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Demolition (and preservation) begins on 8-story Melrose and Pine project

You'll see these windows again -- kind of (Image: CHS)

You’ll see these windows again — kind of (Image: CHS)

One fascinating element of the multi-year process required to build one of Capitol Hill’s giant, preservation-minded developments is the speed at which demolition takes place following months of deliberate planning and meetings. The buildings that will make way and those lucky few to be partially preserved at the site of the massive Melrose and Pine project began to meet their new fates this week as demolition at the site on lower Capitol Hill started in earnest.


Armed with no fewer than five separate demolition permits, contractors began tearing down the properties from the middle with a doomed old apartment building on Bellevue and one of the last remaining mound houses above Melrose being the first to go.

The process was apparently hurried enough that items like the old refrigerator you can see in the demolished house above were never removed. Some elements from the old buildings are usually retained for use in the future construction but much more is carted off to landfill.

With the rest of the site to be cleared in the coming days, the next steps will include challenging preservation and buttressing of the portions of the Melrose Building and Pinevue Apartments facades along E Pine that will be preserved as part of the new development. The Melrose Building’s old, one-of-a-kind windows will be a particular preservation challenge.IMG_1249

Screen-shot-2013-05-14-at-12.36.26-PM Screen-shot-2013-05-14-at-12.34.51-PM

Melrose and Pine is being created by the Madison Development Group with a design from Hewitt for an eight-story building including 205 units of housing, 16,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space and underground parking for 180 vehicles. Construction typically takes about 18 months on a project of this scale. And if you’re interested in how this project will reach eight stories when most others taking advantage of the preservation incentives top out at seven, we’re told a combination of the grade in area and some fancy new construction techniques will allow contractors to create a full eight stories through much of the building.

Though research suggests smaller, older is better for a neighborhood’s economic vitality, there are also findings that showed those repurposed old buildings must be joined by new construction. New proposals to further shape Pike/Pine’s preservation incentive program will be the subject of a community meeting on Thursday night. Meanwhile, another preservation-minded development is planned to break ground later this week.


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12 thoughts on “Demolition (and preservation) begins on 8-story Melrose and Pine project

  1. The few bricks they left standing from the old BMW building certainly shows how the ‘preservation’ process has seriously gone awry. I think we’ve long past reached a time where should stop referring to all this construction as ‘preservation’ anything.

    • The only reason that developers “preserve” any part of the original building is because it is advantageous for them. If the developer “preserves” any part of the building they can build higher and bigger.

  2. Shouldn’t that refrigerator be taken to a household hazardous waste disposal site? According to the EPA:

    What are the environmental concerns associated with the disposal of refrigerated household appliances?

    Refrigerant: Household refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 1995 typically contain chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerant. Most window air-conditioning units and dehumidifiers contain hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant. CFCs and HCFCs are ozone-depleting substances (ODS) that, if released to the environment, destroy the protective ozone layer above the earth. Moreover, CFC and HCFC refrigerants are also potent greenhouse gases, meaning that their release contributes to global climate change. Refrigerators and freezers manufactured since 1995 contain ozone-friendly hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants; however, these refrigerants still need to be carefully handled since they are greenhouse gases.

  3. Big deal if developers make money on these projects. So do the land owners who sell them the land. So does the City who collects all the permit fees and huge taxes for their pet projects so they can get re-elected. So do the tenants who operate restaurants and bars in the retail spaces. Who cares…go do your job, live your life and get over it. It’s called progress. Life changes. Okay? Jesus Christ.

    • I couldn’t agree more! This neighborhood is going to change and instead of individual helping shape it they find sites like this to annoy others. CHS gives you a heads up on all major projects and when they have public forums, go be a part of what Capitol Hill is going to be. And can we have some Pride Flags up year round on the Hill, every other major gay district has this… well I want it as well! And it will certainly show a commitment to this community in what IS GOING to be DRASTIC changes. This is going to be AMAZING, we are the Emerald City!

    • I don’t think that anyone said that the developers or land owners should not make money. What was said is let’s be honest about how they are making their money. Don’t hand me a turd and try and convince me it is a diamond.

  4. I just went by that site today. Those Pineville Apartments at Bellevue and Pine Streets; that any refrigerators were left in those units (I saw one in a second floor unit facing Pine) is surprising. I went to an after hours party decades ago in that building and the cockroaches were so established and mature—two were checking coats, all of them had been around long enough to qualify for city pensions. Those construction workers with hard hats; luckily they didn’t have to carry guns upon entering some of those units, there had to be some gnarly bugs hidden in those walls.
    That BMW garage site; by the time that asbestos was removed, contaminated brick and concrete surveyed and probably carved out, that dry rot within the timber keeping all of that facade from toppling over, it didn’t look like there was much worth saving. What you see and there isn’t much of it left is probably about all that could be saved.
    That Pineville building at Bellevue and Pine; they will be keeping much of building intact or at least that is the plan… can bet that those new apartments will be leased without the bugs and any idea of affordable housing.
    By the way, in that building was once the location of Kaleenka, that little dab of Russia, warm and welcoming–the bright spot on the Hill during those long dreary Northwest winters.

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