Photo by Brandon Macz: Redwood patrons watch a Seahawk game back in January.
Photo by Brandon Macz: Redwood patrons watch a Seahawk game back in January.

Construction of a seven-story apartment building on the site of the Redwood is moving forward after the East Design Review Board accepted the architect’s design proposal on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

The next day, Mat and Lisa Brooke, owners of the Redwood, posted a note on the tavern's Facebook page saying that their move-out date has been pushed up to Nov. 1 from Nov. 18, with Halloween being the tavern’s last night.

“We've had so much fun and good times with you all and thank you so much for letting us be ourselves for over 12 years,” the note read.

The neighborhood bar has been in limbo since 2014, when property owners decided to sell to developers. In January 2017, the Brookes announced the Redwood would be closing for good later that year.

Blueprint Howell, LLC owns the 600 E. Howell St. property and Seattle architectural firm SHW is designing the new apartment building. The design proposal for the property calls for the current building to be demolished and replaced with a residential building containing a ground-floor restaurant space, 67 micro-efficiency units, three efficiency units and six apartments.

The Brookes now live in Port Angeles, and plan to open a new bar there. They told the Capitol Hill Times they’ve been asked by the developer about returning after construction is complete, and that decision will partially be made based on the cost in rent and triple net.

Gone will be the rust panels and chopped-log lettering that marks the Redwood. In its place will be a modular building constructed out of gray concrete panels and corrugated royal blue metal, with slightly recessed vinyl windows in black and white, a landscaped residential entrance and a prominent commercial entrance. There will be rooftop and patio access for residents, and the restaurant will have space for sidewalk dining.

Overall, the review board was pleased with SHW’s design, calling it “tight,” “rigorous” and “mindfully articulated.”

However, the board was concerned that the concrete panels would degrade over time, diminishing the building’s solid look and feel.

“I live next to a building like this. In the sunset, it’s not a solid mass. It looks like painted drywall,” said review board member and architect Andrew Haas.

The design’s approval is conditional on SHW exploring the possibility of using thicker panels. However, if thicker panels would change the design’s look, the board would forgo this condition.

“It’s a nice-looking building. We want to see this building,” said board member Barbara Busetti.

The board also wondered if there was enough space for moving trucks.

“People are going to be in and out of here every six months,” Haas said.

Seattle is currently the fourth fastest growing city in the United States, and builders are struggling to keep up with the demand for affordable housing, despite a 41 percent increase in new rental units in Capitol Hill between 2010 and 2016.

SHW said the trash room and trash pick-up times had already been evaluated and approved to handle trash removal. They would explore expanding an existing concrete pull-off area behind the building to better accommodate a moving truck.

The new apartment building will be a visual end cap to Belmont Avenue looking north. Belmont is lined with stately early 20th century brick apartment buildings that feature recessed windows and stylized masonry.

Seattle Design Guidelines require that new builds take into account existing architectural context and character, by “emphasizing positive neighborhood attributes and local history and culture.”

Haas was not convinced the SHW’s design met the criteria.

“I wanted to see you develop a modernization of the richness of the surrounding buildings,” Haas said. “I do not think it reflects the neighborhood.”

Haas’ reservations were not enough to ask SHW to return for another design review, and the board appeared convinced by their explanation that the large concrete panels echoed the existing brick and the inclusion of recessed windows tied the building to the rest of the block. 

600 E Howell by branax2000 on Scribd