Here’s why Capitol Hill’s Galbraith House is being demolished

(Image courtesy John Fox)

Officials at Sound Mental Health tell CHS the decision to demolish a landmarked Capitol Hill mansion comes in the midst of planning about how the property owner can best serve the more than 20,000 people it helps each year struggling with addiction and mental health.

“The number of folks who need support help in our community has increased exponentially,” Sound spokesperson Steve McLean tells CHS.

“Our challenges are myriad — one of our challenges is space.”

CHS posted Tuesday about salvage underway on the 1904-built Galbraith House at 17th and Howell. An application to fully demolish the building that has been used as a Sound — formerly Sound Mental Health — facility and its neighboring carriage house has been approved by the city.

McLean tells CHS that Sound has been evaluating its options for the property for the past several years even before it became unusable in 2017 due to safety and structural issues. “At this stage of this process, we are assessing what we are going to do with that property,” he said. Continue reading

With hope for 2018 construction start, time to finalize design tweaks on $1.6B convention center expansion

After three years of design review, the final touches on plans for the $1.6 billion expansion of the Washington State Convention Center are down to the nitty gritty. The refined massing, the updated glazing pattern, the landmark lighting plan — each will be broken down as the project takes what could be its final bow in front of the review board Tuesday night at City Hall. Continue reading

First look at new plan for redevelopment of 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center

Monday’s MLK Day 2018 marchers will pass by the site of the next major change for the neighborhood around 23rd and Union. Here are the first designs for the new mixed market-rate and “inclusive development” project planned for the Midtown Center block.

The newly released plans from architects Weinstein A+U and the Berger Partnership include room for somewhere around 429 units in 273,000 square-feet of residential space, new restaurant and commercial space surrounding a large “public plaza,” and room for nearly 300 vehicles to park below ground. Continue reading

CHS Year in Review 2017 | Steps toward affordability in the year in Capitol Hill development

Did 2017 even happen or was it just an extension of 2016? Seattle’s housing market remains the “hottest” in the nation. Yay for existing homeowners. Sorry for renters and everybody else. Capitol Hill’s population is pushing 34,000 and, unfortunately, there is likely continuity in the mood around affordability and housing. In our review of 2016 development, more than 40% of respondents said they were less optimistic about the future of Capitol Hill — and renters were even more pessimistic.

Fortunately, 2017’s year in development around Capitol Hill was marked by small steps forward to address the affordability crisis while some of the last big remaining chunks of not-so-recently redeveloped blocks finally hit the market and found new buyers with new plans for six — and, maybe soon, seven — stories. Some buyers, however, were happy to keep things the way they are. For now.

Meanwhile in the Central District, tensions rose over the pangs of investment, change, and gentrification before settling into a different kind of march toward what seems like progress. It was a busy, fast moving year.

Below are the top stories CHS reported on in the year in development. Maybe this year, the future of the Hill will look a little brighter.

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Shaping Capitol Hill Housing’s affordable LGBTQ-focused senior housing project

Capitol Hill Housing hosted its first public discussion Tuesday night with the community it will house in preparation for shaping what it hopes will be the nation’s first LGBTQIA+-focused affordable senior housing at 14th and Union. It just might take a little longer to come up with the money to pay for it.

Walter Zisette, associate director for real estate at Capitol Hill Housing, told the crowd the first of its kind senior housing development was not among the projects selected this year by the city’s Office of Housing for some $100 million in affordable housing investments.

“That’s not stopping us at all,” Zisette said. “ It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

Zisette estimated CHH will need another year to find more financing to cover the project’s $24 million budget. He still felt the new project would be ready for occupants in 2020.

Despite the disappointing news, attendees presented plenty of ideas. The most frequent request was that CHH consider intergenerational opportunities for its occupants as the project comes together.

“It’s important not to be cut off from other people,” said Ty Nolan, an LGBTQIA+ elder and attendee. “And it’d be nice to have something like a head start or daycare where people can volunteer as grandparents.”

78-year-old Brandy Sedron-Kelley said allowing LGBTQIA+ seniors to connect with the next generation can prevent a lot of hate and misconception. Continue reading

The story of the proposed Capitol Hill landmark that somebody actually wants to be a landmark — UPDATE

The 1898-built Queen Anne Victorian home of a Seattle businessman that has survived through the changes of Capitol Hill at 15th and E Olive St. is lined up for purchase by a townhome developer. In a city scrambling to create more affordable housing and with a nearly 120-year-old house that has definitely seen better days, the trade probably seems worth it.

Neighbor and architect Jim Castanes disagrees and has launched an effort to have the Patrick J. Sullivan House designated for official city landmark protections. “We all love it in the neighborhood,” Castanes tells CHS, “plus its context on the corner is wonderful. It’s a nice little character area.”

UPDATE 12/20/2017 5:38 PM: “The bones are there.” The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board Wednesday night voted for the Patrick J. Sullivan House to move forward in the city’s process to designate architecturally important historical properties for protection. The decision came despite protests from Ann Thorson who now manages the estate of her late aunt purchased the 1898-built Queen Anne-style Victorian and lived there until 2010. “In her declining years, my aunt couldn’t take care of it and allowed to dilapidate,” Thorson said, telling the board that she cannot afford to restore the house and would like to sell the property. She told the board it will cost $1 million just for minimal restoration and said she and neighbors believe the house is a dangerous “eyesore.” Representatives from historical preservation groups including Historic Seattle and Friends of Historic Belltown spoke on behalf of the nomination saying the house may be in poor condition but that it remains a showcase of “integrity” as one of the few remaining examples of its kind in the city.

The board Wednesday night sided with the preservation groups and voted to move the nomination led by a neighbor of the house forward for a hearing in the new year. A resident who spoke during public comment said she had toured the house and hoped to make an offer on the property with the intention of restoring the structure. She told the board she wasn’t able to put in offer on the $2.2 million listing — “the pricing was set for development not restoration.” Landmarks designation “would force a lower price better for restoration,” the woman said.

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‘Pick two of your favorites from these images’ — Take this survey to help shape the next decade of Capitol Hill development

In November, CHS reported on the process to update the Capitol Hill Design Guidelines — Rule #1: No ugly buildings, we quipped. The guidelines, which haven’t been updated since 2005, serve as a neighborhood-specific vetting framework for projects that go through the city’s broader design review process. These guidelines inform how design review boards evaluate the exterior aesthetic of proposed projects (the guidelines include metrics such as building materials and building shape).

Community groups and neighbors highly engaged in the effort have provided feedback to shape the update — but officials are also collecting preferences from respondents via this Capitol Hill Design Guidelines Update survey:

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Design review: Pratt Fine Arts Center development in the CD, ‘upscale’ small efficiency project on Capitol Hill

A development set to create market-rate housing and reshape a key block of Central District arts and culture and a project that proves Capitol Hill microhousing is not dead will both take their debut bows in front of the East Design Review Board Wednesday night.

1900 S Jackson
The plan announced in spring to create a full-block expansion of the Pratt Fine Arts Center in conjunction with a six-story, 160-unit mixed-use will move forward Wednesday night as developer Daniels Real Estate brings its proposal up for early design guidance.

CHS reported in April on the Pratt project as the Central District cultural center that serves more than 4,000 art students a year marked its 40th anniversary by announcing the venture with Daniels Real Estate. The art center today has 19,000 square feet of studio space in its two existing buildings, which will remain open during the expansion. The expansion will grow the campus by adding 75% of the block between S Jackson and S Main and 19th and 20th Aves. Underground parking will have space for 100 cars. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Housing project at 14th and Union will create affordable LGBTQ-focused senior housing

True affordability means keeping rents in the city down for everybody. An effort to help Capitol Hill Housing shape “Seattle’s first LGBTQ-affirming affordable senior housing development” at 14th and Union will take another step forward next week with a Community Visioning Workshop:

LGBTQ-Affirming Affordable Senior Housing: Community Visioning Workshop

“We’ve heard consistently from the community about the need for a place where LGBTQ elders in the community could age,” said Ashwin Warrior, Capitol Hill Housing spokesperson. “LGBTQ seniors were also named a priority population for the 2016 Housing Levy which adds extra impetus to the efforts.” Continue reading

CHS Video | Happy 100th birthday to Kelly Springfield (or, why they’re ‘tearing down’ the old Capitol Hill REI)

Though her construction began in 1917, she was actually born a year later so you still have time to get a gift. 11th Ave’s Kelly Springfield Motor Truck building is celebrating 100 years on the planet with a massive facelift. And, let’s be honest. Pretty much all that will be left of her is her face. Longtime CHS video contributor David Albright captured the 11th Ave changes of the former auto row facility, then REI, then Value Village in motion:

Kelly Springfield Motor Truck Building (1917-2017) from David Albright on Vimeo.

Critics call it facadism. Progressive architects — and others — point to the preservation of character and volume. While, indeed, not much is preserved when the preservation projects dig in, the neighborhood’s Conservation Overlay District’s incentive program has produced a handful of very large, more interesting than average developments across Pike/Pine.

The Kelly Springfield office + preservation project is on its way to becoming another one. But getting there looks more like a demolition than a preservation. Continue reading