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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Final Meeting on Broadway Mega-Development

posted by on November 7 at 15:02 PM

If you replaced the abandoned QFC building on Broadway with a one-block long piece of dog shit, the site would be markedly improved. This is how it has looked for the past couple years.

Photo by Thomas Francis

A monolith of despair. But Driscoll Architects plans to replace the entire block—including the vacant Bartell Drugs, Taco Bell and apartments around back—with two mixed-use buildings ranging from 40 to 65 feet that include 295 residential units, 365 underground parking spots, and 26,000 square feet of retail space. Here’s a rendering of the Broadway side, between E Republican and E Mercer Streets.


And here’s what it would look like from the Harvard Ave side.


Love this drawing and don’t want ‘em to change thing? Think this is an aesthetic abomination made of flimsy materials? Tonight’s your last chance to speak up. A design-review meeting for the mega-development will be held tonight, Wednesday, November 7 at 8 p.m., in the Multi-Purpose Room at Yesler Community Center: 917 E Yesler Way. (And yes, it’s stupid that the design review meeting is a mile-and-a-half from a site with a public library across the street.)

“It’s a full block, that’s huge,” says Lisa Rutzick of the Department of Planning and Development. “Luckily a lot of the neighborhood groups involved have been in attendance, but it hasn’t drawn a huge crowd.” 26 people attended the first meeting and 16 went to the second.

In addition to public comment, this meeting is Driscoll’s opportunity to show the design board how they will change their snazzy design proposal (.pdf) in response to issues raised in a board report (.pdf), such as widening the sidewalks and optimizing the courtyard between the buildings. Neeru Sharma of Driscoll says the firm has modified the plan, but, “I can’t release them until the public meeting.”

So, even if you don’t live on Capitol Hill, you should go (I can’t make it). We’ll have to live with it for a long time. Rutzick says, “If everything goes smoothly they could have their master use permit by end of the year.”

RSS icon Comments


Taco Bell! I am outraged!

Posted by The General | November 7, 2007 3:09 PM

I wish it were 18 stories. Or a stip mall. We need more suburban stip malls in Seattle.

Posted by Just Me | November 7, 2007 3:16 PM

Reduce the available parking. This would make the condos more affordable and makes sense in a part of the city as transit-dense as Broadway.

Posted by lorax | November 7, 2007 3:16 PM

Yay density! Yay something at that site! Boo lots of parking! Yay density!

Posted by NaFun | November 7, 2007 3:18 PM

Or.....let the developer reduce the parking....or market the parking separately from the units.....and let's start having some parking for tiny e cars.....require the developer to show that it will install the plugs we will need for e cars pretty soon....

Posted by unPC | November 7, 2007 3:20 PM

Now the posse's gettin' hungry, and Mix-a-Lot's treatin'

We stopped at Taco Bell, for some Mexican eatin'

But Taco Bell was closed, and the girls was on my tip

They said, 'Go back the other way, we'll stop and eat at Dick's'

Posted by mix-a-lot | November 7, 2007 3:25 PM

What will I do without my late night Taco Bell fix?

Posted by Cato | November 7, 2007 3:29 PM

oooh...let's predict what retail will move into those spaces!

Claim Jumpers?
Levitz Furniture?

i know!

a dry cleaners, a tanning salon, an architecture office and lots of vacancies!!


Posted by michael strangeways | November 7, 2007 3:30 PM

And another tax preparation office, payday loan store, and tattoo parlor!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | November 7, 2007 3:32 PM

Huzzah indeed. I predict a Jamba Juice and a real estate office and another real estate office.

Can anyone tell from that drawing if the retail spaces are more than ten feet deep, making it even POSSIBLE to put a proper store in?

Posted by Fnarf | November 7, 2007 3:51 PM

Good lord you people are picky. Would you rather it stay the way it is now?

Posted by chill already | November 7, 2007 3:55 PM

Density is cool. But @2, @3 are right, it should be taller.

We should put a statue of J.P. Patches in front. That would add to the street cred.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 7, 2007 4:01 PM

Napolean, any chance of a combo tax preparation and tatoo parlor?

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 7, 2007 4:03 PM
Posted by Eric F | November 7, 2007 4:05 PM

God. Ugly. I live in Florida now and we are getting shitloads of these ugly, cookie-cutter, "multi-use" buildings. Condos are overpriced, and 80% of the business space remains empty.

They really know how to suck the soul out of a neighborhood. Sad to see it happening in Seattle.

Posted by unhappy in florida | November 7, 2007 4:08 PM

They really know how to suck the soul out of a neighborhood. Sad to see it happening in Seattle.

Because an empty storefront is really what the character of Broadway is all about, eh?

Posted by bma | November 7, 2007 4:13 PM

I luv jamba juice; it stands for everything I don't and I still luv it.

Posted by mmm...icey fruit... | November 7, 2007 4:14 PM

While I certainly appreciate the symbology, you can only submit your 1040 form on human skin for so many years before you run out of it.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | November 7, 2007 4:15 PM

i agree. it will have empty condos, one real estate office, and maybe a subway. no parking anywhere in site.
just turn the old QFC into a bowling alley or something fucking useful.

Posted by bored, yo | November 7, 2007 4:17 PM

Why do you need parking if there's a subway right next door?

I mean, seriously, what's the point?

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 7, 2007 4:37 PM

aesthetic abomination, maybe. But better than the graffiti encrusted p.o.s that used to be QFC. Perhaps it will house someplace to eat past 10 on a weeknight, perchance (besides Taco Bell -ugh.)

Posted by maxine | November 7, 2007 4:37 PM

Do they really need to cut down all the trees on that side of Broadway, as the notices say?

Posted by treebugger | November 7, 2007 4:40 PM

not taco bell!

sunday morning hangovers will never be cured!

Posted by ray | November 7, 2007 4:44 PM

noooo Taco Bell!! my poor baby TB! I now care about development if it means I lose Taco Bizzle!

Posted by Lake | November 7, 2007 4:45 PM

Napoleon @ 18:

It's even a shorter amount of time if you itemize or are self-employed.

And although it's hard to tell from a couple of low-rez computer models, they're not as crappy-looking as maybe the could be. And it does sound like at least the developer is willing to listen to feedback from the community, so that's something too.

And seriously, @ 19, do we really need TWO bowling alleys in the neighborhood, one at each end of Broadway?

Posted by COMTE | November 7, 2007 4:53 PM

I vote for a decent bakery. Please god, a decent bakery on Broadway!

Posted by Jonathan Golob | November 7, 2007 4:56 PM

Think this is an aesthetic abomination made of flimsy materials? Tonight’s your last chance to speak up.

I attended a Design Review Board meeting last month, and I was appalled at the level to which "the community" is able to hound a developer on issues that are personal aesthetic preferences. Some legitimate safety issues came up regarding entering/leaving its parking lot, but for the most part it was mostly people throwing darts at the roofline, or the location of the courtyard, or the amount of windows, or other things that are not relevant.

If the building is in compliance with height and use given the zoning of the lot, then it is time for "the community" to shut the hell up. If people want to design pretty buildings, they should grow up, go to design school, and get a job where they get to design buildings, instead of hounding the people that actually design buildings.

Posted by JMR | November 7, 2007 4:57 PM

@26 I completely agree.

Posted by Katie B | November 7, 2007 5:22 PM

Well, if I have a choice of a design review committe or just attending the RTID meeting on Thursday night at 7 pm in King County chambers, I'm gonna go and make sure RTID dies instead.

See you there!

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 7, 2007 5:32 PM

I vote for a decent bakery. Please god, a decent bakery on Broadway!

Finally, an advantage of living in West Seattle - we have Bakery Nouveau, which beats the snot out of anything on Broadway.

Posted by JMR | November 7, 2007 5:49 PM

@27 and 16
Obviously the developer has a right to design and build what they want, within the zoning regs, but that doesn't mean that a concerned, caring and involved neighborhood can't demand better. As far as I can tell, all this community hounding of developers hasn't accomplished squat in the way of better designs. Projects with this boring look are flourishing in many parts of Seattle, and for the most part, they look like crap from the outside, but on the inside, pretty nice if you can afford 'em. Better to live in them than to have to look at them.

Is it better than the vacant store? Technically, yes. But it's far from being the ideal use of the site. This is fad style building at or near its worst. It doesn't add to the character of the neighborhood. It will be hopelessly dated in no time, with little chance of achieving the "classic" status of older building styles such as the Biltmore apartments. It makes it less like Cap Hill, and more like Belltown. Less of a human scale, and less of a neighborhood soul. It's as simple as that. Parcelling out the site and building a variety of structures, with possibly some open space (yikes!), would be much more pleasing. But this is a market driven society, and what's most pleasing is not the deciding factor. It's profit of course. And that's fine, because it's always been that way, and Seattle seems to have turned out pretty well as a result.
Are things getting worse now? Yes, basically, at least when it comes to aesthetically pleasing design.
But in 50 years will it matter? Not really. Those who didn't know it as it was will accept it and love it as it is. I'm sure many parts of downtown Seattle had a lot more character before all the towers and canyons sprung up (before they washed away an entire hill).
If Cap Hill and Ballard and Wallingford are one day covered with towers with no sense of human scale, then there will be some other neighborhoods further out that will surely hold a similar place in their resident's hearts. Change is the only constant.

Posted by nightlifejitters | November 7, 2007 6:04 PM

Yes, it's nice to have a tall, dense building there, but really, does every friggin' property owner (Thanks, Bob Burkheimer!) have to use Driscoll? There are hundreds of firms in town that could do a better job and probably a comparable price. I understand the need to 'pencil out' but we could do better.

Posted by la | November 7, 2007 6:27 PM

It's hideous. I am sick of these shitty buildings that nobody can afford to live in and filled with businesses that nobody wants to go to. This is not a decent long-term solution.

Posted by babs | November 7, 2007 8:19 PM

While I understand your frustration @33, it bears pointing out that while perhaps you and I can't afford to live in places like this, somebody else CAN, otherwise, they wouldn't get built in the first place.

And @32, I wouldn't worry too much about what people 50 years from now will think of these buildings, because, judging from the way they're built and the materials used, I doubt many of them will still be around by then.

Posted by COMTE | November 7, 2007 9:27 PM

I predict that in one year all the retail space will be pho restaurants.

Posted by mint chocolate chip | November 7, 2007 10:03 PM

365 parking spaces is a LOT of traffic. Why the hell do people need cars in that neighborhood? Light rail will be up and running, the buses go everywhere, and the point of moving to the city is that you're right next to everything. SICK.

Posted by jamier | November 7, 2007 10:05 PM

what a waste of my evening.

this was probably the worst presentation by an architect i've ever seen. matt and his minions were out in full force, there was even a plant talking about how great the project was. i bet he'll be getting a nice xmas "bonus" this year.

the meeting started with the developer giving a 2 minute whining session about how it was basically his property, and he should be able to develop it as he sees fit, that all this was unnecessary.

matt went into his presentation and it is unfortunate no one brought a laser pointer or the instruction manual for the projectors. it was also unfortunate the firm was not ready to present with glossy photos, plans or models. one of the projectors was completely out of focus and matt had a tendency to walk up to the screen and point things out, which blocked the images from view. this may have been intentional, it's what i would do if i didn't want scrutiny.

all in all the project is a bust. the developer is a real tool and wants to make a quick buck, but doesn't realize he could make a lot more had he gone with a better architect and tried to make a real gem in the city.

the massing is horrible, none of the existing buildings are taller than 4 stories (note, in the model presented, most of the surrounding buildings weren't actually shown. driscoll instead opted to show what could be built to maximize the adjacent lots, so his "design" wouldn't look so out of scale. materially, it's a beaut. stucco 6 stories tall, sitting on metal panels. looks like someone forget to take notes in dave miller's tectonics classes. the buildings are separated by a shaft, which will no doubt induce strong drafts and create an entry courtyard that will never be used. supposed courtyards in the building are so badly proportioned they might as well by mid 19th c. tenements. it's really a light well and i'm assuming there was a reason driscoll opted not to show the actual sun positioning on the boards.

matt kept talking about these setbacks and such, but really, it's a solid block with a few indentations so the mass doesn't seem too banal. only it's not working so the firm tried to play with colors to circumvent the issue. guess what, that isn't working either. apparently last meeting, materials/color was a major issue and that wasn't resolved.

matt decided not to resolve most of the issues from last time and when he was asked by the board, he kinda stared off in space. i felt like i was watching gwb (that's george walker bush, not gypsum wall board) taking questions from a congress he felt he didn't have to respond to since they wield little power.

when the few dedicated citizens decided to voice their opinions and concerns, matt and his minions made faces as though the citizenry were uninformed idiots. always a sign of a mature team in my book.

it's really unfortunate that projects like this are built regularly in seattle. i'd like to think in the heart of the city, there'd be a lot more respect for the end users by both architects and developers. i'd expect to find this banality in issaquah or bothell, but on capitol hill just doesn't sit right. we, the citizenry, must demand better. there's no cohesiveness to this project, no boldness, no rigor. it's just a maximized developer block that will look dated before it's even finished.

also this abortion will be adjacent to one of the more interesting projects on capitol hill, the library by cutler + johnston architects. driscoll's project will dwarf the library, will look like absolute trash as an adjacency and unfortunately, will serve as precedent for developers to ram crap through DPD only to maximize their profits without leaving anything for the city. but hey, we don't even have a decent transportation system so we probably fucking deserve it.

oh, matt, please stop designing shitty projects all over my town.

and bob, thanks for challenging local architects to produce really really awful projects. says a lot about your values.

Posted by christopher kristopherson | November 7, 2007 10:39 PM

christopher kristopherson, i think i love you.

Posted by devin | November 7, 2007 11:42 PM

We need a decent fucking bar at the N end of Broadway...Fuck the Deluxe. Also please outlaw Pho, Thai and Mexican food, and frame shops. I really wanted to see the QFC turned into a park. Or an ice skating rink. or a farm. or a giant ferris wheel. or an injection site. or a fred meyer. or a hug mud pit. or a stage. or a nursery. or a large claes oldenburg. or a rocket launch site. or a corn maze. or an obstacle course. or a mini shetland pony race track. thats it, the racetrack.

Posted by Diarhea in my hood | November 8, 2007 1:13 AM

@37: Thanks for that review. Bob Burkheimer's an arrogant prick.

Posted by DOUG. | November 8, 2007 8:53 AM

Stucco on metal panels! Man, the next earthquake is gonna flatten a whole fuckton of recently-built property.

Posted by Gomez | November 8, 2007 10:15 AM

Good god, this city is getting boring. Want more density? Move to freakin' NYC. These architects, as children, built the same square Leggo house over and over again. Now they're pushing up property values, destroying any feature that distinguishes Capitol Hill from any other neighborhood, and essentially telling us to shut up when we say we don't like it? Boring, bland, blase... and any other b word that could potentially fit at the end.

Meanwhile, with the increase in population density, I bet there will be an increase in the smell of urine, as well. Hooray for progress. Where's Guy Fawkes when you need him?

Posted by Loquacious Curmudgeon | November 8, 2007 3:56 PM

I was at this last meeting. Anybody notice they sidestepped the issue of the trees?
I noticed the bright green removal notices on the trees posted just this week all around the site. I work on Broadway and it looks like this development is going to hack most of the trees down - for no valid reasons.
The guy who presented seemed clueless.

Posted by GreenMan | November 9, 2007 11:39 PM

I want to see real architecture being built and not these prefabricated, kit of parts mixed-use retail developments. Good urban planning and a sustainable selection of materials is what young, educated, hip urbanites want to see being utilized and built in this area. It's great to see this revitalization of urban density but so sad to witness its' flawed execution.

Posted by ty | November 13, 2007 1:14 PM
45 >track american airline flight

Posted by round trip airline tickets | November 18, 2007 2:16 PM

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