They're gonna tear down the rattletrap/firetrap building that is currently home to Richard Hugo House and build a six-story, mixed-use apartment building with 80-100 market-rate units in its place. The developers and current owner of the site are setting aside space in the new development for Hugo House. The literary arts center will remain at the corner of 11th and East Olive Way, directly across the street from Cal Anderson Park. Will Hershman, who lives in "a condominium unit in a building adjacent to the proposed construction site," wrote a long, long, long and impassioned, impassioned, impassioned plea at Capitol Hill Seattle calling for the project to be halted:

If the project moves forward as proposed, the Colonial Revival house which now resides there, and has constituted a part of Capitol Hill’s culture and history since 1902, will be demolished and lost forever. “This large Colonial Revival house, built in 1902, was once used as mortuary. The large south addition was designed in 1957 by architect John Maloney. It is now used as a theater and writers’ center.” See Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Website, Seattle Historical Places.

An expansive, 69-foot, six-story building would take its place and irrevocably alter the site, neighborhood, park, and city. The community should carefully consider whether that is the best thing for the neighborhood, for Cal Anderson Park, and for Capitol Hill. Cal Anderson is a city landmark, and was “[r]ecognized by as one of the nation’s best parks[,]” Seattle Parks and Recreation website.... If the project moves forward as proposed, what will happen to the neighborhood along 11th Avenue, across from Cal Anderson Park, and between East Pine Street and East Denny Way? Right now, it has a quintessentially residential feel, with old, religious buildings and single family homes immediately to the north of Hugo House, and low-rise development immediately to the north of those buildings.

Would the proposed project add to that residential atmosphere? An expansive, six-story, 69-foot-high building, with a fully built-out north side and northwest corner, would not provide a smooth transition between it and the much smaller religious buildings and single-family homes immediately to its north. Instead, it would wall-off that corner of the block from those other smaller, quaint buildings.

Hershman is particularly concerned about the shadows that the new six-story building will cast over Cal Anderson Park:

The park is already being closed in. It is fortified by tall buildings to its west. Tennis players, basketball players, and others who used the park’s paved areas already experience the shadowing effects of these buildings because they block the sunlight long before the sun “goes down.” ... Notice the shadowing that already occurs from the existing, smaller building that currently houses Richard Hugo House. This photo was taken at 7:27 a.m. on 5/21/2015. Imagine the shadowing caused by a 6-story, 69-foot high, 150-foot wide building in its place. Now imagine that shadow during Seattle’s shorter, colder months when the sun does not sit as high and when it casts bigger shadows.

The commenters at CHS—generally not a pro-development bunch—are loudly calling bullshit on Hershman:

I think it’s pretty awesome that a resident in a new-construction 6-story building has such heartburn and concern over the direction of the city when a new six-story building is planned to go up on the same block as his. All of this equates to “i have mine, and it’s unfair to me for anyone else to have theirs”. The bottom line is that this is all about his view. I’m sure there were people around his building that were not happy when it was built.

Will, I guess one thing that makes me worry less about how this development will change the area is that I personally find 11th along the side of Cal Anderson unbelievably creepy and unsafe feeling. I am not a student of urban design, so I can’t put my finger on exactly what is wrong with those blocks, but I find them so unwelcoming that I can’t help thinking that any change bringing more people would improve the vibe.

The current building housing Hugo House has a singular distinction of being old, but it is hardly or architectural significance. If people lived there, it would be called a dive. The bulk of the lot is a open parking lot, which is hardly the best use of valuable urban space.

I am very unhappy about the development of the Richard Hugo House. I would love for it to not go forward.... However. The Hugo House battle has been lost, and this poorly written article is exactly the NIMBY angle that density-at-all-costs proponents accuse anyone who wants to preserve anything left in the neighborhood of holding. This article isn’t about the Hugo House. It’s about losing a view and loss of value to the author’s own property – whose building displaced a couple of very sweet, quaint, residential homes, by the way.

If building tall next to parks ruin the character, apparently New York’s Central Park must be the worst park in the world.

No one in the comments thread at CHS addressed the idiocy/hypocrisy of this paragraph...

12th Avenue Arts is a perfect example of responsibly fostering the arts in a mixed-use building on a much busier street, 12th Avenue. The non-profit organization that developed the 12th Avenue Arts project included 88 affordable residential apartments on a much busier street, while this project is seeking 80-100 market-rate apartments on a quieter, residential street (which would likely be quite expensive given their prime location immediately across from Cal Anderson Park). Also, in stark contrast to the 1902 historical building which would be demolished and replaced here, 12th Avenue Arts was responsibly built on a site which was being used by the East Precinct of the Seattle Police Department for refueling and surface parking. 12th Avenue Arts even provided replacement parking for the SPD as part of its plan. allow me.

There was nothing but surface parking on the lot where the 12th Avenue Arts building went up. But more than one building was torn down to make way for Will Hershman's condo. According commenters at CHS, some quaint, residential structures were torn down to make way for the six-story Onyx Condominiums at the corner of 12th and East Olive Way. (The Onyx may be the ugliest building on Capitol Hill. I can see it from the window of my office. Blech.) I wish the building planned for the Hugo House site was going to feature affordable apartments, like the 12th Avenue Arts building does, and not market rate apartments. But the 12th Avenue Arts building is huge and it's tall. It didn't displace anything—it was just a parking lot back then (just like three quarters of the Hugo House site is now)—but the people who live in the "quaint, residential structures" on 13th Avenue, directly behind the massive 12th Avenue Arts building, probably don't regard it as a wholly benign addition to the neighborhood.

12th Avenue Arts is a good development—yay for arts spaces and yay for affordable housing units on Capitol Hill—but it's a massive building that casts a huge shadow over 13th. It also blocked long-enjoyed views of downtown from the houses and apartments that were already on 13th. The people who live on 13th, including a friend who owns a house on 13th, didn't own those views. But they enjoyed them for decades and 12th Avenue Arts deprived them of their views.... just as the Hugo House development is going to deprive some of the residents/owners at the Onyx Condominiums of their views... just as the Onyx Condominiums doubtless deprived other people of their views.

What grows around comes around.

Hershman heaps praise on 12th Avenue Arts because he wants to appear reasonable and doesn't want to be accused of being just another NIMBY. But if Hershman had owned an apartment on 13th—if the construction of 12th Avenue Arts threatened his views—he would've objected to its construction just as vociferously as he objects to new construction on the Hugo House site.

(And, yes, I do live in a single-family home on Capitol Hill. You got me there, commenters! But if I had my druthers—if I ruled this fishing village—I would rezone all of Capitol Hill, my own block included, for multifamily homes. Save a few square blocks of single-family homes, a.k.a. charming, old, and environmentally unsustainable Capitol Hill, and build condo towers and apartments all over the rest of it. Capitol Hill could to be Seattle what the West End is to Vancouver: the dense, urban, built-up heart of the city. People who prefer single-family homes and compulsory car ownership to dense urban centers and mass transit will still be able to find the kind of housing they prefer all over the rest of city (West Seattle, Beacon Hill, Queen Anne, Magnolia, Mount Baker, Wallingford, Fremont) and all over the rest of the state.)