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Buoyed by pro-housing support, 8-story 12th Ave development gets design board ‘OK’

Runberg Architecture Group’s design is a “go” on 12th Ave

The land is currently occupied by the former Car Tender auto shop, Bergman’s Lock and Key, and the old Scratch Deli building

Capitol Hill’s “most debated” new development can move forward to construction.

Wednesday night, facing a wave of support from pro-housing advocates and residents providing public comment, and despite concerns from representatives for neighborhood groups, the East Design Review Board gave its support to the plan for a new eight-story, 130+ unit mixed-use apartment building with an 83-car underground parking lot set to rise on the properties now home to a former auto garage and set of small businesses on 12th Ave at E Olive St.

CHS reported here on the Mack Real Estate development and its long path through the design review process.

In reaching its decision Wednesday, the board considered an unusually robust burst of public comments, including several speakers voicing support for more housing in the city and asking that debate over architectural concerns like the appearance of building gaskets not stand in the way of the new project.

The Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, meanwhile, was joined by others continuing to voice concerns about the project’s relationship to the immediately surrounding neighborhoods with 12th Ave’s denser, taller environment neighboring smaller apartment buildings and houses along the slope up to 13th and 14th Ave.

Wednesday’s decision ends a more than two year design process for development on the block and opens the way for final permitting and the start of construction.

 

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Jansen
Jansen
4 months ago

Good. NIMBYs can move to Puyallup.

pablo
pablo
4 months ago
Reply to  Jansen

Just stupid

Aaron
Aaron
4 months ago

Oh no, replacing this ugly, polluting, fenced off space for cars with homes for people will destroy the Hill’s cHaRaCTer!

Jansen
Jansen
4 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

I agree with you, for sure, but I think they could make the buildings less ugly still too.

PDR
PDR
4 months ago
Reply to  Jansen

I love it when ppl call developments of this type “ugly.”

So this is modern — really, contemporary — architecture.

One of the nastiest parts of the American design sense is, of course, the disgusting tastelessness of Americans generally (for reference: head to the Eastside), but even more pernicious is the preference for nostalgia in design choices.

Would you, Jansen, rather have this large structure be given a Fakey Fakey Craftsman makeover?

Maybe wood shakes as siding that could then be painted in some shade of Institutional Beige?

Oh, and, while we’re putting craftsman touches on a structure of a type that would NEVER have such touches if it were being built during the craftsman period, why not glue various faux-craftsman goo-gaws all over the structure to, you know, make it more palatable to your nostalgia?

One can criticize design of this type on many levels, legitimately, but the design sensibilities of those making the critiques — and a real reckoning with the general lack of taste of those criticizing — should be acknowledged as well.

Design review far too often bends over for the tasteless. I wish there was a mechanism by which complaints could be summarily dismissed:

“Sorry, Grandma, your complaints have been judged to be useless and you’ve been declared to have no taste whatsoever. Please report to security in the back where the kindly guard will fit you with a permanent muzzle so you will never be able to speak again. Thanks for your cooperation.”

pablo
pablo
4 months ago
Reply to  PDR

Oh yes. A very astute analysis.

amy
amy
4 months ago

Thank you to everyone whose comments helped get this done. Appreciate your time and effort, this is a big win for the neighborhood.

Capitol Hill forever
Capitol Hill forever
4 months ago
Reply to  amy

Get this done? You are ignorant of the process as is the writer of this article. This was the last meeting either way. This was the community’s opportunity to improve the fit of this building into the neighborhood context and the streetscape so it adds rather than detracts from the vitality of the neighborhood. Instead you just increased the profit margin for out of state investors. You were played. It is you not Design Review that is the problem.

genevieve
genevieve
4 months ago

The comments that stuck out to me in the review process post were about this project cutting off solar access to the property to the north. There has been a huge push for residential solar in the last decade, which is a good thing and should be encouraged, but AFAIK there have been no solar rights included – this is a problem bigger than simple NIMBY.

Not sure what the answer is, because the proximity to light rail and development of 12th as a business corridor make density in this location both desirable and inevitable, but it feels wrong to just say – sucks to be you for investing in renewable energy. I would hope the developer would include concessions to that property that continues a renewable energy component (not just a payoff for loss of access).

mixtefeelings
mixtefeelings
4 months ago
Reply to  genevieve

Agreed, Genevieve. And super glad to see more housing come to the hill.

Nochop
Nochop
4 months ago

Can any of you see beyond the end of your nose? Does anyone look beyond their urbanist bubble? What do you people actually want?

The population of this city has almost doubled over the last 20 years, and despite Ed Murray’s effort to annex White Center, the square milage of Seattle’s boundaries have not increased. We have pursued growth and density at all costs for at least 25 years, and what have we gotten for it? Cost of living is as high as ever, carbon emissions from the city continue to increase, taxation and city government spending is at an all time high, and our infrastructure is crumbling. Why do you all believe in density at all cost when by every measurable metric it has failed over and over and over. The densest cities in the country are all extremely expensive to live in (NYC, SF, Boston) yet you think is going to magically be different here?

The only people that have benefited from the last 25 years of growth are land owners, developers, and public employees unions.

What are the actual philosophies that guide Capitol Hill residents? You all have burdened us with a Socialist city council member that has zero interest in actually managing the city, you’ve bought into her anti-capitalist movement yet you all turn out to voice support a private wealthy development company from NYC that wants to get even richer through land speculation and development on Capitol Hill and shout down anyone that question this as NIMBYs or worse.

Oh, and you damn kids need get off my lawn!

Steve
Steve
4 months ago
Reply to  Nochop

The population of the city of Seattle has grown by 37% (from 563k to 770k) in the last 20 years. That’s nowhere even vaguely close to “almost doubling”.

Steve
Steve
4 months ago
Reply to  Nochop

And yes, a lot of big dense cities are also expensive (although not all of them, worldwide). But it’s worth thinking about the cause and effect.

When people want to move to your city in large numbers, you can either build for them or not. If you don’t then it gets very very expensive very quickly. (See SF recently). If you do build for them, then you keep the costs down some in the short term. However, in the long term you make the city continue to be attractive to more newcomers. So you enter a growth loop, and your city continues to get denser. At any point along the way you have the choice to continue building for the newcomers or not, or anywhere in between along the continuum, with lots of choices as well about the ways in which you try to also make sure the distribution of housing sizes matches needs, whether to subsidize for lower ends of the economic distribution, and the like. Each choice impacts density, affordability, homelessness, etc.

In other words, If people are moving to your city in large numbers, your choices are limited. And anyone who compares those choices to a scenario in which people aren’t moving to your city isn’t really enlightening the situation very much. The cities you list are also attractive locations in the same feedback loop, and indeed farther along it. I’d love to see you find a city that has a similar level of growth as Seattle, and a similar level of already being “built out” in the urban core (ie not Austin or other sunbelt cities) and similar natural geographical barriers but that manages to stay affordable without densification. Hint: you can’t.

And ultimately, we live in a country where people are allowed to move to other cities, and businesses are allowed to open up where they want. Seattle is attractive to people, full stop. That is the fundamental driver – “urbanists” are just trying to deal with all of the implications collectively without burying our heads in the sand. Of course your city can use things like tax incentives or rates to control how many new businesses open in the city (or leave), and thus how many people want to move here. Indeed, the city council tried a version of this with the head tax, and most of the “anti-urbanists” I know freaked the heck out, even though that was probably the best chance we had to slow growth down and thus to enhance affordability for the coming years (while raising additional money for housing in the process).

So, since you’re so critical of others’ strategies, let me ask you: given that people are moving to Seattle in large numbers, what would you do to house them and not displace current residents and prevent the city from becoming expensive? I’d love to hear your solution.

Frank
Frank
4 months ago
Reply to  Nochop

The population of Seattle also doubled from 1950 to 1980, but you could build almost anything without neighbors complaining about it.

WheretheSunDon'tShine
WheretheSunDon'tShine
4 months ago

Ugly, massive and inconsiderate. A good description of the values of younger people today.

someone
someone
4 months ago

Thank you @QAGreenways for live tweeting. Good stuff. Also I live a block from the site and I’m fine with the design. It won’t be the most attractive building in the city but *shrug*