn has broken ground on her mews and office project. On the south end of Mill Creek’s block, a massive 250-unit development is just getting started with its construction and preservation work — including dismantling one of its historical “character” buildings that will eventually be rebuilt brick by brick. To the west at 10th and Union, this mixed-use apartment building is nearly complete. To the north a few blocks, the Sunset Electric development and preservation project is in the final stretch of construction. To the southeast at the site of the old Undre Arms Apartments near E Madison, yet another building is close to completion. Elsewhere in Pike/Pine, four more projects are beginning to dig in. And while the old warehouse on Seneca isn’t slated to be apartments, it is being redeveloped to house a new bar and restaurant complex.Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 9.39.45 PM

Not everything on the block is changing — yet. The new Mill Creek project will neighbor the old Winston Apartments and funky tenants like the Wildrose and the Hot House sauna. In 2012, that building’s new buyers said they planned to keep the Winston mostly as she is with no plans for development despite spending $4.3 million to acquire the 1905-era building.

25 thoughts on “Next new development project ready to Tetris into Pike/Pine

  1. More evidence that builders can’t keep up with demand…so glad to see them developing that parking lot. But new buildings like these need to be at least twice or three times as high to have any chance of absorbing the intense demand out there! Instead, developers will spread outwards to add more units, threatening the buildings we already have and love. In all our efforts to “preserve the neighborhood” by keeping heights low, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.

    • I’d be interested to know how this one would “pencil out” at various heights for a developer and if that opportunity would make for a better neighborhood and commercial design at street level. An academic exercise, of course…

    • I totally agree, if we’re interested in preserving some of the old funky buildings, we need to raise heights as much as possible to allow supply to meet demand. I don’t understand why neighborhood activists haven’t realized this…

    • I think the question about supply + demand is yet to be answered. There’s clearly a shortage now, but a ton of units — maybe 600+? are going to come online all at once within a two-block radius of 11th and pike in the space of less than a year.

      My other comment is that tearing up the entire block between 10th and 11th misses a big opportunity: to create incentives for a centralized, public underground parking lot that would encourage people to come to the neighborhood, but leave their car out of sight. Maybe that’s solved in the long term by better public transit.

  2. Does it seem like the studios are slightly larger than the “open” one bedrooms? I don’t see a scale in the graphic but the apartments appear quite small. Claustrophobes may want to avoid units on the lower floors, with the neighboring buildings abutting the narrow courtyards.

    • I’d guess the 1BR units have loft bedrooms. If this is the case, the studios might have commercial space overhead. I’d be more worried about them being claustrophobic than the 1BRs, though from the massing concepts it looks like every unit on the south side will be miserably closed in by neighboring developments. I can’t imagine anyone would want to live so close to the core of the Pike nightlife area, though. Choice of cacophonous Cha Cha, rumbling Neumos, or a likely wall of generic pseudo-balconies and vertical blinds casting perpetual shadow; it would all get pretty tiresome. This seems like a residential structure designed for high turnover unless they’ve got some clever noise and light solutions.

  3. Hey jseattle, you might want to veil your provincial anti-density, anti-urbanist bias a little better lest you be mistaken for a rightwing political blog.

      • jseattle, I had to laugh when I read “real city’s” post. I wouldn’t have your job for anything in the world because somebody commented to me recently how ultra-liberal they thought the blog was! I guess you can’t win. If it is any consolation, although I don’t always agree with everything on the blog, many of my neighbors and I depend upon you for info on what’s going on in the Capitol Hill area. Your articles and various contributors are always interesting, as well.

        And real city: No, I am not a paid employee of CHS blog nor have I even met any of the staff. I have posted quite frequently under the name I utilize and will continue to do so without engaging in personal attacks when I don’t agree with something in an effort to keep an open mind. I would suggest you do the same.

  4. I am for building codes which preserve the low-rise scale of existing buildings in purely residential zones. But bulky/taller buildings are perfect for Pike-Pine, which is mainly a commercial area. I sure wouldn’t want to live there, but apparently there are many who would. It seems that almost all of the new buildings in Pike-Pine are “market rate” rentals, though, so affordability is an issue. Why aren’t apodments being built there? My guess is that land costs are the reason, preventing developers from putting in their cheap and ugly buildings.

  5. Nice to see this void being used instead of tearing down an existing building(s). I too would love to see taller buildings in this corridor. However I understand the limitations of going higher than 6 stories. Anything over and you move from a stick build (cheap and fast) to concrete and steel (more costly and time consuming).

    Where we could have a neighborhood with a nice skyline, we’re ending up with one filled with stubby buildings built sidewalk to sidewalk. Too bad we can’t model Vancouver, tall buildings with some breathing room between them.

    • It will be 69 feet tall in a 65-foot zone. Apparently street level grade is used in calculation so the extra 4 feet are compliant — “‘HEIGHT OF STRUCTURE’ IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE HIGHEST POINT AND THE AVERAGE GRADE LEVEL.”

  6. <>
    Looks to me like the massing is simply filling all the available space, up to the 6 story limit and out to the sidewalk in a massive block. No attempt to set back or fit in with the neighborhood in any way.
    I hope this doesn’t start right away, it’s tough for those of us that live on this block with three going at already.

  7. I really like seeing a narrow(er) building going in, instead of the pattern we’ve seen of “bulldoze an entire block, build a breadloaf”. Good for Mill Creek for working with the neighborhood

  8. More importantly….Is the Hot House still going to be around? Or do they have to close? It looks like this building is built right next to the other one….leaving no room for the entrance to the Hot House.

    • Unless they provide access to the current entrance, which doesn’t appear to have been considered in this drawing, the answer is no. This building project will very likely shut the Hothouse.

      • Apparently this was discussed at the design review meeting. From some notes someone else sent me:


        The other major issue is how to treat the lot line that they share with Hot House Spa. The board was not impressed with the lack of treatment of the wall along the spa’s entrance that goes below street level. Instead they wanted the developer to treat that corner with more respect with an eye on safety for spa customers and possibly open it up.

  9. The height and density doesn’t bug me, but the thought of another unattractive glass / metal box building makes me throw-up a little in my mouth. Must contemporary Seattle architecture be so dull and boring?

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