Workshop will try to get community priorities out in front of coming, taller 15th Ave E redevelopment

15th Ave E from above

By the time the bulldozers show up, it’s way too late to have any impact on how a new building might look.

So a pair of architecture firms located on 15th Avenue East are planning to get ahead of any development on the street they call home. Board & Vellum and Environmental Works are hosting a design workshop, open to the public, to discuss what 15th Ave E could look like as redevelopment happens.

Thus far in the recent building boom, 15th has largely been spared much redevelopment, save for the old Chutney’s site being replaced by the Stream 15 building in 2013. And the lack of change hasn’t just been during the current boom. Chris Parker of Board & Vellum notes that in going back through archived photos, the neighborhood looks largely the same as it has for decades.

“It hasn’t changed much since the 1950s,” he said. Continue reading

District 3 renters speak out as Mandatory Housing Affordability public hearing comes to Capitol Hill

“I want our city to be accessible to all income levels, in the interest of equal opportunity and also because the continuing vibrancy of this place hinges on assuring mixed income neighborhoods.”

Brooke Brod: “I’m here to speak in favor of MHA and proposed zoning changes. I really want to challenge the council, if your’e serious about displacement and mitigating it, to do more, go further. Upzone my neighborhood, my single family neighborhood as well.”

Committee chair Rob Johnson and the City Council members in attendance Monday night

Many who hope to see the cost of housing on Capitol Hill and throughout Seattle stabilize — and, someday, maybe even drop — came to the Broadway Performance Hall Monday night for a special public hearing on proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability rezoning. With more than 100 people signed up to speak on the night, the Seattle City Council’s visit to Capitol Hill created a multi-hour stream of two-minute statements on the process to raise key Seattle neighborhood zoning heights tied with new developer requirements to either create more affordable housing or pay for it elsewhere.

Many were forward looking. “We have to make room for new people… cities are places that change,” said one woman in support of the legislation with most of the City Council including District 3 representative Kshama Sawant as an audience.

“Seattle needs more housing, housing in all shapes and sizes, for all our neighbors,” said another, a Capitol Hill Renters Initiative member and a Capitol Hill tenant.

If you can do the math, you’ll understand it was a long night full of ideas and statements from across Seattle’s housing spectrum. Speakers from the Miller Park Neighbors group had more immediate concerns. Resident Ellen Taft asked for rejection of upzone plans around the Miller Park neighborhood because “there is already a surplus” of “high rent projects” in the area. She said residents of the Miller-Madison area will be the “victims” of upzones, not the beneficiaries. “What the plan offers is a lot of units for high income people,” said another speaker from the group. “The current residents are not being considered, only the new development.” Another member of the group said he was worried the MHA would destroy his neighborhood’s “moderately priced homes.” Continue reading

Here’s how Mandatory Housing Affordability might open up a new horizon in Pike/Pine preservation: 8 stories

11th at Pine’s Richmark Label building — primed for preservation-boosted redevelopment

You don’t see many eight-story buildings in Seattle, but they may start sprouting up in Pike/Pine and other places around town in the coming years. The reason has to do with the way affordable housing will interact with historic preservation.

Eight stories is an odd height. Under the Seattle building code, buildings up to seven stories can be built from wood. Eight or higher, and the building needs more durable materials such as concrete and steel. The more durable materials also make construction cost considerably more, to the point that eight-story buildings aren’t really profitable. Continue reading

Broadway apartment tower home to Whole Foods to open this summer — but no shopping ’til fall

A view from the top of The Danforth (Image: The Danforth)

The 17-story Broadway apartment tower set to bring Amazon’s grocery chain Whole Foods to the border of Capitol Hill and First Hill has set a July opening. But you will have to wait until the fall to do your grocery shopping at the base of The Danforth.

The developer of the project is beginning the process of recruiting residents to fill its 260 or so units complete with “smart, sophisticated design,” “well-appointed” and “clean, contemporary aesthetic,” “A/C in all homes, USB outlets and pantries in every kitchen,” and where even the bathrooms “make a statement.” Continue reading

So, you really want to save the Royvue?

Here’s a tip. You should tell the Seattle City Council’s Select Committee on Mandatory Housing Affordability all about the 94-year-old gem of a Capitol Hill apartment building and why it should be preserved and not have its insides ripped out and converted into microhousing.

Just make sure to save time in your public comment to also voice your support for raising building heights and allowing a wider diversity of uses in Capitol Hill’s core. The District 3 and District 7 MHA Public Hearing is Monday night.

If you are unable to attend, you can send your comments via email to citywidemha@seattle.gov.

Continue reading

Save the Royvue! Residents rally to thwart sale of Capitol Hill building

A view worth the fight? A look across the Royvue courtyard (Image: Haley Blavka Photograph/Save the Royvue)

Seattle’s endorsement of rapidly adding thousands of efficiency sized housing units to the cityscape has some residents in Capitol Hill unconvinced that one size fits all. Tenant-led group Save the Royvue has escalated its effort to keep the 94-year-old building from succumbing to development plans that would significantly reduce apartment size. The growing assembly of advocates says the Royvue Apartments is fine the way it is and now seeks landmark protections to keep it that way.

Eugenia Woo with Historic Seattle is consulting with the group and shares their worry that “the city is losing its identity.”

“This city has always been known for its character and that distinguishes us. It’s ok to have good new designs but unfortunately most of what’s being built is not so great,” she said. Continue reading

20th Ave townhouse project set to rise where six-story development plan was nixed

With plans for a much bigger apartment building falling through, a development to create a set of townhouses on 20th Ave just off E Madison will take its first run through the East Design Review Board Wednesday night.

Wednesday’s session will cover two neighboring development projects from the same developer and architects as the board will handle both sets of rowhouses destined to rise in the 1700 block of 20th Ave with one review:

Design Review: 1711 20th Ave

Continue reading

Seattle set to give Central District its own design review board

In an effort to preserve and grow the historically Black culture of the Central District, Seattle is creating a new Design Review Board for the area. The proposal passed out of committee April 4, and will  go before the Seattle City Council for a vote scheduled for Monday afternoon, April 9th. UPDATE 3:20 PM: In a unanimous vote, the council approved Rob Johnson’s legislation creating the new guidelines and board. Johnson thanks Central Area activists for their  “several decades of work” to make the new process possible. “I’m really proud to be playing a small part here in the end to help get this across the finish line,” Johnson said.

“The creation of a Central Area Design Review District and Board will support equitable and inclusive community engagement and process specific for those most impacted by displacement, maximize the effectiveness of the Central Area Design Guidelines, and help guide future development to respond to the unique Central Area historical character and identity,” according to a report prepared explaining (PDF) the legislation.

The proposal sponsored by Council member and planning and land use committee chair Rob Johnson (District 4) would make a new, eighth design review district by carving it from Capitol Hill’s East District Review Board and the Southeast district. Continue reading

Up against rent boom and affordability crunch, residents worry about plan to change 1924-built Royvue into microhousing

Residents of a classic 94-year-old Capitol Hill apartment building hope to organize against a plan to gut the structure and turn its 34 apartments — some as large as four or five room spaces — into more than 100 units of microhousing.

“Everyone in the building is obviously going to be kicked out,” one resident tells CHS of the project. “This place is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve seen in the neighborhood and I can’t believe there aren’t any checks in place to preserve other ones like it.”

In an affordability crunch and a boom market for rents, Seattle is doing everything it can to create more homes and landlords on Capitol Hill have been particularly creative trading away parking and laundry rooms (and sometimes retail space) for more places to live. Continue reading

Club Z building sells for $2.9M but no word, yet, on what comes next

Club Z on Capitol Hill Seattle, WA

The timer is counting down at Club Z but nobody knows yet what happens when the buzzer goes off. The 112-year-old building the “private bathhouse for men” has called home for decades has been sold to a real estate investor with local ties.

The Daily Journal of Commerce reports a sale price of $2.9 million for the 1906-built hotel building that went on the market earlier this year. The sale price represents a 35% premium above the initial listing for the property

Club Z employees reached Tuesday said they could not speak about the situation and referred us to a representative who is currently on vacation.

Continue reading