Post navigation

Prev: (12/12/18) | Next: (12/12/18)

Design review: Trading a 1929 Capitol Hill apartment building for a 2019 version on Harvard Ave E

Wednesday night could bring the final design step in the process for a Capitol Hill circa late 2018 trade of necessity — a 1929-built, two-story masonry apartment building with eight units making way for a planned 2019 or so-built, four-story apartment building with 25 “small efficiency dwelling units” and 13 standard apartments.

The development from Hybrid Architecture and the family trust that owns the property is slated to come before the East Design Review Board Wednesday night:

Design review: 740 Harvard Ave E

Parking for 17 vehicles is proposed. And, of course, the existing structure is slated to be demolished.

During the development’s first session of review in April, neighbors complained that the bulk and scale of the project was out of scale for the neighborhood but the proposal for a brick facade was a good call to help the project better blend in to the surrounding Harvard-Belmont Historic District.

The review board moved the project forward to the next phase in the process following the spring session but asked the developers to focus on the “open court” design and encouraged the architects to consider “the concept of a broad stair and simple ramp function to relate easily to the street.” And, hey, the design board also liked the bricks.

While the Capitol Hill part of Wednesday’s itinerary will busy itself over the 38-unit project, the First Hill portion of the meeting will accomplish a little more. The planned Olympic Tower will rise above 8th Ave with plans for 71 units of senior housing:

Design review: 715 8th Ave

The 21-story project isn’t the only senior housing tower project underway on First Hill. Another at Terry and James will rise 24 stories next to the Frye Art Museum.

BECOME A 'PAY WHAT YOU CAN' CHS SUBSCRIBER TODAY: Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

26 thoughts on “Design review: Trading a 1929 Capitol Hill apartment building for a 2019 version on Harvard Ave E

  1. I speak for everyone when I say that “small efficiency dwelling units,” or micro-apartments, are completely out of character with Seattle and shall not be built. People didn’t live in micro-apartments in 1929 and they shouldn’t be living in such inhumane conditions in 2019. Minimum apartment sizes of 500 sq ft ensure that Seattle shall be livable.

    Furthermore, it is unconscionable to build 38 apartment units and only 17 parking spaces. More than 80% of Seattle households own a car. Therefore, 31 or more parking spaces (ideally 38 or more) shall be built in this building. Otherwise, occupants of this building might have to park in the space that I normally use, which would make Seattle less livable for me.

    Lastly, although no prices were listed, I speak for everyone in Seattle when I say that rents are too high. I will only approve of this building if it charges reasonable, livable rents, such as $1,000 per month for a livable 500 sq ft apartment with parking. The billionaire housing developers will still make money at that price. Capping prices will keep Seattle livable for good, virtuous, pure, loving, and progressive persons like me.

    In summary: I speak for everyone in Seattle. We need to set minimum apartment sizes, minimum parking levels, and maximum rents to keep our city livable. Thank you.

      • Honestly, as a longtime Seattle resident AND a poor who is quickly seeing that these efficiencies will likely be my only option when my landlord sells our building eventually – i’m with him. Efficiencies are, while I think inhumane is probably a stretch, extremely shitty and beloved by literally nobody, and and insult, especially at those prices. I am all down for increased density but this increased push for efficiencies is a top down push to make money.

        The parking thing is real dumb though (on Capitol Hill? come on dude, nobody here has a car and parking is honestly not that bad anyway, and we are one of the best served neighborhoods in the city).

    • You can’t speak for me. I lived in 250 sq ft cottage for two years, and while, yes it bacme very small, it was what I needed and could afford. A 500 sq ft place would have been nice, but unaffordable.

      • sure, do you have a full kitchen? or is it a mini-fridge and a hot top? when was this and how much were you paying?

        fair i should have said “nobody” but its really effed up that its increasingly becoming the only option at 900/month in many seattle hoods if you want to live alone.

    • If you really want to compare 1929 living quarters to now, you’re not helping your argument because there were plenty that were the same size if not smaller. K thx bye. Ain’t nobody need a “with parking” attached to their rent either. We have an amazing transit system. Use it.

      • Over 83% of Seattle households own cars. Due to our extreme traffic problems and because of poor transit planning, our buses run very late and don’t go direct and non-stop from my home to my work. As a result, I have to drive.

        Bundling parking with rent will guarantee that all new residents will not have to park their cars in front of my home, which would be a burden on my livability.

    • You do not speak for “everyone,” but you do speak for a significant number of Seattleites, and I mostly agree with what you have written. However, I think the 17 parking spaces is about right for a dense neighborhood, and where transit is available. Having at least some parking is a refreshing change, because most new buildings have none.

      This project will demolish a very nice, older, brick building. Someone wrote over the sign out front: “Vanishing Seattle.” This is emblematic of what is happening to our neighborhood and city, unfortunately.

      Also, since this is withing the Harvard-Belmont Historic District, why is demolition even being allowed?

      • Thank you, Bob. I’m glad that I’ve been able to speak so ably on your behalf. Seventeen parking spaces are still far too few, though. This building is a far uphill walk from light rail and is only served by one bus line, the 47, which doesn’t serve my or most other Seattle residents’ needs. Therefore, we should expect that all 38 units will need cars. Where do you propose that the 21 extra cars will park? If just one of them parks in front of my home, my life will have been made less livable.

    • I speak for everyone when I say that whenever you see this dilwad’s posts that begin with “I speak for everyone”, it ought to be obvious he/she’s just winding everyone up to see what kind of indignant responses he/she gets. Not sure why everyone keeps feeding this troll— isn’t it obvious enough?

      • Let me simplify my thinking. Assume there are 5 parking spaces for 5 cars associated with 5 homes. Now a billionaire housing developer builds 5 more homes and 0 new parking. That leaves us with 10 cars and 5 spaces.

        You cannot fit 10 cars into a 5-space parking area. Seattle’s corrupt government seems to think otherwise. Why is there such disregard for the parking spot in front of my home? Personal parking ’paces pake Peattle pivable. Simple as that.

    • One of the problems with Seattle is that people lack a sense of humor. I speak for everyone when I say you are the best repeat commenter on here and give the men who love to spout off daily a run for their money. In summary, I speak for everyone when I say you are the best thing about this blog.

  2. yes they did! and they were kind of miserable! there are still some surviving SRO’s in the ID actually, and on capitol hill even – I know people who live in both – its a hot mess to not be able to cook for yourself, and having the only sink be in the bathroom. ID SRO’s were also: NOT NICE! and were what immigrants who were being shut out of the rest of the city were living in. i mean that’s like defending redlining simply bc the CD exists. Just bc something existed doesnt mean it was GOOD or that people wanted to live that way. I mean, a quote for the article you linked! “The rooms in that [place] were literally no wider than you could expect to see for a single bed.”

    ah yes, we poors should be happy for shelter alone.

    there is a huge difference between a tiny cottage with a tiny stove and a narrow fridge when you are in your 20s or newly single, back when you were paying $700/mo a decade ago, to thin walled new construction mini fridge and hot plate situations for 1k/mo or more that we are seeing now (i dont know why i said hot top earlier).

    point being that there is a big idea among certain density proponents in town that these are a great solution, when they are certainly not what many people would choose on their own, and should not be the ONLY option for poor folks.

    • I was obviously responding to your comment that “People didn’t live in micro-apartments in 1929,” which was false, regardless of how nice or not-nice SROs were. (These units are not like SRO units, btw.) Look, I had a 625 sq ft studio on Capitol Hill 15 years ago, IIRC, and I paid $600 for it. I wish everybody could have that. But that doesn’t exist anymore. And people have always lived in small spaces for however long they needed to, because people need shelter, and they can’t always pay much for it. Stop defending hypothetical people–the real ones want MORE options, this included.

    • “yes they did! and they were kind of miserable!”

      i don’t think a person in 2019 can speak for anyone living in SROs back in 1929 or earlier. there’s no way for any of us to know the disposition of the general population to SROs. it’s altogether possible that smaller space living was normal back then and the move for “more space” is a more modern desire.

      just because you (and your friends) don’t personally like a few specific remaining SROs doesn’t mean that others may not have wanted to live in those kinds of units.

      personally, i live in 480 sq ft 1 bedroom but could easily downsize to half that space with, yes, a micro fridge and hot plate. some people just need less and, it appears, that there’s some level of demand for these units; otherwise millionaire developers wouldn’t invest in them as they’d never rent out.

  3. Eighty-three and a half percent of Seattle households own a car as of 2015. That’s down from 84.6% in 2010.* At that rate of decline, Seattle households will be totally non-car-owning around the year 2395. I speak for everyone in Seattle that I plan to be dead before that happens. Build parking. The vast majority of us need it. It’d be maximally livable if it were right outside our home.


  4. After living on Capitol Hill for 22 years, I moved to Tucson this summer. I thought I would be homesick for a while, but now realize Seattle is no longer the city I moved to in 1996. AZ has it’s flaws, but as a middle class wage earner I am no longer living paycheck to paycheck and can afford to travel. You can buy/rent for more than 50% less than Seattle.The Tucson area is the most blue part of AZ and the rest of the state is becoming that way. Voting D actually makes a difference here! I have no seasonal depression since moving here and the sun rise/sets are out of this world! Flights to Seattle are cheap and we have real Mexican food. If everyone is so miserable in Seattle, move somewhere else and improve your quality of life. Leave Seattle to the Amazon bots.

    • After living her for over 25 years I am planning on doing the same thing. I’m just in the process of figuring out where I want to go. Places change and while I don’t like what Seattle (especially Capitol Hill) have become I have sadly accepted it and I’m ready to move on. I’m looking forward to living somewhere far away from the tech industry, horrible traffic, housing booms and out-of-control rising property taxes. This place used to so charming. At least I was here to experience it.

  5. Is it a rule that all new development has to be ugly as shit and entirely lacking any interesting or unique architectural features? I wouldn’t have nearly as big of a problem with the new developments if they weren’t so horrible to look at.