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8-story Dunn Automotive to break ground, set standard for Pike/Pine preservation projects

Dunn Automotive in 1937 (Image: Courtesy Hunters Capital)

Dunn Automotive in 1937 (Image: Courtesy Hunters Capital)

8542981339_c1691db0d7_b 501-east-pike-2014-january-3d-modelIf time is a flat circle, there’s a strange little loop de loop slated to start Friday at 501 E Pike with a planned groundbreaking for the eight-story, 89-unit Dunn Automotive building.

Named for the auto row-era company that called the 1925-built building at the address home and not Capitol Hill’s leading preservation-minded developer Liz Dunn, the new project is a showcase of what the City of Seattle’s Pike/Pine preservation incentives should create, Hunters Capital developer Michael Malone told CHS last year.

“In the case of the Dunn Motors site (the CK Graphics building) we will be taking advantage of the overlay bonus, abiding by the required setback, retail height, etc.” Malone wrote in a statement sent to CHS.

“Yet we would like to set the standard when it comes to building a mass out of/on top of a pre-1940s building. It is our intent that the additional mass over the building will be built of high grade finish materials, to a design that compliments and enhances the historic façade below it. Far too many times this additional mass carries none of the original design features into the upper levels. Inside and out, the finished product will celebrate the unique history of a wonderful 1920s auto row building.”

Thursday night, city officials met with the development-focused members of the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council about changes the group says will strengthen the city’s incentive program to better protect more of the neighborhood’s oldest structures. Meanwhile, CHS recently visited the newly opened Sunset Electric project at 11th and Pine, one of the first buildings completed under the incentive program.

Like Sunset, Dunn Automotive will feature only market-rate apartments “described as 89 larger-than-average units (a mix of studios, one bedrooms, and two bedroom apartments)” in the announcement from Hunters Capital. The building will also include “two retail and three commercial spaces, one along Summit.”

Preserving the original 1920’s façade, the design from architects Studio Meng Strazzara is intended to connect the neighborhood of today with its history — and what comes next.

“We ask our team to look at Capitol Hill with a different eye, to see not what’s here now but both what it might have looked like 100 years ago and what it can be in the future,” Malone said in a statement. “We try to protect that history and respect the past, while thinking, what can we do with this space to make it better for the neighborhood now and in years to come.”

8758413105_52518fa02f_bHunters Capital has been a leading force in preservation and adaptive reuse with its many holdings on Capitol Hill. In 2013, it made one of its biggest moves in the neighborhood as it scooped up two classic E Pike buildings — the Dunn building and the Greenus across the street at Pike and Summit. As it prepares for demolition and preservation to begin at the Dunn Automotive structure, Hunters Capital’s investment in the Greenus building continues as the buildout to bring the new Trove Korean BBQ, noodles, ice cream *and* beer restaurant project to E Pike continues. Hunters Capital has also been busy on E Pine with this multi-million restoration of the Colman Automotive building.

The Dunn Automotive project will join an ongoing wave of construction projects underway across Capitol Hill and a focused cluster on E Pike. Work also began this week on the eight-story preservation and development project at Melrose and Pine.

Here’s how Hunters Capital describes the building’s auto row history:

The Dunn Automotive Building was built in 1925 with architect J. Lister Homes and builder Western Construction Co. The original owner of the Dunn Automotive Building, formerly known as Holmes Building, was Henry Elliot Holmes. To Holmes, the development project was an investment; he saw the rise in the use of automobiles and the development of Seattle as an auto distribution center.  He chose to build on a property in the heart of auto row on Capitol Hill. From 1974 – 2012, printing company C-K Graphics was the sole building occupant.

Speaking of flat circles, the new Dunn Automotive will include underground parking for 52 vehicles and around 30 bicycles.

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18 thoughts on “8-story Dunn Automotive to break ground, set standard for Pike/Pine preservation projects

  1. This looks like a GREAT building. I especially like the idea of continuing the historic details throughout the new, upper floors…and also the setbacks. And it’s very refreshing that a new building will use some quality materials instead of the ugly, corrugated aluminum siding which seems to be so prevalent.

    Thanks goodness for Michael Malone/Hunter’s Capital! He is a huge contributor to our neighborhood.

      • Don’t be too encouraged with your agreement with Calhoun. Your common ground will be evaporated when he finds out about the number of parking spaces being built, or the size of the kitchen sinks being installed. Or worse yet, the people to occupy the building haven’t lived on Capitol Hill since circa 1950.

  2. This is what we should have been doing all along. And it’s proof that it can be done. I would be celebrating the changes that are going on if there were more projects like this. The ideal would be this kind of respect for the history and original design of the building with some affordable housing units.

  3. I 150% agree with this project. AWESOME.

    If you want preservation bonuses, you should be required to match the new construction with the historical façade. No more corrugated metal bread boxes built on top of our historical buildings and calling it “preservation”.

  4. I hate to admit this but even I like the looks of this building and I haven’t liked anything since the 1900’s. I see no corrugated metal, no Brix yellow brick, no design conflicts at all. Just a thoughtfully planned creation that has satisfied the biggest kvetch this side of the Hudson. There’s just one thing I’d do differently and it’s very simple-erect a statue on the corner of my mother or Streisand or God. Doesn’t matter which. To me they’re all the same b

  5. And by the way, has anyone seen the cinder block and dried blood corrugated siding in the mausoleum being built on 14th and John?

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  7. I like the overall mass of the building, I’m excited about the high-quality materials – it doesn’t say, though it looks like stone masonry. And I appreciate the different approach to the design from other Cap Hill projects in the incentive program. But I have to wonder, how do historians and preservationists feel about this addition? I think most would say: if you’re not building in 1925, don’t try to make it look like it’s from 1925.

    • Well, considering that most members of the preservation board are not in favor of keeping most of our old buildings, this seems like the next best alternative.

  8. I kind of wish they’d echo’d the pediment on the original façade in the roofline at the top, but that’s a minor nit. I agree — assuming the materials look as good as they do in the rendering — this looks like just about exactly what we’ve been wanting to see as these old buildings get redeveloped.

    I find myself wondering about that front door awning, though. This seems to be a new trend in the area — I noticed the REO building has one as well, and I think I recall seeing another on a new building without really registering it. This is a design feature I associate with big cities “back east” like NYC, and not with Seattle. Not that I have an objection to it per se — it does rain here, of course — but is this another way Seattle is going to just look more like other big cities as it grows up? I prefer the building to offer protection to the entire sidewalk and not just the area at the entrance.

  9. I like the way the verticals of the new building line up with the verticals of the original facade, as though there were some weight-bearing structure involved. Showing off freaky engineering marvels like the original Rainier Tower base is eerie-delightful, and nice calm aligned verticals are fine, but misaligned upper stories are annoying without being interesting.

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