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Dear humans, it’s time to help shape the design of new housing across from Broadway Hill Park

“Dear humans, I’m sad to say this will be my last spring bloom with you all…” (Image: @maniftendst)

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.

MORE TO REVIEW: 1710 12th Ave
Tuesday brings a second design review comment deadline as the pipeline to get projects stalled by COVID-19 back in motion is flowing again.

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.

You can check out the full proposal here (PDF). Comments are due to by Tuesday, May 26th. Reference project 3035771-EG.

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 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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32 thoughts on “Dear humans, it’s time to help shape the design of new housing across from Broadway Hill Park

  1. The home at the corner (pictured) is beautiful and in excellent condition. It’s a pity that it has to be sacrificed for the sake of rapacious development. What will take its place is bulky and way out of scale for the neighborhood, and because it will not provide parking it will make a difficult situation all the worse.

    Yes, I am tilting at windmills, but I will continue to do so until my dying day.

    • I welcome higher density in the neighborhood. More people to support local businesses, more places for people to live near downtown jobs, lower rents so more types of people can live in this area. If you want a guaranteed parking spot, pay for one.

  2. A: The scale of the neighborhood was purposefully re-zoned so the scale would change.

    B: The house and the tree are gorgeous. To me that’s an argument to have better designed landscapes at our parks.

    • My question is how ‘sustainable’ really is it put a ton of plastic and wood into a new building whilst throwing a ton of old, but perfectly serviceable materials into a landfill in the name of creating density that we are in the midst of proving may not be entirely necessary or even desirable (gee – how many of the folks flocking here are right now working at home and could do so from *anywhere*).

      Throwing that lovely home and tree in the trash is a real shame.


        Not all building demolition ends up in landfill. Building a new more dense, more efficient building that allows hundreds more people to live within a 6 minute walk to light rail is going to be far more efficient than having 2~4 people live in a 100 year-old house.

        The tree, though, that is always sad. We are destroying our city’s tree canopy and not replacing enough of it with the trees that will be tall enough to provide shade and other eco-system services.

        Our city needs more multi-family in more places. Our neighborhood happens to be one of those places that is zoned (and upzoned) for it.

      • Much more sustainable to have more people living in a walkable area close to their jobs than the alternative, which is building homes on the sprawl edges of the metro area.

  3. This looks great, too bad about the tree…but at least the city mandates the planting of new trees for any development.

    Let’s hope the design stays decent: there is far too much of a tendency to do design-by-consensus, which has a tendency to work against decent design (and, yes, you can read that for what it is: those without taste **cough, grandmas and middle aged white ladies, cough** should be excluded from decisions where actual taste is needed).

    To those lamenting the continuing development of Seattle: I assume you all own your homes, that you likely bought in 1990 for approx. $5.00 and now have appreciated by 1,000,000 percent…what is wrong with you? We have a housing shortage in this city and are replacing a single family with a multi-unit structure.

      • I will gleefully and wholly own up to my problems with the “elders” of our society.

        My public policy, should I ever be in charge, could be summed up in one word: woodchippers.

    • Hit the nail on the head with the above callout! All current homeowner home appreciations are STUPID high but also justified for the current market. They get to complain all the way to the bank with their $1,000,000+ cash profits made by selling their homes.

      Seattle’s single family homes are a relic of the past and need replacing fast. With the construction of new skyscrapers (Rainer Square, 2+U, etc.) you’re now adding thousands of more workers to the city core. Where are these people supposed to live? Further outside of Seattle… adding to congested roads? Or perhaps closer to the city in more eco-friendly, densely populated, public transit oriented neighborhoods.

      There has to be a balance and right now housing is off.

      • May absolute favorite experience was, at the plant section outside of Bert’s in Madison Park, an upper middle class white lady complaining to me about the property taxes on her massively-appreciated home that she likely bought in the 80s or 90s. She was, naturally, the President of Victim Land, and my role in the interaction was to agree with her and reinforce her bat&*^t crazy, self-serving worldview.

        I was like, “So let me get this right, you’re asking that I treat you as the victim you’re portraying yourself as…because you have to pay taxes on an inventment that has massively appreciated for you? While I will likely never be able to buy because real estate values are sky high?”

        She looked at me as if I’d just puked on her shoes, of course. Homeowners in this city are, on the whole, both very lucky and incredibly dismissive to those of us who cannot afford today’s sticker prices (which is most people in the city).

      • @PD: Have you ever heard of the concept of “house rich, cash poor”? There are many seniors who live in valuable homes, but who still have a limited income and struggle to pay expenses like property taxes. Maybe the woman you encountered isn’t one of them, but perhaps she is.

      • Don’t care about that, Bob.

        It’s more than reason to cash in on your MASSIVELY APPRECIATED investment.

        In fact, Bob, there is actually an argument that Grandma, living alone in a 3-bedroom plus single family in a core neighborhood in a city with a housing shortage–esp. for families–is taking up valuable space and is, in fact, inappropriately housed.

        So…as a society, it might be time to start asking “why the hell is Grandma living alone in a 3 bedroom, 2 car home when families can’t find places to live in the city?” Maybe Grandma, as resistant to change as she is, should be moved to a more appropriately-sized dwelling?

        And you know what, Bob? That argument would be 100% spot on!

        Of course, as I stated above after being called out for my apparent (and real!) views on the elderly, a better public policy would be “woodchippers”.

      • Wow, PD, I hardly know what to say about your awful comments. Forcibly removing a senior citizen from her home? You have GOT to be joking. Most seniors are emotionally attached to their home and want to stay there, if possible, until they die…..and they have the perfect right to do so, in spite of your fascist views.

      • PD,
        Sounds like you are suggesting ‘woodchipping” senior home owners. Maybe you should see a psychiatrist.
        You sound so full of hate it must be hard getting through the day.

    • So I assume you live comfortably in a 200sq foot micro unit with a partner and a family and a dog? Of maybe you think that people with a partner and a family and a dog should have to commute from the suburbs?

      Some of us still want a slice of comfortable living space in the city we grew up in. (YES, some of us are not transplants!) Some of us see a beautiful historical home. Maybe the American dream is dead (and it and was a sham to begin with) but wanting more than a tiny box to live in is human and valid.

      • There’s a whole lot of space between “freestanding suburban-style single family house with a yard” and “200 square foot micro unit”.

        People live comfortably in all kinds of homes, around the world. What you lose in open yard space you gain in urban amenities. I do think that people who want to live a suburban lifestyle should move to the suburbs – that’s what they’re for! Let the center of the city develop for city living. It makes no sense to preserve suburban-style housing merely half a mile from downtown.

      • Together with Australians and Canadians, US houses are the largest in the world. Homes in European cities are rarely single-family homes.×909/gallery-1440617303-love-abode-infographic-house-sizes-around-the-world-1.jpg

        In a city surrounded by water, we build like Houston. This is not sustainable, economically or environmentally. Every time I drive on I-90, I see acres of homes that could have been preserved by allowing those people to live in Seattle.

        It saddens me, but I’ll take 1000s of trees in Issaquah over 10s of trees in Capitol Hill.

    • Can we at least reuse those consensus reviews? If the board passes a design once, we don’t need to review the same design 4 blocks away, right?

    • “This looks great, too bad about the tree…but at least the city mandates the planting of new trees for any development.”

      This tree is on private land, so it will not be “replaced.” It will be destroyed, along with the beautiful home it fronts. I doubt any new trees will be planted by the developer….only a few shrubs, which will probably be neglected and not even watered.

      • This tree is on private land, so it will not be “replaced.” It will be destroyed, along with the beautiful home it fronts. I doubt any new trees will be planted by the developer….only a few shrubs, which will probably be neglected and not even watered.

        Baseless speculation to invoke emotional responses is a page right out of Trump’s playbook. Congrats Bob.

      • The developer is planning a large, bulky building which undoubtedly will occupy as much of the square footage as legally possible, in order to maximize profits. This will leave little room for landscape plants of any size (trees). There are several smaller trees on the planting strip, and hopefully those will be preserved, but don’t count on it.

        You seem to be obsessed with trying to discredit anything I say. Nice try.

      • which undoubtedly will occupy

        and hopefully those will be preserved, but don’t count on it

        Again Bob, your post is full of baseless speculation to invoke emotional response and that makes you a concern troll. You’ve already made up your mind in the matter and nothing can change your mind.

        I don’t need to discredit your posts when you do it yourself.

  4. Glad the MHA rezoning is working. This is just what it was supposed to do — incentive developers to provide affordable housing where it’s needed by allowing them to build higher. It’s a win-win. So the next time someone complains that the MHA doesn’t result in new affordable housing in the neighborhoods where people need it, point to this.

  5. The city should be requiring new developments to use a “tree spade” to move legacy trees like this to the nearest parks instead of waiting 80 years for those tiny sticks they plant in the ground at new developments to mature. Could replant it across the street at Broadway Hill Park. Or maybe the city could just buy one of the spades and put a numerical worth value to determine if replanting them is the right thing. Such a waste of a good tree.

  6. It great to see an area that combined sewer and rain runoff built up. More density means more poop in the Sound.
    Less trees and more concrete being poured?
    The need for more AC as the heat rises in our very big and dense building. That electricity comes from further away, since Seattle stopped generating enough power to meet its own needs a few years ago.
    You look at the mistakes like New York made, or Chicago, and Seattle seems destined to make every one of them.
    At least Portland started investing in separating their storm runoff from sewer over a decade ago.
    If our policies were the least bit green, separating those two sources would have been the priority. Seattle has a sweetheart deal it made with the EPA that allows to continue to carry on like this.
    The actual buildings?
    One off’ architectural ego pieces that highlight some building design, which seeking to win an award?
    Those buildings will create green resumes, but they will not deliver a “green” city.

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