Here’s your chance to weigh in on Mad Flats microhousing design, Swedish master plan

A rendering of the future Mad Flats near 16th and Madison

A rendering of the future Mad Flats near 16th and Madison

This week, look south for important meetings that will shape the physical space around us. Mad Flats, an E Madison microhousing project, is ready for its final step in design review and the community process to shape the “Major Institution Master Plan” for Swedish Cherry Hill begins. Details below.

Mad Flats
Replacing an old E Madison Victorian with a planned 55 “efficiency dwelling units,” the Mad Flats project at 1523 E Madison sailed through its early design guidance review session last summer without a single public comment.

The project from developer Johnson Carr and architects Janette also went unimpeded by the Landmarks Preservation Board as the body could find no good reason to protect the more than 100-year-old E Madison Victorian built by Capt. William Renton that will be demolished to make way for the development.

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 3.53.30 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-10 at 3.53.01 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-10 at 3.51.20 PMWednesday, the East Design Review Board will take what will likely be its final spin through the project’s plans for the five-story building with 55 apartments, two live-work units… and no parking. It will, however, have a tidy little 800 square feet of retail:

The urban junction of Madison and 16th is anchored by commercial space. The corner of the building is pulled back at the pedestrian level to allow for additional sidewalk space that is sheltered by the structure above. Operable glazing in the commercial space allow activities to spill out onto the corner.

Review Meeting:June 11, 6:30 pm
Seattle University
824 12th Ave
Admissions & Alumni Building
Review Phase:Recommendation past reviews
Project Number:3014989 permit status | notice
Planner:Shelley Bolser

Last summer, the developers described their mission around creating “workforce” housing. “This proposal is addressing a need for affordable housing within the city’s urban neighborhoods,” they wrote. “Labeled ‘workforce housing’ by many, the objective is to provide an opportunity for those with limited income or with needs for a safe, simple, efficient living environment, to find residence within our urban centers.” That’s well and good. But it’s a little disingenuous. In a project like 12th Ave Arts, affordable apartments are available only to tenants earning 60% of the area median income. Affordability at Mad Flats seems likely to be based on the size of its small, “efficient” units. The review board won’t be able to say much about that — but it will be able to rule on whether the design fits together and fits the corner at 16th and Madison.

Swedish Master Plan
Major Institution Master Plans are an irony of urban planning. The process sets the direction and guidelines for huge chunks of city land, far into the future. But the planning process plays out long before most people can grasp that they might want to give a damn.

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 4.45.55 PM

For those of you around the Swedish Hospital campus on Cherry Hill, you might want to look to the future. Here’s what a CHS Community Post on the master plan by area resident and Bill Zosel has to say about an important meeting Thursday night and the process that follows:

On Thursday, June 12, beginning at 6 PM the public will be given an opportunity to present oral and written comments on the proposed “Major Institution Master Plan” (MIMP) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Swedish Medical Center campus in the Central Area.  (The campus  is between 15th and 19th Avenues, and E. Jefferson and E. Cherry Streets.)  Thursday’s  hearing will be held at the Auditorium of the Swedish Medical Center, 500 17th Avenue.

This hearing is one of the most important opportunities for the public to weigh in on and help shape the Master Plan.  At the end of the process the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) will make a recommendation and the Seattle City Council will make a decision.  Public comments, such as those received at the hearing, will be an important part of the record used to make that decision.

The proposed plan by the Sabey Corporation and Providence Health and Services through its subsidiary Swedish Medical Center, the two owners of the campus can be reviewed on DPD’s Web site:

Zosel points out that the proposal would allow development of buildings as tall as 240 feet — more than twice the current height limit. He also raises concern about the amount of traffic increased development of the campus could bring.

“This Thursday is your chance to learn more and to express yourself,” Zosel write. “If you cannot attend the public hearing, written comments will be accepted until 5 PM on July 6.  Comments should be sent to”

In 2012, Zosel worked with others in the Squire Park community to bring an appeal against portions of the Seattle University MIMP. Following the appeal, the City Council approved most of Seattle U’s plans for growth, opening the door for the school to add 2 million square feet of classrooms, facilities and parking to the neighborhood east of the current campus.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

27 thoughts on “Here’s your chance to weigh in on Mad Flats microhousing design, Swedish master plan

  1. With cinderblock and ventilator sided bunkers replacing gracious homes on 14th and John .
    Cold and uninviting outsized efficiency panel roofed monstrosities on the other end of the block, chalky deteriorating “newer” buildings, Madison is yet another ugly corridor to rush through without looking up, bring it on.
    At least on paper these will be “affordable”.

  2. The Mad Flats building looks really, really boring and even ugly….typical of microhousing developments. Cheap materials….all the more to put more money into the pockets of the opportunistic developers.

    • I’m curious how you self appointed experts think you know so much about what is cheap or not, or what is quality or not. You always seem to have some negative comment about any new development in the neighborhood. I’d like to take a look at your house or apartment and scrutinize the materials for cheapness and quality. Do you even know what cinder block is? A new building could be amazing and you would find some uninformed negative comment to make.

      • Whenever anyone asks for anything else on new commercial buildings, we get told that every urban building material of the last 300 years is now impossible because it would cost too much. It’s not hard to deduce that what they *do* want to build with is relatively *cheap*.

        But we should have these buildings for a hundred years; the passersby for all that time deserve something other than the second-cheapest siding.

        There are nice new developments all over town, some modern some not, but they’re maybe 1 in 4 and in a boom 1 in 10.

      • Well brick was the primary product available back then. Imagine if most of our buildings now were brick. We’d all be pissed wondering why there are no building materials other than brick. The panelized siding you are all so irritated is not cheap. It’s made of cement and is incredibly sturdy and durable. I agree the patterning of it could be better at times. Today I see more nice buildings with wood and steel siding as well. Get over it Bro.

      • Well, Bro, there are plenty of buildings that use imaginative inexpensive materials, but in certain local context, when the owner was a “design and antique furniture maven” the box on 14th and John is an assault on the eyes and an insult to our neighborhood. Please note the expansive penthouse on the roof, wonder who will live there.

      • Does it matter who lives in the penthouse? Why do you care? Let’s go check out your house. It better not be too nice or were all going to be mad because its not fair. Pfffftt.

      • All developers care about is generating an acceptable return on capital in a short period. Materials suck because they waste money on huge underground excavations for parking and giant foundations on huge poured concrete podiums that cost millions of dollars, the wood frame structure above is built on the cheep. It’s a shame.

  3. Mad Flats: While not beautiful to my taste (tiny windows must be inexpensive windows), it looks fine for what it is and definitely serves a need. However, the rendering shows people hanging out on the corner of 16th and Madison. Has the architect ever stood at 16th and Madison? Madison, as 4-lane arterial, is far too loud to enjoy lounging on its sidewalk. Any sort of open-window, hangy-out space should be on 16th if it is expected to be used.

    • Well, lots of people do routinely sit and eat outside of Little Uncle, on the sidewalk along Madison, just a couple buildings down from the 16th and Madison intersection.

      I agree that 16th may be better but I’m just, you know, trying to share real-life experience and knowledge of the area to keep things fact-based.

  4. I feel the Mad Flats project is appropriate for the location. Much better suited here along a main transit/retail corridor then crammed in between buildings of a strictly residential neighborhood where it would be out of scale. Too bad it’s not even taller to maximize the space but that would most likely be cost prohibitive.

    I don’t mind the outside of the building. Typically where the cheapening happens with aPodments is within the interior and spacial planning.

    Off topic but I’ve always loved the building to its East. What a diamond in the rough. A good cleaning and refurbishing of the building could really make it something special.

    • That building to the East does look shabby but dignified, though I’ve never been in it. Small apartments? Large ones? I’d like a Mad Flats building that quoted or echoed or joked with the exterior — there must be architecturese for that.

  5. You shills who like this post-communist “nouveau panelák” era crap should have higher standards.
    Do you love your neighborhood, or does the Wal-Mart aesthetic really work for you?

    Try harder.

      • Quoting other people makes you?
        I’m practical, build up this city, add more people, more density and more housing at a variety of levels.

        I do not care about aesthetics or lack there of, if the market hates a commie block looking building it will be empty.

      • Market fundamentalism is a race to the bottom.

        Many of us see the importance of a beautiful environment as something that adds to our well being.

      • Urban building doesn’t line up well with the free market. (1) A hideous, street-uglifying building damages the property values of its neighbors, not just itself; and (2) the value of the location isn’t entirely created by the building, but by the whole neighborhood. Junky buildings are free-riders.

        That said, it’s a great location for tiny apartments, which I agree we need.

      • Agreeably, the aesthetics of many of these new buildings could be better. But environmentally? Places like Mud Flats, and other micro housing, are much more sustainable from a human consumption and eco-footprint perspective. Calhoun, what if you called off your crusade on all new buildings needing parking? Perhaps developers could then spend THOSE millions of dollars on buying building material like brick.

      • I should have used a different word. By “environment,” I meant the visual appearance of our neighborhood.

        P.S. I am not on a “crusade” about parking at apodments….I am simply stating my opinion, and it is one that probably the majority of people share.

  6. No, I do not care for aesthetics.
    If it really is that ugly then the bank, the investors and the clients would not get involved, so while it might be “boring” this is all a matter of taste.

    I’m concerned with the function, does it fill a need/do we need more housing?

    The best thing for the environment is more urban population and less sprawl, urban dwellers have a far smaller carbon/pollution footprint then people that live in the suburbs or putter burbs.

  7. Pingback: What We’re Reading: World Cup Madness | The Urbanist

  8. And to top it off, if you can eat food in its “whole form” instead of from a box or can, you will tend to get even better results. Here’s an case in point: If you were to have six ounces of grilled fish as your main study course at supper you would require to have 2 ounces of broccoli or tomatoes or spinach or another large-fiber vegetable as your side dish to create the result we’re after. If you have a favorite app, or think there’s something we’ve left out of our diet and fitness guide, then please leave a comment below.