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Design review: holding the corners at 19th and Mercer and the Piecora’s building

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View of the planned project on the northwest corner of 19th and Mercer building from Talulah’s patio. (Image: Public47 Architects)

It is out with the old and in with the new at the site of two planned Capitol Hill developments entering their final phase of design review Wednesday night. The original Piecora’s building at 14th and Madison was demolished last year and a big, old cedar tree at 19th and Mercer is on deck to come down in order to make way for two new mixed-used projects that will add a total of 172 market-rate units to the neighborhood.

The projects going before the East Design Review Board will also be adding highly visible commercial spaces on bustling corners, though there are no clues yet as to who might be moving in.

1830 E Mercer St. 

Land Use Application to allow a 5-story structure containing 32 apartment units and 2,260 sq. ft. of retail at street level. Parking for 10 vehicles to be provided below grade and surface parking for 2 at the alley. Existing structure is to remain.
View Design Proposal  (26 MB)
Review Meeting: April 13, 2016 6:30 PM, Seattle University, 901 12th Ave, STCN Student Center 130
Review Phase: REC–Recommendation  See All Reviews
Project Number: 3020860  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: Beth Hartwick

First up will be the five-story apartment building with 32 market rate units planned for the northwest corner of 19th and Mercer. The Public47 Architects design calls for a 2,350-square-foot corner commercial storefront and 12 below-grade parking spaces.

Neighbors have been weighing in on the project since CHS first reported on the development plans from property owners Glenn MacDonald and Amanda Twiss last year. While, ahem, creative differences with architects typically top the list of concerns during design review, plans to remove a potentially “exceptional” red cedar tree on the property have drawn strong objections from neighbors.Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 7.10.16 PM

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Others said they would be sad to see the tree go, but are pleased to have more commercial space added to 19th and Mercer.Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 5.58.08 PM

Unfortunately, the red cedar will in all likelihood be coming down as part of the plans supported by the design review board in a previous meeting. However, construction will not require the demolition of any existing structures, sparing Monsoon from the cedar’s fate.

The global economic slowdown derailed 2008 development plans for the block and allowed Monsoon owner Eric Banh to end his search for a new home. In the years since, the economy heated back up and the area’s development kicked back into gear. Across the street, the 19th and Mercer building rose and brought new neighbors to the street. Monsoon expanded and added its rooftop deck.

1401 E Madison St

Land Use Application to construct a 150,000 sq ft, 6-story apartment building with 140 units and 141 parking spaces.

View Design Proposal  (18 MB)
Review Meeting: April 13, 2016 8:00pm, Seattle University, 901 12th Ave, STCN Student Center 130
Review Phase: REC–Recommendation  See All Reviews
Project Number: 3020065  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: Magda Hogness

Two years after CHS broke the news on Equity Residential’s $10.3 million deal to replace the Piecora’s building, the developers are hoping to take their final step in the design review process.

Here is how Equity and architects Ankrom Moisan describe the six-story project with 137 market-rate units averaging 606 square feet, 3,800 square feet of commercial space, and underground parking for 81 vehicles:

To allow for the strongest, most viable retail, we propose a highly transparent commercial street front along 14th and Madison. The proposed retail entry/entries will mainly be along 14th or at the building corner due to the grade change along Madison.

And a few more details about how the architects plan to “hold the corner.”

We propose to use some landscaping to soften the transition between the building edge and Madison as the building ramps up toward East Pike Street and to hold the corner firm at the retail edge. Keeping in line with the newer building precedents, we also propose to create an inviting residential building entrance off of Madison, just as the building turns the corner east, right on E Pike Street.


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15 thoughts on “Design review: holding the corners at 19th and Mercer and the Piecora’s building

  1. The Piecora’s redevelopment at 1401 e Madison does not “activate the corner”! To the contrary, the proposed design will create a block-long deadzone along Madison where there were once 5 storefronts. They largest apartment developer in the country is maximizing shareholder equity at the expense of a vibrant streetscape on Capitol Hill. Send an email to the design review committee ( by 3:00 today demanding better design and better finishing materials.

    • DG: there are still storefronts on Madison in the current design.
      Furthermore, did you actually take the time to review the design review packet? It looks like they are using high quality materials to me. I support neighborhood participation and attend a lot of these design review meetings myself, but your voice is best heard if you have an informed opinion.

    • Not commenting on the rest of the plans, but let’s be real– those storefronts were dumps. Over the last dozen years they housed such stellar businesses as a junk store (oh, sorry, “antiques”), an industrial cleaning products business, and a check-cashing store. Yeah, I really miss THEM, don’t you? The other two storefronts were the pizza place. So in effect you’re mourning the loss of a pizza joint? Somehow I think that’ll be pretty easy to replace- along with a couple of newer businesses with a bit classier and more useful neighborhood appeal. I’m not usually a big fan of all these 5+1 cookie-cutters, but this one looks like a trade up.

    • I wonder what your intentions are in this. You posted the exact same comment verbatim on another blog post. Perhaps you live in a nearby building and your view is getting blocked? Perhaps you live in the subsidized apartments next door and are getting a view at well below market that will be blocked?

      It is comments like these that make me wonder if people think money grows on trees. More expensive construction=higher rents. PERIOD.

  2. Shame on the architect try to remove the tree. it took 50+ years for that cedar to be that big. greedy developers just wanna money and ignore how scarce in city to have such a beautiful conifer. it makes the natural environment much more diverse and healthy. stupid people

    • Greedy residents just feel like they own property that is not theirs and can dictate how others use such property. I don’t like the way you are taking care of your yard. Should I be able to demand that you change it or better yet insult you for having your yard look that way?

      Hypocrisy at its best. And I am sure the developer that built wherever you live was not greedy at all and built it out of charity. Because of course it is a sin to want to make money and help the economy grow.

      Dont feel the Bern…vote anything but communist/socialist in 2016

    • @ kiki: I agree completely! Yes, a developer ultimately calls the shots on a project like this, but a conscientious architect could figure out a way to preserve the tree and still maximize profit.

      And I would add that the building looks really, really boring.