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Hunters Capital plans five-story, 75-unit development for 15th Ave E Hilltop Service Station site

With a road ahead of years of soil clean-up and Seattle’s long and winding public design process — plus a few stops along the way at Jim’s Hilltop Service Station which is hoped to keep operating through the process — the future of the corner of 15th Ave E and E Mercer is coming into view.

An early site plan for the property from developer Hunters Capital and the architects at Studio Meng Strazzara details a project planned to rise five stories and feature 75 units over 5,000 square feet of commercial space and 27 underground parking stalls.

The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce first reported the city filing Tuesday.

Current zoning allows 40-foot buildings in this stretch of the 15th Ave E corridor. The proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability rezones would boost the corner to a 55-foot height limit.

While the development plans and even the height should be no surprise, the project does represent the start of plans for what will eventually be a wave of growth along 15th Ave and change the neighborhood’s community is doing its best to shape and prepare for.

Earlier this month, CHS broke the news that Capitol Hill-based developer Hunters Capital had won the rush to acquire the property with plans to add to its major holdings in the neighborhood. In spring of 2017, CHS reported on Hunters Capital’s $11.25 million acquisition of the block of 15th Ave E retail including the neighborhood’s QFC and large parking lot. “While redevelopment of this building is possible, current leases in place make it unlikely to happen in the near future. However, we do hope to create a more engaging street front for our tenants and neighbors,” a company representative said at the time. No preliminary site plans have been filed for the QFC block.

While many of Hunters Capital’s projects are rehabilitation and adaptive reuse efforts, the Broadway-based firm has also been behind some of Capitol Hill’s new construction — but even that work still involved preservation. Hunters Capital and Studio Meng Strazzara teamed up on the developer’s most recent from the ground up development as it utilized Pike/Pine’s preservation incentives to create the eight-story Dunn Automotive building on E Pike, built above the bones of the old CK Graphics building. Dunn Automotive features market-rate apartments described as “89 larger-than-average units (a mix of studios, one bedrooms, and two bedroom apartments).”

At Hilltop, of course, there won’t be anything to preserve. Soil decontamination efforts are underway and the service station continues to operate — no longer pumping gas — under new owner Jim Peters who stepped up to take over the service station last year after longtime owner Mike Burke decided to step aside.

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46 thoughts on “Hunters Capital plans five-story, 75-unit development for 15th Ave E Hilltop Service Station site” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. I don’t want this to be built. Reinstate the gas station, please. I need gas for my car. I don’t need 75 unclean newcomers taking up space in my neighborhood, especially when 48 of them will be parking on the street in front of good people’s homes.

  2. I want this to be built. Remove gas stations, please. No one needs cars. We need 75 clean newcomers enjoying this wonderful space in one of the best parts of the city, especially since 48 of them won’t be driving and will not need to park in front of the homes of the greedy SFR homeowners who have locked up all the space in the city, driving prices sky-high and then who complain about skyrocketing values and property taxes.

    • I would love to see whether there are statistics to support assumptions like here with “48 apartments who won’t be driving”. Such as, for mid-sized buildings like this one (not large ones like on Broadway), where there is a lower than 1:2 ratio of parking:apartments, how many buildings instantly have waiting lists for in-building parking? Does the city collect data like this? Not to say that it should change anything— IE, not to say it should potentially require parking to be built. But instead of the ever-raging debate about whether or not parking-less buildings eat up neighborhood street parking, is there actual data around the issue? That would inform people’s decisions about whether they want to chance moving into a building with no parking, under the assumption they’d be able (eventually) to get a space in the building. That would be interesting data to see, if it exists. And probably good data for planners, too. I would hope data like this is already being collected, but I would not be surprised to hear it isn’t.

      • I have acquaintances who live in one of the SEDU buildings. None of them have cars, and a few of their friends who did have cars (they were new to the city) quickly sold them when they saw how easy it was to get around. People adapt pretty quickly.

    • “No one needs cars.”

      What universe are you living in? Exaggerated statements like that from anti-car zealots make your opinions suspect.

      I think 27 parking spots in a building this size is about right.

  3. So people are moving to the Seattle region. And they have to live somewhere. Do you want them living here, or Darrington, WA, where they have to tear down trees and run pipes and electricity? Also, they each will need their own single family house houses and each of them need the 2-4 cars and then have them commute into the city?

    Yeah, I’m fine with losing this hideous gas station and have these people living here. Build up not out!

    • Most of the city is zoned far less than 40′. This is an appropriate location – in walking distances to shops and transit – for density.

  4. “Gas not people on” is a troll. Prior to this he was “No more micros”. He is trying to make a point and push an agenda around density. Roger? I am amazed at the number of people that fall for it. Rather than take the bait and let him frame a stupid, flat, phony debate around all or nothing, it would be great to hear what the community would like to see built here. What would you like the building to look like? What kind of businesses would you like to see occupy the retail spaces? What is your vision for a vibrant community? Provide examples of what you would like to see and what you don’t want to see. Now is the time to get this ship sailing in a positive direction.

    • Do you honestly think anyone is ‘falling for it’…. He’s also proxy and probably upzone please too… he probably has mock arguments with himself on a fairly regular basis.

      You don’t even have to put in any effort to sock puppet the comments here – just type in whatever name pleases you and be as many people as you like.

      • But people who just start reading the blog usually take the bait at least once or twice, before they catch on. It does get old pretty fast.

      • But without trolls, all the comments would be just timmy and jimmy and calhoun, and cd neighbor and cd neighbor original, and gosh forbid you ever say anything against their opinions lest the hounds of the blood moon be unleashed upon ye

      • @transit, jason, no more micros, etc…. and so you think manufacturing fake identities so that you have someone to agree with your views is the way to go then? All-righty…

      • Justin, isn’t there a way to detect (and prevent) someone from the same ISP address from using multiple names? Just asking…..

      • @jseattle:

        Over at MyBallard, there was a bad sockpuppet troll problem. A registration system, while not ideal, immediately fixed the problem.

        Granted, CHS hasn’t gotten as bad, except for the Sawant articles.

      • MyB was bad, like “people stopped reading the blog, causing it to stagnate” bad. Every article, even something as innocent as the high school band winning a competition or a new restaurant opening, was flooded with sockpuppet trolls complaining about the homeless or junkies or Mike O’Brien or “libtards”, etc. CHS comments can certainly get cheeky, but it’s nowhere near the rock bottom point that MyB reached.

        Yes, there’s still a few trolls bumping around, but it’s easier to tune them out. Intelligent discourse is now possible again. Compare the example you sent to this article, pre registration.

        In MyB’s case, “fixed” definitely fell into the category of “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”. :)

        All aside, CHS has consistently been the best of my relevant neighborhood blogs since I became affiliated with the neighborhood more than a decade ago. Keep up the good work!

  5. I would like to see the exterior ground level architecture fit in with the character of the historic storefronts on the west side of the street. More affordable housing upstairs. Ground floor retail- bring back something like the old City Peoples/True Value, (or the basement of the QFC in the Broadway Market that we still refer to as the “Fred Meyers”) someplace where you can run out and get household goods at an affordable price. (The corner store has about everything you need, but it’s way too crowded!)

    • Agreed!!! Please not another cheap glass and steel box. Beauty is in the details that take a bit extra time and effort, which will pay off in the end. And I really miss Fred Meyer’s too.

  6. Sigh, here we go.

    Here’s what I would like to see. I would like to see some brick. I would like to see some more parking, since 15th and Mercer isn’t in the light rail walk shed and only the 10 goes by there. I would like small retail store fronts that can support the types of local businesses we currently have on 15th. Maybe even some that might be displaced when the QFC is redeveloped. I would like to see upper level setbacks, which are common for taller building on 15th, and I would like the garage entry to be on Mercer rather than 15th to preserve the pedestrian corridor and match the building across Mercer.

    I would like to see larger unit sizes that are appropriate for families. There are a lot of families in the area and more all the time. If they do the affordable units onsite (which I think they should) they should be for families. The street is zoned for Stevens which has lost some economic diversity in the recent school rezone. Both the Stevens community and the families would benefit.

    So far, I really like the setbacks that are planned along 15th that should give room for wide sidewalks. I’m not sure how we got to 5 stories when everything else is 3, but whatever. It’s not the end of the world, especially if they do upper level set backs and overall the building is nice.

    • I’m not sure I agree with some of your points, but I think the smaller retail store fronts is a critical part of making sure local businesses can succeed, and the character of the neighborhood can thrive and improve.

      As we get more dense the difference between a good retail corridor and one that feels soulless is that number of shops per block metric. There is a big difference between the activity level on say the west side of 15th ave E between Harrison and Republican and some of the other blocks where half or more of the sidewalk is consumed by a single merchant. I’d like to see a design that allowed for 4-6 new businesses along 15th. Maybe to make the development work they need an anchor tenant, which is fine, but that doesn’t mean we should give up a half a block worth of retail corridor especially when the larger merchants in the neighborhood have shown that it doesn’t lead to the best use of dense space. e.g. Walgreens, QFC, Safeway all have basically useless street/sidewalk presence beyond the entrance.
      I’m vaguely hopeful that at least Hunter’s Capital is local and knows the neighborhood, and is a bit more accessible than some out of state developer just looking to throw up a new building.

      • Yeah, this is probably the most important one for the long term health and feel of the corridor, and 15th already has some great examples of how to carve out additional spaces for small businesses.

        Like Rione and Wandering Goose. Ike’s and Angel’s. The way Olympia Pizza spans two store fronts but uses them both to create distinct experiences. Ada’s and Casita. I think the Liberty back room may use some space behind the flower shop. I’m sure I’ve missed some.

        The rest of the block has 8 businesses and this lot is at least a third of the block, so 4-6 seems like a good goal.

  7. Another spot begging for thoughtful development is the site of the Key Bank. I am a customer and have over the years tried to get the attention of corporate and let them know that they have an opportunity here to make some money and do right. The bank is generally staffed by several people in a very airy and oversized space. There are safe deposit vaults but I have no idea how many are used. There is a surface lot. Take the whole thing, build a quality building that goes up several stories, underground parking, and retail in front including a Key Branch. Make it beautiful please. And yes to parking. Others have pointed to the scam of the so called windows at the 15th Avenue Safeway, Walgreens and QFC. Windows should not be allowed to be covered but should be real. Design matters. 15th has some very ugly buildings on it of zero design quality. Like the one where the wine shop and small bakery is, and the one where Dance Underground is. And the monstrosity with the tea shop and nail salon. There was and is a time when owners just built strip malls of zero character in the city. Now that one can build up they should. Keep retail on the ground level. But parking matters. My street close by still has available parking without an RPZ. If we just let developers build without parking the reality is that young professionals will bus to work but will park for weekend use, a car and be happy to walk. So those of us who have parking on our streets will create an RPZ to keep out those that are not from the immediate area. I am not anti-development. Just pro design and parking.

  8. I wish they’d build a park with a slide. No, I want housing, only for clean people. Hey, us dirty people have feelings too. Stop it, I am offended that you hate my beautiful glass and brick structures!

    My Point is this: Density is good and single family dwellings are probably not when you factor in Urban cores. Too many straw man arguments of trollish NIMBY’s who don’t even live near Capitol Hill!

    • Going to burst some fantasy bubbles here but… density does not make real estate prices come down… It’s no coincidence that some of the most dense cities in the world are also the most expensive to buy or rent a home in…
      to name a few…
      said of Sidney – “One reason given by experts for the high prices in Sydney is the urban containment policies. These are the government’s way of preventing cities from sprawling. Instead, they encourage developments of greater density within the city. This leads to both higher land prices and higher house prices.”
      Building more apartments isn’t going to make Seattle any more affordable. Only a decrease in demand will do that.

      • Rents and housing prices have leveled out because of supply. See San Fran, the most expensive city in the US, for what happens when you do not build density.

      • What are you smoking… Tokyo is #5 on the list of cities with the most expensive real estate in the world… in an inexpensive area in the outer areas of the city – think (so a studio/apodment sized one) is a little more than $1000 – that does not include utilities. A Capitol Hill equivalent type area (a hip and expensive one close to into downtown, such as Shinjuku or Shibuya) will set you back around $4000 usd for an studio/apodment sized place…. and remember that you will owe deposit, the real estate agency commission fee, plus the first months rent, as well as a small fee for property insurance, an annual maintenance fee and a key exchange fee…. so a typical 170 or so sq foot sized place will cost you something around $10,000 to get into.. Also remember that very few apartments in Tokyo will have a full kitchen. You might have a spot to put an electric hot plate (you may have to provide this…) or if you are lucky there will be a one or two burner cook top in place – you won’t get an oven or a microwave.

        Tokyo affordable…. don’t make me laugh… and don’t forget Tokyo is 10X larger than Seattle… yes 10X.. so some ‘Tokyo’ apartments could be as far away from downtown Tokyo as Tacoma is from Downtown Seattle…

      • Yea it’s a big city. If you’re talking about Shibuya or Shinjuku of course it’s crazy expensive. Most people take trains into the city. Try google. A lot of urban planners point to Tokyo as a model that works.

      • And just what do you think Capitol Hill is comparable to…. You just admitted it yourself – some neighborhoods ie. Shinjuku / Capitol Hill are always going to be expensive due to their location and popularity. It doesn’t matter if they are super dense or not. If you are looking for cheap you still have to go outside to further out and less trendy neighborhoods. The only thing that will change this now is another round of urban flight… and I find that idea to be pretty unlikely in this day and age.

        Remember there is 10X less area here than in Tokyo…so they have 10X and more space start with and a shrinking population and and it’s still in the top 5 cities for most expensive real estate. We have a rapidly growing population and a geographically constrained area. Hmmmmm.

        People around here would probably throw up a little in their throats even considering solid Tokyo type density all the way to Tacoma… (or another way to think about it – over around 1/3rd of King County – from Shoreline south to Enumclaw, west to around Northbend, I’d estimate…) OMG THE URBAN SPRAWL! Not to mention we have zero will to create the infrastructure that can efficiently move people around an area of that size and density.. It’s been years and bitter fights to even get a few light rail lines in.

      • also… it is false that Tokyo doesn’t have any zoning rules… they have defined residential zones that limit buildings to 2 and 3 stories no taller than 33 and 40 feet and prescribe roof pitches for certain faces. They also have sunlight allowance districts that restrict the height of new construction to a point at which your neighbors will be guaranteed a certain number of hours of sunlight. So it’s not some sort of free for all… and you do have to consider your neighbors.

  9. I just rented out a 2bed DADU and I would say 90% of people had 2 cars. It’s myth to think that half of the occupants won’t drive.

    My vote on architecture – what would Mr Anhalt have built ? A giant King Arthur castle confection. Do it !

  10. Why waste you time and energy writing about your wish list of how things “should be” according to you.

    Its not going to change anything whatsoever.

    Get involved with the process and you might have some input but sitting on your computer at home griping and whining about the same crap every time someone wants to put up a building isn’t going to do a damn thing

    To be honest no one cares what you think.

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