Capitol Hill’s northern fire outpost readies for bigger new building

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 9.58.08 AMIt’s been a decade in the making, but the city is finally ready to replace Capitol Hill’s cramped and crumbling Seattle Fire Department Station 22.

Back in 2003 Seattle voters approved a $167 million levy to repair or rebuild the city’s 32 neighborhood fire stations (although the final budget has nearly doubled since then – PDF). After 50 years of service, the permits are in to demolish Capitol Hill’s little northern fire department outpost at 10th and Roanoke.

Station 22 currently houses the department’s incident response team as well as Engine 22. The new $11.7 million station, to be built at the same busy intersection, will continue to house both units in a larger space.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 4.18.40 PMWhile the current station is almost assuredly getting replaced, it’s standard practice for the city to submit landmark applications for all buildings that are technically eligible. The Landmarks Preservation Board will consider the city’s application to preserve the station June 4th. The board will also consider the station’s location inside the Roanoke Park neighborhood, which is a National Register Historic District.

But the more exciting stuff happens on July 1st, when the city will present yet-to-be-seen design concepts for the new fire station to the Seattle Design Commission. If you want to find out about the latest with fire station renovations citywide, the Levy Oversight Committee will hold its next meeting June 24th.

As part of the Station 22 rebuild, the city’s Office of Arts & Culture is offering a $90,000 commission for a public art project at the site:

The selected artist will work with the community, firefighters and staff to create a site-specific, durable, artwork. The artist will be asked to address the work and spirit of the firefighters and the unique character of the surrounding neighborhood.

Station 22 was constructed in 1964 with its signature 30-foot tower that’s used for hanging and drying hoses. La Monte J. Shorett, a little known but active Seattle architect, designed the building earlier that year.

The first station 22 was located at 11th and E Howe on the north side of Lake View Cemetery, and was built for horse-drawn engines. By 1906 the city wanted an demolish the station and build a new one, but even back then Captiol Hill residents were sticklers for preservation. Fire department officials insisted the station was”plagued with structural problems,” and the city council eventually voted unanimously to tear it down.

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5 thoughts on “Capitol Hill’s northern fire outpost readies for bigger new building

  1. Hoboy, construction of a new fire station on Roanoke is going to be no picnic for traffic at the Roanoke/Harvard intersection. If those involved with designing/making decisions about the future 520 construction and park development in the 520 cut over north Capitol Hill pay attention to what happens during this building construction, they may get some good lessons in what looks good on paper vs. what works in reality.

    In the meantime, I guess we’ll have to plan to catch !-5 on and off further south for the construction time.

    The small 60s station is rather nice considering what it could have looked like for that style era, but I can understand the desire/need to upgrade it. (I hope it strives for an independent design [i.e., doesn’t look too much like the square uglies so common to our 2010 construction styles].)

    • I’m actually rather optimistic about the design (at least in cases where the building is actually replaced — Station #25 on E. Pine didn’t get much of an improvement because they kept the shell of the building, whereas #21 in Greenwood got a complete re-do and is quite interesting, though its style will probably soon seem as dated as the 60s stations do).

      But I agree, that location is a nightmare even without any construction going on. It’s unfortunate a better site couldn’t be found, but with property in that area being as dear as it is, I doubt that’s possible unless they built it *under* I-5 (or took over that abandoned quick mart between the Starbucks and Pomodoro on Eastlake, but I don’t think that site is nearly large enough)

    • You’re right that construction there is going to make for a traffic nightmare. That area is already very congested at times and it will get considerably worse during construction. It is the main route off Capitol Hill for those heading north so it is crucial that traffic flow is reasonable. The only alternative…using the I5 on-ramp at E Olive Way, will probably be a lot more congested as a result.

  2. A $90K grant for artwork at the replacement Roanoake fire station? Seriously? The whole concept behind a “Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy 1% for Art fund” is pretty ridiculous… I’m sure that the firefighters could readily suggest some much needed gear that could be bought for $90K.

  3. I am troubled by this practice of filing a landmark application for the purpose of establishing that a building is not a landmark because the applicant wants to tear it down. What this leads to is the filing of flawed or de minimis applications that omit or downplay factors that might lead the Landmarks Preservation Board to declare landmark status.

    The Seattle Parks Department did this for the Jefferson Park Clubhouse when they had decided it needed to be demolished in favor of an entirely new structure. Their application was for the structure alone and omitted the putting greens and other exterior factors. At least one Landmarks board member remarked that she would’ve voted in favor of landmark status had the application been more comprehensive.

    Better to keep the landmarks process a positive one, where landmark status is a goal to be sought, not something to be avoided.