There is good reason for the City of Seattle’s streamlined design review process. And there is good reason for new housing across from rare Capitol Hill parkland. But it doesn’t make the scene passed by on so many COVID-19 walks at Federal and Republican any less melancholy. The little house and the blossoming tree are, indeed, enjoying their final season.
The proposed project by Mercer Island-based Sealevel Properties at 1013 E Republican will use the outbreak-streamlined administrative design review process and is part of a sudden, busy pulse of review activity across Capitol Hill. It’s time to add your comments before the proposal is assessed. Owing to coronavirus restrictions, the city has adjusted development regulations to cut out the in-person meeting with the design review board and allow developers to instead go through an administrative process with a public comment period. The comment period for the project opened with notices to neighbors two weeks ago. It closes May 26.
CHS first wrote about the project last November.The proposal is similar to many seen in recent years – replacing some turn of the last century houses with a considerably larger apartment building.
The plan calls for demolishing the three single-family homes, located at 1007, 1013 and 1017 E Republican (they are adjacent, in spite of the gaps in the numbers) between Federal and 10th avenues. They would be replaced with an 8-story 114- to 118-unit apartment building. The unit variation reflects three proposed options with slightly different designs.
The corner falls within an area upzoned from seven to eight story heights as part of Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability laws. Affordable housing requirements apply to developments in this zone meaning Sealevel will either have to set aside a percentage of the units as affordable housing, or pay into a fund that the city will use to build some.
When last we reported on it, a project set to replace the Car Tender garage property on 12th Ave was envisioned as a five-story, 61-unit, mixed-use apartment building planned to feature “sun screens,” a streetfront restaurant, and “a generously planted” courtyard.
That was in 2017. Three years and an upzone later, the development plan has grown. In late 2018, Mack Real Estate Development paid $10.2 million for the project and, then, in summer of 2019, it slapped down $5.9 million for the building to the north of the garage home to Bergman’s Lock & Key and the former Scratch Deli. Its new vision encompasses both 12th Ave properties.
Up for review in the “early design guidance” phase of the process is a new proposal designed by Runberg Architecture Group set to rise seven stories at 12th and E Olive St and create room for 145 apartment units with ground floor commercial space, and underground parking for 90 vehicles.
The project will be a major change for this block of 12th Ave but — especially in context of the affordable housing and theater project 12th Ave Arts designed by SMR Architects just one block north that its design seems to echo — is poised to be part of the ongoing growth of the corridor.
The E Republican project is on the edge of (and completely within) a zone which allows for up to 80-foot heights, though this would be the first project to take advantage of it. It will be surrounded by three-story buildings on all sides. Development documents say it is within a six-minute walk of the light rail station. None of the building options call for any auto parking, but all of them call for bicycle parking at a one bike space to one apartment ratio.
All plans call for the main entrance to be at the corner of Republican and Federal, to take advantage of the park kitty-corner to the development site.
One option calls for a mix of 16 studio and 71 one-bedroom apartments. It also calls for 30 SEDUs, also known as micro-housing. SEDUs are not apodments, they are very small (minimum of 150 square feet) efficiency apartments, with their own kitchens and bathrooms. This option includes no affordable housing.
A second option calls for 114 one-bedroom units. Of those, 25% would be considered affordable housing.
A third option, which is the developer’s preferred option, calls for 118 one-bedroom units, 25% to 35% of which would be affordable housing. This option would include a courtyard along Republican, which is designed to help break up the mass along that street. It also has a stepped down portion along Federal Ave to help the scale of the building fit in better with the scale of the adjacent buildings.
The proposal documents note the bulk and mass of the building had been a concern brought up during community meetings in November 2019 and January 2020. (Remember January. When you could be in a room with a bunch of strangers. Good times.) The builder’s acknowledge their preferred option does not allow for much in reductions in height or mass, outside of the single stepped down area.
Other issues identified by neighbors include the lack of car parking, and what they said was an overabundance of bike parking. There was a concern over the location of a roof deck impacting privacy in nearby buildings. Others asked for a different unit mix with larger units included.
Other neighbor comments were more hopeful, glad for the way additional people might better activate the street and surrounding area and happy there would be affordable housing added, hopeful that the builder would use lots of brick and vegetation.
Submit comments to PRC@seattle.gov. The project’s number is 3035771-EG.
The city’s guide to “effective” review comments is here. “To make your comments more effective, reference the applicable criteria, policies or guidelines relevant to each specific type of application,” it reads.
Telling them you’d like the houses and the trees and the blossoms and the birds and the bees to stay might be true. But it won’t help them design and build something better for what comes next at the corner.
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