Though her construction began in 1917, she was actually born a year later so you still have time to get a gift. 11th Ave’s Kelly Springfield Motor Truck building is celebrating 100 years on the planet with a massive facelift. And, let’s be honest. Pretty much all that will be left of her is her face. Longtime CHS video contributor David Albright captured the 11th Ave changes of the former auto row facility, then REI, then Value Village in motion:
Critics call it facadism. Progressive architects — and others — point to the preservation of character and volume. While, indeed, not much is preserved when the preservation projects dig in, the neighborhood’s Conservation Overlay District’s incentive program has produced a handful of very large, more interesting than average developments across Pike/Pine.
The Kelly Springfield office + preservation project is on its way to becoming another one. But getting there looks more like a demolition than a preservation.
In return for agreeing to preserve the facade and street level dimensions of Pike/Pine’s so-called character buildings 75-years-old or older, developers can design their projects with a extra 10 feet of height to help offset costs of the preservation. City code spells out the facade requirements. “The portion of the structure that is retained is sufficient to give the appearance of a free-standing building,” the code says. And “all street facing facades of the character structure are retained.”
As you watch the building being ripped up for partial re-assembly, you might also want to note that this all comes with landmarks protections. In 2015 thanks to its special significance in the neighborhood due to its history in the early years of REI and its place in the “economic heritage of auto row,” the building was designated an official Seattle landmark — but only its facade. Now the home of The Stranger and the Rhino Room, the neighboring White Motor Company building next door’s landmark protection extend to its interior. Guess which one is being redeveloped.
The Kelly Springfield project is also unusual in that its extra height will go toward office space, not more apartments. The design board gave its blessing during the project’s review to the proposal to utilize the Pike/Pine Conservation District’s 10-foot height bonus incentive to build office space — not housing as the incentive was originally intended.
Last year around this time, you had your last chance to shop inside the old Value Village before the dusty creosote-soaked beams were torn out for good. This year, you can say goodbye to those old bones as you get ready for new ones to go up in 2018.