It may be ticky-tacky stuff but something finally slowed down the pace of development on Capitol Hill, gumming up the opening of a new six-story apartment building along E Madison at 12th.
A Department of Planning and Development representative confirmed to CHS that the developers of Viva Capitol Hill, the six-story, 105-unit mixed-use apartment building finishing construction in the triangle at 12th, E Union and Madison, has been denied a temporary certificate of occupancy over an issue with the a discrepancy between the building’s approved design and its final form.
The rep said DPD and developer Alliance Residential are working to solve the “color siding issue.”
“The building was approved with an accent color, but was built all one color,” the DPD rep said about the dispute.
The 65-foot-tall wedge-shaped building is built on lots formerly home to a paint store, a small parking lot and the legendary Undre Arms Apartments. Like a handful of Capitol Hill projects making their way toward the development finish line, the building’s plan stretch back to before the economic downturn of the late 2000s. Its first public design review was held in 2007. CHS first reported on it in 2009. In the meantime, the project changed hands and has taken years to come to fruition.
During one of those early reviews, the board discussed the use of color accents in the building’s design:
The Board was supportive of the warmer material palette that includes a bronze colored metal siding for the building body, champagne colored accents and wood finishes at the residential entrance and a dark burgundy color for the spandrel accent color. The Board agreed that the spandrel accent color can be left to the architect for final selection. Two color options were shown for the vertical recessed portions of the building: champagne or bronze. The Board was in agreement with the applicant that the recessed areas should be the same bronze color as the building body.
Before new buildings can be opened for use, Seattle projects must secure a certificate of occupancy. “This certificate indicates that the project complies with the regulations for occupancy and activity required by the Seattle Building Code (Section 109),” this DPD guide to the “C&O” explains. Temporary C&O are sometimes issued “prior to completion of the entire building, provided that all devices and safeguards for fire protection and life safety are maintained.” In this case, the temporary application was denied, DPD says.
The impact of the denial for Alliance is not clear. We are reaching out but haven’t heard back yet from the development company. CHS hasn’t reported on an issue like before in the wave of big new buildings that have risen on Capitol Hill in recent years. 26 similar projects are currently under construction around the Hill — including Viva. The project has begun marketing its apartments and retail tenants are lining up including a new location for Ines Patisserie.
UPDATE 3:25 PM: An Alliance representative told CHS the developer is working with DPD to figure out a solution to the situation. He described replacing any portion of the building’s siding now that is already in place as prohibitively expensive.
“It was no cost savings for us to do it one way or the other at the time,” Dave Knight, development manager at Alliance said.
Knight describes the situation as “unfortunate misunderstanding” that came about as result of the building’s long path from original plans in 2007, to a new architect, then a new owner in Alliance.
“At that time, the city had no requirement for the planner to go back and verify that plans met any conditions of the [Design Review Board],” Knight said. DPD has since instituted a requirement for planners to examine projects and DRB recommendations when a large scale development changes hands.
That never happened with the Viva project, Knight said. Instead, his company paid to construct the plans Knight says were approved by the city. The project, Knight said, is built as permitted.
Knight said he doesn’t have a timeframe for coming to a solution with DPD as the agency deals with a mostly unusual circumstance. The Viva project, though, isn’t the only major Pike/Pine project to swap hands and have its approved designed unthawed. A similar process — including a change of architects — took place when Wolff Co. paid $6.7 million of the Sunset Electric project at 11th and Pine.
“You think you’re doing the right thing,” Knight said. “Then the planner came out and said what was built didn’t match renderings.”
“This is news to us.”
Knight doesn’t believe Alliance should be blamed. “We are not convinced that we did anything wrong,” Knight said.