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12th Ave Arts, 6-story 14th Ave apartments developments come before Capitol Hill Design Board

Even with the amazing amount of development completed, underway and planned on and around Capitol Hill in recent months, two projects that will begin the city’s public design process this week are, in a word, special. One will help push forward the growth of upper Pike/Pine while putting new laws created to encourage historical preservation in the neighborhood to the test. The other will be the fruition of more than a decade of community effort to create something more than a barbed-wire surrounded parking lot at 12th and Pine.

Both projects go in front of the Capitol Hill Design Review Board for their first Early Design Guidance sessions Wednesday night.

12th Ave Arts project

Review Meeting: October 19, 6:30 pm
  SU Alumni Relations and Admissions Building
  824 12th Ave  map
  Meeting Room
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number: 3012437 permit status | notice
Planner: Lisa Rutzick

La Bella Vita apartments project

Review Meeting: October 19, 8:00 pm
  SU Alumni Relations and Admissions Building
  824 12th Ave  map
  Meeting Room
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number: 3012652 permit status | notice
Planner: Lisa Rutzick

The 12th Ave Arts “preferred” design

The headliner of the night is the 12th Ave Arts project backed by Capitol Hill Housing that will transform East Precinct’s parking lot on 12th at Pine into a mixed-use apartment, office and theater space. We told you about a recent Hillebrity-studded effort to kickstart the capital campaign for the $38 million project here. The architect on the project is SMR Architects, creator of the plans for CHH’s Pantages Apartments on E Denny Way.

Here are the vitals on the project and the design presentation that will be discussed in front of the board on Wednesday:

  • Affordable residential units for 30-60% median income households (a mix of studio, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom units at Levels 3-6)
  • 17,000sf of office space (Level 2) — much of the retail space will be occupied by Capitol Hill Housing, the remainder will be leased to mission driven organizations.
  • 6,000sf of retail space, including the infrastructure required to support a restaurant (Ground Floor)
  • (2) performing spaces — one fixed seat theater; one multipurpose / black box space (Ground Floor)
  • (111) parking stalls and essential services spaces in support of the Seattle Police Department, East Precinct (Below Grade and GroundFloor)


Meanwhile, up on 14th Ave, developer Madrona Real Estate and architects Johnson Architecture and Planning are readying plans for a 6-story apartment building that will incorporate the storefronts that Blue Sky CleanersMezaSPUN Collective and Porchlight Coffee call home and demolish a single family home and the building housing 60 Minute Photo neighboring Cascina Spinasse's building at 14th and Pine.

La Bella Vita's six stories

Here are the vitals on the La Bella Vita apartments project from the design presentation:

The proposed mixed-use structure will incorporate the Character Structure at 1515 14th Avenue, known as the Porchlight Building including: Commercial uses at the ground floor (with mezzanines), 5-1/2 levels of residential units above and 2-1/2 levels of parking below. By preserving this Character Structure, to sustain the elements of the past combined with the architecture of today, this project will serve to enhance the streetscape and pedestrian orientation while maintaining the vernacular context of the Pike/Pine neighborhood. Improving the right-of-way with landscaping and street trees will also add to the desired sidewalk environment.

The proposed project consists of the following: 

  • Approximately 100 market rate residential units with a mix of 2-bedroom, 1-bedroom and studiounits.
  • 3 commercial spaces (3,500 sf, 1,500 sf and 1,400sf) totaling 6,400sf.
  • 111 parking spaces- on site parking garage, below grade.
  • Johnson also designed the Packard Building development as well as the Pike Lofts and overseeing the overhaul of the Oddfellows building.


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    12 thoughts on “12th Ave Arts, 6-story 14th Ave apartments developments come before Capitol Hill Design Board

    1. While I’m glad to see that they’ll keep the Porchlight building and “incorporate” it into the design, I’m not overly optimistic about Johnson Architecture’s design capabilities. The Packard Building is one of the biggest disappointments I’ve seen on the Hill. I was so glad they kept the original old facade, but then all they did was basically place an ugly box on top of it, with no discernable characteristics whatsoever, effectively dulling out the old facade and leaving us with an ugly, grey box on the corner. Sad.

    2. Wow! I couldn’t disagree more. I think the incorporation of old and new there is pretty damn good. Sure, it could always be better, but what we got on that corner I think is pretty nicely done, melding old and charming with new and contemporary. People always seem to want a new building bowing down to the old which is ridiculous.

    3. It’s all a matter of opinion and personal taste. I love modern architecture, just as much as I like old architecture. But I feel that if you’re going to combine the two, you have to do more than mash them together, they need to blend/mold. There is not a single architectural or aesthetic flourish, or reference to the old facade, in the new portion of the Packard Building. It’s a box. Dull. Even a cornice or some type of mimicking of the lines of the old facade would have gone a long ways toward tieing the two pieces together and giving the new portion some character. Missed opportunity, in my book.

    4. I gotta agree with seatlekps. The grey box on top of the Packard bldg is horribly boring. It reminds me of the low-rise warehouse in Bellevue where I took my kids to a bouncy birthday part last weekend.

    5. Will someone please explain why all the new buildings are so short. There is a GREAT view up there from the hill. Every time a short building is built you are wasting many wonderful opportunites. It means less people and the buildings are ultimately for the people. People who want to get around without cars. People who would enjoy the view of the Olympic mountains. Maybe rents would not be so high if more housing were available instead of people fighting for what little there is by paying more for it.

    6. So here is your answer: tall buildings must be built with concrete and steel, not wood. This means they are twice as expensive and often require higher wage rates. That means rents or sale prices are way higher to cover the cost of building. So, you are basically arguing for increasing the gentrification of cap hill by building really tall and expensive buildings. It is not rocket science. This idea that bigger buildings = more density = more affordability is really not always true. At base, buildings need to charge to cover costs, and if you look around at all the market rate new apartment buildings coming online, they will all be charging pretty high rents for this reason, and they are all built with wood!!!

    7. Basic econ is right…money dictates. But let’s not forget that people in Seattle go apoplectic any time a building might potentially block not only their own view, but any “public view” from the Hill. I won’t even get into the pros/cons of that argument.

      And the other thing, of course, is that zoning restrictions limit where these larger buildings can be. Due to the aforementioned apoplectic fits, you can imagine the fight it would take to raise height limitations in any additional Capitol Hill corridors.

    8. @basic econ: Rent is not dictated by building cost. It is simply supply and demand. “ location, location, location” Building is cheap in comparison, for instance a house that cost 20k in supplies and labor to build will be worth a a million on capitol hill but build the same house in Eastern Washington and it might be worth 100k. After maybe 50 years the investment is paid off but the building lasts for 100 or more years. These are not accurate numbers but you can certainly do some research and and come up with real life examples. { research is not rocket science either }No matter how much the investment, building costs, mortgage etc . . the only thing that drives up the cost of rent for apartments or houses is market rate which is a direct result of supply and demand.

      And NO, I am not arguing to increase the gentrification of capitol hill, quite the contrary. The less there is the more you have to pay for it. That is what is causing your gentrification.

      @views: So the logic is the view of five people outweighs the view of 50-100 people. Realistically, how much of a view is currently available anywhere on the hill, don’t you have to move to Queen Anne or Eastlake for that? Look what they did to Broadway with their zoning laws. NO VIEWS WERE BLOCKED but height restrictions were enforced at 4-6 stories. What a terrible terrible waste! And those building are made of concrete and steel covered with ugliness to “blend in” with the existing soon to be gone not earthquake resistant structures. I am talking about changing the zoning laws so they make sense. Build for the future not the past !! The subject of my first comment was about how much those laws are squelching the future of this city, killing it, ruining it for what. I just don’t get it. Does anyone have any other ideas? Can you present cold hard facts. Is there any legitimate reason this is happening? 4-6 stories on Broadway!?!

      A legitimate reason to me would be something like there is something wrong with the soil like it will not support tall buildings or something like that. But our clever architects probably have a way around that being large brained mammals :-}

    9. ok you are really highlighting your lack of development understanding here. do you think people build buildings with all cash??? um, no. they get a loan just like you get a mortgage on your house. and that loan is based on what you can sell the building for or what you can change in rents. cost is absolutely related to rents, especially in the private market, because that is what supports your building debt.

    10. “they get a loan just like you get a mortgage on your house. and that loan is based on what you can sell the building for or what you can change in rents”

      Exactly. Which is why some of these projects are going to be underwater and fail.

      According to the Financial Times and Dupre+Scott, rents follow real income growth in the medium- and long-term, while vacancy rates affect rent in the short-term. Take a look at America’s real income “growth” trend to preview the eventual fate of many of these buildings now underway. Real incomes are flat or declining for most Americans.

      Plus, new buildings -EVEN WOOD FRAME – are burdened with high construction costs stemming from on-site parking which costs around $30,000 to $40,000 per space – so 100 parking spaces adds at least $3,000,000 to the construction cost, driving proforma rent higher and decreasing affordability by probably 15% to 25% on average. We’re building record on-site parking in Capitol Hill today, to hell with walkability and transit.

      If “market rate” rent – in other words, what you can charge – is less than the owner’s monthly loan service they default and lose the building.


    11. @basic econ:
      I never claimed to understand development, in fact, I was asking a question to better my understand of it. You are really highlighting some fine qualities here yourself. My only guess as to the cause of this rudeness is that is how you were treated as a child when asking a question. So I in turn will “highlight” your lack of several desirable human qualities. Do the world a favor and get some help for that and I hope you don’t have any children before you do.

    12. @P:
      Yes I agree development loans must have have many criteria that must be met to be approved. The housing and rental markets being just a couple of them. Are you saying the bankers are determining the height of the buildings because they refuse to loan larger amounts of money? Are you saying no person or corporate entity does not use their money to invest in the creation of a building. Do you think for a second that when Microsoft expanded their campus adding several buildings to it they got a loan to do it? How about Amazons new headquarters or Quest field. Why pay interest or tax on millions of dollars when you can invest it?

      Your model of construction costs dictating the creation of a vastly inferior product to that degree seems most illogical. Surely the people who deal in these things can see the value of a better product. Why do anything half ass? Build it and they will come! Loans, rates payments, options, investments, incentives, loopholes are all adjustable. They are set and created to make things work. Plain and simple. If nothing is built no loan is made etc . . . and so on. So people make it work. It does not have to work as a short squat useless waste of space building :-}

      There must be another reason !?!