‘Visionary’ 11th/Pine office and preservation project ready to move forward

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Artist rendering of the future 1021 E Pine. Why do artists hate backstops?

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 8.37.12 PMAfter slamming on the brakes only days before the project’s first public design review in January, there is a new plan from the longtime owners and soon-to-be developers of 11th Ave’s auto row-era Bocker and Brown Buildings — the current home of Value Village, The Stranger and, soon, Big Fun. An influential community group has given the project its initial blessing — but warns of “a high financial commitment” required to see the ambitious project completed.

Legacy Pine will bring its updated plan for the 1021 E Pine project to the East Design Review Board for a design guidance meeting Wednesday night to assess the proposed project’s bulk, scale and basic adherence to the principles of the Pike/Pine historical preservation incentive program the real estate and development company hopes to be part of in building the 75-foot-tall office and retail project. The development is also planned to include 20 residential units and three levels of underground parking for 136 vehicles.

The developer’s preferred plan remains essentially the same for Wednesday’s meeting as the structure being proposed before Legacy Pine pulled out of the planned review. CHS did not receive answers to questions we sent to Legacy Pine about changes in the proposal.Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 8.37.50 PM

The extra time has spawned an additional design alternative in the proposal from architects Ankrom Moison as well as more sophisticated renderings that show some of the plans for the building’s exterior materials and finishings. Those elements, typically the focus in the next step of the public review process in the “recommendation” phase, have taken on added importance for the 1021 E Pine project.

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Review Meeting: February 26, 6:30 pm
Seattle University
1000 E. James St.
Student Center Multi Purpose Room #210
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number: 3016229 permit status | notice
Planner: Shelley Bolser

Influential development-focused community group the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council including Capitol Hill developer Liz Dunn and architect and CHS contributor John Feit have sent the review board a letter of support for the 11th/Pine project at this phase of the development but asked the board to consider giving the project extra scrutiny at the next level:

While PPUNC is enthusiastic about the project and we believe the applicant to be sincere in their ambitious commitments, it is the execution of the project that we will be closely tracking. The community must be assured that they can realize their vision. We will therefore simply state our strong support for the current proposal, and suggest that at the Recommendation Hearing the DRB allot both review time slots so that the applicant may be able to go in-depth on the many important goals they propose, including their current approach to a context sensitive new structural system on the former Velo Bikes building. What the applicant proposes will not come without a high financial commitment, and it will only be through a longer, future hearing, that the applicant will be able to share and publicly commit to all the aspects of the project.

Beyond the significant concerns about the “high financial commitment,” PPUNC seems to be excited about the design for what it calls a “visionary” project.

Street level proposal

Street level proposal

“The proposed uses, structural systems, finishes, and rehabilitation of the character structures presents a watershed project for the conservation of character structures of Pike Pine as well as how to introduce new construction in a manner that is respectful of our existing heritage while boldly asserting a contemporary aesthetic,” the letter states. “Such a visionary approach is warranted as the proposal incorporates two of Capitol Hill’s best character structures, which also happen to be on one of Capitol Hill’s best streets.”

Legacy has said its plans for preservation on the project are independent of any changes that come about as a result of the battle between a set of Pike/Pine developers and real estate owners and DPD over proposed tightening of the conservation district’s incentive program. That debate is slated to renew this week as an appeal that began in 2013 is scheduled to come in front of Seattle’s Hearing Examiner again this week. UPDATE: The scheduled hearing has been canceled as the two sides negotiate revisions to the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District rules.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 8.34.19 PMOffice space
The mixed-use development that will incorporate the two old structures and the adjacent southern parking lot and create an ambitious 11th Ave office building joins Dunn’s 11th Ave office and mews project that has started construction on the other side of E Pike. Both Dunn and Legacy Pine believe deeply that there will be strong demand for quality office space on the Hill. A representative for Legacy Pine told CHS that his company has been approached by small to mid-size tech and creative companies already based in the area looking for space to expand. In addition to the existing companies, there is a belief that the neighborhood’s strong food and drink and entertainment assets will be a draw along with an explosion in new apartments for companies with workers increasingly drawn to walkable, commute-free living.

Legacy has been coy about questions regarding its longtime tenant, alternative weekly The Stranger. A rep tells CHS that it seems unlikely the newspaper would be open to altering its operations for a interim two-year move during construction. Scroll down here for Stranger publisher Tim Keck’s intentionally humorous state of denial about the project.

Meanwhile, Value Village is most certainly a goner as its requirements for delivery and drop-offs don’t jibe with the new development. The creosote-tinged smell of the old REI building will leave with it. While Legacy intends to execute a historically sensitive overhaul of the structures, it won’t be including Value Village’s old wood in its reclamation.Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 8.33.44 PM Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 8.33.51 PM

10 thoughts on “‘Visionary’ 11th/Pine office and preservation project ready to move forward

  1. I’ve got to believe at this point that the Big Fun project has been shelved. Haven’t seen any work inside done in months. Was supposed to open by the end of 2013, but with this proposal I’ve got to believe this is not happening before the deconstruction/reconstruction of the historic shell.

    Can anyone confirm or deny this thought?

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