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B&O Espresso development hit with appeal

An appeal has been filed challenging the city’s recent decision to approve a six-story mixed-use project at 1650 E Olive Way, the current home of B&O Espresso. Though the design is unpopular and will block views, the Department of Planning and Development ruled the project could go forward after years of review and plan revision.

The appeal hearing will be November 2.

In regards to the blocked views, DPD determined that though the blocked views were significant, the same views could be blocked by other projects in the area without environmental review and, therefore, it would be unreasonable to reduce the project in protection of those views:

As part of the consideration, it is understood that future development west of the project site could potentially be permitted without SEPA review (e.g. adding new mechanical equipment and screening on the roof of the brick apartment building to the west) and could cause similar view blockage. It would be unreasonable to reduce this proposal to the extent necessary to maintain fully all of the existing view only to have the view blocked later by projects not subject to view mitigation.

While the impact of the revised proposal is adverse, it is not expected to be significant. No further mitigation based on SEPA public view protection policy is warranted.

The planned project is a 78-unit building with 3,600 square feet of retail and two live-work units at ground floor and underground parking for 52 vehicles. The property developer is John Stoner and the building is designed by Nicholson Kovalchick.

B&O Espresso’s plans are still unknown, but there is likely some time before they have to get out of their current location at E Olive Way and Belmont. No demolition permits have been filed yet.

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13 thoughts on “B&O Espresso development hit with appeal

  1. Glad to see an appeal has gone through. I wrote City Council last year about the view issue; drawings had been posted in the neighborhood to show just how much of the public view would be obstructed. Sure, growth and development will happen, and its not all bad and banal, but the value of public views, for the long term, is important for the quality of life of the neighborhood too. DPD doesn’t seem to appreciate that.

  2. Seattle is a city littered with views in each which way. One less view out of the thousands isn’t going to change anything.

    What about the views the developer will be creating with all the new apartments?

  3. “in each which way”.

    That aside, your point is pointless. It’s a major thoroughfare and blocking the view and inflicting this eyesore on the community, destroying a building most of us still enjoy, is reprehensible. There are terrible buildings all around it. Why not take those down instead?

  4. Take a spin down Aurora between the Bridge and Downtown. Tell me, can you see Lake Union? Briefly, between gaps in the condo buildings. Now, some of us remember when you could see the Lake from Aurora, and the Hill behind it, and the sky behind that. That stretch of road is charmless now, unless you like condo buildings. That’s the sort of thing we’re going to have all over the city some day, once the developers put up all the towers they’d like to have. One less view eventually will be one view left — from up in the towers.

  5. The thing about this view is that it’s currently a *public* view. This isn’t just folks in a neighboring condo/apartment that lose out, it’s all of us: strolling (or driving even) down Olive Way from Broadway, there’s a nice view of the Space Needle and the Olympics over the top of the current building. (Check it out on Google Street View at With a taller building there, the view is lost to the public and gained by whoever buys the condos.

    Keep walking, though, and the view disappears anyway by the time you’ve reached Boylston (yay for the magic view-altering properties of hills).

    So yes, a view is lost to the public. But it is one of many (for now).

    This is a tricky one to solve: preserving the view would basically prevent the developer from building any higher than one or two stories, and presumably they paid for the land with the understanding that the neighborhood height limit applied. Other than perhaps constructing a building entirely out of glass, the only way I can think of that would keep public and developer happy here would be to let the air rights be sold so that the four or five or so stories could be moved to somewhere where they would not be blocking a public view – but then you’d have someone else complaining about the 10 story (6 + 4 from the air rights) building going up near them.

  6. Views shouldn’t trump density, especially with the light rail station coming. This is a city, after all. All the commentary on these types of threads about “destroying thorougfares” is so overwrought that it shouldn’t be taken seriously. If you like the B&O and its 1 story building so much, buy the property and preserve it. Otherwise, the proposal is not out of scale with the neighborhood (see across the street) and I hope it gets built.

  7. I prefer fighting for more pedestrian and biking promenades with views rather than individual apartment/condo building views or even car-driving views.

    Also buildings can be views if they’re worth viewing. UN-worthy of views is the case with much of the modern design in this city.

  8. In a past article, CHS linked the VPC and B&O cases, so I have started following the B&O. I am struck by a stark difference in the discussions: those commenting on this article are able to have differing perspectives without vitriol, cursing, threats, or telling anyone to move to the suburbs if they don’t like what is happening. Perhaps this is because the B&O developers have proceeded in absolute legality? Because they developers didn’t go after the objectors with ferocity and lies? Because the CHS coverage has been more even-handed than in the VPC story?

    You can probably tell that I was one of the neighbors’ who objected to VPC’s illegal expansion, and was heartily targeting by VPC and its supporters. It has been an awful year. Neighborhood growth and change are always painful. Someone always gets the downside. The folks with the City on their side generally win. My sympathies to those whose homes are being affected.

  9. and the general pissing away of money, time, and talent in the interest of getting nothing done. As the nation follows our lead we can turn over rule of the planet to the Chinese and/or anyone else who dares to get off their fat asses and actually accomplish something. And, oh, move to Bellevue!

  10. Apples and oranges, Alle.

    Hysterical how you and yours keep trying to force this hand and prove malign at the hands of this forum and/or surrounding other development projects.

    I’m a neighbor to this one. No zoning issues and a business isn’t at the helm of the growth. No civil unrest. No bickering.

    B&O is a tenant, nothing more, nothing less. John Stoner, the owner and developer has been present and certain design review meetings and has been communicative to neighbors throughout via phone and email. He has always expressed hope that B&O will be able to remain his tenant if and when his new building takes shape.

    Frankly, it’d be great if this one could be stalled, but it appears that Mr. Stoner has gone through Seattle’s arduous processes with tact and acumen.

    CHS’ coverage seems more than fair to me. What inaccurate link was made by CHS between the two news pieces? The fact that two eateries are involved in neighborhood planning/development issues? Accurate.

  11. I didn’t write that Justin’s link between was inaccurate. i posted about the difference in tone in the comments.

    RE: “No zoning issues and a business isn’t at the helm of the growth. No civil unrest. No bickering.”

    In the VPC case, there were nothing but zoning issues, and the business was at the helm of intended growth. VPC is also a renter, for whatever corollary you are drawing. And while there was plenty of bickering, there was no civil unrest.

    With “civil unrest,” were you being coy (given the assault and vandalism), or were you referring to things like picket lines and boycotts? Nothing like that took place around the VPC issue.

    I am glad for the more civil discourse, Alan.

  12. I’ve never really understood why we don’t follow the Vancouver model: taller, skinnier buildings with space in between them that both preserves view corridors and increases density.