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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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.