This is the first glimpse of architect Dave Hewitt's plans for a controversial development project at Melrose Avenue and East Pine Street. As we reported in April, Madison Development Group caused a firestorm when they bought several properties, including two character structures nearly a century old, with plans to construct a seven-story building on the site. But the firm was reticent to commit to preserving the structures—saying they could be gutted or razed. They have since committed to saving the two buildings.

Drawings released today show Hewitt's vision for constructing the new apartment building behind and around the old buildings.

A rendering of the preserved Timken Building (left) and preserved Melrose Building (right) with the new proposed structure being proposed by Madison Development Group
  • HEWITT
  • A rendering of the preserved Timken Building (left) and preserved Melrose Building (right) with the new proposed structure being proposed by Madison Development Group

The exterior of the old buildings will be "exactly as they are today," Hewitt told me in a recent interview. The floor plans will also be kept largely intact, and they intend—they say—to maintain the same density of street-level retail spaces that make the block one of the most commercially and culturally vibrant stretches of Capitol Hill. The new building will be set back from the roof lines of the old buildings by around 15 feet. Hewitt and Madison Development Group will present their plans to the city's Design Review Board on July 18 at 8:00 p.m.

My TCW: Take these folks at their word that they'll preserve the building's old functions (dense, relatively affordable retail), but citizens should keep their eye on this project. Go to the design review meeting and ask questions. This block is exemplary of the neighborhood's useful stock of character buildings, and successful community pressure for good design will set precedent heading into the next development cycle.