The 70 or so residents living inside and the owners of an incoming restaurant don’t seem to mind one bit but a newly constructed Capitol Hill building has a major color problem and is likely headed back to the design review board to sort things out.
“We think it’s an extremely attractive building. It’s been very successful,” Trent Mummery tells CHS about the Metropolitan Homes development now standing on the northwest corner of 15th and Madison. “We’re puzzled why this issue is even coming up.”
The date hasn’t yet been set but the Broadcast Apartments could end up being one of those unusual — but not totally unheard of — Seattle projects to be approved by the design review board after its construction has been completed.
According to Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, a routine inspection of the building revealed what the city believes to be an important discrepancy between the finished structure and the plans approved in design review in 2015. A city inspector reported that the metal siding of the Broadcast Apartments was one single, non-varied, uniform, dark bronze.
“The original permit was approved for specific colors and materials, and the Design Review Board recommended approval with minimal modulation based on the concept of fins in a contrasting color to create a certain appearance,” a department spokesperson tells CHS. “During an inspection of the building design, the City Planner noticed the design change and determined it required a permit revision if the developer didn’t want to replace the fins with the approved color.”
Replacement would be prohibitively expensive, Mummery said. But it’s not like going back in front of the review board is free. The process will likely cost somewhere around $15,000 in city fees and work from the design team, Mummery said.
The Broadcast Apartments development has been playing out on a much longer timeframe than most recent Capitol Hill projects. At one time home to a Capitol Hill Taco Time, the family behind the chain razed the restaurant and began planning the land’s mixed-use future in 2009. But after years of slow progress,it was sold off in 2014 for $3.6 million for the property and the permits. Construction finally wrapped up in 2017 some eight years after the last mexi fries were sold on E Madison.
Somewhere along the line, the dark bronze cladding went up. Mummery said the color change wasn’t an attempt to slide one by. “We understood from our contractor that our original color was no longer available in heavy gauge,” the developer said. The heavier siding is necessary so the material doesn’t “oil can” where lighter metal can form waves, dimples and ripples, or crinkle.
“They’re fins, they create shadows. It’s nearly impossible to see,” Mummery said. “We didn’t think it would rise to be on their radar.”
But an issue with the color of siding has threaten to derail a Capitol Hill project before. In 2014, CHS reported on the Viva Capitol Hill project’s run-in with City Hall over its monochrome siding after it had been “approved with an accent color.” The Viva building was ultimately granted its needed permits and certificates —
without any changes to the color of its siding. UPDATE: In the comments, d reeves says we’re wrong — the Viva did end up changing some of its siding.
While the Broadcast building has already received its temporary certificate of occupancy allowing residents to begin living in the apartments, the project cannot receive its official certificate until the color issue is cleared up. A public meeting will be required to review the change “and to obtain comments from the public and board,” a city spokesperson tells CHS. “If the board does not accept the change, then the developer will have to replace the fins with the correct color,” the city rep said.
Developer Metropolitan Homes is still hoping the design review somehow won’t be necessary but it is preparing its case.
“If you hold the material to sunlight, they’re chameleon-like in appearance,” Mummery said. “We don’t believe that 9 out of 10 people would notice.”
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