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Six-story Hugo House, Piecora’s projects face first reviews

If in the year 2020 you a writer who can afford a market rate apartment on Capitol Hill, you'd be home by now (Images: Weinstein A+U)

If in the year 2020 you are a writer who can afford a market rate apartment on 11th Ave, you will be home by now (Images: Weinstein A+U)

Two developments with loads of opportunity and a lot of interest take their first turns in front of the East Design Review Board Wednesday night. For one at 14th and Madison where Piecora’s used to stand, a national developer will mark the start of its first attempt to build a project on Capitol Hill from the ground up. For the other, literary nonprofit Hugo House is looking forward to gaining a new home as part of a planned six-story apartment building across from Cal Anderson Park.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 2.56.40 PM1634 11th Ave
Design Review Early Design Guidance application to allow a six-story structure 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. View Design Proposal      

Review Meeting
June 24, 2015 8:00 pm
Seattle University

824 12th Ave
Admissions & Alumni Community Building
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance  

Project Number: 3020067  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice

Planner: Katy Haima

On summer days a few years from now, we’re betting this project’s western-facing apartments rising above Cal Anderson with inset decks will be some of the most desirable on Capitol Hill. And, once we have this whole affordability problem taken care of, maybe a writer or two will be able to afford “market rate housing” to live there. But first the 1634 11th Ave project from developer Meriwether Partners and designed by Weinstein A+U will need to get through design review.

They have ambitions:

Our ambition with the preferred design proposal is to create a calm, timeless addition to the Pike/ Pine neighborhood that draws inspiration from its neighbors within the Pike/Pine Conservation district while being comfortably of its own time.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 2.59.02 PM

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.” At the ground level, 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 11th Ave, the plan notes, as will the underground parking lot being planned for 100 stalls, if the board signs off on the plan despite 11th’s designation as a pedestrian street.

“The building’s L-shaped organization provides an efficient residential floor plate organization that maximizes access to daylight and views while maintaining separation from its neighbors to the east,” the developers write in the presentation packet for Wednesday’s meeting. “The south-oriented interior courtyard maintains solar access at the interior of the block for all buildings bordering it while providing an opportunity for private open space. The building fronts both 11th Avenue and East Olive Street, creating a continuous, highly transparent street wall in the fashion of Pike/Pine’s character structures.”

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.

Wednesday’s meeting will represent the first opportunity for public comment on the project’s mass and how it fits into the surrounding neighborhood. We got one preview of what to expect in this CHS Community post from the owner of a condo in the adjacent Onyx building. We got another in this rebuttal from Capitol Hill anti-NIMBY essayist and sex columnist Dan Savage. Who will win? Likely those lucky residents of 11th Ave circa 2020 enjoying a summer day on their inset decks above Cal Anderson Park.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 2.49.55 PM1401 E. Madison St
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. View Design Proposal      

Review Meeting
June 24, 2015 6:30 pm
Seattle University
824 12th Ave
Admissions & Alumni Community Building
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance

Project Number: 3020065  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice

Planner: Magda Hogness

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 2.51.41 PMTo honor the old Capitol Hill favorite Piecora’s and the nearby Bullitt Center, developers Equity Residential and the architects at Ankrom Moisan have designed the 1401 E Madison project to evoke three empty pizza boxes tilted on their sides and carefully stacked to form an upside down “U.” Kind of.

Weighing in with 140 units and parking for 140 cars, the six-story, mixed-use, market-rate project from Equity is set to continue E Madison’s climb to the 65-foot sky.

Project goals include the lofty notion to “CREATE A DENSE, VIBRANT PLACE TO LIVE IN CAPITOL HILL” (there you go, dense *and* vibrant — Bing-o!) by “[improving] the pedestrian experience along 14TH Avenue through the use of landscaping and building overhangs and/or canopies” and “mitigating the auto-oriented nature of Madison Street through development of the street edge, while maintaining residential privacy.”


Equity acquired the property from the Piecora’s family in spring 2014 for $10.3 million.

Equity Residential (EQR) shares fell 1.58% to 71.81 in Tuesday trading on fears about rising interest rates, not its goals for its first ground-up Capitol Hill project.

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9 thoughts on “Six-story Hugo House, Piecora’s projects face first reviews

  1. The Hugo House should be set back 12 to 15 ft along 11th Ave from the ground up to provide a garden space, cafe with outdoor seeting (like Tallulah’s) and welcoming entrance to Hugo House. This building configuration rather than a private courtyard in back would provide a neighborhood amenity and reduce shading of Cal Anderson Park. Dense neighborhoods need open space to make them livable. In Vancouver developers are required to provide public space within the development footprint on large new developments. Our development model is creating luxury gated-communities with private parks in the middle of the city. We need to demand better. Attend the meeting tonight or send a comment email to

    • “Dense neighborhoods need open space to make them livable.” Agreed. But this building is directly across the street from a three-square-block public open space. It does not require an additional set-back to make the neighborhood “liveable.”

    • Agree with this – one of the best things about 11th (and contrary to the commenter in the other RHH-related post, I find that stretch of 11th Ave relaxed and one of the nicer blocks to walk on in the neighborhood, not creepy at all) is that buildings are generally set back. Even the new townhomes around Howell are set back, and also are shorter in front, rising in back. That is a far better proposal than yet another aggressive-yet-bland cube that builds to the sidewalk and spares any sense of space for the cloistered back end.

    • I agree too with ADH. The drawing at the beginning of this post makes the proposed building look bulky and monolithic….no architectural imagination or creativity whatsoever! Our neighborhood deserves better.

      Hopefully, the design review will result in significant changes.

  2. Hugo House itself is an important neighborhood amenity: cultural institution/creation/gathering space – it’s critical that the ground floor plan of the building serve the needs of Hugo House’s program – our neighborhood needs HH to stay – that is a public amenity.

    • I agree. That is why I proposed making the yard space out front (in the form of a setback) rather than out back. It will allow for the same square footage and a new Hugo House this is is welcoming rather than sterile and basic.

  3. Honestly, I’m okay with the Hugo House being demolished (the building structure itself lacks historical integrity). However, with the character of 11th Ave, it would be better if the new building’s facade were shorter in the front and built to height at the rear of the property, to help reduce the prominence at the street and improve the pedestrian experience. A good example would be the Pantages Apts at Denny and Harvard, it’s a house on the corner and the height increases towards the back of the property.

  4. Given the tight proximity between this planned development and the Onyx, it is nice to have some breathing room between the structures that the “L” will provide. One of their residents is already ticked that the view will be lost and I’ve seen several units in the Onyx come online for sale in the past week. I guess they want out before construction.

    I’m just hoping the street front will be bright and inviting. But I agree some street-facing outdoor cafe seating would be nice too. Maybe that can be accommodated in the peninsula shown in the curb.

  5. That corner is definitely going to lose its charm, but I trust Weinstein’s craft and care. I really hope Hugo House’s programs are kept- though readings and workshops will not feel the same in a new building (there’s something magical about re-programming old houses, or houses in general.)

    The pdf for Peicora’s is a browser killer, FYI.