One fascinating element of the multi-year process required to build one of Capitol Hill’s giant, preservation-minded developments is the speed at which demolition takes place following months of deliberate planning and meetings. The buildings that will make way and those lucky few to be partially preserved at the site of the massive Melrose and Pine project began to meet their new fates this week as demolition at the site on lower Capitol Hill started in earnest.
Armed with no fewer than five separate demolition permits, contractors began tearing down the properties from the middle with a doomed old apartment building on Bellevue and one of the last remaining mound houses above Melrose being the first to go.
The process was apparently hurried enough that items like the old refrigerator you can see in the demolished house above were never removed. Some elements from the old buildings are usually retained for use in the future construction but much more is carted off to landfill.
With the rest of the site to be cleared in the coming days, the next steps will include challenging preservation and buttressing of the portions of the Melrose Building and Pinevue Apartments facades along E Pine that will be preserved as part of the new development. The Melrose Building’s old, one-of-a-kind windows will be a particular preservation challenge.
Melrose and Pine is being created by the Madison Development Group with a design from Hewitt for an eight-story building including 205 units of housing, 16,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space and underground parking for 180 vehicles. Construction typically takes about 18 months on a project of this scale. And if you’re interested in how this project will reach eight stories when most others taking advantage of the preservation incentives top out at seven, we’re told a combination of the grade in area and some fancy new construction techniques will allow contractors to create a full eight stories through much of the building.
Though research suggests smaller, older is better for a neighborhood’s economic vitality, there are also findings that showed those repurposed old buildings must be joined by new construction. New proposals to further shape Pike/Pine’s preservation incentive program will be the subject of a community meeting on Thursday night. Meanwhile, another preservation-minded development is planned to break ground later this week.