by Michael Sarko
- The Capitol Hill Times -
When a new development comes to design review in Capitol Hill, a few questions have become standard: “Does it preserve anything?” is one, “Does it fit the character of the neighborhood?” is another. The East Design Review Board, the group in charge of reviewing developer plans and reaching out to the community for input in Capitol Hill, has been especially interested in the tonal impact that new buildings have on the neighborhood. As the first round of design reviews for a redeveloped Capitol Hill icon approaches, the board has a lot of square footage to consider.
Two buildings on the block of East Pine Street and 11th Avenue East are in the process of transforming into one of the larger structures in the Pike/Pine corridor. Legacy Companies, the developer that has owned the site since 2006, plans to fuse the Brown Building and the Bocker Building into a single, mixed-use property with considerably more retail and office space, plus some residential space. Currently, the Bocker Building houses Value Village, while the Brown Building is best known for being the offices of The Stranger alternative weekly newspaper, and was, until recently, the location of Velo Bike Shop.
The site of what will be called the Legacy Pine building is in the heart of what is known as the Conservation Core of Capitol Hill. It’s a subsection of an area identified as a major conservation zone in Seattle, made up roughly of the entire Pike/Pine corridor, all of Broadway between Madison Street and the south end of Cal Anderson Park, and a portion of the low-rise residential zone east of the park. The Conservation Core contains some of the neighborhood’s oldest buildings, most notably the Auto Row structures that define the neighborhood’s light industrial aesthetic. Many such buildings have been nominated for historical landmark status, though not all have been approved for preservation, and some are slated for demolition or redevelopment in the near future.
The Bocker Building was completed in 1916, and the Brown Building the following year, both designed by J.F. Everett Architects. Though both buildings have gone through renovations and retrofits over the past century, they retain their original facade designs. Under Legacy Pine’s current plan, the redevelopment will maintain these facades, though they plan on removing the green Value Village awning. All concept designs for the potential Legacy Pine building come from Ankrom Moisan Architects.
Legacy Pine’s initial design document identifies three massing options, which are design concepts for the general size, layout and setbacks of the potential structure. Their preferred massing, the third in the document, outlines a 75-foot high building with a gross area of 97,675 square feet. This would break down into 53,000 square feet of office space, 23,800 square feet of retail, and 20,875 square feet of residential space. In keeping with the style of most other mixed-use buildings in Seattle and elsewhere, retail would occupy the ground floor, offices above the retail, and residences at the top. Legacy Pine would also add underground parking to the neighborhood, bringing three below-street levels with 136 auto stalls and 50 bike stalls to a 65,850 square feet area.
The concept design of this massing is cognizant of the building’s bulk. While it would essentially add the Brown Building’s height to the Bocker Building’s width, the concept massing has a three-tiered setback design that keeps the facades from being a single wall. Instead, the retail and part of the offices would meet the sidewalk, while the remaining floors of offices sit back several feet from the facade and the residential floor would slightly sit back from that.
The design document also includes shadow studies and preliminary concepts for pedestrian and green space. The new building would cast its most imposing shadows during winter mornings, shading a portion of Cal Anderson Park. Shadow projections for spring and summer appear minimal, though, with none reaching into existing green spaces. The plan also considers including planting new vegetation and establishing a garden in the pedestrian right-of-way.
The East Design Review Board meeting for the first Legacy Pine review was originally scheduled for January 15, but has been pushed back to February 26. That scheduling is still tentative. The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at 1000 East James Street, in Seattle University’s Student Center multi-purpose room #210. The meeting is open to the public and will be the first of at least two for the Legacy Pine project. Between the first Early Design Guidance meeting and the final design, the Board will be looking for input from the community to offer at a Recommendations meeting.