‘Single family home neighborhood’ — the Madison Valley PCC mixed-use battle

An $85 filing fee — and lots of billable hours — is holding up a Madison Valley mixed-use apartments and PCC grocery project but the long, drawn out Seattle process to develop the property might finally be set to move forward.

Conflict between a community group attempting to use the State Environmental Policy Act as a defensive blanket and developer Velmeir Companies will come to a head by December as the city’s Hearing Examiner is slated to make a decision on an appeal against the project.

Save Madison Valley, a group aimed at maintaining the area as a “single family home neighborhood,” has been working, it says, to ensure that Velmeir commits to mitigating the environmental impacts of its 82-unit, mixed-use six-story development at 2925 E Madison.

The project passed through the first stage of the design review process finally in January 2017 after a relatively rare three sessions in front of the board. The design from Meng Strazzara was fully signed off on last September — but the project isn’t yet close to breaking ground.

Save Madison Valley is asking the Hearing Examiner to reverse the design review decision and the city’s determination on the project’s environmental impact and require the development to undergo new rounds of costly, time consuming review. It’s a strategy cut from similar cloth to the legal fight holding up Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program that has cost the city plenty in legal fees — and maybe 717 affordable apartment units.

But Velmeir may not have to wait for December to move forward. Continue reading

Design review: Bellevue Court Apartments and their Instagram-worthy Gasworks views

When it comes to Capitol Hill design reviews, we don’t usually mention the developer’s Instagram. But Yu Xiahou’s feed is pretty amazing. The design for his proposed Bellevue Court Apartments? We’ll find out what the board thinks soon.

Xiahou’s four-story, 43-unit proposal for the western edge of Capitol Hill just off Belmont Ave E with — one November 2017 post to his Instragram feed promises — Gasworks and Eastlake views is slated to come before the East Design Review Board Wednesday night:

Design Review: 1020 Bellevue Ct E

Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Roy Vue ‘garden apartments’ move forward in Seattle landmarks process

A coalition of veteran preservation advocates and a relatively fresh-faced nonprofit dedicated to Capitol Hill history has won its first round in what is hoped might eventually be a series of victories establishing landmarks protections for important neighborhood buildings.

The Seattle Landmarks Board Wednesday night voted unanimously to approve the nomination of Capitol Hill’s 94-year-old Roy Vue “garden apartments” for protections of its historic exterior, interior and landscaping features. The 600 block Bellevue Ave E apartment building will now move forward in the process with the board set to make its final designation on the property in coming weeks.

Eugenia Woo of Historic Seattle praised the building’s “high level of integrity” and said it was crucial the Roy Vue be protected in its complete “garden apartment” vision “because the garden, the courtyard, and the building were integral to the whole design.”

The Roy Vue’s unique flipped “U” design with a garden courtyard sited away from the street is the equivalent of the “Seattle freeze” of the city’s historic buildings, one board member quipped, with a dignified wall facing Bellevue but a hidden jewel of a garden tucked away inside.

Bolstered by public comment from many of the Roy Vue’s current tenants in support of protecting the building they call home, the vote marked the first successful step in a collaboration between the Historic Seattle organization that has long been dedicated to preservation in the city and the Capitol Hill Historical Society as the neighborhood group made its first foray into the official landmarks fray. Continue reading

Design review: ‘Upscale’ microhousing must play nice with neighbors on Harvard Ave E

Neighbor issues on Harvard Ave E

A project to replace what just might the simplest, saddest little two-unit apartment building on Capitol Hill with an eight-story, 71-unit development will take what should be its final bow in front of the East Design Review Board Wednesday night.

Design Review: 225 Harvard Ave E

Designed by Cone Architecture and developed by Highpoint Investments, the project in the 200 block of Harvard Ave E between E Olive Way and Thomas will rise an extra story with its plans for 66 “small efficiency dwelling units” and a set of five standard “efficiency units.” Continue reading

Process begins for the end of the Central District’s Midtown Center as we know it

(Image: Forterra)

Change set to split the community around 23rd and Union among those who consider it a central part of the neighborhood’s social fabric and those who will be happy to see it go is finally coming. Preliminary paperwork has been filed for the demolition of Midtown Center.

The six demolition permit applications filed October 4th aren’t anywhere near approval from the City of Seattle but the paperwork is yet another reminder that the corner is set for its latest and biggest transformation yet.

The permits cover the existing and still operating commercial buildings in the center as well as the empty residential structures on the block and the small cafe in the middle of the parking lot. “Commercial bldg. (The small café). I don’t know the address, perhaps 2301 23rd Ave,” the application for that demolition reads. Continue reading

Design review: 19 new townhomes on 12th Ave E, 111 units on 10th Ave — UPDATE

Much has been made of the condo revival of 2018 but on Capitol Hill over the past decade, the king of new home ownership has been the townhouse. Wednesday night, a project destined to create 19 more of the homes along 12th Ave E will take what could be its final pass in front of the design review board.

Design review: 506 12th Ave E

The project to turn the land currently home to the six-unit Lance Apartments at 506 12th Ave E has been in motion since developer Isola Homes bought the land in 2016 for $3.5 million. Ownership has passed across a couple Isola-related LLCs over the years including a transaction in the King County records that shows one Isola-related LLC buying the property from another for $5.3 million in July 2018. Seems like a good deal. The project is now set up for development company Mirra Homes to create four, three-story townhomes featuring a total of 19 units and parking for 19 vehicles. Continue reading

Capitol Hill leather and kink shop ready to breathe life back into Pike/Pine building with history of silent movies, auto row rubber, burlesque rumors, and, um, toy repair

Left to right: Jo Wellington, Raine Walker, Jeff Henness (Image: Tom Heuser. June, 2018)

Over the summer, CHS reported on an amazing move for a longtime Capitol Hill business. Doghouse’s Leather’s leather and kink retail project is making plans to bring life back to a 107-year-old Pike/Pine building with a (probably) racy past. As part of his plan to restore the 1911-built 715 E Pike Neal Apartments building into the new home of Doghouse Leathers, owner Jeff Henness invited the Capitol Hill Historical Society in to see the structure’s old bones and dig into its colorful past.

By Jo Wellington and the Capitol Hill Historical Society

Doghouse Leathers is a business native to Capitol Hill. It has provided fetish gear and custom leather pieces to the queer male community for many years. However, Doghouse is more than a sex shop. It has provided a community center for many groups over the years, as magazines, activism groups, and others met in the private back room. Jeff Henness, who opened the business in 2006, clearly makes an effort to support that community. He has been in Seattle since the 1980s and has an extensive knowledge of the local people and history.

All of this makes Henness an exciting person to renovate 715 E Pike St. He has a vision of a building that fits in on the block aesthetically, and maintains as much of the original material as possible. Continue reading

Why save Capitol Hill’s Roy Vue? ‘A lot more to it than just the number of units’

An effort to extend landmark protections to the Roy Vue building marks the Capitol Hill Historical Society’s first foray into preservation, but it won’t be the last.

“This is a sign of our involvement in the community,” said Rob Ketcherside, vice president of the society and a CHS contributor on Capitol Hill history. He said the nearly two-year-old group is hoping to do more such work, as long as members of the all-volunteer organization can find the time for it.

“It’s not about trying to control every property in the city. It’s about holding on to the heritage properties we have,” Ketcherside said. Continue reading

120-pastrami-sandwich-high, 78-unit building at 14th and Pine comes to design review board’s table

The concept for new retail on E Pine destined to be part of a new four-story apartment building set to rise at the corner of 14th Ave (Images: Revolve)

Nowhere in the design objectives for a four-story, 78-unit apartment building destined to rise at the corner of 14th Ave and E Pine do the developers include providing a key Capitol Hill resource: housing for foodies looking to minimize their commutes for stacked-high corned beef and pastrami sandwiches.

Design review: 1320 E Pine

The planned L-shaped project from developer Revolve Development is slated to take its first bow in front of the East Design Review Board Wednesday night.

“This building site provides several unique opportunities,” developers write: Continue reading

Those actually might be ‘condos’ after all: Conversions part of Capitol Hill condominium wave

The Atrium at 11th and Aloha wasn’t not developed as condos — but it wasn’t exactly planned that way, either (Images: CHS)

More condominiums than you think are coming to Capitol Hill. And it turns out one key element widely reported as a throttle on condo development may not be the safeguard against building conversion that it was thought to be.

The Neighborhood Collection — a marketing campaign for a set of three new Seattle buildings including two on Capitol Hill originally developed and designed as rental housing — says its new buildings provide “a highly engaging lifestyle” where “residents will enjoy an array of amenities for gathering, unwinding and turnkey living.” The projects are currently lining up prospective buyers for “the studio, urban one bedroom and one bedroom flats and lofts” offered “from the $400,000s to more than $800,000.”

But that wasn’t the original plan. Continue reading