14 developers in running to forge Capitol Hill Station retail and housing sites

Just build this -- a design submitted by a team of University of Washington students for the Capitol Hill Station "transit oriented development" in a 2011 class exercise

Just build this — a design submitted by a team of University of Washington students for the Capitol Hill Station “transit oriented development” in a 2011 class exercise

Surrounding the under-construction Capitol Hill Station, the development sites will line Broadway and neighbor Cal Anderson

Surrounding the under-construction Capitol Hill Station, the development sites will line Broadway and neighbor Cal Anderson

The candidates to develop some of Capitol Hill’s most prominent and prized projects have added their names to the list and they include a mix of neighborhood, local, and national developers. Fourteen companies and nonprofits officially responded to Sound Transit’s February request for qualifications to develop 100,000 square feet of “transit oriented development” that will surround the future Capitol Hill light rail station. The project will include housing, retail, and community space on five sites stretching along Broadway from John to Denny.

A couple of familiar Capitol Hill names have thrown their names into the hat, including Capitol Hill Housing and a partnership that includes local developer Maria Barrientos. Sound Transit spokesperson Bruce Gray said the agency recieved more responses than it expected.

“It’s obviously a hugly desireable site,” Gray said. “It’s a fantstic opportunity for great development, and people want to be in the middle of Capitol Hill.” Continue reading

Developer reveals plans for the Piecora’s building

How they did it up north -- Equity's Urbana building opened in Ballard this year

How they did it up north — Equity’s Urbana building opened in Ballard this year

Now that the last night of service has come and gone, what will replace the old Piecora’s building? The largest publicly traded owner of apartment buildings in the country has shared details with CHS of the first ever project it will build from the ground up in the high-demand Capitol Hill market.

“We buy and build,” a spokesperson for Equity Residential tells CHS about its $10.3 million purchase of the building and parking lot at 14th and Madison that is now slated to be demolished sometime in the next year. “We’re all over the Seattle market. It’s such a terrific long-term market for renters, were looking to expand our footprint there.”

The spokesperson tells CHS that Equity plans to develop a six-story, 140-unit mixed-use apartment building with hopes of starting construction late next year after the prerequisite rounds of permitting and design review. The new building will include some 3,700 square-feet of retail — room for a new pizza joint, perhaps — and will include underground parking. The goal is to have the project open for eager Capitol Hill renters by 2017, the spokesperson said.

The confirmation of Equity sticking to what it does best squashes a rumor that had been circulating about a possible hotel planned as part of a new development at the site.

The design of the building has not yet begun as Equity is still settling on an architect for the project. We looked here at the types of buildings the Equity Residential builds and holds in its vast portfolio. Situated on a rising slope along E Madison and overlooking the Broadway basin leading to First Hill, the building will fill a prominent corner on the street and will be just a block from the dramatic rise of the Bullitt Center, touted as the greenest commercial building on the planet.

While the new building will be the first project Equity constructs on Capitol Hill, it has purchased three others amid an increasingly lucrative rental market in the area.

“We very much like the Capitol Hill area,” the Equity spokesperson said. “We think it’s a strong submarket.”

Neighbors question Seattle design review as very brown Capitol Hill apartment building moves forward

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

The City of Seattle will — at least temporarily — let work get back on track at a nearly completed, six-story Capitol Hill apartment development brought to a halt by a dispute over the color of the building’s siding. Meanwhile, we have the letter from the project’s neighbors that helped spur the Department of Planning and Development to act — and might prove a type of manifesto for those in the neighborhood that would like to see greater efforts to create higher quality, better looking developments on the Hill.

In late March, CHS reported that Alliance Residential, the developers who acquired and are now constructing the Viva project at 12th and Madison, had been denied a temporary certificate of occupancy over an issue with the a discrepancy between the building’s approved design and its final form.

“The building was approved with an accent color, but was built all one color,” a DPD representative said about the dispute.

According to DPD, Alliance will now be issued the temporary permit which will allow work to continue as the project transitions from construction to finishing and preparation for new apartment and commercial tenants. DPD says “the applicant will address the accent color siding issue” before a final “Certificate of Occupancy” is issued for the 105-unit mixed-use apartment building.

Alliance development manager Dave Knight called the situation as “unfortunate misunderstanding” resulting from the building’s long path from original plans in 2007, to a new architect, then a new owner in Alliance. “You think you’re doing the right thing,” Knight said. “Then the planner came out and said what was built didn’t match renderings.”

But, according to a lengthy letter sent to DPD by residents of the Union Art Coop across the street from the Viva, the issue with the discrepancy over the approved siding color is only one of a list of problems with the new building.

“It appears that the builder has violated several conditions of their Master Use Permit,” the letter reads. Continue reading

Capitol Hill says goodbye to Piecora’s, hello to familiar national apartment developer

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)


UPDATE 4/17/14Developer reveals plans for the Piecora’s building

Original report: A thick chapter of Capitol Hill history will close Tuesday night when the final slice of Piecora’s pizza is polished off, and a new story will open when the nation’s largest, publicly traded, owner of apartments gets to work on its fourth Capitol Hill property.

Equity Residential purchased the 14th and Madison pizza property from the Piecora family in April for a whopping $10.3 million, adding to Equity’s 30+ residential properties in the region. The Piecora family paid $3,045,000 to purchase the property in 2002. Soon after the Equity sale, Piecora’s announced April 15th would be their last day.

So far Equity has not filed any paperwork to indicate their plans for the site — or if they’ll honor the Piecora name in the new building. Representatives from Equity has not yet responded to CHS requests for comment. Given Equity’s regional properties, it’s safe to assume another mixed-use project is on the way. Continue reading

Why Capitol Hill’s big mixed-use developments look, um, the way they do


The many faces of Joule. (Photo: CHS)

Boxy. Monolith. Bland. Generic. The adjectives that get hurled at many of the new mixed-used developments on Capitol Hill can be quite unforgiving.

One of those projects, Viva Capitol Hill at 12th and E Union, was recently stalled after complaints rolled in about the building’s monochromatic facade.

Materials, zoning, and Capitol Hill’s competitive development market all narrow the window for creativity and risk taking in building new mixed-use projects.

Those factors have led to some easily identifiable trends among Capitol Hill’s 47+ in-progress projects: cheap and flat facades, jolting color splashes, and hulking buildings desperately trying to look smaller and more welcoming at street level. The resulting public distaste is not surprising, and architects say more could be done to build better. Continue reading

Plan ahead to meet the developers hoping to be part of Capitol Hill Station projects

The Capitol Hill Champion group has a big job ahead making sure developers understand and adopt the community priorities established for the development planned to surround the future Capitol Hill Station light rail facility on Broadway. You’ll want to plan ahead, too. The Champion group has set June 2nd for its community meeting with prospective developers bidding to be part of the project:

The bidding is underway for developers to be part of creating new housing, retail and community space around Capitol Hill Station

The bidding is underway for developers to be part of creating new housing, retail and community space around Capitol Hill Station

Save the date!  Meet the Developers June 2nd

Let developers know that you support community priorities at the Capitol Hill Station TOD sites.  Attend a Community Meeting with short-listed bidders on June 2nd from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at the SCC Broadway Performance Hall (corner of Pine and Broadway).  Bring your questions!  Refreshments will be provided by the Broadway Farmer’s Market.  Keep Capitol Hill’s voice strong!

“Like” us on  facebook

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??questions/comments??   email caphilltod@gmail.com

040414 save the date train

Four-story East John Court project has a lot to prove at third design review

This was the plan for East John Court in January

This was the plan for East John Court in January

We don’t know what the new proposal for the four-story East John Court project at 1113 E John looks like — a SNAFU has the latest design packet delayed from posting to the Department of Planning and Development web site until Wednesday afternoon.

But we do know what the East Design Review Board will be looking for when it takes its third look at the planned project featuring 47 “small & efficient residential units” in a building slated to replace the old 1903-built houses that have served as Seattle Hill House bed and breakfast.

Its notes from the January 2014 recommendation session on the project are clear:

  • The Board reiterated that the presented design didn’t demonstrate how it related to the existing architectural character and siting pattern of the neighboring historical and modern structures.
  • The Board was very confused about the distribution of exterior materials and colors. The Board stated that the color palette and materials should be simplified.
  • At the Recommendation meeting, the Board voiced strong support for the graphic geometric pattern artwork applied to the front exterior stairwell in the context of a simplistic subdued design

We said the issues were clear. We didn’t say it was going to be easy. That’s not a trivial amount of issues for Soleil Development and architectural firm Caron to work out. Wednesday night, we’ll learn more about how they plan to do it.

1113 E. John St. - Design Proposal available at review meeting
Review Meeting: April 9, 6:30 pm
Seattle University
901 12th Ave
Student center Multi Purpose room #210
Review Phase: Recommendation past reviews
Project Number: 3014162 permit status | notice
Planner: Tami Garrett

10th Ave E house moving — not too far — to make room for twin townhomes

Jacked up on 10th Ave E -- many thanks to @the_tim for the photo

Jacked up on 10th Ave E — many thanks to @the_tim for the photo

CHS has received a lot of questions about why this 1909 foursquare is rising above its lot in the 1100 block of 10th Ave E. While the project isn’t big enough to make our development map showing the nearly 30 big apartment buildings under construction around Capitol Hill, it is a sign of the changes underway in various neighborhoods as developers and landowners look to take advantage of the unprecedented demand for housing in the central city.

According to permits filed for the property, the house is being lifted and moved on its lot to make room for a two-unit townhouse and attached garage that will be added to the property. It’s a project involving Bradley Khouri’s b9 architects. Khouri is apparently becoming the go-to guy for similar development. We reported on this project involving Khouri to move a home and add row houses on 18th Ave E in 2013. Our report earlier this year on “an explosion” of row house development in the area is here.

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

The slate of new townhouse-style projects comes at a time when single family homes are mostly out of reach to the average Capitol Hill resident and the condo market around Capitol Hill is in desperate need of new blood, according to local real estate experts. Meanwhile, growth proponents hope for the Hill to build its way out of soaring rents.

The 10th Ave E house was purchased by a corporation registered to a Lynwood real estate investor last June for $826,000, according to King County records. One of the three-bedroom townhouses at the 18th Ave E project currently is listed at $655,000. All three units appear to still be available to prospective Miller Park residents. The 18th Ave E house was expected to be sold for around $700,000.

Preservation-minded panel looks at Pike/Pine development — then & now

It’s the year of the neighborhood for city officials and the Seattle think tanks dedicated to making this heart of the Puget Sound a better place to live. The Seattle Architecture Foundation is mounting a series of neighborhood forums around the city — Tuesday night, the group takes on Capitol Hill:

Capitol Hill prides itself on proximity to downtown while boasting a mix of uses almost absent from the neighboring business district. New mixed-use projects compete with the architectural soul of the neighborhood, rooted in structures of the old ‘autorow’ and historic housing stock. Can this welcome density and diversity be integrated into the neighborhood without losing its architectural character?

Guest Speakers:
Michael Oaksmith, Director of Development at Hunters Capital
Chuck Wolfe, Land Use Attorney, Writer, Blogger, Professor
Jeff Reibman, Principal, Weber Thompson
Michael Sullivan, Principal, Artifacts, Inc
Eugenia Woo, Director of Preservation Services at Historic Seattle

Can this welcome density and diversity be integrated into the neighborhood without losing its architectural character? We’re guessing the answer is “yes but…”

You can find out starting at 6:30 PM Tuesday (4/8) at the Broadway Performance Hall. Tickets are $15 for non-members. More information here.

E Madison property home to Piecora’s sold to developer in $10.29 million deal

(Image: Piecora's via Facebook)

(Image: Piecora’s via Facebook)

Here’s the deal, Capitol Hill. You get the Comet Tavern back – but you’ll have to give a few things up.

The family of Danny Piecora has agreed to sell the E Madison property that has been home to Piecora’s for more than 30 years.

According to county records, the buyer in the $10.29 million deal is Equity Residential. The Puget Sound Business Journal calls the publicly traded company “the nation’s largest owners of apartments.” County records also show a terminated lease for the venerable pizza shop as part of the dealings though it currently remains open. The family paid $3,045,000 to purchase the property in 2002.

A person with knowledge of the changes said employees have been told the business will remain open into the summer. We have not heard back from Piecora’s about the deal.

In terms of dollars, it is one of the largest recent transactions in an increasingly coveted — and crowded — area for development. Continue reading

Latest Pike/Pine food+drink trend: the Capitol Hill complex

A 'complex' map of the future Pike Motoworks project's thousands of square-feet of retail

A ‘complex’ map of the future Pike Motoworks project’s thousands of square-feet of retail

The Central Agency Building will soon be home to new projects from the folks behind Lark (Image: CHS)

The Central Agency Building will soon be home to new projects from the folks behind Lark (Image: CHS)

Even the developers don’t know exactly what to call it.

“I don’t want to use the ‘M’ word,” said Wolff Co.’s Greg Van Patten as he described to CHS the massive retail component planned for the under-construction Pike Motorworks project.

“Basically, there is a passthrough/walkway straight up the middle. On the left side, some kind of eating and drinking establishment. On the right, a mix of other users. That’s kind of the goal for all retail. To have something that will generate that buzz and that activity,” the developer said.

It is not, at least in the late 20th Century traditional sense, a mall.

Like the plan at Pike Motorworks, this complex development goal is being played out across the Hill in a handful of significant projects where the interplay between retail tenants is tightly woven and planned as a cohesive identity.

“I think the appeal of grouping a bunch of smaller creative tenants under one roof is twofold,” Capitol Hill-based developer Liz Dunn says about the complex trend which is also playing out in her Chophouse Row project slated to be complete later this year on 11th Ave between Pike and Union. “It creates great synergies amongst the tenants — they can tune their offerings to complement each other. And it creates a very robust, diverse and complete experience for customers, which include in this case the office tenants in the building.”

“There seems to be a great ‘home away from home’ vibe that happens when there is a collection of tenants under one roof,” Dunn said.

She should know. Dunn is part of the team responsible for creating what many see as a major catalyst for this kind of retail developmentMelrose Market. At the center of her new take on a Capitol Hill market at 11th Ave’s Chophouse Row will be a restaurant and juice bar from Ericka Burke of the Volunteer Park Cafe.  But small complementary shops like this one planned by farm-to-table guru Kurt Timmermeister on the Row’s retail plaza and pedestrian alley — described as “an open market configuration along the street, alley and courtyard” – will be critical to the project’s success.

Continue reading

Color problem puts brakes on Capitol Hill apartment project — UPDATE

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

It may be ticky-tacky stuff but something finally slowed down the pace of development on Capitol Hill, gumming up the opening of a new six-story apartment building along E Madison at 12th.

A Department of Planning and Development representative confirmed to CHS that the developers of Viva Capitol Hill, the six-story, 105-unit mixed-use apartment building finishing construction in the triangle at 12th, E Union and Madison, has been denied a temporary certificate of occupancy over an issue with the a discrepancy between the building’s approved design and its final form.

The rep said DPD and developer Alliance Residential are working to solve the “color siding issue.”

Continue reading