What the Capitol Hill auto row-inspired project planned to replace Hilltop Service Station will look like

The concept for the 523 Hilltop project (Images: Studio Meng Strazzara)

The last time this Capitol Hill developer and the architects from Studio Meng Strazzara hooked up, they created an eight-story project designed to set the standard for Pike/Pine preservation and redevelopment. On 15th Ave E, Hunters Capital won’t leave any motor car history to work with as it prepares to demolish the Hilltop Service Station and continue the work to slowly repair the soils beneath from decades of contamination — but the proposed design for its coming 523 Hilltop building is inspired by Capitol Hill’s auto row past.

Design review: 523 15th Ave E

The Hunters Capital project takes its first pass by the East Design Review Board Wednesday night. Continue reading

‘New buildings should support and enhance places as they grow’ — Seattle to set new guidelines for Capitol Hill development

The Seattle City Council is poised to approve a new set of guidelines that will shape what Capitol Hill looks like in years to come.

The Capitol Hill Neighborhood Design Guidelines are essentially recommendations to developers of what neighborhood residents would like to see in new buildings. The neighborhood-specific guidelines were adopted in 2005. The update began in 2017, and was undertaken by city staff in conjunction with a 14-member working group of residents and representatives of various groups around the hill.

A draft was printed in May 2018. But the update was shifted to the back burner as the city wrestled with adopting the Mandatory Affordable Housing program. A new draft was released in January of this year.

Monday afternoon, the full council is prepared to approved the update. Continue reading

With a vision for affordability beyond the neighborhood, Capitol Hill Housing won’t just be Capitol Hill Housing much longer

Developed in conjunction with Africatown, The Black Community Impact Alliance, and Byrd Barr Place, Capitol Hill Housing’s Liberty Bank Building opened in March

By Tim Kukes for CHS

Capitol Hill Housing held its annual meeting Tuesday at the 12th Avenue Arts building, one of several projects across Seattle created by the nonprofit developer of affordable housing.  Members of the organization gave status reports on the successes of the past year and discussed some of the challenges they were facing.  But, CEO Chris Persons did what in journalism is called “burying the lede”.

“We’re coming up with a new name,” Persons said, late in the meeting.  “Think about our name, Capitol Hill Housing, neither of those really represent what we do as an organization, so it is time after 40 years to select a different name.”

What was discussed prior to the announcement Tuesday morning illustrates the need for a new name and rebranding of the organization.  As the leadership spoke it became clear that the message was that CHH was more than in the business for providing affordable housing and its scope was beyond Capitol Hill.

As Persons put it, “Building beyond buildings.” Continue reading

Seattle set to increase fees on developers who let properties sit empty and go derelict

While it isn’t yet ready to implement more aggressive programs like permitting temporary housing, Seattle will begin stepping up its efforts at encouraging owners with properties lined up for development to either keep the buildings in use or make sure they don’t become neighborhood safety issues with squatters and drug use.

Seattle’s new increased oversight of vacant buildings starts in June: Continue reading

As new legal fight against upzones is launched, D3 candidate says she didn’t approve group’s Valpak campaign

As a Seattle anti-growth group is launching yet another legal challenge against the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability plan, a District 3 candidate says she didn’t approve a recent coupon envelope mailer distributed around Capitol Hill that appeared to endorse her run for the City Council while taking a swing at planned upzoning.

“My campaign did not do this, nor is it anything I would ever have budgeted for,” Pat Murakami told CHS earlier this month about the Valpak flyer warning about “loss of public view and decreased property values.”

“I never open the Valpaks that are mailed to my home, and I assume the majority of folks don’t open them either,” she said. Continue reading

CHS Pics | A very big crane comes safely down at 14th and Madison

The first major disassembly and removal on Capitol Hill following April’s deadly crane fall in South Lake Union was not uneventful.

High winds last Friday forced crews to stop the effort above the mixed-use construction at 14th and E Madison mid-project.

It was completed without incident — like most of the big crane projects across Capitol Hill and the Central District in the last decade —  on a much calmer day this Tuesday as Chinn Construction crews again set to taking apart the huge machine section by section above the closed 14th Ave. Continue reading

Clock is ticking for Pine lot where nightlife crowds like to park — and people keep shooting guns

This parking lot is a goner (Image: King County)

While neighbors around 21st and Union are looking at so-called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design efforts in addition to the mayor’s plan for curbing gun violence in the Central District, an environmental problem spot at the base of Capitol Hill is on its way to a CPTED solution of a different sort.

Key permits have finally been issued for a project to create an eight-story, 70-unit apartment, and office building on the land currently home to the parking lot near Pine and Melrose that is popular with nightlife crowds but has attracted more than its share of assaults and gun play over the years. Continue reading

Design reviews: An even friendlier proposal for church-friendly 8-story project on First Hill

Most projects considered by the East Design Review Board come to the table with three options and a proposed “preferred” design that the developers and architects have settled on. The board typically doesn’t question the selection and sets about helping to shape the design. But in the case of a planned eight-story apartment block planned to rise across from First Hill’s First Baptist Church, the board not only said nope to the preferred design, it tossed all three proposals out.

“The Board was disappointed by the lack of any significant variation between the three schemes, and that there was no exploration of other forms that might allow the project to step back from the street-edge and create conditions that better meet the criteria in the Design Guidelines,” the report from the review meeting reads.

Wednesday night, developer Carmel Partners and Encore Architects hope to erase that disappointment with a new early design proposal to get the project back on track.

Design review: 1100 Boylston Ave

Continue reading

Seattle back to work on easing mother-in-law apartments and backyard cottage development

Seattle can finally move forward on legislation hoped ease the city’s housing crunch by encouraging more mother-in-law apartments and backyard cottages.

The Seattle Hearing Examiner has upheld the city’s environmental analysis on accessory dwelling units is adequate, which clears the way for the City Council to act this summer on relaxing rules on the developments.

“Seattle faces an affordability and housing crisis, and we are acting to increase the supply of housing options as quickly as possible,” Mayor Durkan said. “We need to use every tool in our toolbox to boost the supply of housing – and that includes knocking down barriers for homeowners to build more backyard cottages and in-law units. We must address the significant financial barriers and lengthy, complicated permitting process for backyard cottages in Seattle.” Continue reading

‘The Pike Investment and Development Opportunity’ — Eagle and Victrola block of E Pike hits market for $9.9M

(Images: Paragon Real Estate)

In spring of 2012, CHS broke the news on a $9.2 million deal for Madison Development Group to acquire what we called at the time the Bauhaus block, the collection of property home to cafes, shops, and old school Capitol Hill apartments along E Pine at Melrose where the preservation incentive-boosted Excelsior Apartments stands today.

The news set off a new wave of “Capitol Hill is dead” that hasn’t really subsided. Another new ripple — this time on Pike — should add to the call.

A new listing from Paragon Real Estate investors shows that the 9,870 square feet of land currently home to Victrola’s E Pike cafe, corner bodega transformed into sushi restaurant Noren, and the dark recesses of nearly 40 years of Capitol Hill queer history and nightlife at the Seattle Eagle hit the market Friday for $9.9 million and is being touted as an “A+ trophy location” and “investment and development opportunity.”

“This offering presents the rare opportunity to develop one of the last remaining corner lots within 3 blocks of Downtown Seattle. Site is suitable for approximately 70-100 units plus commercial space,” the sales pitch reads. Continue reading