Post navigation

Prev: (01/14/15) | Next: (01/14/15)

We would have called it The Taco Time Apartments

Surprisingly, won't be marketed as The Taco Time Building (Image: Johnson Architecture)

Surprisingly, won’t be marketed as The Taco Time Apartments (Image: Johnson Architecture)

The East Design Review Board convenes Wednesday night to take a first look at a six-story project slated to replace a rejected Capitol Hill landmark and what the developers hope will be a final look at the long-planned apartment building on the site of a different sort of Capitol Hill landmark — the old E Madison Taco Time.

Broadcast Apartments
Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 4.34.15 PMA brand new buyer and a marketing brand for the new project accompany the plan for a six-story apartment development at 1420 E Madison across from the super-green Bullitt Center in the now-empty lot where Taco Time once stood. Last April, we speculated whether the sale of the property by the family behind the Taco Time chain would open up a new life for the project that had so far experienced a rather critical trip through the design review process after the old fast food restaurant was razed back in 2009.

Wednesday, after paying $3.6 million for the property and the permits, The Metropolitan Companies and Johnson Architecture will bring their updated vision for the project in front of the board for the second and final “recommendation” phase of the design review process.

Review Meeting: January 14, 8:00 pm
Seattle University
1000 E. James
Student Center Multi-Purpose Room
Review Phase: Recommendation past reviews
Project Number: 3013776 permit status | notice
Planner: Beth Hartwick

Planned to include 70 units over 3,000 square feet of commercial space and 3,000 more of live/work square footage, the project is also set to include 70 underground parking stalls. Responding to past criticism that the designs for the project lacked a clear vision, the latest design “treats the building as a unified architectural expression, reflecting the vertically-accented design approach of the Bullitt Center and the Pearl Apartments,” the proposal’s report reads.

As part of Wednesday’s presentation, Metropolitan and Johnson representatives will also discuss the project’s proposed finishing materials. Those of you who walk around Capitol Hill’s latest wave of new development will probably see some familiar siding in the mix.Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 3.39.43 PM

(Image: Cardinal Architecture PC)

(Image: Cardinal Architecture PC)

323 Bellevue Ave E
Last summer, CHS wrote about the rejection of the two-story, six-unit Bellevue Ave Sterling Apartments as a potentially landmark-protected property. Just one look at the street front of the 1956-built complex would tell you the nomination was a longshot. Wednesday, a plan to demolish the apartments to make way for a six-story mini-tower with only 25 units above 1,500 square-feet of commercial space, and a 16-vehicle underground parking garage will come before the review board for its first pass in the process.

Developer and longtime owner Dan Chua and Cardinal Architecture PC say the project is designed “to provide the neighborhood with high-quality apartments in a range of types (studio, 1 BR and 2 BR) to attract long-term residential tenants while meeting the goals of long-term ownership by the initial developer.”

The Sterling Apartments

The Sterling Apartments

With apartment buildings and projects changing hands in the liquid market that accompanies boom times for landlords, the buy and hold nature of the new 323 Bellevue Ave E project sounds remarkably sturdy in comparison:

In keeping with the initial developer’s plan of long-term ownership, materials such as brick, metal panels and concrete will be selected for visual interest as well as long-term weatherability and maintenance. Using brick at the pedestrian level will make a material connection with older apartment buildings in the neighborhood and provide continuity along the streetscape. The connection between the ground-floor commercial space and the pedestrian realm will be further enhanced by large windows and pedestrian- scaled canopies as well as landscape improvements including new street trees and planting strips.

Sounds approvable to us.

Review Meeting: January 14, 6:30 pm
Seattle University
1000 E. James
Student Center Multi-Purpose Room
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number: 3018682 permit status | notice
Planner: Magda Hogness






Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

21 thoughts on “We would have called it The Taco Time Apartments

  1. OK, so it’s OK to raze the old Taco Time which was not an eyesore and it’s *not* OK to raze the old Piecora’s Pizza building which is an eyesore. Makes sense to me.

  2. A juxtaposition of “metal panels, brick, and concrete” doesn’t create visual interest. It creates an ugly hodgepodge. Have they not noticed how awful it is when every other building going up is doing the same?

  3. That poor apartment building to the North. Folks on the back units will never see the light of day again. Its a shame we don’t have better planning to allow for some breathing room between residential buildings.

  4. I would not have thought the Bellevue site was zoned for commercial use. I do wonder what they have in mind for that block, if anything.

  5. Why does anyone think that Industrial Gray is the proper style for Seattle? In the winter, we need warmth in our physical environment, not more cold, blah dankness. In the summer, this kind of building gives a visual slap-down to the beauty that fills the city.

    First Hill is not even an industrial district that could claim legitimate, historical interest in factories and such as inspiration.

    I understand the need to build up. Don’t like it much, but understand it. What I don’t understand is why Seattle doesn’t demand to have fully-equipped modern buildings that also compliment a neighborhood’s physical existence. Are there no architects out there who can combine modern needs that also fit comfortably in the natural environment?

    • I would guess it comes down to money. Metal siding used to be the purview of barns/storage sheds, but now in the chase for the most $$s, I would imagine the cheapest possible materials are used.

      Architects, please weigh in!

    • I don’t think these developers care about the look of these buildings or the community as a whole. The changes in the neighborhood made me think about a section of my hometown. A mansion was built in @1906 with beautiful grounds in what had been a rural area. In the 1960s, the mansion was torn down and a mall was built in it’s place. In 2010 the mall was torn down and big box stores went up. Modern architecture has a short life span and what comes next always seems to be a downgrade. All of these new buildings are ugly and they will all be torn down in less than 50 years and replaced with something uglier.

  6. Oh good. Another multi-story aquarium that’ll add to the glut of empty “ground floor retail”, and a few restaurants where you feel like you’re eating somewhere with all the charm of a Habitrail. I can hardly wait.

    • I’d like to see a story or two about all of these empty retail spaces and how while “mixed use” might sound good in theory it is not working in practice.

      • Where are all these empty retail spaces in the new builds? From what I can tell they are filling up and filling up rather quickly.

        Collins is almost full or full. Summit Electric has tenants for its space. Even the hideous Viva building has its spaces filling. I haven’t been bast Rio lately.

  7. Regarding Bellevue Ave…Infill projects on non-commercial streets shouldn’t have ground floor retail. I think a higher and better use of the land would be for the first floor to be several side-by-side live-work units. That way the street is activated, but without a giant empty glass storefront…

    Anyone on the Design Review Board?

    • Yes…..but….there are some commercial businesses further north on Bellevue, in an otherwise residential area. So the precedent is there.

      I’m curious about “live-work units.” How do they activate a street? Aren’t they just apartments where the residents work at home?

  8. I keep wondering why on earth people feel compelled to use at least 10 different materials in the same building. As if that automatically added visual interest. Sadly is just adds to visual pollution.

  9. Being that I live right next to the Sterling, I would say that it needs more parking. 25 more residents plus commercial space, 16 spaces is not going to cut it. What this neighborhood needs is a 1,000 stall parking garage. Every building in this neighborhood does not have adequate parking for the residents. And being on the other side of the freeway from Amazon, the parking is so bad sometimes that it is just ridiculous.