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Modera set to be sixth new building planned for three blocks of 11th Ave

(Images: Mill Creek Residential)

The design packet describes this as the “perspective view from Hothouse” (Images: Mill Creek Residential)

Plans for a sixth development project within a two and a half-block stretch of 11th Ave will move forward Wednesday night as the Modera building takes what will likely be its final bow in front of the East Design Review Board.

The project being developed by Mill Creek Residential and designed by Studio Meng Strazzara will create 135 units in a six-story building destined to replace the parking lot behind the Caffe Vita row of businesses and the old Winston apartment building home to Wildrose and Hothouse sauna. Don’t worry about the loss of one of the last of Pike/Pine’s parking lots. The building will have a massive underground parking facility with room for 124 cars and 40 bikes. And, yes, there will be 6,000+ square feet of commercial space ready to accommodate yet another addition to the Pike/Pine entertainment district.

The goal of it all, the developers say, is to create “a market-rate rental community” appealing “to a wide range of Capitol Hill neighborhood dwellers” —

The development will be designed in context with the distinguished character of the surrounding neighborhood in architectural elements, building scale, and massing. We are committed to using quality, long-lasting materials, and an aesthetic design that appeals to and blends with the neighborhood.

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 4.28.40 PM

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 4.29.12 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 4.29.29 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 4.27.59 PMThe planned Modera project joins an impressive variety of Capitol Hill development types planned for the area. At 11th and Pine, the Pine Legacy project is being geared up to replace Value Village and the building currently home to The Stranger with 50,000 square feet of office space. It will join the Sunset Electric building — the first development completed under the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District incentives — on the eastern side of 11th at Pine. Across the street from the future home of Modera, Liz Dunn’s Chophouse Row food and drink marketplace plus office project is slated for a fall 2014 opening. Meanwhile, construction of a seven-story giant preservation-boosted apartment building is underway at 11th and Union while across the intersection the Viva apartment building has solved its color problems and is welcoming new tenants.

Wednesday’s “recommendation” review will focus on finalizing buy-off on the project’s plans for finishing materials and the one departure from zoning rules being requested related to the project’s planned 10th Ave parking garage exit. You can also expect a fair amount of discussion about how the building relates to existing nearby businesses — the first review session back in January drew a handful of public comments about how the lower-level entrance to longtime sauna and spa business Hothouse would relate to the Modera project’s northern flank. The juxtaposition should make for another one of many interesting neighbor relations in the future Pike/Pine.

Review Meeting: July 23, 8:00 pm
Seattle Univeristy
824 12th Ave
Admissions & Alumni Building
Review Phase: Recommendation past reviews
Project Number: 3015966 permit status | notice
Planner: Shelley Bolser
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29 thoughts on “Modera set to be sixth new building planned for three blocks of 11th Ave

  1. Interesting that the “distinguished character” they choose to emulate is the “light industrial past” rather than the character of the buildings clearly visible in the view from Pike St. Their photo montage of the new building in context is very helpful, but it clearly shows they haven’t achieved the goals stated in their proposal. The blockiness of the design doesn’t mesh well with the smaller-scaled character of the historic buildings on the corner. If the building articulated its extra height – the two stories that extend above the historic neighborhood heights – it might begin to integrate better with the “building scale and massing” of its neighbors. As it is, the building’s bulk is overwhelming. The “quality, long lasting materials” could easily be concrete block, from the looks of the the preliminary illustrations. Adding even more light industrial materials will make this even more brutally massive (seen the Weatherford?). Let’s hope the review board pays careful attention to the material choices and uses more than common sense. They could use a more critical eye, given past approvals, and ensure the developers consider aesthetics – and historic/neighborhood context – along with durability.

    • You took the words out of my mouth! From the illustrations, anyway, epic fail at fitting in. If we’re going to get these cookie cutter post-modern buildings at the core of Pike-Pine, might as well give them the 15-20 story height that’ll alleviate pressure and ‘rationale’ to build in the residential areas of Capitol Hill, no?

      Personally, I am disappointed that this building DOESN’T fit in and that the developer mentions NOTHING about ensuring Wildrose and Hothouse could return in a fair deal and manner (did I miss the backstory on that?). So, the sterile, greed-driven gentrification marches on. Sigh.

      • ? – this development is not replacing the Winston, which houses Hothouse and the Wildrose. Hothouse will likely be impacted during construction due to their entryway, but I don’t see why Wildrose would be affected by this (other than saying goodbye to their annual Pride street party – bummer).

        Anyway, the building is same old, same old, and I’ll miss the back view of the Winston – one of the more interesting buildings in Capitol Hill – as well as the fantastic graffiti on the far wall beyond the parking lot, visible from 11th.

      • “might as well give them the 15-20 story height that’ll alleviate pressure and ‘rationale’ to build in the residential areas of Capitol Hill, no?”

      • I love the “perspective view from Hothouse” illustration. this is what qualifies as a “view” now?

        I sure hope two larger-sized people don’t try to pass by each other at the same time down that walkway– could get tight.

  2. Can we had 15 or so more floors? I fear we’re backing ourselves into a corner with all these stubby buildings all along Pike/Pine. Should demand continue to grow we won’t have land to build up, only out further into the neighborhood and eventually all we’ll have are stubby, buildings built sidewalk to sidewalk. Not to mention an incredibly boring skyline.

      • d reeves, while I certainly like the aesthetic you point out, it’s not sustainable -unless one is an elite snob who believes it’s perfectly ok for housing to cost two arms, two legs and a testicle or ovary. Not saying YOU are. Just, please know that each place you mentioned is VERY expensive and either exclusive or on the road to it. Building tall in the center of a once-bohemian & lower/middle income neighborhood makes sense- so as to preserve that nicer neighborhood vibe (you suggest you like so much) throughout the rest of the neighborhood.

      • @ed, that’s not necessarily true. Two of the places I mentioned (Vienna/Berlin) have costs of living in city center (incl. rental) considerably below seattle, but make perennial appearances on livable cities lists.

        I agree with others’ comments about the quality of design + construction; it seems like we’re missing an opportunity to build something beautiful for the long term. And I naively wonder why that is — do developers think people don’t perceive differences in quality? Or that the market won’t support something beautifully constructed?

        But I’m not sure I agree with the conclusion that a city of 6 story buildings is necessarily either boring or unsustainable; or that it’s necessarily a problem if that typology were to extend further out into the neighborhood (down 12th, 15th, 19th, etc).

      • All cities that I enjoy visiting. And cities that have buildings built to last with ornate detailing, charm…. Not rows of particleboard enclosed with corrugated steel.

        And as was mentioned, those cities are very expensive. We need greater capacity to keep costs and sprawl in line. Given we’ll never have buildings like those in Europe here, we should strive for something better than what we’re getting.

  3. All this for only 135 more units? Seattle is adding thousands of jobs a MONTH, and we are building 135 unit-buildings in one of the densest neighborhoods in the city? We have a housing shortage crisis, and it’s only going to get worse if we don’t start building higher buildings. Otherwise, rents are gonna keep goin up up up

  4. “designed in context with the distinguished character of the surrounding neighborhood”?! LOL Is this company for real? The least they could do is be honest and just explain that they’re just going to make it look however they want, regardless of whether it blends in with the surrounding area or not.

  5. I’d have to agree with overall sentiment of these comments. I just got back from Copenhagen and it made me appreciate how low our expectations are for urban planning and architectural design. It’s very depressing to see a fine opportunity to build a first class city being squandered during this building boom. Surely there has to be way to up the standards of architecture in Seattle. The profit margins must be incredibly juicy on these projects if so many are being built. Most developers will not have the foresight to build above the standards that we set for them. Are none of our elected officials concerned about this?

    • I have the same exact question roaming through my head. As an Architectural Designer, I constantly ask myself while living in (soon to be living) Captiol Hill (Cap Hill, The Hill… god whatever), “what the hell were they thinking?” The overall conclusion I always come to is that these developers are forcing the Architects hand into designing something super efficient, as cheap as possible and that will appeal to a modern 20-30 year old. The problem, is that the 20-30 year old’s who live here hate this kind of shit. So why would they spend half, or more, of their paycheck to live in one of these basically cookie-cutter housing blocks? Well… They wont! I walked by the oh so impressive, VIVA!, the other day, less than 25% occupied. I asked the salesman, “hows business going?” His response was a very depressing sounding, “Slow.” The reason I was even so close to a building more bland than the storage building on 12th and Madison, is because I live in the Winston apartments. In fact, I live in the 3rd floor eastern unit that will be facing a solid blank parti-wall about 10 feet away from our windows come building completion. Or I would anyway. We are moving out this month after a hefty increase (almost $200) in our rent despite this project and all the other construction noise. We are off to TangleTown I’m happy to say. Anyway… so I was curious. Who are these design board officials? And why are they not being more critical and stern when it comes to the design of these buildings? Most of them seem like well qualified individuals (don’t personally know them), but what the hell? Who cares if the VIVA! building had a different inset color as was in the renderings? It looked better before – yay beige! The project looked completely different from what was proposed to what was built.
      Okay, my little rant…

  6. Regarding the video (“Ride Down 11th Ave”), at least two laws were broken by the cyclist. He/she blew through the STOP sign at Pike, and then went down a road that was closed except for local access. Great example of cyclists ignoring the laws that say they too must follow the “rules of the road.”

  7. I have to laugh at the florid descriptions of these new buildings. Even when you look at the floorplans, living rooms are labeled “breathe”, bedrooms “sleep”, kitchens “eat”. Thank god they don’t use such silly descriptives for the bathroom.
    What is essentially a studio is now labeled an “open one bedroom”. And prospective buyers/tenants are not moving into new apartments. They are acquiring “lifestyles”. These developers, marketers,architects-who do you think you’re fooling? Keep your lifestyle and provide a master that is a minimum of 18′ x 12′. A narrow hallway is not a gallery. A 4′ x 4′ space is not an entry foyer. Keep your workout rooms, “zen gardens” , etc and add square footage that is worth 3K a month. As for the balconies? There’s room for one plant and one cat lying in the sun. No space for people. Would it ruin your concept to make a balcony that could fit a table and two chairs? Or would that cost 4K a month. As for “blending in”, the only thing Modera will blend with is all the other new architectural abominations in the neighborhood. Across the street in the building where Retrofit is, those gorgeous many paned windows-those would blend in. A little brick-not yellow and not fake-that would blend in. More wood-not just a section of it-would blend in with the Winston. Some curves-or is that too much to ask-would pay homage to the retrofit bldg. Who are the members of this Design Review Board? Do they even live on Capitol Hill? How can this building be approved by them? And how can all the rest be approved? I guess they’re signing off on lifestyles rather than residences.

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