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Pike/Pine preservation rules getting upgrade

With an appeal dropped by developers sizing up the next six to seven-story apartment projects in Pike/Pine, the Seattle City Council is moving forward with revisions to the incentive program set up — ostensibly — to reward developers for preserving the neighborhood’s auto row-era buildings.

600 E Pike construction, above, is in motion. Here's what the project -- complete with preservation incentives -- will look like when it's completed next year

600 E Pike construction, above, is in motion. Here’s what the project — with preservation incentives — will look like when it’s completed next year

City Council member Tom Rasmussen, longtime champion of the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District but current chair of the council’s transportation representatives, will bring his committee’s next meeting to First Hill on Monday night to discuss the legislation.


Monday, May 12, 2014
6:00 p.m.
Tom Rasmussen, Chair
Mike O’Brien, Vice Chair
Jean Godden, Member
Nick Licata, Alternate

First Baptist Church
Fellowship Hall (downstairs)
1111 Harvard Avenue

This Avalon-backed project at 10th and Union is big -- and helped inspire changes  to the incentive rules

This Avalon-backed project at 10th and Union is big — and helped inspire changes to the incentive rules

CHS reported in February that the city was making progress in moving forward on its new “preservation-for-size” rules following negotiations to drop an appeal of the plan brought by developers and land owners Avalon Bay Communities, Inc. and Richmark Co. owner Bill Donner.

City Council staff say the pounded out Pike/Pine preservation plan is now on track for an early June vote.

The new rules are designed to “address ‘oversized’ or ‘out of scale’ development that can occur on exceptionally large lots” and “make incentives more effective by requiring all character structures on a lot to be retained in a new project if incentives are used.” Poster child for the update is Alliance Communities’ Avalon’s seven-story project underway at 10th and Union that will utilize the incentives on a massive scale unpredicted by city planners when the conservation incentives were first conceived years ago.

The proposed new legislation would also reduce slightly the potential development space for apartment units in the new buildings but increase significantly how much of the space in the new buildings can be used for commercial purposes. It would also slightly alter the boundaries of the district. You can review a summary of the proposed legislation below.

“The legislation (Council Bill 118096) is intended to support new growth, and to encourage the restoration and re-use of historic Capitol Hill buildings that are at risk of being destroyed to make way for new buildings,” Rasmussen said in a statement on the proposals. “This bill strengthens incentives to preserve the pre-1940s buildings that help make Pike/Pine the unique and popular neighborhood it is today. The legislation is the result of many discussions and meetings with property owners and community members for more than a year.  I thank everyone who has been working with me to develop the proposed legislation and I look forward to hearing public comments at the meeting.”

The update will come as a massive wave of preservation-focused Pike/Pine development is already underway amidst the nearly 30 Capitol Hill apartment project under construction. Still, there are more buildings that will likely be considered for the program as the demand for new apartments — and commercial space — in the neighborhoods comprising Capitol Hill shows no immediate signs of reduction.

If you can’t make Monday night’s committee meeting and want to provide feedback, you’ll find City Council contact information here.

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9 thoughts on “Pike/Pine preservation rules getting upgrade

  1. I’m glad that the city has finally decided to do something after all of the beautiful old buildings have already been torn down..too little too late

  2. Can you say facadectemy? While I love the old stuff as much as anyone much of the facade preservation going on in the district feels like something Walt Disney might do. Our desire for an authentic history is nauseating I am afraid it will look weak in the not so distant future. It makes me wonder how you use code to enforce good design decisions on developers whose only motive is profit.

    • Yes, but, a lot of hideous, dark, and/or leaky buildings from that era have been knocked down in the interim. It would be nice to learn from our mistakes and not build as many temporary buildings this time round.

      Also, when the world was less financialized buildings were more likely to be built for people who expected to use them for decades; they probably invested more than flippers do.

      • What’s wrong with temporary buildings if we tear them down every thirty years anyway? We don’t sell and fix cars on in the neighborhood anymore and we won’t eat and party there in 30 years, density will increase not decrease requiring…gasp even taller buildings!

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