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Friday, November 2, 2007

Condo Compound

posted by on November 2 at 15:15 PM

Remember the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Capitol Hill? Well, memories are all you’ll have.

A towering crane now emerges from between the tree-lined avenues of Harvard E and Broadway E near St. Mark’s Cathedral, where the dilapidated white building stood. The site will be home to Harvard & Highland (named for the cross streets), which will have 38 condo units priced at $1.3 million and up.


This is the only photo I took that begins to convey the project’s size—it consumes a little more than half of a double-sized block. Fucking huge. Like, that little gray building next to St. Mark’s is the massive Sam Hill House.

Harvard & Highland will comprise five squat buildings, forming a compound of luxury. They’re real pretty, for condos, and they fit with the neighborhood okay. Renderings and more after the jump.

This is the bird's eye view.


And this is the dog's eye view.


Not bad. But the promotion, which sounds like it was written by Stewie from Family Guy, doesn't completely match the drawing: “The grounds at Harvard & Highland will feature beautifully landscaped gardens, gracious courtyards and artistic water features—all enclosed with brick walls, cedar hedges, and wrought iron fencing.” Enclosed with brick walls? Ugh. Makes me think of Broadmoor, which never struck me as the sort of place people were clamoring to enter, anyway.

A chart on the Web page compares H&H to downtown high-rises. One of the categories, called “Prestige” says downtown high rises are “One of Many Similar Buildings," but H&H is a “Unique Walled Estate.” Again, ugh.

But all in all, this will be better than the usually-vacant Scottish Rite building, which has moved, and its expansive, cracked parking lot. Oh, and those tree lined avenues… they’ll have at least one less tree.


The new digs will be ready by early 2009.

RSS icon Comments


St Mark's had an arrangement with the Masonic Center to use their lot for overflow parking.

Expect parking near St Mark's to get crazier on Sunday mornings & during concerts. Especially when they're hosting tent city (I think March?)

Posted by JenK | November 2, 2007 3:31 PM

Not surprised.

Still sure you don't want to build 100 story inexpensive residential rental apartment buildings near major transit intersections?

If not, you'll get a lot more development like this.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 2, 2007 3:40 PM

Shut the motherfucking fuck up, Will. Just shut it. Enough with the fucking 100-story towers. Shut your fucking piehole, NOW.

Posted by Fnarf | November 2, 2007 3:45 PM

Maybe they should tear down St. Marks for the low-income apartments?

Posted by Lloyd Cooney | November 2, 2007 3:51 PM

I can do without the brick walls, but otherwise, this project replaces an underused building and a hugh surface parking lot with urban housing. Which, in turn, sounds like what the Stranger wants, right? What exactly is the problem that you have with this project, Dominic?

@3: At least when he's talking about the towers, we don't have to hear about the imaginary February 2008 Sound Transit election. Count your blessings...

Posted by J.R. | November 2, 2007 3:53 PM

seriously, the 100 story towers are like a world without violence. not going to happen and dreaming doesnt make me feel any better about reality.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | November 2, 2007 3:55 PM

Hey, J.R. @5. Huh?

I wrote, "this will be better than the usually-vacant Scottish Rite building, which has moved, and its expansive, cracked parking lot," and, "They’re real pretty, for condos, and they fit with the neighborhood okay." My only complaint is that building a wall around a city block is a turn off to me -- and you too, it sounds like -- but other than that I give it a thumbs up.

Posted by Dominic Holden | November 2, 2007 4:13 PM

It's like push polling.

In a few years you'll think everyone always wanted 100 story inexpensive residential apartment buildings near major transit locations in Seattle, but that you came up with the adding of surrounding greenspace and kid's playgrounds to them.

And you'll enjoy riding on ST2.1 and wondering why anyone would have even considered that obviously flawed RTID concept.

Our minds have a way of manufacturing reality to make ourselves feel better.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 2, 2007 4:16 PM

oh, and this looks an awful lot like the view from my office window (the plan, that is) - you can see it just two blocks north of Gas Works Park.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 2, 2007 4:17 PM

I live just two blocks from these guys. Ok yeah so they don't look AWFUL, but they sure as hell aren't that great. My main issue with them though is the price tag. Also townhomes like this and others on the hill aren't really high density. Apartment buildings are high density. That much space for 38 units that could hold only 4 times that number of people (and you know it sure as heck won't be housing even that many) is a waste of a good spot along the major #49 route.(Because you know anyone buying one of these big boys isn't going to deign to ride the bus)

So yeah...woohoo highER density housing in the city...too bad only the people who work for microsoft can afford it (and not even most of them). This wouldn't be such a problem if we had, oh I don't know, reliable and fast public transit so that the more affordable neighborhoods aren't only conveinent by car.

Posted by thaumaturgistguy | November 2, 2007 4:28 PM

Well, isn't this just in line with the STrangers' urban design approach, which is rather no design at all but just addmoredensityanywhereandeverywhereasmuchasyoupossiblycansoSeattlecanbecomethekindofurbanfactorythatwenewcomerswantittobe

Posted by Perfect Voter | November 2, 2007 4:29 PM

Im tired of the whining about development. Tired that everyone wants someone else, someone bigger, to save them from it yet never take any action.

if you don't want 1.3 million dollar condos in your hood, figure out a way to stop it from happening. If you want low income housing in your hood figure out a way to make it happen. wringing hands and complaining doesnt cut it.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | November 2, 2007 4:36 PM

Will, seriously, you are the stupidest piece of shit in the universe. It's NOT like "push polling". It's like shit for brains. Just stop.

Your "idea" here is not only impossible, it would be the worst imaginable thing if it WAS possible. ESPECIALLY with "greenspace" around them. These are not new ideas, and they are not good ideas; they are hopelessly misunderstood DISCREDITED ideas. It's less likely than renaming King County to Adolf Hitler County (Hitler would have dug the towers though).

Posted by Fnarf | November 2, 2007 4:37 PM

Oh, I rememember going to a 43rd District caucus in that old Scottish Rite Temple and that was one fucked-up place. For $1.3 mil, the new owners are going to have some seriously weird hauntings and shit. Who the fuck in his right mind would live on the masons fucking sacred turf. Gives me the creeps.

Posted by pco | November 2, 2007 4:44 PM

The area is a historic landmark district. No way real density or multistories would be approved here. I think it's an improvement, though--better than a big ugly parking lot and largely unused and unfriendly looking building. The hill is diverse, we're always going to have rich and poor here. I just want to see it healthy. I want to see Broadway become clean and vibrant enough that some of the neighborhood folks who have a little disposable income would like to shop there again!

Posted by ref | November 2, 2007 5:05 PM

You think that's bad, what about the Solar Rite Temple in Ballard?

So, Fnarf, where are you going to put our 50 percent increase in Puget Sound population? On Mount Rainier?

Good luck with that.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 2, 2007 5:05 PM

why has anyone noticed the real issue here?! why is that old man trying to make out with that little girl on the Scottish Rite webpage (near the upper right corner)?! He must be part of the GOP or religious right.

Posted by Scottie | November 2, 2007 5:14 PM


There's no need to fulfill Godwin's Law.

While I agree that the "towers in a park" concept has been discredited, I don't that's think what Will is proposing. I hear him saying he wants affordably priced towers as part of the urban fabric, near transit, and within a walkable distance from a park. I think that's a fine idea, as long as they're built in moderation and have people-friendly facades at street level.

Posted by Patrick McGrath | November 2, 2007 5:36 PM

Looks good, although pricey, but not really any more pricey than some of the huge homes just east of that location by a few blocks that have been there for years. I envy their views though from that location..

Posted by Brian in Seattle | November 2, 2007 5:42 PM

Jesus, Will, you're even immune to Godwin's Law. Unbelievable.

Here's a list of all the 100-story buildings in the world today:

Sears Tower, Chicago, 108 stories
Empire State Building, New York, 102 stories
Taipei 101 Tower, Taipei, 101 stories
John Hancock Center, Chicago, 100 stories

Several more are under construction, including the ridiculous 160-story Burj Dubai in Dubai, which may never be fully occupied, the hilarious 105-story hotel in Pyongyang which CANNOT ever be finished or occupied, and several more that will just reach the 100-102 mark in the next few years.

None of them is exclusively residential. Most of them aren't residential at all. There are ZERO 100-story residential towers anywhere in the world, and no plans to build any anywhere in the world.

The residential towers as many as 75 stories are:

Eureka Tower, Melbourne, 91 stories
Q1 Tower, Gold Coast City (Queensland, AUS), 78 stories
Sorrento 1, Hong Kong, 75 stories

One thing that all of these super-tall towers have in common, which further blows your pipe dream to shit, is that they are all INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE TO BUILD. A large residential tower -- and we're talking just 50 stories here, not 100 -- costs upward of $500 million to build these days. Any suggestion to spend half a billion dollars of low-income housing money on a single super-tall building will get you laughed out of any room where the subject is being discussed. Half a billion dollars of low-income housing money DOESN'T EXIST.

This will come as a huge shock to you, but there are people in the world who know what the hell they're doing, and some of them work on low-income housing. They UNANIMOUSLY think your idea is potty.

We know you love to chide us on how better Vancouver does in areas like this -- in fact, you've suggested on the Slog before that Vancouver's GOT some of these 100-story apartment houses that don't exist. But they don't. The tallest building of ANY KIND in Vancouver isn't even 50 stories, let alone 100. A 60+er is going up now, but it's not going to be residential.

Next point: we know you're only a forty watt bulb, so it's unrealistic to expect you understand even the first thing about engineering. But maybe there are some here who read the Slog who can offer their thoughts on the advisability of building a 100-story building -- the first on the West Coast, mind you -- on the muddy slope of Capitol Hill here where the Masonic Temple was. Have you ever seen New York? Did you ever wonder why all the really tall buildings are clustered together down at the tip of Manhattan, and then it's all medium-rise as you go north, and then all of a sudden there are more super-tall buildings clustered in Midtown? Are you familiar with geology at all?

But for the sake of argument, let's just assume that everyone in the world suddenly becomes as stupid as you, and such a thing gets planned. I know you want to build hundreds of the fucking things, but let's just start with one.

Do you have ANY IDEA how stupid an idea of super-tall buildings "surrounded by greenspace" is, from an urban living perspective? Have you ever heard of Le Corbusier? "Towers in the Park" isn't your idea, it's his, from the 1920s, and pretty much 100% of people who study urbanism think it's the shittiest idea in the history of the subject. If you really need to be pointed at some of the discussion of why Corbusier's towers in the park are bad, I can help you, but be prepared -- most of the criticism is MUCH ROUGHER than what you're hearing here. Towers in the Park SUCKS ASS.

May I remind you that Le Corbusier himself lived in a 17th century chateau, and had some other discreditable ideas about the social and physical needs of the miserable peons he thought should move into these things.

Le Corbusier's ideas were mostly implemented as horrifying welfare housing in the United States and Europe. Remember the Paris riots a couple of years ago? Those towers in the background of the burning cars were built exactly to your plan. Cabrini Green, Robert Taylor Homes, the atrocities of places like Everton and Glasgow and Hackney, the grim rings around Torino and Barcelona, and almost all of the housing built in the Soviet Union: that's what you're asking for. Every place on earth that can afford it is tearing these shitholes down, not planning new ones.

The fact that you don't know all that already, and that you continue to put forward this COMPLETELY SHIT idea as if it was your own, shows merely that you are ignorant. No fault in being ignorant; people can be educated. But something about the way you push this vacuity suggests something more. I think you're worse than ignorant; I think you're FUNDAMENTALLY STUPID.

And I wish to God you'd shut the motherfucking fuck up about 100-story towers.

Posted by Fnarf | November 2, 2007 5:51 PM

stop being an asshole.

Posted by unPC | November 2, 2007 6:20 PM

he's not being an asshole, he's dead on the mark on this one.

Every fucking time I see Will post something about those 100 floors of flats I want to rip my eyeballs out. The first time I thought it was one of his silly jokes. But the fact that he seems to actually believe that someone somewhere would contemplate building a 100 floor residential tower is mind-fucking.

Posted by gnossos | November 2, 2007 6:33 PM

I like being an asshole. Clears the arteries.

Posted by Fnarf | November 2, 2007 6:36 PM

I agree with fnarf, maybe not as harsh, but it needed to be said.

Posted by Brian in Seattle | November 2, 2007 6:45 PM

I agree with fnarf, maybe not as harsh, but it needed to be said.

Posted by Brian in Seattle | November 2, 2007 6:45 PM

Doh, double post. Pls delete one. Thanks.

Posted by Brian in Seattle | November 2, 2007 6:46 PM

fnarf hearts ayn rand, couches it in reality by bitterly attacking wills' stupid idea, feels better about himself, and so does will for the off-handed validation of same stupid idea.

which of these self-important tools shall prevail?

...who cares.

Posted by point x point synopsis: | November 2, 2007 6:50 PM

Personally, I think Fnarf is right on the money and I'm happy that somebody who actually knows what the fuck they're talking about brought reality back into the picture. Thanks for making my Slog reading more enjoyable Fnarf.

We bitch about Seattle being passive-aggressive, so it's nice when you see a bullshit fucktarded idea get forcibly argued against.

Posted by Dono | November 2, 2007 7:43 PM

I can't fucking STAND Ayn Rand. As a philosopher she's ridiculous, as an architectural critic she's nothing, and as a novelist she's, well, she's probably the worst of all time. She makes Bulwer-Lytton look like James Joyce.

The 100-story idea is actually much more Randian than anything I've got.

Posted by Fnarf | November 2, 2007 7:56 PM

God bless Fnarf. I remember those hideous high rises in the 100s near Amsterdam Avenue on the UWS and wondered how those poor people could live in those hellish towers surrounded by dismal grass, blocks from the nearest bodega. Fortunately we've learned to blow up those fucking monstrosities and forced developers to put street level retail in wherever possible. Still, New Holly and Rainier Vista and High Point could use some corner bodegas and storefront churches and other gathering places, but at least we don't have all that indefensible unusable green space that no one owns and elevators/stairwells that are owned by drug dealers. May God have mercy on LeCorbusier's soul.

Posted by kk | November 2, 2007 9:26 PM
Posted by Tom | November 2, 2007 10:17 PM

"The 100-story idea is actually much more Randian than anything I've got."

not exactly true. as i'm sure you know, but lets not quibble on that inane rand. nor the overt silliness of 100 story residential buildings. Le Corbusier was about more than monolithic state housing, as i'm sure you know.

Posted by point x point synopsis: | November 2, 2007 11:22 PM

Isn't there some median ground between $1.3 million dollar condos for Microsoft gazillionaires and 100 story low income Stalinist cellblocks? The fact is the middle class is being priced out of Seattle as greedy developers aim for the top end and ignore the rest of us who will soon have to commute from fucking Yakima because there is nothing closer that is affordable. That means more sprawl, more congestion and greenhouse gas emissions and longer commutes. Anyone who thinks that can't happen here should take a look at NYC or the Bay Area.

Posted by RainMan | November 3, 2007 12:15 AM

I'm sad that they tore down the Temple. It's made me sad for a long time. Twice a day, at sun up and sun down, I would walk to the Temple and, then, back home. I wish that if the Brotherhood had to sell their temple, they would've made an arrangement similar to the Christian Scientists who, formerly, met on 16th and Denny. I would've made money, then, or gone into debt so that I might live in that once sacred building. Now I search for a new place to look forward to when I leave my dwelling in the morning and my nights are filled with nostalgia and vague hope.

Posted by Greg Davies | November 3, 2007 9:21 AM

I live right next to Broadmoor, the other walled compound in Seattle, and I have to say I like the brick walls. It helps keep Broadmoor residents (who comprise the only solidly Republican neighborhood in all Seattle) separated from the rest of us. Sure, they can get out, but the barrier gives me some peace of mind. When this Harvard development is built, you CapHill residents will be glad for brick walls, too.

Posted by More Brick Walls | November 3, 2007 10:37 AM

Hope you guys like watching all the 4 story residential apartments torn down to be replaced by 4 story condo buildings you can't afford.

Thank Fnarf for that.

Coming to a residential neighborhood near you.

Posted by Will in Fremont | November 4, 2007 12:09 AM

Personally, I'm just relieved to hear that fnarf doesn't like Ayn Rand. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I thought he was a fan of that third-rate romance novelist.

Although I must say that I don't know about the highrise idea. After all, the people on "Good Times" always seemed pretty happy.

And Mr. Brick Wall, I personally take a lot of comfort in knowing that Broadmoor has a terrible rat problem.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | November 4, 2007 10:40 AM

Jesus, you guys at The Stranger sound like cranky old men. Dan, you're not living in a boarding house, stop preaching to everyone like they're over privileged scum and you're "keeping it real." Complaints about condos and condos and condos and articles about the same are just speeding your paper's progression towards irrelevance. I hate to say this, but the Seattle edition of the Village Voice has been kicking your asses for real content for the last couple of years now. Thats sad. You're blinded by endless bitching!

Posted by Mike | November 14, 2007 9:29 AM

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