Midtown design looks too much like SoLU, not enough like the CD — Can new Central Area Design Review Board help?

Public comment and the East Design Review Board aligned Wednesday night in agreement that the latest designs for the proposed redevelopment of the Central District’s Midtown Center did not meet expectations for recognizing the history and the culture of African Americans and Black Seattle at 23rd and Union.

The “portals” that open to the street from Midtown: Public Plaza are still not open enough to foster a strong connection to the surrounding neighborhood and to support the hoped-for Black-owned businesses inside — the building needs to do more than utilize masonry to recognize African American-style architecture from the neighborhood — the design needs more “Afro-centric” colors and patterns and, as currently designed, looks too “South Lake Union” — features like the open plazas and a proposed video screen installation to showcase local arts and history need to have more fleshed out programming plans — a proposal to keep costs down on the three building development with connecting skywalks and fewer elevators and stairs needs more thought — and more.

They also agreed on something else.

The review board covering neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Montlake, and First Hill wasn’t necessarily the best body to make the decision.

“How is the Central Area design team not looking at this?,” one speaker asked during the public comment portion of Wednesday’s night’s review, the final stage for the project in the city’s public design process. She also stated the obvious — each member of the design board Wednesday night was white. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Africatown art project shows ‘what’s possible’ in the Central District

The Central District’s Midtown Center got a new paint job over the weekend as hundreds of volunteers came together, brushes and rollers in hand, to paint a massive mural to demonstrate what the neighborhood could look like before the property is redeveloped in 2019.

“What we’re doing is trying to make a statement in the last few months of this property, to talk about history and the potential future of the neighborhood,” said Sara Zewde, a past Africatown board member. “The future redevelopment retail should incubate small, black-owned businesses from this neighborhood and we’re going to demonstrate the potential for that in this market space.” Continue reading

For first time in forever, developer planning a new Capitol Hill condo building

The Capitol Hill condo project will be a twin to this development already underway in Eastlake (Image: Build Urban)

They’re far from frozen but industry analysts claim Seattle’s rents have finally cooled. Want further proof? A Seattle developer has announced plans to pass over the lucrative rental market and take on all the risk — and, hopefully, all of the reward — of building a condominium building on Capitol Hill.

A planned six-story condominium development at 127 Bellevue E will be made up of 44 small, relatively inexpensive units you can buy, not rent.

“The plan is to provide affordable, walkable, sustainable housing in a city that has a shortage of inventory in core locations,” Ed Gallaudet, president of developer Build Urban, said. Continue reading

City Council takes up landmarking of Broadway’s Eldridge Tire building

Capitol Hill’s next landmark is set to begin its path through the Seattle City Council on the way to official historical protection.

Broadway’s Mission Revival-styled Eldridge Tire Company won designation last year after the landmarks board agreed the auto row-era design was worthy of protection. Continue reading

Buyer plans two new buildings to join ‘adaptive reuse’ overhaul of Knights of Columbus property

(Image: City of Seattle)

The future of Harvard Ave’s 106-year-old Knights of Columbus building is a massive adaptive reuse project sandwiched by two new apartment buildings, according to early planning by the property’s new owner, SRM Development.

The Spokane-based developer of multifamily and commercial properties struck a deal for the building and its two surface parking lots with Grand Knight Tom Joyce that will net the Knights of Columbus, Seattle Council 676 some $18.55 million, according to King County records. Continue reading

At Midtown Center, community hopes for Central District culture in redevelopment’s design

23rd and Union

The Central Area Land Use Review Committee hosted a meeting last week for developers and neighbors to discuss the ongoing Midtown Center project at 23rd and Union with the community. And while the meeting was ostensibly focused on the design of the project, neighbors and advocates at the meeting reminded developers of the block’s importance in the African American community’s past — and future — in Seattle.

The community meeting was a preview for an upcoming design review meeting that will take place July 18th at Seattle University that could be the project’s final step in the review process for the much watched development:

Design review: 2301 E Union

The project moved forward in the design process in January as many community members said they hoped to see more thought given to design that highlighted the corner’s place in African American culture in the city. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Community meeting will give early look at final designs for Midtown Center redevelopment

Don’t worry — this is only the massing concept for the four-piece apartment building being shaped for the Midtown block

In July, the long awaited redevelopment of the Central District’s Midtown Center will finally take its last step in the design review process. But first, Wednesday night, neighbors will get a preview of the final plans as the Central Area Land Use Review Committee community group hosts representatives from developer Lake Union Partners and architect Weinstein A+U for an open meeting to discuss the latest designs:

Midtown Center Design Community Meeting

Continue reading

Here’s how to keep track of two years of construction coming around Capitol Hill Station

Capitol Hill Housing’s Station House is slated to open in 2019

The ribbon has been cut on the project to surround Capitol Hill Station with housing, retail, and community development. Come 2020, commercial activity will return to the block for the first time since 2006 and a whole bunch of new Capitol Hill neighbors will call this stretch of Broadway home. But, first, current neighbors need to deal with two years of construction and the rise of two new tower cranes in the heart of Broadway. Here’s how to keep up to date.

This Capitol Hill Station Project Page from the development’s lead contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis will be used to keep the neighborhood alerted to coming construction, the latest milestones, and when big new elements of the construction process will be moving into place, a project representative tells CHS.

The first update for July deals with a key element of the earliest stages of the project — digging up a lot of dirt: Continue reading

To make sure Capitol Hill’s Bullitt Center does not stand alone, Seattle looks to boost Living Buildings

(Image: Bullitt Center)

Over the years since the Bullitt Center first rose on Capitol Hill, Seattle has tried to build a system to repeat the project’s success across the city. Seattle is, of course, facing an affordability crisis — but it also faces the risks of continued global warming and climate change. In an effort to make construction of super-duper environmentally friendly buildings more attractive, the Seattle City Council Monday is ready to approve new legislation giving developers more incentives, and a lighter punishment for a failed attempt to create “Living Buildings.”

The original Living Building program started as a pilot program in 2010, (amended in 2012, 2014 and 2016) to allow up to 20 buildings to be constructed. By meeting energy and water use reduction, property owners would be permitted a bit more density than the zoning would typically allow. Continue reading