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Plan for five-story apartment project to replace Capitol Hill service station moves forward

A proposal for a five-story, 70 or so unit mixed used building to replace the Hilltop Service Station along Capitol Hill’s 15th Ave E is moving forward. The project passed its first round of design review in June with unanimous support from the review board.

“We are now awaiting the EDG letter from the city which will have quite a bit of feedback from both the board and the community to consider,” Michael Oaksmith of Capitol Hill-based developer Hunters Capital said. “Valuable feedback that we will give close attention to during our preparations for a DRB meeting later this year.”

Despite the board’s support for the early proposal’s plans for the five-story, 68-unit, market-rate apartment building with a generous 5,000 square feet of 15th Ave E fronting retail space, and underground parking for around 24 vehicles accessed via Mercer, some neighbors continue to oppose the development.

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“A five story building will further negatively impact residential neighbors affecting privacy, as well as congestion,” one neighbor told the board.

Another pushed back on the project’s scale — within the area’s zoned limits — and its encroachment on nearby sidewalks:

“People from Seattle and Old timers – now in our time-, people who took care of our Green and Clean Seattle and who used to enjoy and respect the air, the blue sky covering us Deserve to maintain some of our City,” the letter writer concludes. “Seattle is another city, unrecognizable, and full of wall and concrete, like many others nowadays. Just one more dirty city.”

While the zoning issues aren’t likely to be taken up by the design board, SDOT apparently agrees regarding the sidewalks and has told the board it does have concerns about the proposal’s sidewalk and planting strip widths.

In January, CHS broke the news that 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,” a Hunters representative said at the time. No preliminary site plans have been filed for the QFC block.

When the property was acquired, zoning allowed 40-foot buildings on that stretch of the 15th Ave E corridor. The passage of the Mandatory Housing Affordability rezones boosted the corner to a 55-foot height limit. Hunters Capital says the developer hasn’t yet made a decision on whether it will incorporate affordable units in its project or pay the required in-lieu fees.

Meanwhile, work is wrapping up on another 15th Ave E-area construction project that faced more than its fair share of neighborhood pushback. Contractors are wrapping up work on portions of the exterior of the $54 million renovation and addition at Volunteer Park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum. The overhauled facility is planned to reopen in October 2019.


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9 thoughts on “Plan for five-story apartment project to replace Capitol Hill service station moves forward” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. So tired of these NIMBYs and their complete lack of self awareness. Removing a gas station, including environmental restoration of the leaking underground tanks is somehow destroying their clean and green Seattle? Then they complain about not enough parking?

    This city needs housing. Somehow I doubt the people who block this type of building due to its scale are any more willing to add density in SFH (exclusionary) neighborhoods it even allow more ADUs to create missing middle and age in place housing options.

    It’s not the be high paying jobs that people have moved to Seattle for that has caused home prices and rents to skyrocket. It’s the artificial scarcity of housing caused by exclusionary zoning and NIMBY obstructionism of every new building… led by SFH owners who are directly profiting from this obstruction through artificially inflated home values.

    • Yes – city needs housing, but not expensive housing with empty units like most of these apartments around Cap Hill already. Make them cheaper…my only gripe.

      • Agree we need more homes at affordable price points-the prices there were 5-10 yrs ago. But limiting all growth to “urban villages” and walling off SFH neighborhoods from development is why the prices for these units are so high. They are not lux units… they just have lux price point due to artificial supply/demand.

        For homeowners who have equity but not high incomes (fixed income retirees, original residents in gentrifying areas), the city needs a program to support ADU “laneway cottage” construction. It would create missing middle housing that sells/rents for prices that will open up these neighborhoods and drive up supply. They city can easily get paid back once they are built.

      • The most expensive houses of Seattle are 2 blocks away from this location.I wonder who has more to win blocking this development.

  2. This seem appropriate:


    Friends, neighbors, it’s good to see all of you. I know you, you know me, and just seeing all of your faces at this city council meeting reminds me why I love living in this town. Because I feel comforted by stasis and regularity, both fed by ignorance, and which combine to perpetuate injustice.

    I am grateful for the opportunity to speak tonight, and I look forward to contributing to our robust debate by making claims that are floating in an ether of confusion, prejudice, and unearned authority. But for those of you who may not know me, let me introduce myself. I’m a retired professional who rose through the ranks because competition in my field was minimized due to systemic discrimination against women and people of color. My job was well paid, did not punish me for my lack of soft skills, and convinced me that I know what’s best for other people, even if it seems like what’s worst for other people. I grew up here and, after leaving for a time to go to college and start my career, returned to this town, my true home, in order to raise a family and stop time from progressing. I’ve lived in the same house in the Elm Heights neighborhood for the past twenty years, and I just love everything about this town except for the problems that my politics have directly created.

    This is a preorder. Orders placed now will ship July, 2019. Get this issue, plus our next three—Issue 57 (our mammoth twenty-first anniversary issue), Issue 58, and Issue 59—by subscribing…
    Now that we’ve heard from all the members of the city council tonight, I think we as citizens need to make a few things clear. The first is, we aren’t Madison. We aren’t Boulder. We aren’t Terre Haute. So when I hear a member of the council saying, “Well, Waukesha made a few small but substantive changes in such-and-such an area and the results have been very promising empirically,” what that council member fails to understand is that we aren’t Waukesha. We aren’t Tacoma. We aren’t Amherst. We aren’t Portland, Maine. Are we Scottsdale? No, we are not. And so all this so-called “evidence” about how policies have worked in other towns simply does not apply to us. No evidence applies to us. Our town exists in a fog of mystery and enigmatic strangeness, and nothing that happens outside city boundaries should have any bearing on how we govern or exist.

    The second thing the council must understand is that subject-specific expertise built up through a lifetime of education and research doesn’t mean much unless you are also able to make exaggerated claims that stoke fear and resentment, ideally combined with a kind of faux-folksiness that harkens back to an age that never existed. Am I impressed that you have a Ph.D. in city planning or education or environmental science and are using your expertise to make the commons more equitable, livable, just, and human-centered? I mean, maybe. But the thing is, you haven’t frightened me with your expertise. There has been no “Oh God, the Other is taking over and we must stop them from inflicting their strange ways on our all-American life” moment tonight. And so, I’m afraid, you have wasted all of our time.

    If I haven’t convinced you yet of my point of view, this surely will: as a middle-class white Christian man who came of age during the most profound and sustained economic boom in our nation’s history, I understand struggle. I never received anything in my life, except a world-class public education that cost virtually nothing. I wasn’t handed anything, except two loving parents, a comfortable upbringing, and the general feeling that our nation’s institutions and structures were designed for the success of people like me.

    So when the city council talks about poverty, when it talks about affordable housing, when it talks about Medicaid, what we’re really talking about is work ethic. What we’re talking about is a culture of give-me give-me give-me that, yes, I directly benefited from via the university I attended, but now that I’ve benefitted from public programs, I don’t want anyone else to benefit from them. The question is not, “How can we help other people?” The question is, “How can other people help themselves via policies that rely on magical thinking?”

    This is the combo subscription for both Illustoria and McSweeney’s Quarterly. For just Illustoria, click here. For just the Quarterly, click here. Subscribe now and begin with Issue 56 of…
    Or, to put it another way, let’s make a list of public programs that have directly benefitted me. Those are good. Now let’s make a list of public programs that benefit other people. Those are bad. That’s what small government means, after all: the consolidation of wealth and power in the hands of those who already have those things, because the idea that in a democratic society we are all equals is dangerous and frightening to me.

    Please, stop talking, folks. I didn’t talk while you were saying things that I wasn’t paying attention to.

    I’d like to conclude my remarks with a NIMBY rant about how, first of all, we should not take any action on global climate change, because making a carbon sacrifice is something we should outsource to people whose lives would be more greatly affected by that carbon sacrifice. And, second, we need to preserve the character of our neighborhoods, by which I mean prevent immigrants and people of modest means from buying or renting near where I live.

    Thank you, and remember: you should pay special attention to what I think, because I’ve been saying offensively wrong things about this place for over forty years.

  3. So an aside:

    Why all the hate for the expansion of SAAM?

    The firm that did the design did a great job, and I am sure all those windows in the gallery space will be beautiful.

    And…let’s be very, very clear. The backside of the old SAAM was just that: a rear end. There was nothing redeeming about the rear of the old building because it wasn’t constructed to be redeeming…it was built as the back end of a building whose architectural detail was all forced to the front.

    It was ugly as can be.

    Now? Well, now we have a modernized (if not exactly world class) museum on Capitol Hill


    I just don’t understand the viewpoint.

    Oh, and don’t get me with “but it’s modern and ugly!”

    What, other than a modern structure, would you want? Maybe the addition could be the Particle Board Tacky-Tacky Craftsman that pervades so much of new-ish Seattle construction? I think not.

  4. You know, I saw comment thread today that had a picture of a new five story development going on in Philadelphia. And someone posted a picture of a new five story development going on in Kansas city. And another posted a picture of a new five story development going on in fill in the blank.

    The all looked more or less alike and they all looked like this one here.

    What makes Seattle special again? Why would someone want to live in Seattle?