What the development that will won’t yet replace Rancho Bravo will look like

(Images: Schack A+D)

(Images: Schack A+D)

It’s a modern Capitol Hill condition. Looming over every plate of delicious, cheap, Rancho Bravo tacos is the knowledge that here, too, will someday rise a six-story apartment building. But it’s not going to happen soon.

“We have decided to postpone development of this property for a couple of years,” developer Maria Barrientos tells CHS about the E Pine parcel home to the Mexican fast food joint that is envisioned — eventually — as a “gateway development to Pike/Pine.”

CHS reported on the hopes attached to land — the “property name” is listed as “Kentucky Fried Chicken” — in King County Records here in 2012 as we wrote about prolific Capitol Hill real estate investor Ron Amundson’s efforts to begin unlocking the value of his many neighborhood holdings.

At the time, Barrientos said she hoped the project to develop the property home to Rancho Bravo and Everyday Music would be put into motion. “We would love to redevelop that,” Barrientos said. “It’s this fabulous opportunity. It’s not on the horizon for short term. But once [the other projects] are up and running, it’s what we want.”

Amundson purchased the property in 2008 for $4.2 million.

Architects Schack A+D posted this rendering and description of a six-story apartment building designed for the site:

A 136,000 square foot mixed-use project containing 120 apartments, 20,000 square foot of ground floor retail and below grade parking. The proposed project would offer a high-energy living and shopping experience, capitalizing on the new light-rail transit station. To maintain the urban pattern of the Pike/Pine neighborhood, the program was divided into three distinct buildings, two of them new and one of them an existing character structure. A street-level pedestrian alley connects the three buildings, enhancing the neighborhoods already vibrant pedestrian environment. The alley will be lined with retail on both sides and incorporate public art, green space, and areas for gathering. To reflect the light-industrial style of existing buildings in the area, the first floor of retail will have 16 foot ceilings. The building materials will primarily be exposed wood, board-formed concrete, and articulated steel connection details often used and admired in older character structures in the neighborhood.

Barrientos said the decision to hold off on the project isn’t a reflection on any perceived coming weakness in the Capitol Hill apartment market. The veteran developer said the decision was based on “a more realistic view of non-performing assets and a need to make them viable ahead of the properties that have tenants that are doing well.”

Instead, Barrientos and Amundson plan to move forward with a vacant property the investor owns in Pioneer Square. But first, Barrientos said, the focus will be on finishing the first big lease push to fill their Lexicon project with tenants.

The Harvard Ave “boutiquement” project – their word, not ours! – that rises behind Dick’s Drive-In is in pre-leasing and, Barrientos was happy to tell us, is already 50% full. A 509 square-foot one-bedroom runs $1,625 per month. The two-bedroom model runs $2,825. Or you could live in the 610 square-foot penthouse for $2,025. “Select units at Lexicon are part of Seattle’s MFTE income-restricted program,” the website informs.

Sunset Electric earns LEED Platinum
IMG_0325-600x900CHS reported earlier this year on the opening of the Sunset Electric apartment building as the first project to be completed under the auspices of the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District’s preservation program. This week, Arizona-based developer The Wolff Company announced the 11th/Pine project has been awarded LEED Platinum certification:

The Wolff Company, a real estate private equity firm, announced today the U.S. Green Building Council has awarded its Capitol Hill, Seattle multi-family development, Sunset Electric, with LEED Platinum Certification. The 92-unit project with a large ground-floor restaurant tenant is one of the first of its scale in the greater Seattle area to obtain the highest possible LEED certification for environmental responsibility and efficiency.

Designed by Weber Thompson Architects of Seattle, the Sunset Electric Building was also one of the first to benefit from the Pike / Pine Conservation Overlay program to reward character structure preservation with a zoning height bonus. Originally constructed in 1926, the building’s large brick façade, expansive ground-floor ceiling heights and large window bays are reflective of Capitol Hill’s auto-row heritage.

The new building that is now leasing apartments is designed around an innovative open-air courtyard. Central to the building’s efficiency, this courtyard eliminates most interior corridors and common areas that require heating and cooling in less efficient buildings. Residential units are bright with operable windows on both sides enabling efficient through-ventilation and natural cooling. The residential lobby is the courtyard’s lowest level. Access to the building’s apartments is through a series of innovative bridges and balconies common in modern European designs.

The building benefits from a state-of-the-art reverse-cycle chiller system within the parking garage. This system exchanges heat generated from conditioning the parking structure to the domestic hot water supply system. Efficiencies in the hot water supply and the elimination of conditioned corridor space is anticipated to reduce Sunset Electric’s energy demands by 50%.

The apartment units aesthetically benefit from an equal degree of attention to detail. Timbers from the original structure were preserved and reconditioned locally and have been used to create sliding barn-style doors within the residences. Elegant tiling, modern cabinets and appliances and floor-to-ceiling windows contribute to some of Seattle’s most desirable apartments. A green-roof and patio area look down on the heart of Capitol Hill and the adjacent Cal Anderson Park.

Sunset Electric joins the Pike+Minor development as the first Capitol Hill projects to achieve the Platinum level certification, a Wolff representative told CHS.

24 thoughts on “What the development that will won’t yet replace Rancho Bravo will look like

  1. I don’t hate it for a change – the wood-sided buildings in SLU are among the more tasteful ones in the neighborhood. At least it’s not one of those potpourri designs like Joule.

    More important than the exterior design is what’s businesses will be at ground level – I just hope Ranchos Bravos has a place to go.

    • If there’s nowhere to park for Rancho Bravo, that would suck. what I love about RB is that even at 1am I can drive by, park, gobble a few tacos, and be on my way home. If I’d have to walk 7 blocks for parking to satisfy my craving, that’ll be the end of my late-night tacos. I’m sure they’d still have lots of foot business, but I’ll miss them. Hope that doesn’t happen.

      • I actually live a few blocks away, so I will be delighted to see all their surface parking replaced with more housing and amenities for those of us who actually live in the neighborhood.

        Rancho Bravo lost my business when they were campaigning to restrict food carts.

        • Eli, speak for yourself. As someone else who also lives in the neighborhood, parking is horrible enough as it is without them removing even more of it. And with all the cuts to the bus system, not having a car is becoming even less of an option.

          • if you live in the neighborhood, why do you need to drive to rancho bravo? how about walking or riding a bike? our planet is suffering from climate change specifically because of these one person, single trips to “gobble some tacos”.

            this entitlement to drive and park at someplace 5 minutes away needs to end.

      • zeebleoop, I don’t live in the neighborhood, and I never said I was entitled to drive to Rancho Bravo. I simply said that when parking disappears, I probably won’t go there much anymore. Because if it comes to taking a bus or taxi, or walking 20+ blocks at 1 am to get tacos, I’ll be doing without the tacos. I’m glad there are plenty enough people within walking distance to sustain their business. If it comes to all their parking disappearing, I unfortunately just won’t be one of them anymore. What else needs to end is the self-righteous “greener than thou” attitudes.

        • 1) i wasn’t replying to you. i was replying to jai. i just happened to use your terminology.
          2) if being “greener than thou” means commenting on how dumb i think it is to make a single occupancy vehicular trip for tacos, then so be it. i hope those attitudes never change as that’s what’s ultimately going to help with saving the only home we have.

  2. Will be sad to see the Rancho Bravo patio go, it is a perfect spot to sit & enjoy a burrito. Love how open they kept it, often feels more like a picnic area or neighborhood square than your typical fenced in restaurant patio.

  3. It’s just another “nice enough” design, but nothing interesting or memorable. Whether we like it or not, developers are remaking Seattle from the ground up and there’s an opportunity to do something special – maybe an identifiable architecture like SF, New Orleans, or Paris – at least construction that doesn’t look like it came from Ikea. Instead, the bar seems pretty low. I don’t know if every architect in Seattle is an artless hack or whether the developers won’t pony up for anything beyond cookie cutter, but we’re missing an opportunity that might not come again. We can replace our city with a copy of Bellevue or we can hold these people to a higher standard than “not an eyesore”. We need our own Haussmann or Wren at City Hall, someone with a grand vision and the will to implement it. The review board certainly won’t do it.

    • Nice enough is what gets through the design reviews.

      “We need our own Haussmann or Wren at City Hall, someone with a grand vision and the will to implement it. The review board certainly won’t do it.”

      When Seattle is ruled by an emperor or a king you may be able to get that. ;)

    • Chris Spencer, you summed it up very well. You mention Paris, SF, and New Orleans…I would add Amsterdam to the list. The stuff they are designing and building over their is interesting and memorable. They have fun with it. It helps that they have a society that puts a little more value on culture, art, and design, and a little less on money and capitalism.

      Unfortunately, the majority of developers and architects that are building these cookie cutter buildings are not even from Seattle. They are from Redmond, Kirkland, etc. In fact, one of them is a publicly traded corporation from Chicago. They can care less about coming into Seattle and building something beautiful and memorable. All they care about is building something as cheap as possible, and selling it for as much as possible, or rent it for as much as possible.

      I moved to Capitol Hill, in the first place, because of the grittiness, counter-culture, live music haven, that it was. I used to love this place because every time I walked out my door, I would always see something interesting and different. Now, they have how many of these cookie-cutter buildings going up? Like 40? While tearing down buildings and icons that made Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill…

      Sadly and unfortunately, I am no longer recognizing this place…

  4. Amen to the lack of vision in Seattle development statement. When you go to other cities in the US and the world, you really get the sense of the lost opportunity here. We are in such a beautiful setting, it’s sad it can’t inspire better architecture.

    • are you saying that, in every other city in the us, every building is a work of art? because i can assure you, in the other cities in which i’ve lived in, there is an equal mix of great and shitty buildings – just like here.

      also, architectural beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. what you may call interesting, i might call god-awful. not every building is going to pass everyone’s litmus test.

      • Yes, of course, every city has a mix of the good and the bad. But as far as all the new buildings going up in Seattle, there are many more bad than good.

        • Can you prove it’s any different in other comparable american cities? It’s entirely foolish to look at the architectural progress of NY, SF, Chicago, or LA (whoever said Paris don’t make me LOL) as we are a much smaller fish. Besides, anything would be better than that god awful looking KFC joint.

  5. Don’t blame the architects. Between zoning, building codes, energy efficiency codes, etc that is the real reason why everything ends up looking the same.

  6. Excellent news! Rancho Bravo’s yummy cheep eats will not soon be displaced by another six story cube. No shortage of those things on Capitol Hill, that’s for sure.

  7. Pingback: Location, location, location — and proximity to transit: Developers line up Broadway post office site for 5-story apartment building | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

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