Our last nostalgic CHS post ever* — Century-old plumbing business another piece of old Capitol Hill making way for development 

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Not many businesses on Capitol Hill can trace their history as far back as 1909. Bruce Good, owner of 12th Ave’s Jay Frees Plumbing and Heating, is the latest owner in a century-old line of repairmen at the helm of this Capitol Hill institution. Now, one chapter in the business appears to be nearing an end. Also ending, nostalgic business closing stories on CHS (for plumbers, anyway).

A duo of industrious microhousing developers are in the early stages of planning  a mixed-use development on the narrow property, located between E. Olive St and E. Howell Kelten Johnson and Tyler Carr  haven’t yet purchased the property, but their company is in the early stages of developing a 20-unit building with a small commercial space.

Johnson told CHS it was too early to discuss any details or when demolition of the plumbing building might happen, though he did say the project would not be microhousing. Early plans call for about 20 studio apartments and a few parking spaces in the back of the building.

For decades, the plumbing business has occupied a transformed single-family house, which today is sits sandwiched between two apartment complexes.

According to the company’s history, Jay Frees plumbing started in 1909 when Capitol Hill Plumbing opened on 10th Ave. In 1947, local plumber Frees bought the business and eventually moved it to 12th Ave. He ran the business for 50 years before handing it over to Good, who had been working as a plumber and repairman in the neighborhood since the 1970s. Good has kept the Frees name and signage ever since.

CHS tried to reach Good several times to talk about the future of his business. Despite the upheaval surrounding the business, it seems this old school Capitol Hill plumber is still finding plenty of work in the neighborhood.

After Seattle sets out to remind that Capitol Hill’s gentrification is man-made

Mudede (Image: Josh Kelety)

Mudede (Image: Josh Kelety)

With rents in Seattle still through the roof and Capitol Hill in a state of frenzied construction, Charles Mudede, film critic and writer for The Stranger, has brought together After Seattle, an exhibition of multi-media art documenting and acknowledging the period of intense transition Seattle is currently facing.

Mudede, who moved to Seattle in 1989, has seen Seattle in numerous states of existence, from the effects of “white-flight” on Seattle’s inner city during the 80s to the Microsoft boom of the 90s and the eventual suburban housing bubble collapse in 2008. But he says that the “frenetic” economic activity of the Amazon era represents and even greater shift due to the sudden massive concentration of capital within the city, and the resulting warping face of the city he once knew.

“This particular boom hit me forcefully,” said Mudede. “this is new and it’s going to have consequences.”

He maintains the show won’t try to predict with absolute certainty what will come out of Seattle’s current throes of evolution. “I just wanted to do a show that didn’t say what exactly, where all this would lead, but just to recognize that it has to go somewhere.”

The show opens at 12th Ave’s Hedreen Gallery on Thursday night, and will run for one month. Featured artists include Tendai Maraie from the experimental hip hop group Shabazz Palaces, Seattle civil engineer Cary Moon, photographer Virginia Wilcox, and musician and Beatles descendant Sean Ono Lennon. The works range from photography of strangers around Capitol Hill to a film bombarding the viewer with data about the various ways Seattle is changing. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Bullitt Center becomes world’s first ‘living’ office building

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(Image: CHS)

One day, thinking robots will deeply challenge our notion of what constitutes a living thing. Thinking buildings that completely sustain themselves may do the same and E Madison’s Bullitt Center is evidently leading the way.

Billed as the greenest commercial building in the world, the Bullitt Center was recently awarded the Living Building Certification. It’s the first office building to get the designation, considered the most rigorous sustainability certification in the world. CHS wrote about the Bullitt’s nomination last year. We were also there when it opened to much applause and greater expectations in April 2013.

The Living Building certification is awarded to buildings that essentially operate as living organisms — one that is self-sufficent for water and energy and actively promotes the health of its occupants and surrounding environment.

Solar panels atop the 15th and Madison building produce an excess amount of energy sold back to Seattle City Light, human waste is composted, graywater is treated onsite, and the estimated 1,000 different building materials and products used to build the center are devoid of hundreds of typical toxic chemicals.

Running it all is the building’s “brain,” which automatically adjusts systems to optimize for the for the time of day, time of year, the number of people in the building, CO2 levels, and weather.

“We think of this building as a living thing,” said Bullitt spokesperson Brad Kahn. Continue reading

Seattle looks to ‘improve community dialogue on design review’ — Meanwhile, MLK/Union 4-story faces the board

(Image: The Madrona Company)

(Images: The Madrona Company)

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 3.11.53 PMCHS has covered quite a few design reviews. Which means we’ve seen quite a lot of frustrated citizenry. The relationship between the design review board volunteers and the community members who come out to speak up on a neighborhood project was, perhaps, summed up best by this quote from a 2010 review of the Broadway building that is today known as The Lyric.

“You’re complaining in the wrong format.”

The City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development is seeking to change that relationship with an effort to change the review program.

The overhaul has three stated goals:

  • Identify options to make the design review process more efficient and accessible
  • Improve community dialogue on design review
  • Identify new and emerging technologies for more effective community engagement

We imagine any of you who have attended a review might have a bit to say about those. Unsurprisingly, there’s a survey. More on the design review improvements, below.

First, you can check out the design review process as it stands today with a session Wednesday night that could be the final step for a project to change the empty lot used as a community garden at MLK and Union into a “a 4-story structure containing 41 apartment units above 6,091 sq. ft. of commercial space.” Continue reading

Which (relatively) giant retailer is coming to E Pike this summer?

IMG_5263Site Plan (3)

If you're looking for clues, this design rendering probably can't be trusted

If you’re looking for clues, this design rendering probably can’t be trusted

At 10,437 square feet, whatever new store is planned to open on E Pike in the new AVA Capitol Hill building this summer will instantly become one of the bigger retailers in the neighborhood.

But, so far, the building’s developers at AvalonBay Communities aren’t talking.

CHS asked the AVA folks about new permit paperwork that showed up earlier this month for a relatively huge new store fronting the 600 block of E Pike in the seven-story, 245-unit, mixed-use project under construction at the site of the former Phil Smart Mercedes dealership.

According to permits, the project’s plans for multiple retail units along the street have been pushed aside in favor of one combined “retail store” in the project. At just over 10,000 square feet, the store would be about half the size of Elliott Bay Book Company, for example, but twice the size of the still-empty OfficeMax that shuttered on Broadway earlier this year. The planned Broadway Whole Foods, on the other hand, will be four times larger than our new, unidentified Pike/Pine retailer.

For your speculating pleasure, 10,400 square feet is plenty of room for an Apple Store which reportedly were averaging around 8,400 square feet of store space a few years back. We have no idea how big a space Uniqlo needs, however.

The AVA Capitol Hill building is slated to open in August 2015.

The future of service in Pike/Pine -- here's what the AVA Capitol Hill will look like

The future of service in Pike/Pine — here’s what the AVA Capitol Hill will look like

600+ new apartments around Capitol Hill this year, even more ready in 2016

(Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

(Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 4.40.55 PM

Seattle in Progress and more than 90 either planned or permitted (below)

Seattle in Progress shows 23 projects completed around Capitol Hill in the past year (top) and more than 90 either planned or permitted (below)

Greater Capitol Hill will be home to at least 600 new apartment units in 2015 as the most recent wave of ongoing construction projects finally finish up. A recent report from Dupre+Scott Apartment Advisors projects 729 new units will open in 2016 and 707 in 2017.

In all likelihood, the true number will be even higher as the Dupre+Scott report doesn’t count microhousing, subsidized/nonprofit housing, or buildings that have under 20 units.

Last year, the real estate analysts counted 778 new units in the Capitol Hill region, which includes Eastlake and First Hill. Across the Puget Sound, a record total of 12,000 apartments are expected to open this year, Scott said. Some 48,000 apartments are expected to open in the region by 2019.

So can all this new supply keep up with demand and put the brakes on climbing rents? Continue reading

Maryland firm makes $89 million Capitol Hill buy-in with Sunset Electric and REO Flats

A Maryland-based real estate investment firm has thrown down $89 million to acquire two new preservation-minded, mixed use buildings in the heart of Pike/Pine.

In two separate deals, ASB Real Estate Investments has acquired Sunset Electric and REO Flats – a pair of “beachhead” Seattle investments that the company says is a perfect complement to its $5.7 billion portfolio spread across the U.S.

The acquisitions underscore how developers and investors are increasingly looking to Capitol Hill as the ideal neighborhood to house (and profit from) Amazon and Seattle tech’s ballooning workforce.

In a statement, CIO David Quigly sang the praises of Capitol Hill, including its proximity to South Lake Union.

These acquisitions fit within our overall portfolio strategy to invest in dynamic urban neighborhoods and commercial districts in leading U.S. cities. Capitol Hill is one of Seattle’s most attractive places to live for millennials—it’s extremely
pedestrian friendly and convenient to the employment centers in downtown and South Lake Union. Seattle, meanwhile, commands one of the country’s healthiest local economies, and ASB is pleased to gain a beachhead in the market.

Arizona-based Wolff Co. sold the seven story, 92-unit Sunset building for $41.6 million or $456,000 per unit (not accounting for the value of the building’s four vast commercial spaces). In 2012, Wolff paid $6.7 million for the poster-covered, empty building at the corner of 11th and Pine. The Weber Thompson-designed project was just selected as the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce building of the year. “The seven-story building at 1111 E. Pine incorporates a two-story brick facade that was part of a 1926 auto-row building. The old facade was integrated into the new structure and frames the street-level retail,” the DJC writes.

Hill-based Madrona Real Estate Services and a New York investment partner sold the 14th and E Pike REO Flats for $47 million, according to property records. Madrona acquired the property including the 1925 converted storefronts in 2008 for $1.5 million according to King County records. The building had served as a printing shop in the past. While the project was extremely friendly about its (temporary) displacement of a coffee shop, other longtime businesses including 60 Minute Photo were pushed asideJohnson Architects designed the building with around 100 residential units.

Sunset Electric was one of the first major projects to open in Pike/Pine that used the city’s 2009 preservation incentive program. The incentives allowed Sunset’s developers to build a fifth floor of residential units in exchange for keeping parts of the original 1926-built facade. REO Flats benefitted from the incentive program as well. The city is now considering expanding the preservation incentive program to other neighborhoods in Seattle.

In addition more than 200 residents, both buildings are home to food and drink establishments with roots of varying depths on Capitol Hill. REO includes Omega Ouzeri, Nue, and Porchlight Coffee while the Sunset is home to Stout.

In the spirit of Costco Coffee and Pine/Pike, Vulcan redeveloping Cal Anderson as ‘Entitlement Land’

CBhI8GWUkAAWuUfThere have been a few extra special Capitol Hill April Fool’s sign pranks over the years —

2015 brings a swipe at developer Vulcan and a farcical project for the development giant to redevelop Cal Anderson Park.

While the jokes seem mostly centered on Vulcan’s work in South Lake Union, locals might want to turn their attention to the company’s plans south of Capitol Hill where an executive recently predicted that Yesler Terrace in 10 years “is going to be kind of like South Lake Union.” Continue reading

A parking plan to keep old Honda dealership active until Convention Center expansion

Over the weekend, Capitol Hill was crawling with convention goers thanks to the 2015 Emerald City Comicon. Many of the super hero-costumed attendees were unaware of the evil lurking below — a giant potential blank space between Capitol Hill and downtown after Honda of Seattle emptied its showroom and cleared its lots for a move to SoDo from its longtime Olive and Boren campus.

The former Honda of Seattle dealership and lots are planned to be part of the Washington Convention Center’s $1 billion expansion hoped to begin construction after a lengthy public process by 2017.

But fear not, super heroes and pedestrians, CHS is told the Honda properties will be put to use in the best way its new owners know possible over the next two years.

Parking. Continue reading

23rd Ave builds up with second big project at Union, ‘missing tooth’ building at Madison

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 9.50.17 AMThe next wave in a tide of change around 23rd and Union will take shape Wednesday night as another mixed-use development planned for the intersection takes its first bow in the Seattle design review process. Meanwhile, the board will also take what could be one last look at a long-planned apartment project for another connective point between Capitol Hill and the Central District at 23rd and Madison

2220 E Union
Design Review Early Design Guidance application proposing a 6-story building containing 146 residential units and 11760 sq.ft. of retail. Parking for 88 vehicles to be provided at and below grade.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 9.50.37 AMIn November, CHS reported on the plan for Lake Union Partners to acquire and develop its second corner at 23rd and Union. Last spring, change dug in on the southwest corner as work finally began on a long-planned, six-story apartment and retail project. Continue reading