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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rock on, Mr. Liebowitz

posted by on June 4 at 15:10 PM

Before we get started with today’s design meetings, let us all bid a farewell to a tired sight on Broadway.


Good riddance. The blank wall that extended for nearly a block down the city’s best pedestrian thoroughfare was, by far, more offensive than any new building that will replace it. The QFC is dead. Rejoice.

MLK, Jr. Way and East Union Street

Man, I can’t wait for this vacant lot to get developed.


Marty Liebowitz, of the Madrona Company, says he’s planning a four-story building that will contain up to 30 rental units in the top floors (several for low-income tenants), office space on the second floor, eight storefronts on the street level, and eight music-practice spaces in the basement.


“The rock-and-roll kids only make 10 to 20 thousand dollars a year,” says Liebowitz. “So we’re trying to create a scenario where they can live, a place to practice their music, and maybe a venue where they can perform.” He says the musicians can’t afford to live on Capitol Hill, so he’s building affordable rentals and spaces for inexpensive restaurants in the Central District.

What’s driving the 62-year old Brooklyn native? “I have three kids who love music and have a lot of friends in bands. The existing building [a five-plex next to the vacant lot that will be demolished] is filled with friends of my kids. They are nice people, they may dress a little weird and have purple hair—a lot of adults don’t understand. I’m an adult, but I do understand.”

I’d like to nominate Mr. Liebowitz as the coolest developer in Seattle. The design meeting, where he says he’ll have a model of the building, is at 8:00 p.m. in Miller Community Center, 330 19th Avenue East.

At the Foot of Her Majesty

On the base of Queen Anne, Avalon Bay Communities is planning a six-story, 196-unit residential building with about 5000 square feet of retail on the corner. It will also contain 8 live-work units and 245 parking spaces. The Mountaineers Club building will be demolished for this…



GGLO Architecture

Block-long developments are generally sucky, but designs for the ground floor here do a good job of breaking up the bulk to look less like that damn wall at the QFC. The recommendation meeting is tonight at 8:00 p.m. in the Queen Anne Community Center, 1901 1st Avenue West.

Valley Girl

In other nudes, a five-story office building in SLU, which I expose over here, has a design-recommendation meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Miller Community Center, 330 19th Avenue East. Sorry for the shameless sexification of an ordinary building.

RSS icon Comments


I second your nomination of Marty Liebowitz as coolest developer in Seattle. I would love to have an apartment with a practice space in the basement - what a great idea!

Posted by Hernandez | June 4, 2008 3:19 PM

Marty Liebowitz has the right idea. Development always occurs on the backs of artists and musicians. It's nice to see someone trying to give back rather than evict the people that helped build the profile of the neighborhood so that development would be profitable. Sounds like he has been reading Richard Florida's books.

Posted by Now There's An Idea! | June 4, 2008 3:25 PM

It looks like a White Castle!

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Posted by The Artist Formerly Known As Sigourney Beaver | June 4, 2008 3:33 PM

Is anyone else entertained that they painted the bases of those posts WHILE THEY WERE ON THE SIDEWALK?

I'm taking bets about whether the paint will still be on the sidewalk when the fence is gone.

Posted by w7ngman | June 4, 2008 3:44 PM

damn you Sigourney Beaver! you beat me to the obvious punch!

Actually, it's a cross between a White Castle and a grain silo...

Posted by michael strangeways | June 4, 2008 3:49 PM

Is there an email address for Mr. Liebowitz to forward kudos to? My google skills and time are both lacking.

Posted by Postum | June 4, 2008 4:04 PM

Tell Mr. Liebowitz to throw in some decent wing-space and a deep stage - at least 20 feet, and at least 15' high ceilings in the stage house and it sounds like a winner to me.

Posted by COMTE | June 4, 2008 4:19 PM


that is what the central district needs. marty's kid is cool, but i'm sad to see "that house next door" go.

Posted by highfives | June 4, 2008 4:40 PM

Development along MLK really needs to be taller. 6-8 stories around light rail stations should be the norm.

Posted by Cale | June 4, 2008 4:42 PM

Sniff. I'll miss that tan stucco wall. It's been a part of my life for more than a quarter-century. I've vomited on that QFC wall.

In real news, the Mountaineers building was an understated northwest-style gem. I saw the Ramones play there, too, in about 1982 or thereabouts. It really WILL be missed.

Posted by Fnarf | June 4, 2008 4:43 PM

That big ugly green apartment building on the corner of mlk & union has been my home for over 8 years. While Marty is no doubt an awesome landlord... the fact that I need to find a new place to live and a new office for Obese Productions is..sad?


Posted by Meli Mel | June 4, 2008 5:02 PM

Fnarf, haven't you learned your lesson? Anything built after the war, but before 1990 (like the Mountaineer's Club), is automatically considered ugly by EVERYBODY - just EVERYBODY!

If it were some Wallingford Craftsman thing (like from the Eddy Bauer catalog), or some new thing with a vaguely Italian name and some dormers (like from the Pottery Barn catalog), we'd all be rending our garmets and writing sad poetry, but the Mountaineer's club is just ugly. The Good Taste Police told me so.

Not even beige could help it.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | June 4, 2008 5:12 PM

As someone who has recently been forced to look for low income/handicap accessible housing due to health reasons, it would be nice to find an apartment in a nice neighborhood with amenities.

oh, "And in other nudes..."? I missed the joke.

Posted by elswinger | June 4, 2008 5:14 PM

Hurray for Mr. Liebowitz.

His webpage:

(Please don't spam him.)

Posted by Hey wait | June 4, 2008 5:15 PM

@9 is right, but we need to build even higher than that, and zone for mixed-income residential rental apartment buildings around transit stations, with extra greenspace.

Fuck the parking spaces.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 5:20 PM

Cale Dear, MLK and light rail part company at the intersection of Rainier and MLK. That's quite a distance from E Union and MLK. If I am not mistaken, that's where the current Grocery Outlet is located.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | June 4, 2008 5:20 PM

@10 - agreed. And it was a great place to get married in, even with the birdseed/rice limitation.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 5:24 PM

You got married at the Mountaineers? For once I am genuinely impressed.

That rice thing is an urban legend, you know. Rice is completely harmless to birds.

Posted by Fnarf | June 4, 2008 5:47 PM

Define "several" and "affordable"

Posted by Trevor | June 4, 2008 6:42 PM

@18 - back then they took the rice thing seriously.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 7:00 PM

“The rock-and-roll kids only make 10 to 20 thousand dollars a year,” says Liebowitz.

He means YOU, Strangers.

Posted by Tim's a high-rollah | June 4, 2008 7:00 PM

people like liebowitz are good examples of why getting paid serious cash isn't a bad thing and should be encouraged. if you suck at making music go get fucking paid and support music that way.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 4, 2008 9:07 PM

The Queen Anne property going up where the Mountaineers building is seems to have a band of stone running up climber's right and a nice system of ledges and protectible cracks toward climber's left. I DO have a hammer, and a bunch of old pitons. Arriba! once they build it.

Posted by kinaidos | June 4, 2008 11:08 PM

Maybe the Roosevelt Basejumpers can help out, @23.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 5, 2008 1:02 AM

they shouldve made that qfc into a roller rink :(

Posted by drunk couples skate | June 5, 2008 8:31 AM

The project Mr. Liebowitz is referring to is noble indeed, but as a neighbor who lives across the street, I'm not exactly 100% gaga over this proposed development. First, if you've ever spent any time in that area, you know there are no buildings over 3 stories. None. It's not a commercial district and was only rezoned as such as few years ago.

I would love to see development, but 4 stories is too have folks who live in houses right there and would have their sunlight totally blocked by a 4 story building.

I do applaud Marty for ambition, but pulling it off will be a tough task in a tough economic climate.

Posted by Elvis | June 5, 2008 10:46 AM

anyone who knows the neighborhood or has looked at the website can tell you that most of the madrona groups existing buildings are ugly cheap looking buildings including that ugly 5 plex soon to be demolished, and this one so far looks to be no different
the developer may be 'cool' but his buildings suck and no one cares that these 'rock and roll' kids dress 'weird' this isn't 1950.

Posted by no one | June 5, 2008 11:02 AM


1. Uh, hello... For the neighborhood to ever meet it's zoning potential (in this case, as a 4-story mixed-use area), there's got to be a first.

2. I looks like the only ones it's going to shade are some three-floor townhouses to the west. The houses to the north are across the street, and (get this!) already shaded by trees!

I encourage you to consider selling your house to a developer and moving out of the city if 4 story construction in your neighborhood is going to be a problem for you.

Posted by durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr | June 5, 2008 11:17 AM


Yes, it's true. Thanks to our design code, almost any multifamily 6 stories or less is a fugly shoebox.

Posted by durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr | June 5, 2008 11:20 AM

actually, the code is 3 stories and the mixed use is designed for that plot and not the rest of the neighborhood. it's not like we have a ton of mixed use zoning today, it's residential.

So the neighbors to the west should pay for our hunger for density? Is 3 stories not enough?

Posted by Elvis | June 5, 2008 11:33 AM

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