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More changes in store for 15th Ave E: Four-story apartment project replacing Chutney’s

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 11.47.01 AMThere are more big changes coming for the corner of 15th Ave E and E Mercer than the impending closure of The Canterbury. A developer already busy on the Hill has quietly filed plans for a four-story, 33-apartment mixed-use building to replace the longtime home of Chutney’s Grille on the Hill on the northwest corner of the intersection.

Details on the project are still hush hush but the planned building will take its turn in front of the Seattle design review board in the first week of April. Chutney’s remains open at the location it has called home since at least 2002 (we’re trying to track down an opening date). CHS recommends the chicken tikka masala.

According to King County records, real estate investors purchased the property in December for $1.4 million. The developer on the project is Steam Real Estate. The company is also behind this Stream Belmont project. The architect Nicholson Kovalchick is also a familiar name on the Hill.

In addition to the 40-foot building, underground parking is planned for 23 to 25 cars.

We hope to have more soon from Chutney’s management on what comes next for the restaurant but things don’t sound positive, exactly, for a return to the corner’s planned 3,800 square feet of retail space after the completion of construction.

CHS reported this week on the issues surrounding Capitol Hill Housing’s decision to seek a new tenant for The Canterbury’s space across the street from the planned development parcel. The bar has called the location home since 1976.

15th Ave as a whole shows signs that development and investment activity in the sometimes sleepy Hilltop area is starting to keep pace with Pike/Pine and Broadway. New faces have been added to the strip. Longtime players have stepped up their game. New projects are being built. Nouveau ones, too. Meanwhile, on the other end of the street closer to Madison and the Pike/Pine corridor, this six-story project is nearing completion.

We’ll have more when we can talk more with Chutney’s management. The one-time small chain of four restaurants reached its height in the mid-2000s before being split and sold off to managers. Current Chutney’s manager Ram Poudel is a familiar face at the 15th Ave E eatery which has done what it could over the years to try to freshen its space in the 1941-built building and add new business including experiments with brunch and the ancillary Chaat Lounge. An ongoing theme for Capitol Hill’s surviving ethnic eateries is finding opportunities to grow with the $$$+ segment of the Capitol Hill food and drink economy. One illustration is Autthaya which expanded its bar and overhauled its E Pike restaurant to celebrate its 25th birthday — and take advantage of the throngs of people on the Hill looking for a good dinner with good drink.

Even if Chutney’s works out a plan to come back to 15th Ave E, it will be a challenge. Late last year, CHS reported on Bill’s off Broadway’s search for a temporary home during construction of this mixed-use project. As of January, owner Don Stevens was still looking.

The re-start of big development on 15th Ave E entails repercussions for the neighborhood beyond food and drink are more noteworthy. The project is only a block from a developer-pushback hot spot on the Hill and the spread of multistory, multifamily housing into the single family home-dominated ares of the Hill has been a concern of activist groups like the Capitol Hill Coalition and Reasonable Density Seattle. The four-story project will be located on the northeastern edge of Capitol Hill’s “lowrise 3” zone. Kitty corner, the Hill’s single family development zone begins. It might also be time to start watching some of the dormant projects from the past planned for the street.

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49 thoughts on “More changes in store for 15th Ave E: Four-story apartment project replacing Chutney’s

  1. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me. I figured it was a matter of time before developers would bring the same cookie cutter formula of development that’s destroying the diversity of Broadway up to 15th. *sigh*

  2. Why are we seriously only building 4-story buildings along a commercial street in the densest neighborhood in the northwest? And why do I keep thinking we live in a progressive city?

    • Hmmmmm, let’s start here; that maybe the infratstructure can’t handle all of this density? (The number 10 can only run so much)… That maybe we should slow down and think about organized and planned out and responsible density? That there is no respect, or desire, or even notion to keep a historical reference by these greedy developers (and folks of your mindset) to try and preserve or match the feel of the neighborhoods they are killer bee style taking over? And since you used the ol standby word of ‘progressive’ I thought I’d look up the literal meaning…defined here, this is NOT what is happening on capitol hill: Progressive: Happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step.

      • 1- Large developments pay significant impact fees to help cover infrastructure improvements to the area. Additionally the 10 could run at significantly improved headways and run more articulated trolleys. There is quite a bit of capacity there especially when the buildings you are referring to would add a few hundred people to a neighborhood of many thousands.
        2- No one is “taking over”, while you may have a reasonable concern over how we are zoned for density, you are doing yourself and your argument a disservice by resorting to hyperbole.
        3- When you say the feel of the neighborhood, are you referring to the housing stock that can now only be afforded by the affluent? That’s hardly keeping in the historic character of the hilltop neighborhood. It has historically been an income diverse neighborhood with a healthy mix of renters and owners.

        Just thought I might clear a few things up there.

      • To be clear, you didn’t ‘clear things up here’ but just added your thoughts to my reply. It’s cute that you think that just because the developers are ‘paying and impact fee’ that it actually goes to the hood and supporting density.

      • Actually I did. I replied to your comments and provided some clarification (which I also countered some of your points). A clarification is, when provided by a second party, a reply. It’s a type of reply.
        The fees go to the city for improvements, neighborhoods strained by density require improvements. There’s no guarantee the city will spend it there. This does not lessen the fees that a development will pay.
        Please come up with an argument explains your position. For example if I were to say “You may find my argument cute but I find yours to be shrill and reactionary” I would no be constructively adding to the conversation would I? So if you could explain your understanding of the allocation of development impact fees within the City of Seattle, I might find that you had in fact countered my point. Until then I shall assume you are just making things up. Someone else noted that the 10 can’t run articulated buses and offered some backup. That was excellent! I didn’t know that and stand corrected.

    • You’re treating the whole Hill as if it were all the same. It’s not. That part of the hill is not all that dense and is zoned accordingly. If you want to live in a city that doesn’t have zoning restrictions may I suggest Houston, TX? Frankly, it annoys me when people like you move to our beautiful city and set about “improving” it, because you aren’t. Misguided people like you, hand-in-hand with developers, are tearing down our lovely city and transforming it into Bellevue-west.

  3. Does anyone remember the name of the restaurant that was there originally? In the mid ’70’s it was a place that served really fantastic hot sandwiches, soups, baked potatoes. There were still gas islands and the original garage bay doors out front when they first opened. I’ve been trying to remember the name for months.

    • Checked old Seattle Times online: Bloch’s Restaurant is listed there in 1976. They also had a location in Queen Anne. Looks like there was an armed robbery there in 1979, also.

      • My mom used to take me to Bloch’s for lunch if I had a Dr’s appointment. We’d stop in on our way back to school (St. Joseph’s). Also, I think there was once a location on the west side of 5th Ave, just north of Pike, situated below the street level.

  4. Not surprised. I live a block away and Chutneys always seems most empty. I have never once seen anyone having cocktails at the CHAAT lounge, not that they could due to the seating arrangement. On nice days people don’t even use the patio which is a prime space. I always assumed the place was a cover for some other business. Seeing all the rat traps out back (to me) means they have problem so I would never consider eating there. May sound harsh but I view it as a total waste of space.

    As someone who lives near Chutneys, I won’t miss it and welcome the change. And with roughly 125 new apartments, aPodments and town homes slated to go in just West of this location, change is definitely on the way.

    • Well, as somebody who drinks and eats in there pretty much every week this comes as a terrible blow. The terrace is nice in the summer, being one of the few places you can sit outside on 15th. And they’ve really been working on cooking decent Indian food which as an ex-pat Brit is pretty important, and this site was one of the few offering a fairly decent Indian meal anywhere in Seattle.

      I was in there last Wednesday and all the tables were full.

  5. Oh noes! Another loss of a Seattle architectural marvel – a generic one story gas station diner Indian restaurant. Truly, it should be preserved in amber and citizen wannabes should live in the Kent valley and drive to Capitol Hill to piss off that segment of the Hill population that decries the outsiders visiting Hill nightspots.

    As for Chutney’s… I found them to be hit or miss. Can’t address their authenticity but I personally prefer Annapurna. Now if it were a Thai or Pho restaurant or Starbucks closing I’d be upset – can’t have too many o’ them!

    Finally, if we get the socialist elected to city council maybe we can raise the minimum wage enough so that we can all move into Volunteer Park mansions.

  6. I’ve lived on the hill since ’93. That corner has always been an eyesore, I will not miss it. It’s about time it gets re-developed. It’s an opportunity to increase the tax base in the city, and for those tired of commuting to move closer to work. Everyone wins.

  7. Funny, I was just wondering how that Chutney’s had managed to stick around for so long. It’s great to hear that some folks had good experiences there — I’ve tried it a handfull of times since the mid-90s and always been disappointed.

    • When we moved here 5 years ago I wasn’t impressed, but Rom got a new chet in from Nepal about 3 years ago and the change in the food quality and menu was dramatic. While it’s nothing like home (England) it’s certainly good enough to keep me and some of my ex-pat friends happy. Which is about as high praise as I can give for an Indian Restaurant.

    • I’m not sure about the mid 70’s but in the early 80’s Mahtzo Mama’s was in the space where Jamjuree is now. For several years after Jamjuree moved in to the space that front window table just to the right of the entry was on a raised platform where the stage and open mic night was when it was Mahtzo Mama’s.

  8. Does anyone else remember the chicken restaurant that used to be there? I don’t remember the name but I do remember the illuminated chicken carcass that used to grace the roof of their delivery vehicle.

    • Old Seattle Times also says that there was a Capons at that location starting in 1991.

      Prior to that was Marrakesh Moroccan Restaurant that featured belly dancing.

      • The Capons restaurant on 15th was one of at least 2 locations (the other Capons was on 45th & Wallingford in the big building there). They did rotisserie chicken meals that were quite tasty, and they delivered!

        Capons was at least partially owned by Joe Fuguere, who has gone on to national fame with his very successful Tutta Bella restaurants. We were and are lucky to have him in Seattle.

  9. Regarding opening date: A November 1996 Seattle Times review of the Chutney’s in Wallingford (also in an old Capons location) noted that the Capitol Hill Chutney’s had opened a few weeks previously.

  10. For people who are fed up with increased housing/density in the neighboehood, are people surprised by this? We’re a neighborhood incredibly well connected via transit to the region, and it will only get more connected once the streetcar and Link lightrail open. Make your peace with density. If you want better design, work with council to change design rules in the city. Continuous kvetching about how the “greedy developers” are ruining the neoghborhood is getting tiresome.

    The only groups who I see that has been getting off their can to affect change is the group against aPodments. I disagree with them, but they are busting their hump to affect change, and I respect that.

    I must say, I’d rather see increased density in Seattle then suburban tract homes and apartment farms with acres of carports climbing up the Cascades.

    • I’m looking forward to the streetcar, the link lightrail too. I want there to be affordable housing here, for everyone! And you know what’d be really awesome? A True Value Hardware!!!

  11. I think this will be a good use of this space, at least 1/3 of which is now a surface parking lot. We can be thankful it’s not another apodment, and that it’s “only” 4 stories tall. Most of 15th is low-rise, but the Fredonia kitty-corner is taller, so I don’t think the new building will be greatly out of place, especially since it’s at the north end of the commercial area.

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  13. I’ve lived in the area for 7 years now and Chutneys is one of the only places on 15th that I’ve never set foot in once. This doesn’t really surprise me. And it seems like a good use of space…
    But anyways I’m still really pissed about the Canterbury. Someway somehow that bar needs to stay.

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  18. I made it a bit of a hobby to collect the history of this commercial street. Here’s what I have:

    Gas station building at 605 15th Ave E:

    Built 1941
    Richfield gas station (1941-1967)
    Prim Cleaners (1967-?)
    Bloch’s restaurant (1970s-1987)
    Marrakesh Moroccan Restaurant (1987-1991)
    Capons Rotisserie Chicken (1991-1996)
    Chutneys Grille on the Hill (1996-2013)

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