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

‘Saved’ from microhousing plan, Capitol Hill’s Roy Vue Apartments to be considered as Seattle landmark

A coalition led by Historic Seattle and residents of Capitol Hill’s Roy Vue Apartments has put the Bellevue Ave E building up for consideration for Seattle landmarks protections.

A plan for to convert the building to microhousing was stopped by a campaign led by building tenants, neighbors, and preservation advocates earlier this year.

A second report on the 94-year-old “eclectic Tudor Revival” structure was prepared at the request of property owner Alliance Multifamily Investments, according to the document (PDF) posted to the Department of Neighborhoods landmarks site. That report from July is now labeled as a “Historic Resource Report.”

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City Council takes up landmarking of Broadway’s Eldridge Tire building

Capitol Hill’s next landmark is set to begin its path through the Seattle City Council on the way to official historical protection.

Broadway’s Mission Revival-styled Eldridge Tire Company won designation last year after the landmarks board agreed the auto row-era design was worthy of protection. Continue reading

94-year-old Highland Apartments lined up for seismic overhaul — But first, is it a landmark?

One of the next Capitol Hill buildings to be considered for City of Seattle landmark protections this summer is going through the process before it can also get another sort of important protection — from earthquakes.

The Highland Apartments, the 1924-built masonry condominium building in the 900 block of 11th Ave E just across from Volunteer Park, is lined up to be reviewed in June “in order to ascertain its historic nature prior to a proposed major alteration to the property,” according to the nomination report prepared on behalf of the building’s owner. Continue reading

As Rev. McKinney remembered, his Mount Zion Baptist Church set to become Seattle landmark

Tuesday, a celebration of the life of Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney was held at McCaw Hall following the civil rights leader’s death at the age of 91 early last month. Now, legislation is in motion to designate McKinney’s home church at 19th and Madison as an official Seattle landmark and protect the building’s architectural features.

“Landmark status is reserved for locations in our City that have been of exceptional value to social, political, architectural or community causes – and in the long history of Mount Zion Baptist Church, it has contributed greatly to all of these and more,” an announcement of the legislation from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office reads. Continue reading

The Royvue is not ‘saved’ but group says developer drops microhousing plans

A swell of Capitol Hill community support for the 94-year-old building, organized neighbors, and some local media coverage has apparently inspired the developers behind a plan to convert the Royvue apartment building into microhousing to back off.

The tenant-led Save the Royvue group announced the change in plans for the 34-unit apartment building in an email to supporters Monday night.

“What once seemed like an almost finalized deal between the parties involved is no more,” the group writes. “Most purchases like this are hatched under the radar and the public finds out when it’s too late. Instead, you knew a deal was brewing with a very small window of opportunity to react. They were caught completely off-guard by the community’s persistence and prompt organized response.”

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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

A ‘Brutal’ landmark? East Pine Substation the Central District’s unlikeliest candidate for preservation

Tuesday is the deadline for you to weigh in on what might seem to be one of the more unlikely candidates to become a neighborhood landmark — Seattle City Light’s Brutalist, brick-walled East Pine Substation.

The E Pine at 23rd Ave facility will go in front of the  Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board Wednesday “to determine the historic status of the property prior to a SCL proposal to increase the substation’s capacity, security and reliability for the surrounding Central Area, First Hill, and Capitol Hill neighborhoods,” according to the department’s nomination document (PDF) on the property.

The nomination document describes the era of City Light’s investment in architecturally significant infrastructure: Continue reading

Capitol Hill property owner takes Sullivan House landmark decision to court

Lawyers are asking the King County Superior Court to reject a well-worn, dilapidated 120-year-old Capitol Hill mansion recently approved as a Seattle historic landmark.

Saying that the decision has “prejudiced” their client by “causing the loss of a sale” and “substantially destroying the economic value of the property,” lawyers for the estate that owns the Sullivan House at 15th Ave and E Olive St. filed the lawsuit last month after the old mansion became one of the city’s most unlikely properties to go forward in the designation process that sets up controls and incentives on certain properties deemed worthy of preservation by a city convened board.

In the suit, lawyers for Elaine Thorson, the retired schoolteacher they say moved from California and plunged her life’s savings into buying out other heirs to her deceased aunt’s unique Capitol Hill apartment property, are asking the court to reverse the land use decision on the house and send the mansion back to Seattle Landmarks Board with direction to “reject the landmark nomination based on the severe economic impact such a designation will have (and has had) on the petitioners.” Continue reading

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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