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Design board settles on big new mural to solve Capitol Hill building’s color problem

The mural is planned to cover this giant blank cement wall currently facing the FAME Church parking lot

Murals solve everything. The fix for this Capitol Hill building forced to return to design review this week because it has the wrong color siding will be a giant mural running the length of the western wall below the Broadcast Apartments. No matter the solution, the situation is going to be a challenging and potentially expensive outcome for the developer.

The East Design Review Board settled on the solution Wednesday night in an extraordinary session for the body that had it questioning the very essence of its own existence. “Should we accept a $5,000 mural vs. a $50,000 fix?” one board member asked.

At issue was the bronze-colored siding used across the entirety of the completed and occupied Broadcast building, the champagne-colored siding that was supposed to be used on the structure’s vertical “fins” but wasn’t because the developer says the material was not available, and, of course, what to do about it.

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The board discussed.. A) the possibility of requiring the fins to be replaced — “north of $25,000,” a representative for the developer said — B) the possibility of having the fins painted or coated with a color film — $8,000-$9,000, reportedly — and C) living with the lack of variation in the coloring and accepting the offer from developer Trent Mummery of developer Metropolitan Homes of funding a community mural as a gesture of goodwill — and good design — to neighbors.

There was also, for a brief moment, option D): stall and call for another design review meeting. That option was quickly and thoroughly shot down.

In the end, the board split with one member pushing for the replacement of the fins but the others deciding the mural would do the job.

Even with the modestly priced mural as the solution, the siding mistake has put Metropolitan Homes in a pickle as it has been waiting to resolve the issue so it can receive its final Certificate of Occupancy for the project, a necessary final step to replace its temporary permit allowing residents and a key milestone in the financial process around huge, multimillion dollar developments. With the change to its design signed off on by the board Wednesday night, the city’s project planner told the developers during the meeting session that they will still have to wait for the “major revision” to its Master Use Permit to be published by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections. It’s a two-month process. During Wednesday night’s session, a representative for the developer revealed the project is up against “a financing deadline,” a window it seems likely to miss.

Financial logistics aside, the mural agreement was unprecedented for the design review board so art logistics are also up in the air. The board members expressed hope the mural process would be open to community involvement and that the work, when completed, can be an appropriate an enduring part of the block, even as more development is likely to come around the neighboring land owned by the First African Methodist Episcopal Church and the building currently home to arts group Love City Love.

We’ll let you know when we hear more about how the mural project will take shape.

Also in Design Review 
The Pivot project at 1208 Pine won final approval from the board Wednesday night, clearing the way for the 8-story, 70-unit apartment and office building to move forward toward construction. Originally planned as a terrace garden-covered building with a rooftop restaurant, the project was re-envisioned earlier this year but the design board wasn’t happy with what it saw at a review in March. June’s revisions to show more “autorow character” were better received. You can take a look at the project details here (PDF — 78 MB).

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10 thoughts on “Design board settles on big new mural to solve Capitol Hill building’s color problem

  1. And after the mural is tagged a couple weeks (optimistic) after completion? Repaint the mural, or paint the entire wall a uniform color? The latter, and the developer (or by that time more likely the building managers) are off the hook. We can only hope that the financing deadline issue costs Metropolitan Homes as much as actually doing the right thing in the first place.

  2. Im not sure how a mural on a parking lot wall can make up for the absence of something that is supposed to run the height of the building but oh well. This is a small slap on the wrist.

    This developer should receive a hefty fine with those funds going towards sheltering homeless.

  3. $9k to do some painting is probably the rent from 3 units for one month, and the cost will be against tax on their earnings. Dont they have grown up guidance on these boards ? Just get it done and move on.

  4. Perhaps they could have donated the $50,000 difference to an affordable housing fund — that way the process is respected, they get their occupancy permit quickly, and we move on.

  5. 2000-2018 Developer Trends: “We couldn’t find a particular kind of siding and we’ve run out of time again, so your neighborhood is going to look like drab s**t forever. Good luck and thanks for all the cash!”

    • Vines. “Doctors bury their mistakes; architects plant vines.” Maybe we should have asked for a good irrigation-and-trellis system.

  6. The rich developer wins. The $25,000 (to replace the fins with the agreed-on color) is pocket change for a developer, and would do little to affect their multi-million dollar profit. Slap on the wrist, indeed, and a message to future developers who will also ignore design review requirements.

  7. Who cares? The whole design review process is a joke anyway, since design is inherently subjective. We have more housing on the hill now, and that’s a good thing. Let’s leave it alone.