The story of the proposed Capitol Hill landmark that somebody actually wants to be a landmark — UPDATE

The 1898-built Queen Anne Victorian home of a Seattle businessman that has survived through the changes of Capitol Hill at 15th and E Olive St. is lined up for purchase by a townhome developer. In a city scrambling to create more affordable housing and with a nearly 120-year-old house that has definitely seen better days, the trade probably seems worth it.

Neighbor and architect Jim Castanes disagrees and has launched an effort to have the Patrick J. Sullivan House designated for official city landmark protections. “We all love it in the neighborhood,” Castanes tells CHS, “plus its context on the corner is wonderful. It’s a nice little character area.”

UPDATE 12/20/2017 5:38 PM: “The bones are there.” The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board Wednesday night voted for the Patrick J. Sullivan House to move forward in the city’s process to designate architecturally important historical properties for protection. The decision came despite protests from Ann Thorson who now manages the estate of her late aunt purchased the 1898-built Queen Anne-style Victorian and lived there until 2010. “In her declining years, my aunt couldn’t take care of it and allowed to dilapidate,” Thorson said, telling the board that she cannot afford to restore the house and would like to sell the property. She told the board it will cost $1 million just for minimal restoration and said she and neighbors believe the house is a dangerous “eyesore.” Representatives from historical preservation groups including Historic Seattle and Friends of Historic Belltown spoke on behalf of the nomination saying the house may be in poor condition but that it remains a showcase of “integrity” as one of the few remaining examples of its kind in the city.

The board Wednesday night sided with the preservation groups and voted to move the nomination led by a neighbor of the house forward for a hearing in the new year. A resident who spoke during public comment said she had toured the house and hoped to make an offer on the property with the intention of restoring the structure. She told the board she wasn’t able to put in offer on the $2.2 million listing — “the pricing was set for development not restoration.” Landmarks designation “would force a lower price better for restoration,” the woman said.

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Destined for demolition, ‘depressing’ Broadway Bonney-Watson won’t get landmark protections

There is no shade thrown more darkly than the criticisms leveled at an old building brought up for landmarks review by a developer who wants dearly to demolish it. Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board Wednesday night unanimously rejected the nomination of Broadway’s 1961-built Bonney-Watson Funeral Home calling the modern-style building underwhelming, boxy, and, well, depressing.

“We think this building is not a landmark and we’d like you to agree with us,” Jack McCullough, legal counsel for the company under contract to purchase the property and develop two mixed-use buildings on the site, said, calling the building a “most ordinary and uninspiring example.” David Peterson, who prepared the nomination report for the developers called the building “disappointing” and said it was his belief the building doesn’t meet any of the city’s landmark criteria: Continue reading

With buyer lined up, 15th Ave’s Patrick J. Sullivan House to be considered as landmark

The house in 1905 (Image: Seattle of Today Architecturally)

The nearly 120-year-old house at the corner of 15th and E Olive hit the market last month just in time, we joked, for Halloween. Listed at $2.2 million, the property is also a prime candidate for redevelopment. Before anything moves forward, the old Patrick J. Sullivan house will get its turn to be considered for landmarks protections:

Landmarks Preservation Board to consider nomination of P.J. Sullivan House for landmark status

SEATTLE (November 22, 2017) – Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board will consider nomination of the P.J. Sullivan House in Miller Park located at 1632 15th Avenue on Wednesday, December 20 at 3:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in Seattle City Hall (600 4th Avenue, Floor L2) in the Boards & Commissions Room L2-80.

The public is invited to attend the meeting and make comments regarding the nomination. Written comments should be received by the Landmarks Preservation Board at the following mailing address by 3:00 p.m. on December 19:
Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
PO Box 94649
Seattle, WA 98124-4649

The property is currently listed as pending according to real estate records. The nomination packet was prepared by Castanes Architects but there is no indication of what any new buyer has planned for the property.

December will be a busy time for old Hill buildings potentially facing demolition. On December 6th, the landmarks board will consider Broadway’s 1960s-era Bonney Watson Funeral Home as an official landmark. CHS reported here on the unsuccessful first design review of the twin seven-story mixed-use apartment buildings destined to rise on the coveted funeral home property.

In addition to attending the December 20th hearing on the nomination, you can add your comments here by email. The full 1632 15th Ave nomination packet is below. Continue reading

Not yet dearly departed, Broadway Bonney Watson to be considered as landmark

What is coming next for Broadway’s Bonney Watson Funeral Home could have been much different if the original plans for the “modern style” structure had been achieved:

An undated but presumably early architectural rendering retained by the Bonney-Watson company gives some indication of preliminary design ideas—the image shows a Modern-style three-story flat- roofed structure with an integral clock tower, all set back from the street to allow for landscaping. The few windows on the main elevation feature projecting wrapped surrounds, which match approximately the profile of the thin parapet coping. The building is clad with stone laid in a random ashlar pattern, but the front elevation is dominated by a two-story-high central gridded façade made of an unknown material—possibly a projecting screen, or a wall cladding of mosaic-like tiles, stones, or even translucent glazing. This proposed design apparently included a wrapping driveway allowing vehicular access to the rear of the building from Broadway, like the 1912 building.

Instead, the 1961 architectural creation of the Bain & Overturf firm more than likely has a date with the wrecking ball in a year or so. CHS reported on the development plan for twin six-story mixed-use apartment buildings to rise on the Bonney Watson properties adjacent Cal Anderson Park. November will bring the project’s first design review. A required assessment of the squat, blocky building’s potential as a historical landmark is now also on the calendar:

Landmarks Preservation Board: nomination of Bonney-Watson Funeral Home for landmark status

As we’ve noted about past seemingly doomed but requisite landmarks reviews, even if it can’t save the building, the documentation can help save the history. The nomination packet, embedded below, for the Bonney Watson mortuary is a worthwhile read:
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CHS Re:Take | Walking off into the sunset, Capitol Hill landmark by landmark

I dug a bit in Archive.org’s Wayback Machine and was surprised to find that CHS started in January 2006 as a Blogspot. That first recording captured a microcosm of Justin’s neighborhood writing: a hair salon review, a couple of restaurant reviews, a warning of an upcoming moth spray, and a lamentation on the loss of an old, dependable haunt. As you know, this was a formula that he looped through a few hundred thousand times over the next 11 years.

While Justin was developing CHS from a hobby blog into a life-sucking addiction, geologist David B. Williams was basking in the afterglow of the publication of his first book about Seattle: 2005’s The Street-Smart Naturalist.

Street Naturism

One reader of the book let it all hang out in a brief Seattle Public Library review of Street-Smart Naturalist: “Everyone in Seattle should read this engaging and insightful book about how nature and the wild still exist within city limits, and that we are part of it.”

I second the recommendation, but I’ll strip away the book jacket and show you the salient bits. Capitol Hill made two appearances in Street-Smart Naturalist. First was a short piece about the several hundred year-old Garry oak tree at Oak Manor on Belmont Ave and Belmont Place. Then in the chapter The Hills Williams rightly questioned whether it’s appropriate to call the long form of Capitol Hill a hill at all. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s next landmark: Broadway’s Eldridge Tire Company

Word is the Capitol Hill Historical Society is exploring what it would take to put plaques in front of every official City of Seattle landmark in the neighborhood. Once the city council eventually signs off on the designation, the society will need one more for Broadway’s Mission Revival-styled Eldridge Tire Company.

This week, the Landmarks Preservation Board agreed the 1925-building today home to Tacos Guaymas and Folicle Hair Design in the 1500 block of Broadway between Pike and Pine is worthy of protections that will preserve portions of its auto row-era design even as it likely is incorporated in preservation incentive-boosted development in the future.

In December, the building’s owner Seattle Central put out a call for developers to make bids in “letters of intent” for leasing or buying the land where the Eldridge Tire building and its neighboring (and landmark-rejected) Stewart Warner service station building stand today for redevelopment “commercial purposes and/or housing, including a potential affordable housing element.” The college said this early step in the development process is part of its potential acquisition and development of Sound Transit “Site D” property adjacent the westside Broadway entrance to Capitol Hill Station. Last spring, Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange told CHS that creating faculty housing on Capitol Hill was a major priority.

Wednesday’s designation puts the property on track for eventual confirmation by the Seattle City Council and ups the chances you’ll see the facade and shape of the former Eldridge Tire Company be part of whatever seven-story building comes next on Broadway.

Auto row history and Seattle Central housing development future behind Broadway landmarks hearing

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As it seeks a partner in its plans for affordable housing, Seattle Central will take the auto row history of one of the two Broadway properties it is pushing forward toward redevelopment in front of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board next week. The board will weigh just what architectural features if any should be protected in the one-time Stewart Warner service station and its neighbor the old Eldridge Tire building in the 1500 block of Broadway between Pine and Pike. Today, the structures are home to a burger joint, a taco joint, and a hair stylist.

The board will consider the buildings for nomination Wednesday afternoon.

Landmarks board: 1515 Broadway and 1519 Broadway

Seattle has a relatively robust and busy landmarks system but the process is as much about development as it is preservation. Seattle Central is moving the properties through the review as a prelude to redevelopment and a requirement of the permitting process for buildings from before 1940. Continue reading

CHS Pics | E John’s little pink house now a lot beige

That Pink House. No More

Monday, the Seattle City Council finalized landmarks status for two 100+ year-old Capitol Hill houses affording the structure protection from future changes and development. A Capitol Hill landmark house of a different sort along E John is showing off a different look this week. The little pink house just west east of Capitol Hill Station is suddenly much more subdued. These images from the CHS Flickr pool show the pink house has gone beige. A cursory check of land records doesn’t show anything significant up with the property still held by the owner that acquired the puny 700-square-foot, 1906 built house in 2010. Today, it stands sandwiched between an alley and a microhousing development to its west. When inevitable redevelopment comes for its parcel, the little house wouldn’t stand a chance of winning official landmarks status. But some of us will remember how very pink it was.

Pink Fairy, Beige House

Seattle City Council protects two very different Capitol Hill houses as landmarks — UPDATE

Two Capitol Hill houses that have stood for more than 100 years are set to be designated official City of Seattle landmarks Monday afternoon. The Seattle City Council will vote on the final designations following approval at the committee level last week and previous approvals by the Landmarks Preservation Board.

UPDATE: As expected, both ordinances were passed by the full city council Monday.

The structures share vastly different recent histories but both will now be afforded protections that should preserve the structures even as the city’s much needed multi-family development continues to flow around them. Continue reading

Developer abandons plans for The Stranger building after preservation board objections

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(Image: CHS)

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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