Echoing Pike/Pine’s preservation, seven-story E Union project set for final design review

A project slowed by concerns that its design wasn’t doing enough to consider preservation of the old auto row garage on the E Union block where it is planned to rise will go back for what could be the development’s final bow in front of the East Design Review Board Wednesday night — but it won’t be preserving any of that old garage.

Design review: 953 E Union

CHS first reported on the $1.8 million acquisition of the property at 953 E Union neighboring the bustling Optimism Brewing building in October 2016 when regional developer SeaLevel Properties plunked down the cash with plans to build a restaurant and apartment project on the lot.

The early review process was a bumpy one for the design as the Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council and, ultimately, the review board asked the developer to look more deeply at the possibility of preserving and incorporating the 1918-built garage on the site into the project under the neighborhood’s conservation incentive program.


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After the city determined that the old garage did not qualify as a “character structure” and could be demolished without special permission, the developer and Grouparchitect return Wednesday night with what could be the project’s final design proposal for a seven-story, market-rate apartment building containing 19 “small efficiency dwelling units” and 40 apartments above 5,500 square feet of commercial space at street level. The building will have no parking and, yes, the old garage will be demolished.

The building will stand 10 feet taller than would typically be allowed as the city also determined the property should be eligible for a “transfer of development potential.” The developer has bought Pike/Pine height before — the Johnson Carr project at Pike and Harvard also is utilizing the transfer program.

Wednesday night, representatives for the developer and the architect hope to show the board that they have created a structure that fits in with the neighborhood’s auto row character, have responded to the guidance to create a more transparent street front for the ground level, and have done more to enhance the streetscape along Broadway Ct, that, someday, new residents will eventually be able to walk across to grab a beer.

1103 Summit Ave
Also part of Wednesday night’s reviews is this possible final pass for a project to create 91 units of microhousing on First Hill. The Johnson Carr project from architects Skidmore Janette is destined to rise from land currently used as a Virginia Mason parking lot snuggled up against The Tuscany Apartments. The developer acquired the property for $3.35 million in 2017, according to King County records.

Design review: 1103 Summit Ave

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3 thoughts on “Echoing Pike/Pine’s preservation, seven-story E Union project set for final design review

  1. Sometimes I wish we were less concerned about preserving “auto row garages” and more about quality structures that will be affordable for a variety of people.

  2. This is yet-another project which will add to parking scarcity in the surrounding area. Shame on the City for not requiring at least some parking in these large new buildings.

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