Boom West Lake Union
posted by November 27 at 12:20 PMon
Dexter Avenue North can turn sunshine gray. Karen Clark, who used to work on the sordid street of warehouses, says, “I remember seeing a pregnant prostitute once on the way to my car.”
Now say the fuck goodbye to that Dexter. Covet for South Lake Union property is squeezing a corridor of shiny office slabs and chunky residential compounds into the eastern slope between Queen Anne Hill and Westlake Avenue.
Capstone Partners has proposed developing another behemoth—a six-story commercial facility near Dexter and Highland St with 400 underground parking spots and 10,000 square feet of street-level retail. (It’s being designed by LMN Architects, the same folks attempting to tidy the Mercer Mess.) Zoning on Dexter provides developments up to 65’ of vertical gain, but an exception allows Capstone to build to 85’ for life sciences—mirroring the big research facilities across the water on Eastlake and blocking condo owners’ views from Aurora. Here’s where the building will break ground next June.
It’s so… long.
I dare you to get nostalgic about losing this parking lot.
Capstone’s Mike Hubbard says there are no fancy renderings yet for what will replace this charcoal tundra – the design is being adjusted to accommodate neighbors’ requests – and there’s speculation about what sort of tenants will move in once completed.
“South lake Union is one of better office markets in the country,” says Hubbard. Yes, yes, but can the area sustain that much retail? Zoning requirements for Dexter essentially force developers to create it; however, the steep topography and parallel arterials represent a stranglehold on the number of residents who could access Dexter for day-to-day commercial purposes. And, even if entrepreneurs start a bunch of adorable cupcake shops, traffic will always roar by at speeds that make a casual stroll inconceivable.
“The zoning wants it to be retail,” says Hubbard. “But the market can only handle so many food retailers and small banks.”
Photos, vacancies, and sensationalism after the jump.
Fill in the blanks, retailers.
Since it opened nine months ago, the Neptune across the street, where this sign hangs, isn’t wanting for residents in the upper floors but still seeks renters for the empty storefronts. Last Saturday was move-in day for Janet Williams and her partner, who moved there to be closer to a job in SLU. “It will be great to walk out the door and have retail right there,” says Williams. She thinks the residential density will support new businesses. I do, too, but it may take more residential units on Dexter to the north. "It would be great if there was something other than a Starbucks,” she lamented. So true, but I was tired at this point and wanted a cup of coffee. The Starbucks, one block north, was the only place to get it. I sipped it as I checked out the buildings to be demolished on Aurora.
Up there, not everyone is cheering. Andy Mayorkinos, who owns Andy’s Mobile Auto Repair on Aurora, sees the development of Dexter inevitable, but he knows his business will be pushed out. Hubbard confirmed that. But way juicier – Mayorkinos just sort of shrugs about his hardship – the folks in the building on the other side of Aurora are rumored to be pissed that they’ll lose their view. And they might want to sue. See? Juicy.
If you don't like this photo it's because you hate Greeks.
Aurora divides lower Queen Anne from West Lake Union like the Berlin Wall. I wanted to visit these allegedly pissed condo residents 100 feet across the street from Andy’s Auto, but, to get there, I had two options: Jump the median and risk death, or walk three blocks north to Galer St, cross the only fucking overpass between Mercer St and the Aurora Bridge, huff up a steep bramble-lined path to 6th Ave N., and descend back down the hill. I did the latter and it took 15 minutes, but I lived. When I got to the apartment building I laid wait for a resident. I felt like a reporter for Hard Copy or some Geraldo Rivera protégé, determined to pounce on an unsuspecting NIMBY. But there I was, shamelessly. And here I am telling you about it, shamefully. And sure enough, you’re interested, interestingly. After a long time, 25-year-old Zaheer Hooda (so easy on the eyes it hurt) emerged from the parking lot. “I know one gentleman told me he was unhappy it could bock his view,” he confirmed. (Sensationalism is MINE!) But Hooda says he rents his unit, and he plans to move out soon so he couldn’t care less about my stupid questions or about the building going up. “Part of the value [of the condos] is the view of Lake Union, and they don’t want to lose it,” he said, as he continued to be hot. Fuck those people’s view. Their huge-ass building blocked views from the turn-of-the-last-century houses on 6th Avenue, where Clark (the woman who saw pregnant hooker) lives. So, that’s the way of the world. A view is a fleeting thing—enjoy it while it lasts. Here’s the purdy, 300-thousand dollar view getting blocked.
Babe, I'm gonna lose you.
In exchange, we get a vivid street connecting Fremont and Downtown, where we can get deli sandwiches, and maybe even a fine cup of bean juice. “Any time they put in a Starbucks it’s a good thing, right?” says Clark. I stared at the ground awkwardly, praying for the return of Coffee Messiah. “I’m saying that facetiously.”
We're getting more of what's on the right.
Bitchers and moaners can go to the public design review meeting on December 19.