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Design review: Twin seven-story buildings set to replace Broadway’s Bonney Watson funeral home

The Modera Broadway development set to embrace E Howell’s approach to Cal Anderson and replace Broadway’s Bonney Watson funeral home and its surface parking lot with twin seven-story, market rate apartment buildings will go in front of the design review board for what the developers and its team of architects hope will be the third and final session Wednesday night.

Design review: 1812 Broadway

“Although development will occur on two separate parcels, the buildings will be designed to create one cohesive resident community with shared management, ample resident amenities and outdoor space,” developer write about the project. “Design will incorporate opportunities for maximizing light and views to the apartment homes, creating overlooks and encouraging people-watching. The buildings will work together toward a shared design concept with similar massing, materials and detailing in support of creating a vibrant transit-oriented development.”

CHS reported here on the project from Mill Creek Residential as it shaped up for review earlier this year. The board decided the project could move forward to the final recommendation phase but wanted to see more done with E Howell and the development’s eastern flank facing Nagle and Cal Anderson Park as well as address a unifying design across the two separate structures that make up the project.

“The board gave very clear direction to provide a simple and refined design on the basis of a very clear design parti, with specific weight given to providing a Chicago-school style Pike/Pine auto row era design,” the architects from Weber Thompson write. “With that the project team simplified the design providing distinct representations of the brick grid structures seen throughout Capitol Hill, studying the proportion and rhythm of existing buildings throughout Capitol Hill and applying a sibling relationship between the north and south structures through coloration and horizontal articulation to the north and vertical to the south.”

As designed, the two buildings will add around 228 units of market rate housing to Broadway along with more than 16,000 square feet of commercial space and underground parking for 124 vehicles despite the project’s close proximity to Capitol Hill Station.

CHS first reported that Mill Creek was acquiring the Broadway property last October with plans for mixed-use development just south of the Capitol Hill Station projects. In December, Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board unanimously rejected the nomination of the 1961-built Bonney-Watson Funeral Home calling the modern-style building underwhelming, boxy, and, depressing.

Bonney-Watson’s Seattle history dates to 1868. In 2013, CHS talked with CEO Cameron Smock about the history — and future — of the funeral home.

The new project will harken back to the neighborhood’s auto row history — not its mortuary past — for its design finishes and materials with a mix of brick and sheet metal styling:

Wednesday night, if a memo from city staff to the project’s designers is any guide, look for the board to drill in on the north building’s proposed design elements including the “the fenestration amount and design within the frames” to provide more visual distinction between the two structures. You can also expect more questions about the planned live/work units along Nagle and whether that type of commercial activity is worthy of the street and the park it will look out on.

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18 thoughts on “Design review: Twin seven-story buildings set to replace Broadway’s Bonney Watson funeral home

  1. Developers need to stop erecting buildings with flat roofs. They’re boring to look at, they tend to wear out faster than a slope (even a small slope will generally double the roof life), and in this case no rooftop deck needed with a huge park just steps away.

    On the plus side, this proposal is way better than the previous. Kudos to the design commission for making the developer do it over.

  2. The buildings are fine I guess. I like the brick and the overall style. The new Broadway will look a lot like South Lake Union when it’s finished and, with the proliferation of boring chains, should feel a lot like it too! At least it won’t be mostly vacant after 10 years of construction.

    Someone explain to me again why this is a win for a neighborhood?

    And yes, live-work units are ridiculous, particularly adjoining the park. Horrible trend!

    • Yeah, why I remember when we had exciting chains on Broadway like Subway, Panera, Starbucks, Einstein Brothers, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Fred Meyer, Payless Shoe Stores… man, those were the glory days of indie stores on Broadway!

  3. Boring. Fine I guess, but boring.

    @Moving On, I don’t think anyone has said that this will be a win for our neighborhood. At least I hope not, because then I have the same question as you.

    @Jason, this is not the type of housing Seattle “needs”. The rental market is highly saturated. So much so that SLU has some vacancy rates of 30%!

    The rental market supply is reaching demand, and these buildings going up now better realize they can’t just put up market rate and get what’s been traditional received in this neighborhood. From the looks of their design, they’ve put little thought into any of this project, let alone the financials.

    • The rental market is not highly saturated. The only reason you see high vacancy rates in new buildings is because, by definition, a new building is 100% vacant when it opens. It takes time and, sometimes, incentives to lease out a new building. Even if these new buildings are only 70% occupied, that’s still more than 70 households occupying a space previously devoted to surface parking. That’s 70+ households not bidding up the price of existing housing stock.

      • Here here!

        I really don’t understand what the issue is. These buildings are very nicely done and will quickly fill up.


        To those against this development. Umm….there is an ugly surface parking lot and a useless funeral home on the site at the moment. Surface parking has no place given the area, and neither does a funeral home.

        And: what is so “Seattle ugly” about this design? This form of modernism is very much in keeping with the current style. It’s more “contemporary modern” than “South Lake Union.” And what’s so bad about SLU? And, really, the last building boom featured a sort of nostalgic craftsman-ish style that has aged very, very badly. Let’s call it “ugly particle-board craftsman designed to ameliorate the neverending complaints of Seattle old ladies.” THAT was a huge mistake (and a lot of those ugly monstrosities cannot sell today) that we don’t need to make again.

      • Dear @sick_of, when people in this neighborhood were dying of AIDS that was the only funeral home that would serve them. So you can get right out here with your ignorant comments. Go educate yourself about the history of the neighborhood and it’s institutions.

        As far as South Lake Union, it’s fine. It’s whatever. It’s pretty f-ing bland. Broadway used to be one of the most interesting streets in the country to my mind, and certainly on the West Coast. But you’d never know that now. New Broadway will be fine I guess. South Lake Union is also fine I guess. If you like that sort of thing. If fine’s what we’re going for here.

  4. The only good thing about this is now I can go in and be that “guy coming with a warning in a horror movie”.



    • Yes, I personally feel that Seattle should go back to the days of “let’s put up a ticky-tacky box with particle-board craftsman features and call it a day.” All those wonderful architectural gems built during the last housing boom have aged oh so well.

      Such good times! Seattle needs architecture that could only please an old lady at a planning meeting!

  5. The architects should go look at the new Apple Store at u village (foster architect) then ask themselves why they can’t create something as elegant for housing…

  6. This is exactly where new, large, multistory apartment buildings should go….on a primarily commercial, major arterial….instead of on quiet residential streets. I support it completely. And I am glad that, for a change, the developer is recognizing that some of the residents will have cars, and is providing some parking.

    A question: Why the objection to “live-work units”?