Construction begins on The Danforth, home to Whole Foods and 265 ‘luxury apartments’ on First Hill

Danforth Rendering 2

Danforth Rendering 1The 16-story tower where Whole Foods plans to open by 2018 will be filled with “luxury apartments” and will be known as The Danforth, the project’s developers said Thursday in an announcement marking the start of construction at Broadway and Madison.

“We expect The Danforth to be a destination for residents and workers of not just First Hill and Capitol Hill but also surrounding neighborhoods including downtown Seattle, Madison Park, Madison Valley and the Central District,” Todd Seneker, portfolio manager for Columbia Pacific Advisors, said in the “alternative investment” firm’s announcement. Continue reading

Agreement on $17M+ land lease will put Capitol Hill Station development on track for fall 2019 opening — UPDATE

In spring 2018, developer Gerding Edlen will finally break ground on the 100,000-square-foot Capitol Hill Station commercial, housing, and community space project. To do it, the developer needs to sign a land lease for the Sound Transit-owned property.

On Thursday, the Sound Transit board will vote on three 99-year lease agreements to hand over control of Sites A, B-South, and C — the paved over, fenced off parcels along Broadway between E Denny Way and E John. If approved, it would put Gerding on track to finish the project in fall 2019.

UPDATE (3:20 PM): The Sound Transit board unanimously approved the lease agreements Thursday afternoon, paving they way for Gerding Edlen to dive into the design phase of the project. “Today is a really exciting day,” said Sarah Lovell, a member of Sound Transit’s “transit orientated development” staff.

In addition to some 400 apartments, the project will include a retail “bazaar” anchored by a grocery store. Portland-based New Seasons Market and Capitol Hill’s Central Co-op are currently vying to take over the space. The project is also slated to include a daycare, community space, and permanent home for the Broadway Farmers Market.

Board members said the project would be an example for all future TOD projects along the expanding light rail system. Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff praised his staff following the vote, saying many had lived and breathed the deal for the past six months. “It’s easily the most ambitious TOD action the agency has ever taken,” he said.

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Too austere? Developers asked to liven up Seattle U’s 10-story 12th and Madison building

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Seattle University’s latest “major institution” design for a new building at 12th and Madison may actually be a little too institutional. That was the message from some members of the Seattle University Standing Advisory Committee during its meeting Monday night.

“It reminds me of a telecommunications building, to put it honestly,” said Capitol Hill architect John Feit, who sits on the committee tasked with reviewing the project’s designs and adherence to its master plan. Committee members primarily took issue with size and ratio of windows compared to the rest of the facade. Some cited the building’s proximity to Capitol Hill and the neighborhood arts districts as reasons for a more colorful palate. Continue reading

Town Hall hopes to become First Hill gateway as two 32-story towers set to join block

(Image: Michael Hanscom via Town Hall Seattle)

(Image: Michael Hanscom via Town Hall Seattle)

(Image: Town Hall Seattle)

(Image: Town Hall Seattle)

This August, the amazing old church that grew up to be First Hill’s Town Hall Seattle isn’t doing much but getting older as it reaches the 100th anniversary of its construction. Next August, the landmark building — and its block at 8th and Seneca — will begin a massive process of overhaul and change that will rebuild the old Town Hall and functionally rotate the structure’s presence to create what the nonprofit hopes is a new presence for the structure as a connector between downtown and a rapidly growing First Hill neighborhood. Along with the new orientation, more than 500 new neighbors are also coming to the block in a set of apartment towers planned to join the 100-year-old building.

Capital campaign director for Kevin Malgesini said that the corner of Town Hall closest to the I-5 lid Freeway Park is a focal point of the renovation project. “We’re looking at the way this corner links the two neighborhoods,” he said. “What it is is really visually connecting Freeway Park and First Hill, rather than First Hill turning its back on the city.”

Malgesini said the nondescript and closed-off nature of the building’s current west facade makes it unapproachable from downtown Seattle. “I think there are many people who see the building and don’t know what it is.” Continue reading

Board says plan for old house in new Broadway Hill Park project needs work

The East Design Review Board was not convinced plans for a project that would meld a net-zero energy apartment development with an early 1900s house on Capitol Hill are ready. Wednesday night, board members asked for changes to the development that will eventually rise behind Broadway Hill Park kicking the project back to architects for at least one more round of review.

The board favored many aspects of the project, but felt the addition to the to-be-relocated building needed some work and didn’t seem to, yet, fit well in the neighborhood.

“That’s my biggest concern with the entire project,” board chair Natalie Gualy said.

The problem could be resolved by changing the roof form or the style of the addition or by making other changes, board member Barbara Busetti said. 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)

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Peek inside 12th Ave’s shuttered plumbing shop to see this art installation

A temporary art installation has popped up behind the boarded up windows of a longtime plumbing business on 12th Ave. You can’t go inside, but a dozen holes drilled into the outside of the soon-to-be demolished house offer several vantage points of the diorama.

Developers of a mixed-use project that will replace the structure opened the house to artists from the Seattle Demo Project. Over the course of one recent Saturday the artists used some of the materials left behind by Jay Frees Plumbing and Heating to create the installation.

“We wanted to use elements from the plumbing shop,” said artist Max Bemberg. “It just looks like this tiny house, but it has a weird history to it.” The group was behind the 2015 project in the Central DistrictWe are the Ghosts.

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City Council considers 14 amendments to Seattle’s ‘Grand Bargain’ on affordable housing

A small crowd watches the old Marion Apartments building come down at Pine and Bellevue in 2012

A small crowd watches the old Marion Apartments building come down at Pine and Bellevue in 2012

Seattle City Council members have put forward 14 amendments to Mayor Ed Murray’s cornerstone affordable housing legislation, including one intended to help replace cheap apartments demolished during the city’s recent construction boom.

Last year, Murray unveiled his “Grand Bargain” with developers, where building size bonuses would be given for a payment or performance system that requires multi-family developers either make 5% to 8% of units income restricted or pay a fee into an affordable housing fund.

The Mandatory Affordable Housing measure is expected to create 6,000 income restricted units over the next 10 years. However, City Council member Lisa Herbold says the city has demolished roughly the same amount of “affordable” apartments over the past decade, particularly in desirable neighborhoods. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Housing shares development award with city

Everybody gets a trophy. Capitol Hill Housing's Chris Person unveils the award given to City Hall Friday

Everybody gets a trophy. Capitol Hill Housing’s Chris Persons unveils the award presented Friday to Office of Housing director Steve Walker (Image: CHS)

As the August 2 deadline for voters to approve the proposed $290 million housing levy approaches, affordable housing nonprofit Capitol Hill Housing is recognizing the city for its accomplishments with the 2009 levy, which will expire at the end of this year.

12th Ave Arts, developed by CHH, was awarded the Urban Land Institute Global Award for Excellence in 2015. CHH was given the option to receive a second award and chose to share it with the Office of Housing for its help in creating the development’s affordable housing. The award was presented at a small ceremony in the 12th Ave Arts lobby on Friday.

“We couldn’t have done this project without their support,” said CHH CEO Christopher Persons.

The residential part of 12th Ave Arts includes 88 units of affordable housing. The development was funded in part through Low Income Housing Tax Credits and New Market Tax Credits, and the 2009 housing levy was the largest source of funding for the building’s affordable housing. Office of Housing director Steve Walker called the project “an excellent example of the Seattle Housing Levy at work.”

Walker said that the upcoming housing levy vote was critical to continuing to create much-needed affordable housing in Seattle. “We are dealing with a tremendous amount of pressure on affordability on housing in our city,” said Walker. “The levy has been this foundational piece for 35 years.”

Review board gives final design approval to Piecora’s development

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 6.39.49 AMThe East Design Review Board narrowly signed-off Wednesday night on the revised plans for a six-story, 137-unit apartment and retail project set to rise at 14th and Madison.

In a 3 to 2 vote, the board passed the project through the recommendation phase of the Seattle review process, pushing the development passed the final public review gate before construction can begin.

CHS reported here on the development’s second attempt in the recommendation review phase and the the board’s concerns about the planned development’s E Madison-facing retail space as well as the project’s relationship to the surrounding neighborhood’s existing buildings and park.

The conditional approval still requires a few tweaks from developer Equity Residential and its architects from Ankrom Moisan but will start the clock on the construction phase of the project that is planned to fill the now-empty lot where Piecora’s used to stand.

Tweaks to Pike/Pine rules offer design dos and preservation don’ts

Optimism Brewing, which opened last year inside a fully overhaul auto-row era building on E Union, is neither a "do" or a "don't" -- the new guidelines don't address how best to preserve complete buildings (Image: CHS)

Optimism Brewing, which opened last year inside a fully overhaul auto-row era building on E Union, is neither a “do” or a “don’t” — the new guidelines don’t address how best to preserve complete buildings (Image: CHS)

After six years of projects subject to the Pike/Pine Neighborhood Design Guidelines, Capitol Hill has seen its fair share of good and bad buildings. The guidelines are used by the East Design Review Board as the basis to recommend design changes to new projects in the neighborhood. But explaining what exactly makes a good and bad design under the guidelines can be frustrating for board members, architects, and the public.

To better inform everyone on the intentions of the design guidelines, a proposed update adds an appendix featuring real world examples of good and bad designs. The 18-page addition was created by city-hired consultant, Makers Architecture and Urban Design.

“The hope was to have more information to guide on things that were really general,” said Dennis Meier, a strategic advisor with the Office of Planning and Community Development.

One example offered in the new appendix shows how the design guidelines favor a 12th and Pike facade over that of one built on Broadway:

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Hugo House announces 2016/2017 season, its first on First Hill

(Image: Hugo House)

(Image: Hugo House)

Literary nonprofit Hugo House has announced the lineup for this 2016-2017 season, its first full season in an interim stay on First Hill.

Hugo’s Molly Woolbright writes:

I’m so happy to announce Hugo House’s 2016–2017 season, which features a diverse lineup of established and emerging writers throughout our two series—Hugo Literary Series and Word Works—as well as our one-off events. We’re thrilled to welcome Mary Gaitskill, Téa Obreht, Colson Whitehead, Karen Russell, Terrance Hayes, Patricia Smith, Alexander Chee, and many more.

Some of the best news in the announcement will come for Capitol Hill fans of the nonprofit’s popular Lit Series: Continue reading