Design review: What could be Capitol Hill’s (and Seattle’s) first Passive House-certified mixed-use project

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-43-51-pmWednesday night’s session of the East Design Review Board includes what could be the final session before construction can begin on the Liberty Bank Building, a project that many hope can be a model for inclusive development in the Central District. Another trailblazing project — this one at 13th and Pike — could also pass through its final review Wednesday night.

Design review: 1300 E Pike

The project hoped to become Seattle’s first Passive House-certified mixed-use project will come to the board with developers Maria Barrientos and Cascade Built teaming up with architects Weber Thompson to take another crack at approval after falling just short in September. Continue reading

What the Liberty Bank Building will look like

Black ownership, Black identity, Black residents — there is a lot hinging on the design plans for the six-story, mixed use Liberty Bank Building. The project, part of a wave of new development around 23rd and Union, takes what could be its final step in the design review process this week.

Last week, community members heard about the proposed design and progress on the project to fill the lot that used to be home to the Liberty Bank, the West Coast’s first black-owned bank.

Nonprofit developer Capitol Hill Housing is hoping the community support that has helped shaped the project thus far will be on display at Wednesday night’s design review session.

“We would be very grateful for that because your voice matters,” CHH’s Walter Zisette told community members last week before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Design review: 2320 E Union St

The building is designed to have 115 studio, one-bedroom and two bedroom apartments and four commercial spaces. Apartments will be available at 30 to 60% of the area median income, ranging in price from $434 to $1,154. Continue reading

City People’s has plan to stay in Madison Valley through 2017

(Image: City People's)

(Image: City People’s)

For Central Seattleites who buy their season’s greetings greenery at Madison Valley’s City People’s, a visit for the holidays won’t be quite as bittersweet with news the garden store is working on a lease that will keep the much loved retailer in its longtime home for another year.

Here’s the announcement made to customers this weekend:

We wanted to let you know that future City People’s Garden Store owners, Alison Greene and Jose Gonzales, are in negotiations for an 11-month lease to remain at our current location through 2017. The redevelopment project at the site has been delayed, providing this opportunity. The agreement is in the works with the property owners and developers, and they are hopeful this will go through. Their goal is for the store to reopen in February, with many of its current employees, business as usual — as they continue their effort in finding a more permanent site. We will keep you posted and appreciate your continued love and support! Stay tuned!

The store’s management says the plan would be for City People’s to finish up the holiday season, close for January, and then reopen in the new year for another 11 months in Madison Valley.

City People’s had been heading into what was expected to be its final holiday in Madison Valley doing the kinds of things it has done to help connect Seattle to its dirt since its 1979 founding on Capitol Hill at 19th and Republican. In late October, plans for the four-story PCC-centered, mixed-use development lined up for the property got kicked back in the design review process helping to give the retailer a longer lease on life along E Madison.

In March, CHS broke the news on the plans for the City People’s ownership to sell the land to developer The Velmeir Companies, a Michigan-based “full service commercial retail development company.” This fall, Dianne Casper, one of the longtime owners of City People’s and its unusually large tract of E Madison land, said the company held out for the right partner despite interest from developers of luxury condos and pharmacy chains. “This time we are leaving a legacy to be proud of,” she said.

Get ready to help shape four new seven-story buildings at Capitol Hill Station

It is showtime. After years of planning, December 14th brings the start of the public design review process to shape the four seven-story buildings that will create 444 affordable and market-rate apartments plus thousands of square feet commercial and community space surrounding Broadway’s Capitol Hill Station:

118 Broadway E: EDG application proposing a 7-story apartment structure containing 153 units & ground level retail. 1830 Broadway: EDG application proposing a 7-story apartment structure containing 92 units & ground level child care facility & retail. 923 E John St: EDG application proposing a 7-story apartment structure containing 99 units & a community room at ground level. 123 10th Ave E: EDG application proposing a 7-story apartment structure containing 100 units & ground level retail.

Design review: 118 Broadway E — Capitol Hill Station development

The development will finally put the two-acres of fenced-off empty pavement around Capitol Hill Station into motion sometime next year. It will also begin a new stream of communications around the project, eventually helping the neighborhood navigate another two years of major construction at the site. But first there are the pesky details of what it all is going to look like. Continue reading

Design board looks at First Hill Apartments, Central District Community House project

The First Hill Apartments project set to rise above Union

The First Hill Apartments project set to rise above Union

The East Design Review Board Wednesday night will take up one project set to create new First Hill neighbors for the city’s first pavement park. Meanwhile, an important social services organization is set to begin the design process to create an important new facility in the Central District — and with it, 52 affordable places to live for its clients.

First Hill Apartments — 1320 University
It’s hard to believe the project name First Hill Apartments wasn’t already snatched up. But there you go. Once this University St, just off Broadway development is complete, the name will be off the board.

The planned seven-story, 36-unit building with around 5,000 square feet of commercial space is envisioned as having a “transparent and porous” street-level retail component that features “an integrated design between the building, sidewalk, and park, blurring the public and private areas,” following the design board’s guidance in the sessions first go round in March. Continue reading

CHS Pics | ‘X’ marks the spot above Capitol Hill’s newest ‘luxury community,’ the Excelsior Apartments

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

Nope, the Paramount Theater hasn’t moved up-Hill. New eye-catching signage went up earlier this week on the newly opened Excelsior Apartments and neighbors and passersby are definitely noticing. That’s show biz.

According a person familiar with the building’s management, a small amount of complaints began after only a few days of the new signs’ debuts. The big, tall sign hanging above the sidewalk at Pine and Bellevue certainly is getting noticed. But there is also a giant red “X” now on top of the development’s southeast corner that is catching plenty of eyes.

The permanent features tie into the building’s marketing of auto row-era Capitol Hill stylings and x-themed slogans: xplore, xciting, xperience… etc. Continue reading

City green-lights plans for demolition of 14th Ave church, planned development on hold

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The City of Seattle has signed off on a permit to demolish a 109-year-old church on 14th Ave.

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections issued the permit last week but when the house of worship owned by the Seattle Word of God Church will be demolished isn’t yet clear.

Word of God Church Pastor Curtis Taylor wouldn’t speak to details about the demolition, and a representative with the demolition contractor Ryatt Construction said the company didn’t have information about when the church would be torn down.

According to city documents, 22 townhouses were being planned to fill the lot, but the project has been canceled, a city permit technician supervisor confirmed. Continue reading

Developer completes 12th Ave affordable housing trifecta

Reverb apartments as seen from the rooftop of its sister building, Decibel.

Reverb apartments as seen from the rooftop of its sister building, Decibel.

In 2014, CHS wondered whether Capitol Hill’s affordable housing might not be built on Capitol Hill but in the neighborhoods to the south along 12th Ave. Today, a trio of Capitol Hill-adjacent affordable housing developments from Spectrum Development Solutions has been completed.

Reverb Apartments, the final of three developments in the 12th and Alder area of the Central District, threw an open house party on Thursday featuring music and a community event to show off the newly opened building.

“It’s been a long journey, and we’re really excited to be a part of the community and to play hopefully an important role in bringing workforce housing to this area. It’s much needed,” Spectrum’s Jake McKinstry told CHS.

Across the three buildings, 56 units qualify as affordable with the other projects priced as “workforce” housing designed to appeal to young, working professionals willing to sacrifice space and perks like parking in exchange for proximity to employment centers and public transit. Spectrum is focusing on “the missing middle” — teachers, nurses and other young professionals, who are trying to live near their jobs and don’t qualify for affordable housing, McKinstry said. Continue reading

An artful goodbye to 1901-built Capitol Hill house set to make way for apartment building

Add a funeral, of sorts, to your Capitol Hill weekend plans. We introduced you to the Seattle Demo Project as the collaborative of artists, designers, and architects activated “the ghosts” of a Central District house slated for demolition. Their latest muse has been the single-family style, 1901 built house at the corner of 12th and Thomas. Thursday night, the group is marking their final show inside the 115-year-old house: Continue reading

Enjoy the Annapurnas and The Redwoods you know and love… 2017 is coming

In this week of regrets and coulda, woulda, shouldas, here is an opportunity to get ahead of the sadness and enjoy some of your favorite things before… well, things change.

Two design reviews being planned for the start of 2017 have big implications for two Capitol Hill small businesses that have grown into neighborhood favorites.

First, on January 11th, the first review is planned for the seven-story apartment building slated to replace the block where The Redwood stands today.

Two weeks later, subterranean Broadway eatery Annapurna and its street-level Yeti Bar will watch as the six-story mixed-use project set to replace its home gets its first review.

Both procedural events will start the clock ticking on the end as we know it for the popular neighborhood joints. You will have at least a year for the design review process to play out and typically several more months for the demolition and construction permits to be lined up. Continue reading

Why they’re building a hotel and apartment building on Harvard Ave

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-4-13-49-pmAdding some hotel space and apartments to Capitol Hill was an easy decision for Jon Coulter and his business partners Rod McClaskey and Terry Boyle.

In spite of the common perception of soaring rents and developers making money hand over fist, Coulter says they are running up against some softness in the market, at least in the higher-end range where they build.

“The pressure of the rents is downward,” Coulter said. “We’re testing the top of the food chain.”

Design review: 1818 Harvard Ave

And he’s expecting that downward pressure to keep up, with hundreds, if not thousands of new units coming online over the next few years.

“We’re not sure what 380 square feet will get us in Capitol Hill in three years when it’s done,” Coulter said. Continue reading

Remove I-5

Tuesday night, the Lid I-5 volunteer group (lidi5.org) achieved an important milestone with an invitation to present in front of the Washington State Convention Center board of directors to “share their work on community engagement, their motivations and goals, and how the Convention Center can contribute to making the vision a reality.” CHS reported in September on the group’s progress as it pursues the inclusion of funding for a lid study in the public benefits the planned expansion of the convention center must deliver.

But when it comes to addressing the rift created by having a major freeway bisecting the city and keeping Capitol Hill neighbors from more freely mixing with their downtown brothers and sisters, maybe simply lidding I-5 isn’t enough. Maybe the massive freeway canyon should be filled and the city repaired:

For several hours a days, the freeway and extensive network of interchanges are gridlocked into a major obstacle rather than an asset. And to make the loss all the worse, the land adjacent to Downtown, South Lake Union, and Eastlake is extremely valuable. If you haven’t noticed, land in those neighborhood is worth a crazy amount of money. The Seattle Times got $62.5 million for two full blocks it sold to Onni Group in 2013. Removing I-5 between I-90 and SR-520 would free up more than 50 blocks by my rough calculation, which could mean more than a billion dollars worth of land. Stricken with budget shortages, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) might be forced to sell off Downtown Seattle land to finance its tireless efforts in suburbia.

What could Capitol Hill and our Central Seattle neighborhoods gain in the cauterization?

Eastlake and South Lake Union flow smoothy into Capitol Hill without I-5 in the way. First Hill suddenly becomes integrated with Downtown and Pioneer Square, providing much easier and more pleasant pedestrian access. The hole blasted in the International District disappears. Intersections that used to cause big problems for bus reliability like Denny Way and I-5 would move more steadily rather than getting backed up from on-ramp traffic. And in I-5’s absence, Sound Transit’s growing light rail network can pick up the slack to carry commuters Downtown.

Check out the whole thing here: What’s Better Than A Lid? Remove I-5 Entirely From Central Seattle.