The developer behind a 15th Ave E project set to rise above the corner long home to the Hilltop Service Station is questioning a city board’s decision to reject its design proposal for the planned brick, concrete, and metal five-story building inspired by auto row-era preservation elsewhere on the Hill.
“Through deliberations the theme of the board was to get the applicant to create a more modern and contemporary design and come back to present again,” Michael Oaksmith of Capitol Hill-based real estate and development firm Hunters Capital tells CHS. “There were several other small items to be worked on, but a more ‘contemporary’ design was clearly the deciding factor for rejection.”
Oaksmith says he and Hunters respect the board and its volunteer members but feel that any push for a more modern design is beyond the scope of the design review process.
During the design review board session late last month, board members focused on the building’s relationship to the 15th Ave E commercial strip and nearby housing.
“There’s still quite a few things unresolved with the facade articulation and the concept as it relates to the neighborhood,” one board member said during deliberations as the board agreed that the developers needed to return with a full privacy study in hand and “a better understanding” of the project’s south wall, a section of the building planned to be left blank in anticipation of future neighboring development.
Oaksmith said the Hunters project’s design by firm Studio Meng Strazzara was inspired by feedback collected from the community:
This board tasked us after EDG with taking the best design elements of the surrounding area and incorporating them into a DRB design. We heard over and over again from 100’s of residents and business owners, the most liked buildings in the area are 15th ‘s historical buildings and the surrounding brick apartments on the hill – not the more modern structures around 15th. Hunters Capital’s package was supported by all who commented during the public discussion as well. Twenty minutes later, the board unanimously rejected the project.
The rejection means Hunters will need to return to the board with an updated “early design guidance” proposal in coming months. Oaksmith says there’s no good avenue for challenging the board’s decision and that they’ll set about updating their plans with hopes of a new review in two to three months.
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