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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

More Changes on Broadway

Posted by on March 21 at 14:24 PM

The good news: Something is finally getting built at Broadway and Mercer.

The bad news: (Surprise!) It’s ugly.

Earlier this month, Schnitzer Northwest released its plans for a long-anticipated condo development at the Safeway site on the north end of Broadway. So far, the reviews have been, to put it mildly, mixed. The condos, at 65 feet high, are among the first six-story developments on Broadway after the city council upzoned the street from four to six stories last year. The drawings show a generic Pearl District knockoff with tall green-glass and concrete fa├žades and no setbacks from the sidewalk on Broadway-plans neighboring property owner Bob Burkheimer calls “out of keeping with the character” of the neighborhood.

Burkheimer, who threatened to mar the north end of Broadway with a one-story big-box development if the council didn’t approve the Broadway upzone quickly, still has no immediate plans to develop his property, leaving the site across the street from the condos in indefinite limbo.

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where can we, lowly internet users, see a photo of said mockup?

So, this really pisses me off. I thought one of the main things about the height increases was that there would be a serious, real commitment to architectural integrity on the street? I would have never supported the height increases if I'd thought it was going to become another (albeit far shorter) Belltown. Stupid me.

more eyes on taco hell, i guess. thanks to the density uber alles crowd for that one: unaffordable condos and ugly. at least it will make a nice target for some late night mexi-tots.

What on earth do you want setbacks for?

The real ugliness will come with the rents on the ground floor shops. These need to be restricted, to avoid the syndrome by where the only things that can afford to move in are realtors for the condos above, and chain restaurants like Subway. Also, the size should be regulated, to provide for maximum 28 feet or thereabouts shop width.

And agreed about the setbacks-- setbacks are a useless waste of space and widen an already broad (haha) zone. It would be nice if the building surfaces were delineated a bit by balconies, etc. Prolly never gonna happen.

architectural improvements?

nah, you'll get Vancouver's Big Box developments and like it. Greg's declared Capitol Hill to be just Deadenders in his War on Viaducts.

And forget any more libraries ...

OK, let me get this straight.

The Stranger and a bunch of other ill-informed new urbanists with little or no understanding of Seattle's land use history and the context in which neighborhood growth planning occurred support increasing building heights with some stupid utopian notion of how good density is for its own sake, then get all mad when the inevitable ugly building results.

Um, but the phrase "I told you so" can't help but leap to mind.

BTW - I'm gonna get to say it again when the Mayor's downtown upzone largely results in big office buildings largely inhabited by workers who commute from outside of Seattle.

Why is ugliness a direct by product of density, Mr. X? I don't see how that follows at all. And what is so ugly about this building? It isn't an architectural masterpiece -- is that why folks were expecting? It is just average and I got news for you: the vast majority of new buildings throughout the country are pretty ordinary. So what is it that Eric Barnett finds so particularly ugly about this one? I'd be curious to hear people's aesthetic theories here, if they actually have developed any. I suspect it is more just a knee-jerk response to anything that is kind of "yuppie."

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