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Design proposals revealed for Hugo House, Piecora’s developments

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.14.06 PMCHS has reviewed the draft design proposals for the Capitol Hill mixed-use developments planned for 11th Ave where Hugo House now stands and at 14th and Madison, the former home of the now-demolished Piecora’s Pizza.

Both buildings are planned to stand six stories and will be home to more than 200 new apartment units. One is “L-shaped” the other looks like a “U.” They’ll also both feature a boatload of parking with 240 underground parking spots planned between the two projects.

The future of 11th Ave

The future of 11th Ave

The developments will be tied at the hip for the public design review process as both — Hugo here and Piecora’s here —  take their first bows in front of the East Design Review Board the night of Wednesday, June 24th.

Hugo House — draft design proposal (PDF)
Meriwether Partners, the developers behind the planned project to transform the corner where Hugo House now stands, are working with architects Weinstein A+U to create a building that will soon rise above Cal Anderson Park and provide a new home for the literary non-profit — and more than a 100 renters:

Design Review Early Design Guidance application to allow a six-story strucutre (sic) containing 90 residential units and 12,300 sq.ft. of commercial space located at ground level. Parking for 100 vehicles to be provided below grade. Existing structures to be removed.

The developers are planning the project as “market-rate” housing.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.19.18 PM

CHS wrote about the planned “mixed-use” future of Hugo House late last year as the literary nonprofit announced it would be part of the redevelopment project. The property is currently owned by a corporation that includes Hugo House co-founder Linda Breneman, according to King County Records.

In 2013, the 1903-built structure was denied City of Seattle landmark protections.

The new Hugo House facility will be “approximately 10,000 square feet” and will share the ground floor with a 1,500 square-foot “commercial space” being planned for a cafe at the corner of 11th and E Olive. Hugo House’s future incarnation will also be accessed from 11th Ave, the plan notes.

In case you had any hopes that the old Hugo House might be part of the project, be warned. “The proposed project will demolish all the existing structures and paved surfaces located on the project site,” the draft proposal clearly notes. “The proposed building footprint would occupy nearly the entirety of the site.”

The preferred layout for the project is described as a “L-shaped building” with “a south-facing courtyard located at the interior of the block.” But to make that massing work, the developers will need to convince the design board that the building’s two floors of underground parking should be accessed from 11th Ave, a designated pedestrian street.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.15.09 PMPiecora’sdraft design proposal (PDF)
While they’re planning for an “L” on 11th Ave, the architects working on the plans for mega-developers Equity Residential are aiming for a project that looks like an upside down “U” at the sloping corner of 14th and Madison.

Designed by Ankrom Moisan, the draft design proposal for the former site of Piecora’s is being planned to climb six stories above E Madison:

Design Review Early Design Guidance application for a 6-story structure containing 140 units. Parking for 140 vehicles to be provided below grade. Existing structure to be removed.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.14.23 PM


Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.15.33 PMThe goal, the developers write, is to “create a dense, vibrant place to live in Capitol Hill.” They also hope to “mitigate the auto-oriented nature of Madison Street through development of the street edge.”

CHS reported in April 2014 on the plans from Equity Residential for its $10.3 million acquisition of the Piecora’s property. “We buy and build,” a spokesperson for Equity told us. “We’re all over the Seattle market. It’s such a terrific long-term market for renters, were looking to expand our footprint there.”

As it rises to six stories, the mixed-use building is planned to include an internal courtyard and “private Mews” for residents as well as about 4,000 square-feet of retail space on the ground floor below the 140 or so apartment units above. “To allow for the strongest, most viable retail, we propose a highly transparent commercial street front along 14th and Madison,” the developers write.

Neither the Piecora’s development plan nor the Hugo House proposal directly address the high level of parking stalls planned for the projects, but the next wave of big projects already under construction started the trend. One example: The massive apartment and retail project under construction at Melrose and Pine will have parking for 180 vehicles below its 200+ apartment units.

MapForNotice19829UPDATE 8:51 AM: Speaking of parking, the “land use application” process has begun for the planned 16-story, Whole Foods mixed-use project planned for Broadway and Madison. Comments pertaining to the project’s impact on the surrounding area can be submitted through June 21st.

UPDATE 6/20/2015: Thanks to Daniel Goddard of Weinstein A+U for letting us know the final design packet for the Hugo House development has posted. We’ll have more about the updated proposal prior to the review but here’s the document if you’d like to get an early start.

Dr Proposal 3020067 Agenda Id 5433

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43 thoughts on “Design proposals revealed for Hugo House, Piecora’s developments” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. Both of these projects look promising. They will please “pro-density” advocates with a significant number of new apartments, but no doubt others will complain that they will not be “affordable.” I am glad to see they will both include parking in the plans, as these are areas where on-street parking is very tight, but some will complain that such parking isn’t necessary since all the new residents will not have cars (ha!….unlikely).

    • If you build apartments with high ratios of parking, you attract residents who are more likely to own a car and you drive up the cost of rent. So the net effect is more neighborhood traffic and less affordable housing.

      • Some of these parking spots could very likely be used for Car 2 Gos or Zipcars, and likely the project will include some electric car charging stations. Some of these spots might also be used for retail, as the zoning code requires the mix of uses.

      • Well Car2go uses street parking and Zipcar seems to be doing just fine within the existing parking capacity. I’m all for carshares, but we don’t need to build 100-200 car spots per building for them. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of carshares? And electric cars are still cars. They still slow down buses and add to our traffic mess and degrade the pedestrian environment. We simply don’t have room for more cars on our streets. As we keep building more parking capacity, traffic is just going to keep getting worse and worse…

  2. This building and many like it could have easily been 12 or 24 or 50 stories high. Wasting space like this only keeps the rents high in Seattle. If you want rents to go down we need more housing. Preference should be given to developers with the ability to build higher buildings than 4 or 6 stories. The zoning laws requiring short buildings is what is and has been ruining Seattle for many years. Building short buildings is forcing people to move out of Seattle as there is a limited supply of housing. So any available space goes to the highest bidder. Build more housing, build taller buildings. This will create affordable housing and all the benefits that come with it. Why are we wasting so much space when all our studies show we need more supply?

      • 12 is too much? We already have several 12’sh story buildings on the hill if you look around.

        If you build high and scatter the buildings, they do not create a concrete jungle. They create additional housing and a skyline that is more visually appealing. Much better than 6 floor boxes built sidewalk to sidewalk with no setbacks or buffers.

    • Let’s all live in a Concrete Canyon – and let’s do it in a seismic activity zone!

      Waste of Space (that’s a fitting name for you), move to NYC if that’s what you want. The rest of like to see the sky and maybe even trees. Seattle will never be ‘affordable’ again, no matter what course we plot.

      • Vancouver has higher density, better transit, and better quality of life, and they did it by going taller. The problem here is government won’t stand up to corporate interest, so we don’t see the same mandates for affordability and amenities (schools, grocery stores, etc.) in the city core that you do in other countries.

      • “stand up to corporate interest”??? It seems like the ones opposing density are local home owners, not corporations!

      • Vancouver builds tall, sterile buildings with lots of apartments, yet it has the highest rents in North America. Rents are higher than San Francisco and New York. People need to look deeper at the economics of housing than the supply and demand lecture on the first day of Econ 101. Rents are going up on Capitol Hill because these new “luxury” buildings are replacing older (and much more charming) builds with lower rents. Each new building sets a new cost-per-square-foot record, which then ripples through the rental market making everything more expensive. Upzoning will only hassen this process. You are tools for the global equity firms that are destroying the city with cheap, basic boxes to make a profit for shareholders. Wake the fuck up.

      • It’s often claimed that the new apartment buildings are replacing older ones, but this is not always the case. There are many examples of new buildings going up on land that was not previously used for residences, including the two developments which are the focus of this article.

      • And Vancouver now exceeds San Francisco – and every other major metropolitan area on the planet, with the exception of Hong Kong – for having the least affordable real estate market relative to income. So, building up isn’t exactly a viable solution either, if the goal is to keep housing costs affordable for the middle and working classes.

    • I honestly wonder how practical it is to consider building tall high-rises (such as a 50 story building, which seems years and years away in these Cap. Hill locations) on/near the top of the crest of the hill. I was walking at the top of the hill just yesterday and could practically tickle the belly of the airplanes flying above.

    • The primary reason for all the buildings topping out around 6 stories is that is the upper limit for Wood over Concrete base construction. With recent changes in the IBC to allow 7-8 stories in wood the density will be slowly increasing. The problem is that for most developments the cost to build 10-14 stories is crazy high/sqft making the building only highcost units.

      If you want affordable build out more of the single family zones in 5-8 stories of wood.

      • The City’s Capacity Report from Sept. 2014 reports that under existing zoning, Seattle can already accommodate 3X the expected population growth over the next 20 years. There is simply no need to “build out more of the single family zones” in 5-8 story buildings, made of wood or otherwise.

      • That reports assumes all existing building in the urban centers are demolished and replaced with the maximum height. Goodbye funky small-scale retail , goodbye old cheap brick apartments. Or we could allow more ADU in existing single-family housing (by removing the onerous parking requirements) and allow more organic growth and also create homeowners to make a little money.

  3. Building so much underground parking adds significantly to a building’s cost, which requires higher per square foot rents to recoup the investment costs. In order to keep rents competitive with other buildings offering fewer spaces, the builder might have to reduce some building amenties, such as rooftop deck, higher end appliances, etc. Either that or reduce her return on investment. If people don’t want parking they will rent somewhere else, perhaps a building offering other/better amenities and a similar rent (possible because builder did not shoulder cost of underground parking stalls).

    In other words, give people what they want, which will probably result in some buildings with great underground parking but no rooftop deck, and others with a different mix of amenities. As for building fifty stories, even if it is technically possible on a lot this size, the resulting building would be needlelike and unattractive. Slightly higher limits, eight to ten stories in some locations such as Piecoras, might work however.

    • I agree with you in theory, but especially when buildings are asking to build their parking entrance in a dedicated pedestrian zone, part of the “cost” of the parking is not borne by the developers. It’s borne a tiny bit by every pedestrian that has to cross the driveway, and every park goer that has to navigate the added stream of car traffic, whether they’re on foot or bike or bus.

      • I’m genuinely confused. What makes that stretch of 11th Ave a “dedicated pedestrian zone.”? To me, it seems just like any other residential street.

      • I believe the city (neighborhood?) has generally planned 11th, and the other streets just E of the park, pedestrian, the way the streets W of the park are heavy traffic.

        This doesn’t just mean a nicer street for people to walk on (which is important): the lights and other intersection planning are meant to have the heavy through traffic on more widely spaced streets, not every intersection. Should lead to overall smoother traffic, but it doesn’t allow the fastest possible debouchement for every apartment building’s big parking garage. Tradeoffs are hard.

  4. Density around transit stations is great! Building hundreds of parking spots in those new buildings automatically makes them unaffordable for the people who need good transit connections the most to get to work, run errands, etc. As someone above mentioned, if you build them with lots of parking then people with cars will move into them. If you drastically reduce the amount of parking then people who do not rely on cars, but on transit will move into these buildings. If we ever get real about affordable housing, transit oriented development, and dense development then this is the time and place to do it!

    The average cost per off-street parking space costs $20,000. That cost is then passed own in the form of higher rent whether you own a car or not.

    I recommend people show up to the design review and demand that these parking requirements be reduced drastically. Especially the units right across the park from our soon to open light rail station.

    • This – it’s insulting to create a new building so close to the sparkly new light rail station (and within 3 blocks of several major bus lines) and provide that much parking. Let the housing nearest to transit be fore people who are going to use that transit.

      And, unfortunately, I agree with Captain Smashtastic – no matter how many units gets added, rents are not going to come down until we hit another serious economic downturn.

    • Except parking spots are almost always paid for separately from rent, and those not rented to residents get rented out to others. They’re way too valuable to sit empty, think about it. For residents of the new buildings or not, the hill needs those spaces.

      • @Betty

        That’s partially true. If you rent in a building that has off-street garage parking then everyone in the building bears the cost of the construction project in order to turn a profit for the developers (as they should). However, you are correct that if you want a parking spot you will pay an additional amount on top of those high rents.

  5. I’m surprised the Richmark Label building hasn’t been re-developed next door to the Hugo House…I guess it’s only a matter of time.

    • Agreed, only a matter of time. However the landlord is the main tenant and runs his own business inside the building so that might make it a more unique situation. Seems like it would be quite a hassle not only to him, but also to his customers to re-develop the building now assuming they are profitable. Then again… many potential long term gains in re-development.

  6. No one has commented about how effing ugly the new Hugo House building is going to be? Do we really need another big box that butts right up to the property line all the way around. Come on architects! Step away from the computer, get out a pencil and start sketching some ideas with a little creativity and little aesthetic. Please. And as far as the parking goes…some of us like to come to Capitol Hill from other parts of the city to see theater in the “theater district.” So I think it’s incredibly responsible of them to provide some parking for Hugo House as well as for 12th Ave. Arts (since that project didn’t bother to put in any parking for people who might want to enjoy live theater but don’t live on the hill. Or the people who are actually providing the entertainment at theaters and nightclubs who can’t afford to live on the hill anymore and have to DRIVE THEIR CARS. Which means they need a place to PARK THEIR CARS so that they can entertain and serve you.)

    • You’re a monster! Don’t you know everyone and their grandma is supposed to bike or bus to the hill? How dare you suggest visitors and workers drive and park here :P

      • Thats an interesting thought. The people who choose to live in this building should subsidize your desire to have a place to park when you come to our neighborhood? Maybe you should bear that cost entirely, because the people who live there have chosen to live close to the things they love. If you choose to live outside of the hill or the city entirely then that is your choice. It is not our responsibility to provide parking for you though.

      • Michael is right!

        How dare you have any friends that would be so stupid as to actually have cars! Any “friend” that isn’t willing to take the 90 to 120 minutes it takes to get to Capitol Hill using our fast and efficient public transportation system, well, you should question whether they’re worth keeping as friends in the first place.

        Mandatory bike riding for all TRUE citizens, only those with pre-approved infirmities should be allowed to ride on busses.

        Summary, on the spot executions for all drivers!!!!!

      • You can’t really tell much about the development proposal from the crude blue renderings as in this article. More detailed drawings are necessary in order to make any kind of a prediction about what the building will ultimately look like.

      • Good one, Timmy! I’m sure grandma won’t mind walking from Renton to see a play on Capitol Hill….although her walker might slow her down a bit. (lol).

    • I want to remind everyone that anyone can submit a written public comment about the proposed demolition of Hugo House and the inappropriately tall,bulky, and large (and, in CJ’s view, ugly) building that would take its place right across from the east side of Cal Anderson Park. All you have to do is send an email, even a short one. That email will then be summarized as part of the public’s comment during the Early Design Review Meeting. The more people who reply, the more likely that the Design Review Board will ask the architect/owner/developer to change the project. All emails should be sent to, with a carbon copy to

      • Please comment that the green space on both these buildings should be out front rather than in the back. The fact that these buildings are providing private parks rather than at least publicly visible green space bothers me. The feel like gated communities. Particularly Hugo House should have a large setback with a cafe space similar to Tallula’s..

      • You should email your comment to and carbon copy Posting here is awesome, but that is the way you can get the city (Design Review Board) to consider your comments! Your comment is definitely relevant to what they consider, the Seattle Design Guidelines, including how the project would relate to open spaces like Cal Anderson Park and the pedestrian traffic to and from the park!

    • You can’t really tell much about the development proposal from the crude blue renderings as in this article. More detailed drawings are necessary in order to make any kind of a prediction about what the building will ultimately look like.

  7. As an Architect in the neighborhood, I’m Glad to see Weinstein A+U is working on the building in the Hugo House location. They have demonstrated an ability to tastefully make buildings despite the pressures of the developer’s need for efficiency and the city’s requirements for multiple materials and modulation all over the facade. Hopefully they can produce another successful result from the massing models shown.