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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Brown Out

posted by on October 4 at 15:34 PM

This building on Bellevue Ave and E Pine St is ugly.
So ugly that the photo cannot fully capture the Marion Apartments’ ugliness. Why? Because it shows only one moment of ugly, but the building has now subjected us to decades of ugly. At the bus stop, walking downtown, getting coffee. There it has been, with its dark, foreboding parking lot underneath. But it may not be there much longer.
The property owners have proposed replacing the thing with a six-story structure that has 116 units and two levels of underground parking. The street level would house commercial spaces. However, the residential units – 90 more than rented currently – would all be condos. 65’ at its highest point, the views over Chapel toward downtown are sure to be spectacular, so the units are sure cost a small fortune.

”Anything to enliven that street would help tremendously,” says Dave Heater of Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects. He says planning will take at least eight months, and, if permitted, construction would take over 16 months after that. First it must get the thumbs up from the city and residents. The Department of Planning and Development will hold a meeting to hear comments on October 17.

Also, October 17 is the final day for public comment on another construction on E Pine St, at the corner of 12th Ave, that will likely begin next May. Developers plan to stack three more stories onto this awesome two-story warehouse, converting it into a five-story mixed-use building, with 65 apartments.

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Not coincidentally, it's the building with the most elaborate Halloween decorations on the entire Hill. There's direct causality between people decorating their apartments and the buildings being knocked down for their own aesthetic good.

Posted by --MC | October 4, 2007 3:34 PM


Posted by Mr. Poe | October 4, 2007 3:41 PM

i kinda like that building.

Posted by infrequent | October 4, 2007 3:43 PM

Me, too. I liked the recent addition of random corrougated orange siding. Also the cars parked underneath filled with trash.

Posted by John_Bigboote | October 4, 2007 3:49 PM

You know, I won't defend the ugly building, as I don't have the architectural chops nor the interest to defend a building a thousand miles away from me, but I will say that based on that picture, that building and street has more personality and style then the scores of ghettoized and City Council-approved boring buildings scattered here throughout the heart of Silicon Valley.

Appreciate what you've got while you strive to improve it, I guess.

Posted by torrentprime | October 4, 2007 3:51 PM

It just needs a good paint job. It's not ugly per se.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 4, 2007 3:53 PM

Now watch construction on that building and the 600 block of E. Pine happen simultaneously. Where will the bus stops go?

Posted by Dod | October 4, 2007 3:54 PM

If you think that building is ugly, wait until you see the monstrosity they put in its place.

I kind of like it. It's too big to be a dingbat, but it's got some good Modernist mojo working on it.

Posted by Fnarf | October 4, 2007 4:00 PM

My bf and I have a term for a building that's too big to be a dingbat -- a dumbass.

Posted by mary-kate | October 4, 2007 4:06 PM

And don’t forget that the parking lot across Pine (a quarter of the block up to 13th) is turning into still more condos.

Dose nobody build apartments anymore?

Posted by stan | October 4, 2007 4:07 PM

”Anything to enliven that street would help tremendously,” because one thing Pine Street needs is more developer approved enlivening. Because nothing enlivens a street like young lawyers in condos, a Quizno's, maybe a tanning salon or even a Starbucks. Really does anyone know where to get coffee near the corner of Pine and Melrose???

Posted by Brian | October 4, 2007 4:07 PM

Thank you! I was about to say the same

Posted by kojak | October 4, 2007 4:08 PM

I agree that whatever replaces the admittedly dated-looking "Marion" Apartments (isn't that the one with the totally random quote marks on the building signage?) will be a zillion times fuglier than what's already there.

As for the Foley Sign building, does that mean they're building on top of, instad of replacing, the current building? Is it the same developer who did the Trace building? I had high hopes for Trace, and it didn't come out looking anywhere near as nice as I'd thought, but at least the street level part looks great. That's the best one could hope for with this project as well.

Posted by genevieve | October 4, 2007 4:10 PM

I'm no housing economist, but I'd imagine that the apartment buildings will come once the condo market is saturated. Apparently there's some pent-up demand for urban property. Not surprising considering our single-family zoning.

Posted by Patrick | October 4, 2007 4:14 PM

Actually, the long delayed project at the 13th & Pine parking lot (the old Alano Club) is for 56 apartments. The Foley Sign Building Project is for 65 apartments. The proposal for 1620 Broadway between SCCC and Cal Anderson Park is for 118 units and includes 28 units student housing for SU. Broadway Crossing at Pine & Broadway is also apartments.

So there are still some apartment buildings being built in the Pike-Pine Corridor. Get involved in the process - go to the Early Design Hearings and give your input on projects in your neighborhood.

Posted by Daddy Jeff | October 4, 2007 4:28 PM

Maybe there will be a mobile-phone shop!

Posted by Fnarf | October 4, 2007 4:29 PM

genevieve - #13
They are saving the facade of the Foley Sign Building and will be gutting the building and building out the parking lot. There will be four retail spaces (two on 12th keeping the big windows and two smaller ones on Pine). The entrance (both residential and garage) will be on 12th set back from Dawson Plumbing (which is going out of business after being there since the 20's). It is a different developer than the Trace Project. I was just in a meeting with the Foley group as it is next to our property (The Cuff - which contrary to rumor is NOT being redeveloped!). That and I'm an active member of PPUNC so I try to stay informed and involved.

Posted by Daddy Jeff | October 4, 2007 4:54 PM

No one builds apartments for one simple reason:

There is no economic incentive to do so.

Places like Vancouver BC have incentives - and zoning regulations - that encourage 100-story inexpensive residential aparment buildings.

We have incentives - and zoning regulations - that make such buildings nigh impossible and encourage condos.

It's fairly simple.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 4, 2007 4:58 PM

Thanks for the info Daddy Jeff! Glad to hear that the Cuff is not being redeveloped, and I'm heartened that this is not the same developer as for Trace.

Posted by genevieve | October 4, 2007 5:10 PM

Vancouver BC may have lots of high-rise apartments, but nothing there is 100 stories high.

As for those bemoaning condos, realize that when the condo market cools that many of them will eventually convert to apartments, and that many of the existing apartment buildings that have converted to condos will convert back.

In fact, here's a condo-to-apartment conversion in Greenwood, ongoing right now:

This is just an early preview of what will eventually happen around the city, although it will probably come a bit later to Capitol Hill and downtown neighborhoods.

Also, complaining about chain retail at ground level is understandable if it's displacing unique retail establishments, but that's definitely not the case with the property that has parking at ground level.

Posted by Cascadian | October 4, 2007 5:11 PM

My fiance and I lived in that building for a couple of years. (The photo you show is of our old second story balcony.) I really loved living there for the convenience and the neighborhood, but it really is the craziest place I've ever rented.

Posted by Stephanie Pure | October 4, 2007 5:20 PM

@11: Bauhaus! It's right there!

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | October 4, 2007 5:53 PM

They removed the quotation marks from the facade of the "Marion" a few years ago. Clearly, an early sign of gentrification that should have put the building residents on notice.

Posted by JW | October 4, 2007 6:02 PM

Though the Foley Sign Building renovation and addition is not the same developer as Trace Lofts, it is the same architectural firm: Johnson Architecture and Planning.

Posted by charlotte | October 4, 2007 7:34 PM

My wife and I lived in the building next door to the Marion—the little two storey insignificant dump just to the north. Our balcony view of the parking lot at the "Marion" was always enjoyable. If you consider it enjoyable to watch crackheads and drunks shit, piss, and yell. The crazy landlord of the "Marion" was actually pretty funny to watch being "parking enforcement" in his shady lot.

It's no wonder why our slumlord at the Bell-Pine jacked our rents, I guess he may have known the future of the neighboring building. I pity anyone moving in there now that I know their balcony view will consist of a wall a few feet away.

I pitied anyone moving in there before anyway, like I said the owner is a slumlord.

Posted by m-a | October 4, 2007 9:34 PM

That building will make a great vacant lot.

Posted by J.R. | October 4, 2007 10:32 PM

None of this matters as long as the ugliest apartment building avatar ever survives; namely, the faux-deco lion hanging from the side of a Bellevue Avenue residence called "The Iliad". Like Bush 43, shame goes unrecognized.

Posted by FRANK LLOYD WRONG | October 4, 2007 10:46 PM

14. That will happen sometime around never. As long as people move here, especially from pricier locales, there will be demand for condos.

Developers basically have to be forced to create apartment rental housing.

Posted by Gomez | October 4, 2007 11:07 PM

@27--I've always wanted to live at the Iliad. Telling visitors that my building has a gigantic, overwrought lion on the side always seemed so fun.

Posted by Garth | October 6, 2007 9:50 PM

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