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With one six-story apartment building at 23rd and Union now open, here’s what the second will look like

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 4.11.19 PM

As the neighborhood’s businesses came to City Hall Tuesday morning to call for help, it was clear that concerns in the Central District go far beyond worries about 23rd Ave construction. And the inflow of change isn’t coming with Vulcan’s arrival at 23rd and Jackson or the coming sale of Midtown Center. Change has arrived. After starting construction in May of 2014, six-story apartment development The Central is now open for new tenants on the southwest corner of 23rd and Union:

  • Studio 1 Bath $1,450 – $1,475 457 Sq Ft – 580 Sq Ft
  • 1 Bed 1 Bath $1,600 – $1,700 612 Sq Ft – 792 Sq Ft

Wednesday night, its northwest 23rd/Union counterpart — envisioned to be even larger and taller — will take what should be its final step in the design review process.

2220 E Union will replace the intersection’s gas station, community garden area, and former boxing gym with a a six-story, “market-rate apartment building” planned to stand 65-feet tall and fill up 185,280 square feet including underground parking. The planned project will contain 144 residential apartment units, resident lobby and amenity spaces, an outdoor, landscaped courtyard and roof terrace, on-site building management and leasing offices, street level commercial space, and two below-grade parking levels with 50 nonresidential spaces and 98 residential spaces.

To achieve that height, developers Lake Union Partners are seeking to rezone the land:

A legislative rezoning that includes the project site is currently being considered based on the recommendation of the 23rd Avenue Action Plan Urban Design Framework (23rd Avenue UDF). Due to the indeterminate timeline of the legislative process, the proposed project is seeking a Contract Rezone that is consistent with the recommendation of the 23rd Avenue UDF.

The parcels are currently zoned for a 40-foot height limit.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 4.12.25 PMBetween the two projects, Lake Union will have spent $7.9 million to create around 240 apartment units, nearly 16,000 square feet of commercial space, and parking for 160 or so cars.

Designed by Weinstein A+U, the 2220 E Union project will “create a transition in zoning heights that is appropriate to the particular characteristics of this rezone site and its neighbors to the north,” the review packet for the recommendation stage of the design process reads.

The renderings also appear designed to stoke hopes for a grocery store in the project, a rumor CHS has been tipped about by eager neighbors more times than we can keep track. The only market the design documents mention, however, are the planned “market-rate” rents.

The project has been watched carefully by the The Central Area Land Use Review Committee including this September 2015 session on the development. It went through its first review last March, after which the board expressed “concern that the proposed structure overpowered its site.” But, like the CHS-tipping neighbors, the reviewers were also stoked about that grocery store. “The Board expressed enthusiasm for the market concept and how it might enliven both the street and the interior parking space,” the review notes read.

UPDATE 2/18/16 10:00 AM: No details on the discussion but we’re told the board approved the recommendation on 2220 E Union.

Details on the Central District review meeting and a second project on First Hill going through the DRB gauntlet are below:

2220 E. Union Street

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 4.11.19 PMCouncil Land Use Action to rezone a 29,044 sq. ft. portion of land, NC2P-40’ to NC2P-65’ (24,449 sq. ft.) and NC2-40’ to NC2-65′ (4,595 sq. ft.). Project includes construction of a six story, 144 unit apartment building with 11,641 sq. ft. of ground floor retail. Parking for 109 vehicles will be located at, and below grade. Review includes demolition of existing structures. / View Design Proposal  (26 MB)    

Review Meeting
February 17, 2016 8:00pm, Seattle University, 825 10th Ave, Casey Building- Casey Commons 500E
Review Phase: REC–Recommendation  See All Reviews
Project Number: 3019001  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: Michael Dorcy

515 Minor Ave

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 4.39.29 PMDesign review early design guidance application proposing a 133,000 sq. ft. six story Medical Office Building with 5 stories of below grade parking for 250 vehicles and 10 above grade parking spaces ./ View Design Proposal  (11 MB)    

Review Meeting
February 17, 2016 6:30pm, Seattle University, 825 10th Ave, Casey Building- Casey Commons 500E
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance  See All Reviews
Project Number: 3020828  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: Holly Godard
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21 thoughts on “With one six-story apartment building at 23rd and Union now open, here’s what the second will look like

  1. Do we know who the commercial tenants of the newly opened “The Central” are? Also, there’s a lot of construction activity around the Safeway at 23rd and Madison – would love to know if any commercial tenants for those spaces have been identified yet.

    • My reaction also. Those are Capitol Hill prices, not Central District ones. A smarter landlord would understand that seeking such high rents in the Central District means having to settle for tenants with a history of property destruction, noise, conflict with neighbors and other drawbacks that disqualify them with less-greedy landlords with more prospective tenants to choose from. Will this building lease up at those prices? In this currently insane rental market it might, but not with the kind of people most mature intelligent adults would want to live around.

    • I think you 2 are both geographically challenged. A 10- or 12-block walk from this corner and you’re right in the middle of what’s commonly considered Capitol Hill. The distinction is becoming practically meaningless. And this bldg is right on multiple bus lines that will connect you with Capitol Hill, downtown, and light rail stations. Try looking for new apartments in Columbia City. You’ll find practically similar prices.

    • That 10- to 12-block walk (along Union) takes you up and down a steep incline in both directions. It’s definitely not something I would want to do every day.

    • These are reasonable in my option: my once $1395 dollar “open one bedroom” concept in 2012 is now going for almost $1900 at 19th and Madison.
      Moving to Central was once an affordable option I guess? I love our location and the walk is really no big deal. I walk to work downtown and back every single day. It is a 35 minute walk and beats the #2 stopping on first hill to pick up the methadone clinic folks who just shoved their cigarette butt in their pocket as they boarded the bus.
      Glad to know there is parking avail for the newcomers. We had to zone our street, it was much worse when Cappy’s was going on our block. I am going to miss the garden. They did great work.

    • I’m not saying it’s too far to be a good neighborhood, I’m just shocked that the rental prices are that high even outside of the retail core of Capitol Hill.

      hell, I’m shocked that anyone would pay that much for a studio right in the middle of Pike/Pine, but I’ve seen it enough to believe it.

  2. I am sure the developer Lake Union Partners will end up building a 6 story structure over the entire footprint of the lot and will not be required to create a transition between zoning heights. The neighbors will have a 60 foot wall to block out any and all sunshine which mostly comes from the south here in Seattle. Good planning principles require a sort of wedding cake design in order to mitigate these sorts of issues, but with land so expensive, the developers lobby DPD to be allowed to build higher and denser at the expense of existing rules, landowners and neighbors. The review is just a formality, but the developer will get their way. I have witnessed many of these battles fought in vain.

    • Hey esd, wondering if you looked through the design proposal for the building? There is an open courtyard and it looks like they designed the garage access to help the neighbor in the house to the north on 22nd NOT have a big tall building block all of their light. If you haven’t looked through it, there is a link in the article above.

    • There’s another P Patch just three blocks a way that is chronically short on subscribers, and that patch was always in disrepair anyway. The SW corner was an empty lot for years, the NW corner is a crappy gas station, and the SE corner is a hot spot for all sorts of crime and violence. As a resident of the neighborhood, I couldn’t be happier with these changes.

  3. Has anyone else done the math on those two buildings at 23rd and Union? $7,900,000 for construction. Ignoring retail, apartment income, assuming $1500/month x 240 units x 12 months is over $4,000,000 per year. Thus the construction costs will be paid off in two years. Of course there are taxes and maintenance costs, and of course the land wasn’t free, but still, after two years those buildings will be cash cows for the owner. Seattle should be demanding a lot more from these big construction companies to improve neighborhood amenities and livability.

    • The Land sale price is $7.9 Million according to King County Records. Construction is probably more like $35 Million. Design and Permitting is probably another 4 to 5 Million.

      • Got it, thanks Bob. I must have misread the word “create” (reading’s hard after working all day). That makes more sense. So, about 15% of the building’s construction cost goes to underground parking.

  4. The rent is pretty high for 23rd and Union at this time. I walk through the intersection every day and can say it is very unpleasant and will only continue that way over the next 2-5 years. The 23rd construction project will be continuing for another year. Just about the time that wraps up, they will break ground for the apartment building on the NW corner. As that wraps up, redevelopment of the huge lot on the SE corner will likely start. The area will be a revolving loud, annoying, and dusty construction pit for years.

    • Before anyone pronounces this rent as “too high”, it’s worth noting two things:

      1. this spot is extremely well-situated for bus connections, which commands a premium, and will only get more and more valudable as traffic worsens and parking disappears; and

      2. there are already people living in there. If people are already renting the apartments and it doesn’t sit half-empty for months, it must not be “too high”

  5. The prices are not capitol hill prices, they’re about $200 less on average, and anyone who thinks they won’t fill up isn’t paying attention.