Developer abandons plans for The Stranger building after preservation board objections


(Image: CHS)

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 9.31.39 AM

After submitting three design proposals, developers will meet with the preservation board members about their latest design that leaves The Stranger building untouched (right).

“Our hope is that by developing the Value Village building mid block, its impact is much more acceptable to the neighborhood.”

It’s been almost a year since plans to redevelop the The Stranger and (former) Value Village buildings were stalled due to the 11th and E Pine buildings winning landmark status. Since then, developer Legacy Commercial has met twice with members of the Landmark Preservation Board to hammer out how its plans for an office and retail project can move forward while still complying with the landmark protections. It hasn’t been going so smoothly.

After two meetings with the Architectural Review Committee, preservation board members said Legacy was making little progress in addressing its concerns about the proposed preservation incentive-boosted 75-foot high office and mixed-use development incorporating the two auto row-era structures and a sunken parking lot. When Legacy submitted plans for a third meeting, they were turned away.

“The third briefing packet did not appear to contain any new information and I advised the applicant that another ARC could be scheduled when new alternatives or additional information was provided,” said Sarah Sodt, a coordinator for the Historic Preservation Program. Continue reading

On the List | Hill’s Redwood stays rooted a bit longer ahead of 10th anniversary bash

The Redwood Tavern, Capitol Hill Seattle1446667871940Seattle’s permit backlog may be causing headaches for Capitol Hill small business owners, but it also appears to be helping keep the doors open at one neighborhood dive bar. Just ahead of its 10-year anniversary on Capitol Hill and the conclusion of its drawn out closure, owners of The Redwood tell CHS they have signed a 6-month lease extension giving the bar a few more months in its home where Howell meets Belmont. “We want to stay there until the wrecking ball comes,” said Lisa Brooke, who owns the bar along with her husband Mat, a former member of rock outfit Band of Horses. According to Brooke, the Redwood property owner offered to extend the bar’s lease after it became clear that demolition permits to make way for a new apartment building on the block were still months away from approval. If the wrecking ball — or backhoe — still hasn’t come after six months, Brooke said the Redwood will stay open on a month-to-month basis. Continue reading

Ahead of ‘major’ announcement, Convention Center developers come to Hill to show off latest models


Community members inspect a model of the new convention center at the Capitol Hill Branch library. (Image: CHS)

It could be the most expensive development project in Seattle history, but plans for a new Washington State Convention Center at the footsteps of Capitol Hill have barely caused a ripple in Seattle. Officials involved in the project now want to make some waves. King County Executive Dow Constantine and WSCC chairman Frank Finneran planned to hold a media conference Wednesday morning for “a major announcement regarding plans for convention capacity and benefits to the region.”

The planned development with a price tag near $1.4 billion will be built on land along the north side of Pine just across I-5 from Capitol Hill where King County Metro’s soon to be defunct Convention Place Station is located today. Plans are currently in the works to phase buses out of the existing transit tunnel in order to vacate the space. Details on a land sale between WSCC and the County could be part of the announcement.


Also noted: The WSCC expansion has a new “ADDITION” logo

UPDATE: The WSCC has reached a deal with the County to buy 4 acres in downtown for $147 million. Under the agreement, King County Metro will get a total of $283 million in principal and interest payments over 30 years. WSCC will also contribute $5 million to affordable housing, though it won’t be required to develop the properties on or around the center. The deal, which must be approved by the County Council, keeps the WSCC addition on track to opening in 2020. WSCC will provide adequate off-site layover space for Metro Transit during construction, the announcement states. Buses will continue to use the site and operate in the transit tunnel until 2019, when additional light rail service is added.

On Monday night, LMN Architects presented some of its most recent design concepts at the Capitol Hill Branch Library, which included a massive cardboard model of the center and its surrounding blocks. However, developer Pine Street Group’s Jane Lewis told CHS in an email that the new drawings would not yet be distributed publicly: Continue reading

Design review reminder: Broadway Whole Foods project, First Hill McDonald’s building

Design review is fun. You can help pick out apartment tower colors.

Design review is fun. You can help pick out apartment tower colors for the new Whole Foods building planned for Broadway at Madison.

The future McDonald's building appears to contain no McDonald's. This is not appropriate feedback for the design review board.

The future McDonald’s building appears to contain no McDonald’s. This is not appropriate feedback for the design review board.

For those of you hungering for the the filling humanity of public comment, one of the city’s last bastions of unrestrained community testimony will take on two high profile — and high-reaching — area projects Wednesday night.

It’s design review time for the 16-story Broadway Whole Foods building and 17-story apartment tower set to replace the First Hill McDonald’s. CHS explored the latest proposed designs here. For the Broadway building that will contain the area’s first two-level Whole Foods market, the review board reps said they would be looking for a building with more “glazing” and “fenestration” to break up the structure’s mass, a better pedestrian experience along Madison, something to break up the blank walls along Spring St., “a strong corner gateway presence”… and no metal, which the architects apparently indicated was going to be part of the material plan for the building’s exterior. There’s also a major color issue to resolve. As for the McDonald’s building, we’re not sure exactly what the board is asking for — “explore how to create a more dynamic expression similar to what was shown in the precedent imagery while maintaining the residential character and not creating an overly busy façade.”

If you’re not into public comment — or long public meetings — you can send your comments on the designs to the city’s planner attached to each project. Here’s the contact for the Whole Foods building and here’s who you can tell all your McDonald’s building hopes and dreams to. Take a look through the design review guidelines to better shape your feedback.

East Design Review Board
November 18, 2015 — 1001 Broadway (PDF): 6:30 pm — 1001 Minor (PDF): 8:00 PM
Seattle University, 901 12th Ave
Student Center 210 Multi-Purpose Room

What Broadway Whole Foods building and apartment tower set to replace McDonald’s will *really* look like

Future: Whole Foods

Future: Whole Foods

The past: McDonald's

The past: McDonald’s

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 9.08.24 PMThe future along Madison is tall and shiny — with some stone to balance it out. Two towering (relative to Capitol Hill standards) and mostly gleaming First Hill apartment projects will take updated designs to review next week. Here is a look at what could be the final design proposals for the 265-unit development slated to rise above a new Whole Foods at Broadway and Madison and the 207-unit project planned to rise above where First Hill’s McDonald’s stands today.

The Whole Foods building
It’s been exactly one year since CHS broke the news that Whole Foods was coming to Broadway with a targeted late 2017 to early 2018 opening planned as part of a massive new development replacing the 1928-built, three-story masonry medical building currently at the site. Next Wednesday night, developers Columbia Pacific Advisors and the project’s architects Tiscareno Associates will show their latest proposal for the project with hopes to convince the board they have done enough to break up the mass of the tower and to address concerns about the pedestrian experience at Madison and Broadway. Continue reading

Capitol Hill building owner objects to ‘economic eviction’ accusations

The Celeste was originally known The Allen (Image: King County)

The Celeste was originally known The Allen (Image: King County)

A dispute between tenants of a 109-year-old Capitol Hill building and the building’s new owner was thrust into the spotlight last month when City Council member Kshama Sawant said the situation was an example of why Seattle needs stronger protections against “slumlord” rent increases.

Tenants at The Celeste say the The Stratford Company owners are engaging in “economic evictions” by drastically increasing rents to force people out so the company can renovate the building. One tenant told CHS rents were increasing by $500 for units that were renting for under $1,000 a month.

Stratford’s regional manager Julie Medina pushed back against the economic eviction claims on Tuesday, telling CHS that tenants don’t understand how financial constraints and market pricing work.

“The old owners never increased rents and all we did was bring it to market rent,” Medina said. “You tell me where you can rent a unit on Capitol Hill for $800.” Continue reading

CHS Pics | Goodbye to the Capitol Hill Value Village


The crew at Capitol Hill’s Value Village rang up its final sales Saturday night before turning off the lights, locking the front doors, and walking across the street for some beer and some dusty 11th Ave nostalgia.

Closing time on a Saturday would usually have come at 9 PM. But with many shelves bare and more racks empty, management made the decision to bring things to an early close. That just meant a community party organized by a Pike/Pine neighbor at nearby Vermillion could start earlier.

There was beer. There was a slideshow. There were some Value Village fashions on display. Continue reading

City Council vote sets up 2016 as year for progress on Seattle affordability plan

Sorry -- we've asked for a finer resolution for the "implementation" map but no luck, so far

Sorry — we’ve asked for a finer resolution for the “implementation” map but no luck, so far

The Seattle City Council is expected to pass a set of bills Monday afternoon that will set up 2016 as a year to lay the legislative groundwork for a plan to create 20,000 affordable units in the city by 2025.

Monday’s legislation adds a new chapter 23.58B to the Seattle Municipal Code while amending other portions of the code “to establish the framework for an Affordable Housing Impact Mitigation Program for commercial development.” A second resolution slated for vote by the full council Monday afternoon states “the Council’s intent to make changes to zoning and land use regulations to implement a mandatory inclusionary affordable housing program for residential development and an affordable housing impact mitigation program for commercial development recommended by the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda Advisory Committee and the Mayor.”

Got all that? The legislative machinations set up the City Council — including some new names… and old — to shape two new programs in the new year.

The commercial linkage fee will require all new commercial development to pay into an affordable housing fund or create an equivalent amount of housing at another site. In exchange, developers that brave Seattle will be rewarded with additional floor area to help builders offset the costs.

Mandatory inclusionary housing will require all new multifamily buildings to make 5-8% of their units affordable to those making 60% of the area median income or require developers to pay into an affordable housing fund. In 2013, Seattle households at 60% AMI took in $40,487.

Here is the timeline for implementation of the new rules.

Design reviews: 15th Ave E project fits on a parking lot — Plus, what Vulcan’s first Yesler Terrace development will look like

The Vulcanic future of Yesler Terrace

The Vulcanic future of Yesler Terrace

Two projects slated to come before the East Design Review Board Wednesday night are probably good examples of the types of projects we’ll see in Central Seattle in the next waves of development. One in the heart of Capitol Hill’s “eclectic” 15th Ave E neighborhood is relatively small and will be widget-ed into a space between buildings where a parking lot is currently found. The other is an enormous investment from a massive name in Seattle development that threatens/promises to completely transform an area passed by in the most recent waves of explosive development.

123 Broadway
Here’s what Vulcan’s first mixed-use foray into the transformation of Yesler Terrace will look like:

The corner expression at the south (Yesler) provides a strong identity marking the corner of Yesler and Broadway. The base features a retail space with a plaza for spill-out dining. The extra width provided by the plaza will allow for increased pedestrian traffic at this important intersection.

It’s going to be huge. Continue reading

Thanks a lot, landmarks board: The Stranger staying on Capitol Hill

Tim Keck's future office

Tim Keck’s future office

Shit’s a landmark

What kind of Lord Baby Jesus takes the Value Village away while allowing alt-weekly The Stranger to stay?

That’s the question nearly most of Capitol Hill is asking itself Monday morning after the Friday-afternoon-before-Halloween news dump in which the longtime Capitol Hill-based media and entertainment services conglomerate quietly announced it has backed off its threats to leave its dilapidated 11th Ave headquarters, signing a new lease that will keep the business in Pike/Pine through 2020.

By then Capitol Hill will have been declared “dead” a record 13 times.

“We were going to leave,” Keck told the Puget Sound Business Journal as it shared the announcement Friday, “but the historical designation … that gave us a chance to re-look at our plans of leaving.”

While re-look is not a real word, the building once home to the White Motor Company during Pike/Pine’s auto row era was, indeed, designated a protected landmark earlier this year — both inside and out — thanks to its place in auto row history and the early days of REI.

In statements likely written while breakfasting, Keck tells CHS: Continue reading