Uber-green development planned to replace former Fran’s Chocolate building on E Pike

Airtight at 13th and Pike (Image courtesy Weber Thompson)

Airtight at 13th and Pike (Image courtesy Weber Thompson)

A former chocolate factory that operated on Capitol Hill for 21 years is slated to be torn down and replaced by an ultra-environmentally friendly, mixed-use development just down the street from one of the greenest buildings in the world.

A familiar Capitol Hill development team is in the early stages of planning one of the city’s first Passive House certified, mixed-use buildings where Fran’s Chocolate once made its home at 13th and E Pike. The Weber Thompson designs call for a six-story, 55-unit building above 2,400 square feet of retail space, and no underground parking.

“I really think this is the way of the future, to think about the buildings we build and their impact on the environment,” developer Maria Barrientos tells CHS.

While it will be green, don’t expect the rents to be cheap.

Along with Barrientos, Cascade Built is hoping the 1300 E Pike project can follow up the success of its 25th Ave E development, View Haus 5 — Seattle’s first townhouse to meet the standards set by Passive House Institute US. Passive buildings are required to be extremely airtight and insulated to minimize energy use, and costs 5%-10% more over regular construction, according to PHIUS.

The new project won’t fall in its shadow but will have a view of the Bullitt Center, the 15th and Madison project that achieved recognition last fall as the world’s first living building. While many had hoped the Bullitt would be part of a chain of eco-friendly development across Capitol Hill, so far it has been more of an island.

The old Fran's (Image: CHS)

The old Fran’s (Image: CHS)

Fran’s CEO Andrina Bigelow still owns the 1300 E Pike property and told CHS in 2013 she was interested in opening a Fran’s retail shop in the space. However, a representative for Cascade said it was unlikely the chocolatier would decide to make a return.

The Bigelow family does intend to retain ownership of the property and was the driving force behind using the development to be as green as possible, Barrientos told CHS. The prolific Seattle developer said she was drawn to the project after the Bigelows presented the opportunity to stretch beyond her development comfort zone.

Fran’s left its original manufacturing space on Capitol Hill in 2014 and relocated to the original Rainier Brewery in Georgetown.

The development team met with members of the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council last week to give an overview of the project and discuss their plans to mostly demolish the existing 1926-built structure. Developers are not planning to leverage preservation incentives offered through the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District, although Barrientos said they may retain some structural elements.

The district provides height incentives to developers that agree to preserve the street-level facade and basic dimensions of historic neighborhood buildings integrated into new, mixed-use developments.

P/PUNC chair John Feit said the organization will be supporting the project. “There’s no controversy here. We were supportive of it,” Feit said.

The developers will take their first turn before the Design Review Board on March 16th.

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11 thoughts on “Uber-green development planned to replace former Fran’s Chocolate building on E Pike

  1. Instead of wasting space like this and keeping ugly facades we should be encouraging developers to build tall beautiful buildings that can house people. There must be some part of the “city” we could build tall buildings. The rents are too damn high and the buildings are too damn short.

    Where are the incentives to duplicate building like the Bullitt Center?

    These preservationists are ruining the future and the now. We are actually choosing the facade of the old over the many benefits of the new. How do these preservationists get away with such inefficiency and greed?

    How can you stand to look at these facades knowing what could have and should have been replaced with? They are blight on our great city which once had the forethought to look to the future with space needles and monorails. Now we even make the street lights look old. I’m surprised they don’t run on whale oil. If we were living in caves these preservationists would be protesting people living in tepees and I’m sure they did as they probably ruined their view.

    Tall buildings provide spectacular views BTW.

    Isn’t it obvious?
    Do you need a sign?

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/stop-opening-tent-cities-homelessness-expert-tells-seattle-leaders/

    • There are many tall buildings downtown….built already, under construction, and in the planning stages. That is where they belong, not in low-rise neighborhoods.

      I think we need to respect the quality buildings of the past. New is not necessarily better.

  2. Was coming here to pay respects to the quirky building that I knew wasn’t long for this world, and hope that the developers would do as good a job incorporating the facade as did the project encompassing the 10th/Union/11th block – but the above post made me laugh. It wasn’t so long ago that most development posts here were met with complaints that we just knock everything down with no concern for history, existing low rent buildings and/or local businesses, or good architecture – and lately I see more posts about upward-at-any-cost, and how adding more top of the line apartments is going to magically bring housing costs down, even though it’s clear they are being geared toward the influx of high earners to the city.

    “The preservationists are ruining the future and the now.” That just gave me a laugh that’s going to stick with me all day. Thanks.

    • I really enjoyed your comment and agree wholeheartedly. The “progress” over people mantra is heard a lot more these days.I also much enjoyed that the commenter’s name is also “wast” of space.

    • Yes, most of these new buildings are geared for high-income residents. Yes the rents are high. But those high income folks are here anyway. More will come whether or not we build more buildings like this.

      Buildings like this reduce the upward pressure on existing housing. That’s why people who are concerned about housing prices should support more fancy new buildings.

  3. 55-110 new residents with no cars I hope. We’re still 30-40 years from being able to operate as a car free zone and regardless if you like or not, people will still have them.

    • Preach. Its a poor assumption that people willing to spend top dollar for brand new construction, with “condo-like finishes” and high-end appliances won’t have the expendable income to choose to afford a car to take out on the weekends. Maybe not all of them, and maybe they won’t be driving too and from SLU/Redmond/Everett every day, but it’s been a common theme that a certain portion of them will be able to afford the luxury of owning one and handle the hassle of street parking.

      Then again, if new development isn’t pushing the idea that yes, it’s better not to own a car and live on Capitol Hill, then it’s only going to be a tougher sell to residents to eventually turn the area into a Car-Free Zone (which I hope they eventually do, at least in the Pike/Pine Cooridor)

    • It’s an equally poor assumption that because NOW we don’t have a car-free lifestyle, we should not build buildings that dare to assume it will exist some day.

      It’s not as though in the real world we’ll reach some magical threshold in the future where we will simply draw a line and insist all buildings assume car free living in a certain zone.

      It happens slowly, like density, or in fits and starts. The building stock turns over on years and decades timescales. If anyone honestly believes we’ll be car-free or even less-car-y in the future, then we have to BEGIN the process of converting the building stock to compliment at some point. The first few buildings will look like folly to most. But then that is true of EVERY MAJOR conversion our city has gone through.

      People complained that Roosevelt High School was built too far out in the sticks in 1922 and it was a waste as a result. People complained that urban villages will never take root and people wouldn’t want to live in dense housing. People complained the interstate highway system was a boondoggle.