What happens when a church closes on Capitol Hill

The Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church stands at 1729 Harvard Ave

On a recent Sunday, the large brick building that previously housed Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church was quiet and still. Two black couches with flaking upholstery sat in a small courtyard facing the vacant parking lot. Although a sign at the entrance advertised Sunday worship below the cheery words “visitors welcome,” the only passersby were dog owners taking their pets on a morning constitutional.

Located at the corner of Harvard Avenue and Howell Street, CHPC held its final service on June 24 at 9:45 AM after over a decade of Sunday services. Church leadership cited the inability to afford a seismic retrofit on the nearly century-old building and decreasing church membership as reasons for Capitol Hill Presbyterian’s closure. According to CHPC data from 2007 to 2017, attendance dropped from 161 to 45 members in a decade.

The church’s dwindling attendance followed regional trends: Between 2013 to 2017, the Seattle Presbytery closed six churches as its total membership fell from 17,113 to 12,762.

Since the final service, the Capitol Hill building has remained under the ownership of Seattle Presbytery — a religious organization that oversees more than 40 Presbyterian churches in the region. Presbytery staff occasionally use the building for office hours, or to hold preliminary conversations with groups interested in acquiring the property. Otherwise it remains vacant. Continue reading

Capitol Hill homeowners mount last-ditch effort against MHA upzoning… in Eastlake

The view from Harvard Ave E (Image: CHS)

They know they are probably too late. They know that after a multi-year journey of hearings, community meetings, public comment, and legal challenges, the Seattle City Council wants the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation, which connects affordability mandates to upzoning parts of the city’s densest neighborhoods, to reach its destination during a final vote Monday afternoon. Perhaps they even know Monday’s vote is basically pro forma, as council members have worked on it for years and voted unanimously to advance the legislation last month.

And, yet, a group of North Capitol Hill homeowners, along with the Eastlake Community Council, is trying to fight the upzoning of a seven-block-long (and mostly half a block-deep) sliver of I-5-bordering properties in Eastlake. The amendment for zoning increase, from low-rise to mid-rise with a height limit of 80’ on Boylston Ave. E and a short stretch of Franklin Ave. E was recently introduced and approved by the city council as part of a series of amendments that scaled back upzones across neighborhoods and increased some others. Continue reading

Destined for overhaul and preservation as part of mixed-use development, Harvard Ave’s Knights of Columbus building considered for landmarks protections — UPDATE

For a century, it was almost exclusively Catholic men called Knights who were allowed to freely roam the lounges, smoking room and bowling alley of the Knights of Columbus headquarters on the south edge of Capitol Hill. They could work out, or attend Glee Club, dinners, and public speaking classes. Women could not be members. They hung out in the Ladies Parlor.

If everything goes according to plan, by 2021 or so, people of all types will be able to roam the three-story steel and brick masonry, Renaissance Revival-style building. The new owner, SRM Development, a Spokane-based developer of multifamily and commercial properties, hopes to refurbish the historic building through adaptive reuse.

Wednesday afternoon, Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board will consider the nomination of the building for historical protections during a public meeting and presentation. Continue reading

Microhousing still has a home on the Hill on Harvard Ave

A trio of single-family style homes that have somehow survived in the heart of Capitol Hill at the corner of Harvard and Denny for some 116 years will make way for a planned seven-story building with 80 or so new apartment units. But first the 102 Harvard project must pass through design review. The process begins Wednesday night.

Design review: 102 Harvard Ave E

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Design review: Trading a 1929 Capitol Hill apartment building for a 2019 version on Harvard Ave E

Wednesday night could bring the final design step in the process for a Capitol Hill circa late 2018 trade of necessity — a 1929-built, two-story masonry apartment building with eight units making way for a planned 2019 or so-built, four-story apartment building with 25 “small efficiency dwelling units” and 13 standard apartments.

The development from Hybrid Architecture and the family trust that owns the property is slated to come before the East Design Review Board Wednesday night:

Design review: 740 Harvard Ave E

Parking for 17 vehicles is proposed. And, of course, the existing structure is slated to be demolished. 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

Capitol Hill smoke? Arson investigation after semi fire behind Harvard Market QFC — UPDATE

Seattle Police are investigating after a reported arson fire set a semi truck’s load ablaze on Harvard behind the Broadway at Pike QFC.

The incident began just before 8:30 AM as the truck was in the area for a grocery delivery to the nearby Bartell’s. According to East Precinct radio reports, police were interviewing at least one witness who saw a person acting suspiciously in the area.

According to Seattle Fire radio dispatches, the driver was unloading a delivery outside the QFC and returned to find someone had apparently set the contents of the trailer on fire. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Last tip-off on Knights of Columbus gym’s home court

There are big changes coming for the 106-year-old Knights of Columbus hall at Harvard and Union. There are small changes, too.

One of those is the end of decades of pick-up basketball that have put the hall’s gymnasium to use on Monday nights. It’s a loose connection of friends and family that some players have been part of from 8th grade into their ’60s. Other players have stayed in the game long enough to set a hard — but loving — pick on their children. Continue reading

Buyer plans two new buildings to join ‘adaptive reuse’ overhaul of Knights of Columbus property

(Image: City of Seattle)

The future of Harvard Ave’s 106-year-old Knights of Columbus building is a massive adaptive reuse project sandwiched by two new apartment buildings, according to early planning by the property’s new owner, SRM Development.

The Spokane-based developer of multifamily and commercial properties struck a deal for the building and its two surface parking lots with Grand Knight Tom Joyce that will net the Knights of Columbus, Seattle Council 676 some $18.55 million, according to King County records. Continue reading

Power knocked out to Seattle Central after reported electrical vault fire

A reported transformer explosion and electrical vault fire near Harvard and E Olive St. left a few rattled nerves and some smoke in the air but only Seattle Central’s main building lost power in an incident that began around 4 PM Wednesday.

Several Seattle Fire units arrived to make sure the scene was secure and no fire or live wires were threatening buildings from the City Light vault or nearby power poles.

City Light crews were called out to sort out the situation and try to restore power to the college.

There were no reported injuries.

UPDATE 6/7/18 1:15 AM: Outages around the incident spread overnight with approximately 1,200 customers without power according to City Light. The department says equipment failure is to blame for the initial incident. Service is estimated to be restored by around 7 AM.

UPDATE 6/7/18 8:25 AM: Seattle Central will be closed Thursday “due to an ongoing power outage.” The Capitol Hill campus’s daytime and evening classes are canceled.

Seattle City Light, meanwhile, tells CHS that crews were working to restore service Thursday morning and were expecting repairs to be finished before 11 AM.

“They are fixing damage to underground power lines that were damaged in a vault fire,” a City Light spokesperson said. “We don’t know the originating cause of that fire yet.”

City Light confirms that the secondary outage around 1 AM happened so that crews could complete some of the repair work safely by turning off some equipment in the area. That larger outage of around 1,000 customers had been restored though SCC remained dark as of 8:30 AM.