Development follows Twilight Exit to the Central District (but this time the dive bar has years to prepare for it)

The Twilight Exit’s alley mural (Image: CHS)

Development, once again, is following the Twilight Exit. Fortunately for the E Madison ex-pat dive bar and its E Cherry neighbor the Tana Market, this round of change still has years to play out.

Development “is always in the back of your mind,” Stephan Mollmann tells CHS about the business of building bars outside the Pike/Pine and Broadway core of Central Seattle.

As the Twilight prepares for its 20th birthday next spring and a decade after its move from E Madison to make way for development there, Mollman’s bar is again being prepared for a changing neighborhood. Continue reading

At Capitol Hill open house on Seattle single-family zoning, calls for big change, affordability

Representatives from the Seattle Planning Commission chose Capitol Hill to meet with community members Monday night to discuss the findings of a report that officials say shows major changes to Seattle’s single-family zoning are “necessary for the city’s future.” CHS stopped through the lobby of 12th Ave Arts to talk with people who showed up.

“Restoring the flexibility in housing types seen in Seattle’s historic residential neighborhoods is critical if the city is to achieve its goals of being a diverse, equitable and sustainable place to live,” a statement on the new “Neighborhoods for All” report reads.

Alex Broner, who says the housing issue is a personal one to him after struggling to afford it in Seattle in the past, thinks this report is a “good foundational step,” but wanted to know how the city transitions from the findings into policy that reflects the suggestions of the commission, which included encouraging more compact development on all lots.

“People whose housing is threatened or who lack housing really start falling down in terms of their ability to take care of themselves in every other way,” Broner, director of the Housing Now advocacy group, said. “It seems like something a society should be able to get its handle on, but we seem not to.”

“It’s only a first step, it’s only a foundation, we have to keep going. We need to, I think, allow these realizations to kind of liberate us from some old ways of thinking.” Continue reading

With Capitol Hill ‘open house,’ planning commission report recommends shake-up of Seattle single-family zoning

Representatives from City Hall and the Seattle Planning Commission will be at Capitol HIll’s 12th Ave Arts Monday night to talk about a newly released report that officials say shows changes to single-family zoning are “necessary for the city’s future.”

“Restoring the flexibility in housing types seen in Seattle’s historic residential neighborhoods is critical if the city is to achieve its goals of being a diverse, equitable and sustainable place to live,” a statement on the new “Neighborhoods for All” report reads.

City reps will be on Capitol Hill to talk about the report’s findings and the strategies the commission says should be implemented by Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council to begin “a return to the mix of housing and development patterns found in many of Seattle’s older and most walkable neighborhoods” across Seattle.

Seattle Planning Commission ‘Neighborhoods for All’ report release event

Among the findings: Continue reading

Once lined up for microhousing, Capitol Hill’s Roy Vue wins landmark status

From a plan to gut and fill in its namesake garden courtyard with microhousing apartment units to setting the groundwork for landmarks protections that will preserve its architectural features for years to come — the 94th year of existence for Capitol Hill’s Roy Vue Garden Apartments has been a big one.

In a pre-holiday vote last Wednesday, the Seattle landmarks board voted unanimously to make the Roy Vue a landmark and extend the city’s protections to the building’s exterior, central arcade, and, importantly, the site’s courtyard and elevated garden spaces. Continue reading

‘Single family home neighborhood’ — the Madison Valley PCC mixed-use battle

An $85 filing fee — and lots of billable hours — is holding up a Madison Valley mixed-use apartments and PCC grocery project but the long, drawn out Seattle process to develop the property might finally be set to move forward.

Conflict between a community group attempting to use the State Environmental Policy Act as a defensive blanket and developer Velmeir Companies will come to a head by December as the city’s Hearing Examiner is slated to make a decision on an appeal against the project.

Save Madison Valley, a group aimed at maintaining the area as a “single family home neighborhood,” has been working, it says, to ensure that Velmeir commits to mitigating the environmental impacts of its 82-unit, mixed-use six-story development at 2925 E Madison.

The project passed through the first stage of the design review process finally in January 2017 after a relatively rare three sessions in front of the board. The design from Meng Strazzara was fully signed off on last September — but the project isn’t yet close to breaking ground.

Save Madison Valley is asking the Hearing Examiner to reverse the design review decision and the city’s determination on the project’s environmental impact and require the development to undergo new rounds of costly, time consuming review. It’s a strategy cut from similar cloth to the legal fight holding up Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program that has cost the city plenty in legal fees — and maybe 717 affordable apartment units.

But Velmeir may not have to wait for December to move forward. Continue reading

Design review: Bellevue Court Apartments and their Instagram-worthy Gasworks views

When it comes to Capitol Hill design reviews, we don’t usually mention the developer’s Instagram. But Yu Xiahou’s feed is pretty amazing. The design for his proposed Bellevue Court Apartments? We’ll find out what the board thinks soon.

Xiahou’s four-story, 43-unit proposal for the western edge of Capitol Hill just off Belmont Ave E with — one November 2017 post to his Instragram feed promises — Gasworks and Eastlake views is slated to come before the East Design Review Board Wednesday night:

Design Review: 1020 Bellevue Ct E

Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Roy Vue ‘garden apartments’ move forward in Seattle landmarks process

A coalition of veteran preservation advocates and a relatively fresh-faced nonprofit dedicated to Capitol Hill history has won its first round in what is hoped might eventually be a series of victories establishing landmarks protections for important neighborhood buildings.

The Seattle Landmarks Board Wednesday night voted unanimously to approve the nomination of Capitol Hill’s 94-year-old Roy Vue “garden apartments” for protections of its historic exterior, interior and landscaping features. The 600 block Bellevue Ave E apartment building will now move forward in the process with the board set to make its final designation on the property in coming weeks.

Eugenia Woo of Historic Seattle praised the building’s “high level of integrity” and said it was crucial the Roy Vue be protected in its complete “garden apartment” vision “because the garden, the courtyard, and the building were integral to the whole design.”

The Roy Vue’s unique flipped “U” design with a garden courtyard sited away from the street is the equivalent of the “Seattle freeze” of the city’s historic buildings, one board member quipped, with a dignified wall facing Bellevue but a hidden jewel of a garden tucked away inside.

Bolstered by public comment from many of the Roy Vue’s current tenants in support of protecting the building they call home, the vote marked the first successful step in a collaboration between the Historic Seattle organization that has long been dedicated to preservation in the city and the Capitol Hill Historical Society as the neighborhood group made its first foray into the official landmarks fray. Continue reading

Design review: ‘Upscale’ microhousing must play nice with neighbors on Harvard Ave E

Neighbor issues on Harvard Ave E

A project to replace what just might the simplest, saddest little two-unit apartment building on Capitol Hill with an eight-story, 71-unit development will take what should be its final bow in front of the East Design Review Board Wednesday night.

Design Review: 225 Harvard Ave E

Designed by Cone Architecture and developed by Highpoint Investments, the project in the 200 block of Harvard Ave E between E Olive Way and Thomas will rise an extra story with its plans for 66 “small efficiency dwelling units” and a set of five standard “efficiency units.” Continue reading

Process begins for the end of the Central District’s Midtown Center as we know it

(Image: Forterra)

Change set to split the community around 23rd and Union among those who consider it a central part of the neighborhood’s social fabric and those who will be happy to see it go is finally coming. Preliminary paperwork has been filed for the demolition of Midtown Center.

The six demolition permit applications filed October 4th aren’t anywhere near approval from the City of Seattle but the paperwork is yet another reminder that the corner is set for its latest and biggest transformation yet.

The permits cover the existing and still operating commercial buildings in the center as well as the empty residential structures on the block and the small cafe in the middle of the parking lot. “Commercial bldg. (The small café). I don’t know the address, perhaps 2301 23rd Ave,” the application for that demolition reads. Continue reading

Design review: 19 new townhomes on 12th Ave E, 111 units on 10th Ave — UPDATE

Much has been made of the condo revival of 2018 but on Capitol Hill over the past decade, the king of new home ownership has been the townhouse. Wednesday night, a project destined to create 19 more of the homes along 12th Ave E will take what could be its final pass in front of the design review board.

Design review: 506 12th Ave E

The project to turn the land currently home to the six-unit Lance Apartments at 506 12th Ave E has been in motion since developer Isola Homes bought the land in 2016 for $3.5 million. Ownership has passed across a couple Isola-related LLCs over the years including a transaction in the King County records that shows one Isola-related LLC buying the property from another for $5.3 million in July 2018. Seems like a good deal. The project is now set up for development company Mirra Homes to create four, three-story townhomes featuring a total of 19 units and parking for 19 vehicles. Continue reading