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With eight stories, brick veneer, and preserving an ‘exceptional’ birch tree, development plans rise again across from Broadway Hill Park

(Images: Grouparchitect)

A plan to bring new development to the corner of E Republican and Federal Ave E neighboring the area’s mix of single family-style homes and old apartment buildings stalled during the pandemic, but now it’s coming back and will appear before the East Design Review Board this week.

Three existing homes, each dating to the first years of the 20th century, will be demolished. According to tax records, two of the three are single family homes, while the third is a duplex. In a trade a city desperate for new housing should be happy to make, an eight-story, 75-unit building will rise across from Broadway Hill Park.

In the works for years, developers began meeting with the Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council in November 2019. There were more community outreach meetings in November of that year and in January 2020. Then 2020 happened. There was another, email evaluation by Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council. There was some movement later in 2020, but then things seems to have stalled. That earlier version had called for a 117-unit building, but there’s no longer any mention of that number.

And now, it’s back in the building pipeline with a recently released plan for design review (PDF).

One of the most noticeable parts of the existing site at 1013 E Republican, an exceptional paper birch tree on the corner lot, is to be preserved. Plans call for the building to basically be constructed around the tree. Two existing street trees along Republican have been deemed in poor health and will be removed and replaced. The street trees along Federal will be preserved.

A large flowering cherry tree, also on the corner lot, will be removed and replaced. The developer acknowledges that the existing tree could technically fit in the space, but its low-hanging branches could possibly cause problems with the entryway. A new tree, of a different species that won’t impact the entry, is proposed.

Plans from developer RMJ Holdings and Grouparchitect call for a building that is roughly a rectangle, but has one corner carved out to make a courtyard for the specimen tree. The opposite corner is also recessed to conform to the lot line.

The façade facing Republican is to have brick veneer for the lower six stories, with metal siding on the top two floors. The recessed area will largely have metal siding. The side of the building facing Federal will have brick on the bottom four floors. The top four floors, which will be stepped inward, will have metal siding.

The side facing Federal will have an amenity room at street level. The ground floor will also have bike storage. There will be no parking for cars. There is a planned roof deck, roughly in the center of the building.

The building proposes a smaller setback than is required by code on three sides. In each case, the developer points to the exceptional tree which they are preserving. The courtyard, which will work to save the tree, means the building has to push out in three other directions to maintain correct proportions, according to planning documents filed by the developer.

Along Federal the minimum setback is 5 feet, and the proposal calls for only 3.3 feet. However, the courtyard is so far from federal, that the average setback meets the requirements.

Similarly, the proposal wants the building to push into the setback along the southern side, which faces existing buildings. In this case, the minimum is supposed to be 15 feet, and the plan calls for a 9-foot setback.

Finally, along the west face, the issues appear in the upper floors. There is a 10-foot minimum setback at heights above 42 feet. The plan calls for some areas to be set back a bit over seven feet, while other parts will have a 9-foot setback.

The landscaping plan calls for five new street trees along Republican. Additional trees are proposed along the western and southern borders, to screen the property from existing, adjacent properties.

Bike storage and trash areas will be accessed via a walkway off Federal.

The review comes as Seattle is rethinking the way it handles public design review amid continued high rents and high demand for housing.

The proposal is set to come before the East Design Review Board at 7 PM, Wednesday July 13. The meeting will be virtual. To watch, or sign up to comment, visit the city’s website.

 

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Kathleen Grady
Kathleen Grady
1 month ago

I didn’t see any mention of parking.

moss
moss
1 month ago
Reply to  Kathleen Grady

good. this is one of the most highly connected neighborhoods. you don’t need a car and we shouldn’t waste space for cars.

CMS
CMS
29 days ago
Reply to  moss

Not everyone can use public transportation — my partner is a new physician and travels throughout the state, and needs a car. We live around the corner, and find the lack of parking, coupled with the recent re-zoning of the RPZ to be appalling. I personally use public transport and gave up my vehicle.

j z
j z
1 month ago
Reply to  Kathleen Grady

The land use sign posted the site states 0 parking spaces.

oliveoyl
oliveoyl
1 month ago
Reply to  Kathleen Grady

There is not any car parking on site – its mentioned about halfway through. The City doesn’t require it for this neighborhood.

CityofVagrants
CityofVagrants
1 month ago

We should not be allowing setbacks that are not code complaint. The tree is legally required to be protected. Why is the author of this article acting like the developer is doing us all a favor doing the bare minimum that’s legally required?

oliveoyl
oliveoyl
1 month ago
Reply to  CityofVagrants

CoV – please consider submitting a comment regarding the set backs – I agree w you. “Saving” a tree they are required to keep isn’t a favor, its one of the many rules the developer must consider. The only way I could see a small setback being OK would be if there were groundfloor retail, but since there is not the developer should hew to the code or offer something in return.

soo valley
soo valley
29 days ago
Reply to  CityofVagrants

The average life span of a birch tree is 40-50 years, and many die well before their time, especially in city gardens. It hardly seems worth the effort to preserve this one specimen when perhaps a more pleasing overall plan could be developed.

ABB
ABB
1 month ago

Super excited for this! Great to see no new parking so close to the light rail station. Plus, while the tree that is being removed isn’t required to be saved per the city – they are saving the exceptional tree and replacing two unhealthy trees. Let’s build more of these and get this project approved ASAP.

moss
moss
1 month ago

let’s do jt

Ellen
Ellen
1 month ago

It’s great to see developers taking advantage of the new height opportunities due to the station overlay and thinking about the future of our transit rich neighborhood by including robust bike storage and eliminating costly to construct underground parking.

And love that they’re preserving existing trees and introducing more along all the property edges.

I know it’s going to be a difficult few decades as the neighborhood changes, but I’m excited to see projects like this taking bold steps. It’s hard to see the old houses go, but this city needs more housing–in good walking distance of our light rail stations, streetcar and major bus lines is the perfect place for it.

Let’s hope that the new DRB members will let this one sail through, a number of these setbacks aren’t remarkably different from many existing beloved historical apartment buildings–and the landscaping plan looks well thought out.

And before someone decides to call me a developer shill, I’ve rented in this neighborhood since 1997, haven’t owned a car in 15 years, and would love to rent a new apartment with good bike storage. I wish I could convince my current landlord to provide secure storage in our basement as good storage options are a huge factor keeping me from buying a good ebike!

yetanotherhiller
yetanotherhiller
1 month ago
Reply to  Ellen

Setbacks provide permeable ground, the loss of which is correlated with declining water quality in Puget Sound.

Ellen
Ellen
1 month ago

Fair, and I’ll admit that I’ve not done the math to figure out if the permeable ground lost to the variance equals the area of the courtyard for the tree—but since they’re unlikely to want to drag this process and expense out any longer than necessary I’d be surprised if the difference is significant.

yetanotherhiller
yetanotherhiller
1 month ago

Why is PPUNC involved in a development that’s not in Pike Pine?

Atan
Atan
1 month ago

Is there any new news on the development of the house on the corner that sits above Broadway Hill Park and now has boarded up windows .

zach
zach
1 month ago

It’s a damn shame that the flowering cherry tree is to be sacrificed. That is a REALLY beautiful tree!