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607 Malden Ave E neighbors hoping to rally against townhouse + preservation project

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

As much as the opposition to more microhousing on Capitol Hill comes down to the specifics of reviews and loopholes, it seems shortsighted not to acknowledge the amount of concern there is over the ongoing densification in areas of the neighborhood that connect to the increasingly built-up core. We heard from one neighborhood near 16th and Galer where the concern is about a possible “tall skinny” development in the area. Neighbors along the peculiar little stretch of a street that is Malden Ave E don’t have to worry about the aPodments some of them feared — but there is still concern over the plans to add a seven-unit, three-story townhouse to the street. @gratwa writes to CHS:

Quite simply, there are some houses on Malden between Roy and Mercer who are on the way to becoming more “urban density” housing.

I am tired of watching my childhood go up into 7 unit, 3 story townhouses and would love a call to action from my neighbors.
I grew up here (amazingly, not one of the Catholic families with 12+ kids but they were/are on our block!). I love the diversity that multi use, multi-family housing brings to our hood. I hate the PODS. But this isn’t one of those. It is a simple south of Roy we can take our single family house and try to make some bank by capitalizing on the variances that exist and make it multi-family.

The former owner, Mr. Mathers was a sweet man (I am guessing it is his sons who have sold out but do not know for certain). As child he seemed as old as Methuselah so when he died in the not so recent past, my level of admiration swelled for his aging prowess. For as long as I ever knew, we called his home the “CourtHouse”. Not because he was judicial and handed down verdicts, rather he was a really great neighbor who didn’t mind that an entire family of 10 would head into his backyard at any moment, including Thanksgiving Day, to play basketball on his half court.

This is not an appeal for public use of his court. Rather, this is an appeal to temper the development of super dense, small housing. Knowing the properties in question – go look at them! Skinny, useless townhouses are planned. We’re better than Ballard, people. Tearing down homes of old Norwegians is the providence of Ballard. We’re smarter than a short sited condo boom.

Anyone else going to have pause about yet another senseless destruction of single family units on Capitol Hill? I’m emailing [email protected] about permit #3014327 and that I believe it should remain single family housing.

CHS wrote about the plans for the project here in February

CHS wrote about the plans for the project here in February

CHS wrote about the plans for the 607 Malden Ave E project here in February as the project began the design review process:

Khouri and Black come to the table with three options — two of which involve demolishing all three old homes on the parcels they purchased for just over a million last year. The third, preferred alternative would retain and overhaul the 1906-built home facing Malden and scooch in a set of three-story townhouse and rowhouses along the rest of the lot

According to the land use permit that some neighbors are rallying support to push back against, the preferred option preserving the old 1906 house but demolishing two other single family homes is the plan.

Neighbors say the extended deadline for feedback is Wednesday, May 8th. You can let the City know what you think at the address provided by gratwa above.

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Donna
Donna
8 years ago

I live in the apartments that are next to the property on Mercer. I’m on the bottom floor in the corner, and the apartment already gets almost zero sun. I mean it, it’s practically dark in here, except for a small part of the day where they sun can come in the back or through the front windows. This plan will make those townhomes come smack up against the property line, and bam! There goes the very little sun we do get, not to mention it’ll feel like an outdoor hallway in the little back patio we have.

I am *not* an aPODment hater. In fact, I absolutely hate NIMBYs and find that pods are needed badly (I’ve actually written about that here, too). But christ, can’t this new plan have any consideration for size? I understand they want more bang for their buck, but man, the property will be huge! And for all the crying and whining in the neighborhood about “ugly, ill-fitting, not like the neighborhood” structures, this one fits the bill, yet I don’t hear rallying cries against this happening (unless you live in the apartments or on the block). I guess without the “POD” name and the fact that rich Yuppies will be buying them, it’s a-ok.

Joseph Singer
Joseph Singer
8 years ago

People who are more out for the bucks they can get from a multi-occupied unit vs a single story house. Of course a tall-skinny would be more attractive to have than just a single family house. Think of the money!!!

zeebleoop
zeebleoop
8 years ago

@donna

fact is, you are a nimby. this planned construction is practically IN your backyard. you say you are all for apodments, density, etc; as long as they don’t build next to you. that’s a nimby.

funny thing is, you live in an apartment and you complain about not getting enough sun? why don’t you move?

Ellen
Ellen
8 years ago

:

Some of the residents of the building to the west have lived there since the 60s, at least half have been there 5-10 years at least. Personally, I’ve been there for eight years. Renting makes more sense for some neighborhood residents for various reasons, we’ve made this part of the Hill our home and are interested in preserving the quality of life that we’ve invested in. We’re definitely NIMBYs, but not blind ones–I’m pretty pro development in general, and particularly in areas like ours that are part of the multi-family zonging/urban village area for Capitol Hill. That doesn’t mean we need to not participate in the process for public comment. It exists for a reason.

I applaud this developer for wanting to preserve some of the original housing on this site. And I understand their desire to maximize the FAR to recoup their investment. But the departures from code that they’re asking for will negatively impact the quality of life for the buildings on either side of the property that predate this development.

That said, I did not choose to sign on to the petitions and letters being circulated by my neighbors and the folks from Reasonable Density that have been canvasing the neighbors–but I would encourage people impacted by the development to take advantage of DPD’s comment period, it’s what that part of the process is for.

calhoun
calhoun
8 years ago

The two homes along Mercer are not very architecturally interesting and are in poor shape, so I think replacing with hopefully-well-designed townhomes (with some nice landscaping) would be an improvement.

But the lovely old home facing Malden is another matter…it would be a travesty indeed if it was razed.

Nick Lakin
Nick Lakin
8 years ago

Counsel and Design Review Board Members:

Khouri and Black’s preferred alternative for developing the property at 607 Malden Ave E is a perfect example of the increased density we should be encouraging within our wonderful Capitol Hill neighborhood. Rather than a quick decision to demolish all existing buildings on the lot, the developer team has identified a home that is a great example of the older architecture in the neighborhood – and has decided to champion saving that property – while developing the surrounding properties to the current density levels encouraged by zoning code.

I am increasingly dismayed that residents of my neighborhood call for less development. Scarcity of housing in our neighborhood has an effect that itself changes the fabric of the community. As housing costs have risen in Capitol Hill (and throughout Seattle) over the last 5, 10, and even 20 years the demographics of the neighborhood have changed too. The younger population of 20- and 30-somethings is declining, and it is precisely this demographic – young families, singles, artists, and crunchy-Seattleites-of-all-sorts – which shapes the community. In order to keep the neighborhood affordable and accessible to these young people – after all, people create the village, not the stone and wood it is built from – smaller, denser, more affordable housing must be provided.

This particular property also illustrates an additional point – the neighborhood, from I-5 to 23rd and SR-520 to I-90 – has always had a wonderful representation of multi-family dwellings. Some of the most treasured properties are 3-story apartment buildings as old as many of the homes on the Hill. Capitol Hill has always been defined by the mix of single-family and multi-family developments that serve the need of a young vibrant Seattle population. There are, in fact, more multi-family properties immediately adjacent to 607 Malden than there are single-family homes. The argument that multi-family buildings don’t fit the character of the neighborhood just doesn’t pan out when seen in the context of the immediate neighborhood. Townhomes are the perfect blend of increased density while still providing the lifestyle of a single-family house.

Please support development proposals like this one – that recognize the delicate balance of new and old buildings needed to preserve not only Capitol Hill architecture; but the housing needs of the very people that create the lifeblood of the community we call “Capitol Hill.”

Thank you,

Nicholas Lakin

Timmy73
Timmy73
8 years ago

I live a block away and am all for this development as long as it includes preserving the historic mansion facing Malden. According to the land use posting, it does. It also allows for ample parking. 17 spaces for 11 homes if I’m recall.

This land is exactly the kind that should be built on. It is surrounded by various apartments and town homes of various vintages, this should fit in well. this area is already quite dense so maximizing this plot makes sense. However, I do feel the back 3 town homes that are planned are a bit much. There should be some breathing room and most importantly, there should be trees to preserve what urban wildlife we have.

Thomas
Thomas
8 years ago

I am a Malden resident and I find the anti-development attitude of many of my neighbors off-putting. If we do not redevelop city properties to allow for more housing, we push new residents to the suburbs and increase sprawl. Our city is one that people want to live in. I think that we should help that happen and welcome our new neighbors.

David Nordfors
David Nordfors
8 years ago

If you want to know what kind of development you are likely to get from Khouri (architect) and Black (developer), take a look at the monstrosity they built on 15th East between Galer and Garfield. All the rules were bent to over build and trash standard Land Use Regulations. Poor design. Poor construction.

TWCB
TWCB
8 years ago

Sprawl does not increased when people move to the suburbs.

Donna
Donna
8 years ago

Did you not read my comment? I wasn’t saying they shouldn’t build their townhomes, I’m saying they should be like “hey! Maybe we shouldn’t build the thing RIGHT NEXT TO the property line of this other building. You want to know how much space is in-between my back door and the property line? It’s about 3 ft. The lot itself is HUGE and they plan on building it from lot line to lot line, pretty much. Why don’t I move? I just moved here in February and since I am a person who has looked into aPODments as a choice and found rent to be cheaper at this apartment (shared), I couldn’t afford to move if I wanted to. So, yeah. Not NIMBY. And yeah, you are a jackass.

Neighbor
Neighbor
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna

So buildings up to the property line are a-OK, as long as it’s not your property line? Because that’s what aPodments do. They build RIGHT up to the property line of whatever else happens to be around.

I can see why you are upset. Why should your quality of life suffer, because some developer wants to make a buck?

But please understand that aPodments are impacting others the exact same way. Call it “NIMBY” if you want, but those who live next to apodments are experiencing the same anxiety and dismay at the deterioration of their quality of life that you are now experiencing.

Kid
Kid
8 years ago

Thank you, CHS blog, for publishing “@gratwa’s” brief history of the Mathers’ home. I “discovered” this house not long after moving to the Hill some 2 decades ago and spoke with the lovely lady who used to reside in the house (Mrs. Mathers?) concerning many of the details of the property. She is the one who told me that her husband had made the wonderful fencing (I’m assuming it is still in place — if you look carefully at the workmanship, it is almost of Arts & Crafts quality) and told me of the tubs they used to display the terrific plants they used to place above the carport/garage area. I do hope that this home can and will be saved because it has not merely been lived in but it has been lovingly cared for by the former owners.

calhoun
calhoun
8 years ago

Nick, I appreciate and agree with your thoughtful, balanced comment. I just hope you don’t include “apodments” in with your advocacy of some, well-designed multifamily developments in our residential neighborhoods, because they are a very different beast than what is proposed for the Malden site.