Seattle set to give Central District its own design review board

In an effort to preserve and grow the historically Black culture of the Central District, Seattle is creating a new Design Review Board for the area. The proposal passed out of committee April 4, and will  go before the Seattle City Council for a vote scheduled for Monday afternoon, April 9th. UPDATE 3:20 PM: In a unanimous vote, the council approved Rob Johnson’s legislation creating the new guidelines and board. Johnson thanks Central Area activists for their  “several decades of work” to make the new process possible. “I’m really proud to be playing a small part here in the end to help get this across the finish line,” Johnson said.

“The creation of a Central Area Design Review District and Board will support equitable and inclusive community engagement and process specific for those most impacted by displacement, maximize the effectiveness of the Central Area Design Guidelines, and help guide future development to respond to the unique Central Area historical character and identity,” according to a report prepared explaining (PDF) the legislation.

The proposal sponsored by Council member and planning and land use committee chair Rob Johnson (District 4) would make a new, eighth design review district by carving it from Capitol Hill’s East District Review Board and the Southeast district. Continue reading

If Seattle is going to build its way out of affordability crisis, why aren’t there more Capitol Hill design reviews?

If Seattle is to “build its way of out” its affordability crisis, the market seems to be indicating that Capitol Hill, for now at least, has done enough. Design review, the most public component in Seattle’s development process, has slowed to a trickle in the East District covering Capitol Hill and parts of the Central District. There is only a single project on the East review board’s calendar this month; last year there were six. After a small pulse of activity in January, looking ahead, the calendar doesn’t appear much more robust. In 2017, there were more than 30 reviews scheduled for major projects in the area.

The simplest explanation could be that we’re simply built out. Liz Dunn, the Capitol Hill-based developer behind Chophouse Row, said she wasn’t sure what might be behind a slowdown, except that all the sites just might finally be built.

There are other indicators that also point to a construction slowdown. The number of active cranes dropped over the past six months. We still have more than any other city in the US, but this is the first time the number has gone down in years.

Seattle has built more than 300 new apartment buildings since 2010, many of them in this area. Recently, some analysis suggests rents have stabilized, and even dropped in parts of the city, a possible indicator that supply has finally caught up with demand.

And the supply is going to keep going up in the neighborhood in the near term. The development at Capitol Hill Station, the Bonney-Watson project, a building on what used to be Piecora’s, new development at 23rd and Union and more at 23rd and Jackson, mean there will be hundreds of new units available in the next couple years.

Only time will tell if this is a blip or the start of a trend, but people who study development issues across the city and on Capitol Hill point to a number of possible reasons. Continue reading

Review board says Bonney Watson development needs better connection to Cal Anderson Park

Mill Creek Residential will need to take another crack at their plan for two mixed-use apartment buildings that will eventually rise on the site of Broadway’s Bonney Watson Funeral Home.

At Wednesday night’s meeting of the East Design Review Board, board members asked the developer to come back after presenting them with a laundry list of more details they want to see before the project moves on to the next phase. Continue reading

12th Ave auto shop will make way for apartment and restaurant development

Servicing BMWs, Volvos, and Jaguars on Capitol Hill was good business for the last 46 years or so. Selling the property home to your 12th Ave auto service garage to make way for development of a five-story, 61-unit, mixed-use apartment building planned to feature “sun screens,” a streetfront restaurant, and “a generously planted” courtyard? Probably even better business.

The longtime 12th and E Olive St. fixture Car Tender will be moving out in the next year or so but the design review process for the new building that will replace it begins this week.

On Wednesday, the East Design Review Board will hear about a proposed mixed-use five-story 61-unit apartment planned for the corner of 12th Ave and E Olive St where auto shop Car Tender currently sits.

Design review: 1208 E Olive St

Car Tender owners Russell Kimble and John McDermott declined to comment on the sale and the development. The company claims a pedigree reaching back to the early 1970s. The version of the company owned by Kimble and McDermott was registered with the state in 1999. According to Car Tender’s website, the company has been servicing European cars including BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Land Rover, and others, in the city since 1971. Through various platforms, online reviewers have given the business an average of about four stars for its service. Its candy dish game is also apparently on point. Continue reading

Trading 14 for 50, six stories planned on Broadway to add to Capitol Hill Station wave

On Broadway, across from busy Capitol Hill Station, nobody sensible is going to complain about a six-story building with 50 new apartment units replacing a three-story building with only 14. Until rents slow down or, even, dip, the market needs the inventory. Some will say build it higher. Tell the HALA folks about that.

But progress on Broadway will mean change for the people living above the street in the old apartment building and a much-loved Capitol Hill favorite, below. When the old 1905-built Capitol Crest apartment building is demolished, Annapurna and her neighbors will need to find new homes. We say, in the meantime, eat at (CHS advertiser!) Annapurna often. And head around the corner to Ace Barbershop for a haircut. Perhaps Wednesday night before you take your full belly and new hairdo to the first design review for the six-story, 50-unit mixed-use building set to rise on Broadway next to Capitol Hill Station’s west entrance.

Design review: 1833 Broadway

The Roger Newell-designed project is being envisioned as a mix of 50 apartment units including 400-square-foot studios up to 936-square-foot two-bedroom models above 3,500 square feet of space for a store… or a restaurant. Continue reading

Net-zero energy project will connect to an uprooted house behind Broadway Hill Park

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 4.32.59 PMWe have seen old houses relocated to make space for a new apartment building, but linking the two structures to create a single property may be a first on Capitol Hill. Retrofitting the house and designing the new apartment building to meet some of the strictest environmental standards in the U.S. is definitely a first.

The unique plans for 11th and Republican Passive House Apartments faces another round of design review Wednesday night. The outcome of the meeting also carries a special significance for the neighborhood as the building will serve as the new backdrop to the recently opened Broadway Hill Park.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Continue reading

Capitol Hill height for sale: Developer of 95 Slide building buying right to build higher

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Here's what it would look like if they were forced to preserve 95 Slide

Here’s what it would look like if they were forced to preserve 95 Slide

Capitol Hill developers do not have to preserve the neighborhood’s oldest buildings to reap the construction benefits that come with that preservation — they can buy those perks, too, as Johnson Carr plans to do for its planned seven-story development at the corner of Pike and Harvard. Someday, you might call it the 95 Slide building. Kids will look at you like you’re old and crazy. That’s the Pike Flats building, old timer. The preservation perks without preservation plan will be on the table Wednesday night as the East Design Review Board takes what will likely be its final look at the project.

John Feit, chair of the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, said transferring development rights is analogous to moving apples around from basket to basket. “Melrose Market paid for the ability to create an extra floor, they just didn’t,” said Feit. Instead, the developers of the Capitol Hill retail project are selling that right to Johnson Carr. Continue reading

Design reviews: 30 stories on First Hill, 6 off E Madison

Destined to rise above First Hill at 800 Columbia

Destined to rise above First Hill at 800 Columbia

Fans of skyscrapers will enjoy one part of the design reviews slated to come before the East Design Review Board Wednesday night. They might scoff at the other.

A 30-story residential tower destined for 8th and Columbia on First Hill will finish the night Wednesday but not before the board — and some concerned neighbors — have their say on a proposed project at 20th and Madison that is seeking a, gasp, contract rezone from the area’s 40-foot limit to a whopping 65 feet… hey, skyscraper folks, stop giggling. Continue reading

Design review overhaul: Rule on fewer projects, put meetings online, split Capitol Hill at Pine


Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.19.56 PMSeattle’s process for gathering public and expert feedback on new building designs is poised to undergo the most significant update since it was established in 1994. For starters, we may be saying goodbye to the East Design Review Board.

Under changes proposed by a 16-member advisory group to Seattle’s design review program, the East DRB jurisdiction, which covers Capitol Hill, would be sliced between three new areas in order to lump the neighborhood’s high-rise zones with a new Central DRB that would also cover First Hill. Capitol Hill would be divided along E Pine, with the north half coming under a new Northeast DRB and the south half going to a new Southeast DRB.

“I think it makes sense that there be a more high-rise focused designed review board,” said Amanda Bryan, member of the Central Area Land Use Advisory Committee who also sat on the advisory panel. “I think (the boundaries) will move around depending on how people feel about it.” Continue reading

Design review: holding the corners at 19th and Mercer and the Piecora’s building

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View of the planned project on the northwest corner of 19th and Mercer building from Talulah’s patio. (Image: Public47 Architects)

It is out with the old and in with the new at the site of two planned Capitol Hill developments entering their final phase of design review Wednesday night. The original Piecora’s building at 14th and Madison was demolished last year and a big, old cedar tree at 19th and Mercer is on deck to come down in order to make way for two new mixed-used projects that will add a total of 172 market-rate units to the neighborhood.

The projects going before the East Design Review Board will also be adding highly visible commercial spaces on bustling corners, though there are no clues yet as to who might be moving in.

1830 E Mercer St. 

Land Use Application to allow a 5-story structure containing 32 apartment units and 2,260 sq. ft. of retail at street level. Parking for 10 vehicles to be provided below grade and surface parking for 2 at the alley. Existing structure is to remain.
View Design Proposal  (26 MB)
Review Meeting: April 13, 2016 6:30 PM, Seattle University, 901 12th Ave, STCN Student Center 130
Review Phase: REC–Recommendation  See All Reviews
Project Number: 3020860  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: Beth Hartwick

First up will be the five-story apartment building with 32 market rate units planned for the northwest corner of 19th and Mercer. The Public47 Architects design calls for a 2,350-square-foot corner commercial storefront and 12 below-grade parking spaces.

Neighbors have been weighing in on the project since CHS first reported on the development plans from property owners Glenn MacDonald and Amanda Twiss last year. While, ahem, creative differences with architects typically top the list of concerns during design review, plans to remove a potentially “exceptional” red cedar tree on the property have drawn strong objections from neighbors.Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 7.10.16 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 7.09.18 PM

Others said they would be sad to see the tree go, but are pleased to have more commercial space added to 19th and Mercer.Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 5.58.08 PM

Unfortunately, the red cedar will in all likelihood be coming down as part of the plans supported by the design review board in a previous meeting. However, construction will not require the demolition of any existing structures, sparing Monsoon from the cedar’s fate. Continue reading