Seattle’s first Passive House-certified mixed-use project at 13th and Pike faces first review

A former Capitol Hill chocolate factory — in an auto row era building with an, um, nutty past — will provide “character inspiration” for what could be the first passive house certified mixed-use development in Seattle. The project faces its first design review Wednesday night.

CHS reported on the uber-green six-story, 55-unit project above 2,400 square feet of retail space, and no underground parking late last month as frequent Capitol Hill developer Maria Barrientos teamed up with Cascade Built and architects Weber Thompson to transform the corner of 13th and Pike still owned by Fran’s Chocolates which moved its operations to Georgetown in 2014. Just down the street from the Bullitt Centerthe world’s first living building, the project will aspire to the standards set by Passive House Institute US. Among the many requirements, passive buildings are required to be extremely airtight and insulated to minimize energy use. UPDATE: The project is, indeed, planned to have 26 units of underground parking.

The project is described as a first of its kind “sustainable apartment building that includes a passive house design that reduces energy needs to as close to zero as possible.” The developers say that the passive features including increased insulation affect the massing and windows and that “exterior shading devices” will shield the south and western faces of the building from “heat loads.” Meanwhile, the design will use “the old rhythm of the column spacing” and “many elements such as the brick and the ornamental pieces on the current facade.”

The building will not, however, aspire to the Pike/Pine Conservation District’s preservation incentives that trade extra height for retaining facades and street-level size and dimensions. The design proposal to be presented Wednesday night does include an option showing the project meeting the conservation district’s standards but the developers’ “preferred” design is based on a “character inspiration” approach they say will echo with the history of the corner while creating a building focused on tomorrow’s environmental needs:

While nobody can force the project to take the preservation incentives, the developers have the Department of Neighborhoods on their side:Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 6.16.03 PM

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Clues to the future? “Madrona/Augustine Planned Future Development” to the east

Though the building’s history might not have architectural significance, we hope some of the character from its business past makes it into the passive house recipe. According to a report prepared on behalf of the developers, the project will “retain its primary facades in a new mixed-use project” that will “result in demolition of the building’s roof and structure and interior spaces.” Still, they can never wipe away its gritty auto row past — Fafnir Bearings Inc., the Seattle Electric Co., and Siegrist Equipment Co. called the building home at points during the 1930s.

And it gets better. “The earliest drawings of the building, dating from 1946, cite the owner/occupant as the Buddy Squirrel Nut Shop,” the report notes, providing you with the name for your next Pike/Pine bar.

But it gets better than that. “A later occupant of the building, J. R. Distributors (a magazine distributor), purchased the property in 1964,” the historian records, adding:

It was raided by the Seattle police in 1986, and J. R. Distributors and its chief officers were eventually found guilty of distributing pornography (Seattle Times, March 28, 1990). It appears that the building remained vacant after 1990, the year the guilty verdict was handed down, until 1993, when it was purchased by Fran’s Chocolates and remodeled to become the company’s factory (or “laboratory”).

Sex, nuts, and chocolate? Not much passive about that.

1300 E Pike St

Design review early design guidance application for a 6-story building containing 55 residential units above 2,400 sq ft of retail space and live/work units located at ground level. Portion of existing building to be removed. / View Design Proposal  (37 MB)    

Review Meeting
March 16, 2016 8:00pm

Seattle University, 814 12th Avenue, Admissions & Alumni Community Building
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance  
Project Number: 3020301  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: David Landry

UPDATE: Prior to Wednesday’s review, the city received one single complaint about the passive house-flavored design proposal:

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One thought on “Seattle’s first Passive House-certified mixed-use project at 13th and Pike faces first review

  1. Nicely written, informative and entertaining. Love the history… I hope someone takes your suggestion to name their future Pike/Pine bar The Buddy Squirrel Nut Shop. “Sex, nuts, and chocolate? Not much passive about that.” Truth!