Features Apr 18, 2012 at 4:00 am

One of Seattle’s best blocks is on the chopping block. And it’s within the Pike/Pine conservation district. How did that happen? What can be done?

Comments

109
hey y'all I just barely scanned the article and comments but this issue has been deeply troubling me for a long time. sorry if i'm redundant and just adding to the pile. The issue is bad design by an eastside firm. just look at mercer island, allentown, bellevue,...sterile new-urban design is spreading like a cancer in Seattle. density is good but there is a sterile type of design that LOOKS like it should be occupied by people-- but it is actually a retail veneer that is made to be moved through rather than occupied. that make any sense?
110
Why do people hate hipsters so much? I am not a hipster, but there are far worse bastards around than hipsters. The yuppies who regularly call the police on homeless people, raise the rent, and act very bourgeois are far worse to my mind. The hipsters are at least slightly lowclass, drink beer, and hang out in cafes, which incidentally also contributes to historic building preservation.
111
@105 Section 8 is not usually the only housing opportunity. Public housing itself is not that bad, and I am sure Seattle must have some other subsidizations. It's different for every city, and from what you just said, Seattle beat New York and Boston. Boston the list for Section 8 is closed. Section 8 is something of a myth in Boston. 2 or 3 years to wait for Section 8 is common in a very little city, meaning the Seattle List is not that bad for its size. Looking through your housing authority list, I see a lot of stuff going on:

http://www.seattlehousing.org/redevelopm…
112
d.p., even if you're right, it doesn't matter. You and your urbanista developer whores ucked over Roosevelt, and now your new friends the developer whores will fuck over everyone else. With, I might add, the assistance of City Hall and the City Council, which are in every developer's pocket.

Welcome to the world you helped create. Yum!
114
More density? Sounds like MORE generic, soulless and poorly constructed boxes and LESS CULTURE and PARKING. Isn't this area crowded enough? F*** Madison Development Group for taking away something irreplaceable. Have we no shame? Anyway, Bauhaus, to me, is a cultural landmark in a city renowned over the years for its unique and rich coffeehouse culture. So, so sad.
115
More density? Sounds like MORE generic, soulless and poorly constructed boxes and LESS CULTURE and PARKING. Isn't this area crowded enough? Screw Madison Development Group. Bauhaus is a unique cultural landmark in a city renowned over the years for its rich coffeehouse culture and respect for independent businesses. So, so sad. If I see some generic chain store there, I'll puke. Can't they let them stay?
116
@101

you're excused! anyone who spends as much time railing against WHORES as you do is no one I want to get in the way of. my bad!
117
It's really about something more insidious, because more density does not lower rents. It's about Seattle becoming "New York", and that means Eurocentrity and Romanism. In the USA we are not really free, we are slaves to the European upperclass reality, with Anglocentric Americans importing butlers from the UK to seem British and right wing scum with names like Sarah Palin, imported straight from the UK. It's about becoming a ruthless Newyorker Roman archetype and stepping on the poor, about being a happy slave and accepting Roman imperialism and the church.
118
@115 worst case scenerio is that it is a high priced condo with Starbucks in it. You will need at least 3 jobs to afford the rent, and no more laidback, leisurely reading in local cafe.

Rent cost is controlled by many factors, not just density. Sometimes in only has to do with whether it is a white neighborhood or a minority area.
119
@99: I'm not go with the flow about this stuff, because I think that the stuff these developers are putting up is good. I'm go with the flow, because I feel like pretty much 95% of all new development in Seattle looks like shit, and I don't think there's enough regulation in the world to change that reality.

That seems to be what the market dictates. Even if you get rid of parking requirements, it will still look like shit, because with a few notable exceptions, most of the people doing development of this scale in Seattle, don't do good stuff. Honestly, I"m not even sure if it is possible for developers like this to do a good job.

Once you are developing at this scale, you're dealing with lowest common denominator stuff. I don't believe that anything is going to change that reality significantly.

If you want more in-fill and density, thse people are going to be involved. It's the deal with the devil. If you don't like living in that, it's time to leave and contribute your energy somewhere else where it can still do some good.

More than anything, additional regulation in this area will probably mostly accomplish unintended consequences that make it harder for creative people to do something cool in a neighborhood that could really use a little bit of new energy, investment, and TLC.

Some of the incumbents in these neighborhoods will probably push-back and be just as unhappy as certain people in CH are about Bauhaus. It won't be fair. People with more money, etc. will be dictating the fate of things.

But that seems to be how our system works, and seems to be very resistant to change. Even well intentioned regulations often seem to have a way of snapping back to bite people.

Seattle is a big city with a lot of awesome neighborhoods.

Stop whining. Have a little vision. Bring your energy and creativity out of Capitol Hill and into them.

In 1979, the Seattle Times evidently said of Fremont that there "was nothing there but empty lots and weird junk stores" or something like that. Think about how much has changed there in 32 years.

Think about how much Georgetown has changed in the last 10-15 years. Imagine how much more it could be energized and revitalized if some of the people whining here decided to focus that energy on starting more businesses there, living there, or just choosing to hang out there more regularly. The same is true of Columbia City, Beacon Hill, White Center, Belltown, and many other places.

These places are in the phase where they desperately need as much good energy and attention as they can get. They're also places where the scale is still small enough that individual energy can really contribute something significant to a neighborhood (Belltown perhaps less so than some of the other places).

Look at Full Tilt Ice Cream in White Center. That might be one of the single most important small businesses in the entire region. There are probably 4-5 other small businesses on that strip in White Center that don't exist if those people hadn't seen Full Tilt there and been inspired to try to do the same. I know for a fact that Full Tilt was one of the things that inspired the Proletariat Pizza folks to open their shop in that neighborhood (the neighborhood where they live).

Yes, Full Tilt and Proletariat are interloping hipster leaning businesses. But they also serve previously unmet needs in the neighborhood. And they do it well. They aren't just filled with hipsters. Everyone likes pizza and ice cream. Most people prefer these items when they are made with skill and care. No wonder these businesses do well with everybody.

Think about the stones it took to open that Full Tilt store there. Most people wouldn't have had the vision or the courage. But once somebody does and shows it can be done, then other people get inspired too.

Wouldn't you rather be one of these people than some complainer dude up on Capitol Hill?

If these neighborhoods get popular over the next 10-20 years, they'll be ruined someday too. But right now, there's still a lot of meat on the bone. You could actually be a part of the ascendance of something instead of presiding over a slow and painful death.

That just seems like a no brainer to me.

120
I guess Washington State sent us Glenn Beck and has a bunch of right wing gun nuts anyway. Afterall, they must be ill-bred to tear down old buildings. Then there is Alaska above them, with sarah palin and her redneck moose hunters. Accompanied by George Bush in Texas and all those degenerate scum in the Midwest with their bibles, I would say I am cornered. They will even take over New York with their seattle starbucks, like they sent their emissary Glenn Beck to Philadelphia. The New Western empire worsens forever with the bullshit Hollywood American dream. Looks like the West maybe the source of all our current shitty reality in the East. Cowboys ripping down old buildings for new westcoast empire.
121
Is Michijo our new Sgt_doom?
122
Culture replaced by shitty condos and boring people sounds like a death knell to me...We lost Kincora's, the old Bad Juju, and affordable housing for culture to thrive in...Sad really!
123
#122, the "pro-density" crowd is not interested in affordable housing.
124
The yuppies will all move back to the suburbs. They just want to make sure they fuck things up first. Good luck with the contractor cowboys. I formed an image based on Alex Cox's "Straight To Hell" of cowboys drinking starbucks coffee taking the building down brick by brick with whips.
125
=/ what is?
126
The Stranger LOVED it when the Broadway Market's multiple quirky shops were replaced by the Broadway QFC. And now it's crying because Bauhaus is gone. STICK WITH A MESSAGE AND STOP GOING BACK AND FORTH FASTER THAN MITT ROMNEY.
127
@111 The Seattle Section 8 list is an average of 4-5 years long. Ask someone who has been waiting on it. They also close their list for a year and a half and open it for 3 months, just like Boston apparently does. Don't look on their website, ask someone who is on the wait list.
128
@111 I have Section 8 myself! Waited two years for it. The way I did it, was to get other housing assistance first, possibly from somewhere like your Capitol Hill Housing. After you get that, should be sooner than later, apply for Section 8 and public housing. After two years on the list, I got a phonecall, and simply began paying my rent with it.

It's funny though, that they still push home ownership onto people with Section 8. They nevertheless want you to buy a home. I am happy to rent a one bedroom apartment in an old building. I have Asperger's Syndrome and dont really like the idea of owning a home, a car, or shoveling snow out from under said car. When I step out the door of my building, a morning after a nightly snow storm, the city has already plowed the sidewalk. For me it just makes more sense, as I am unlikely to marry or have children, and home ownership would undoubtedly isolate me and cause me to lose my mind.
129
I think our priorities are misplaced. We spend so long antagonizing the industrial sector, whose development helps build places like Capitol Hill ("converted warehouses") and protecting farmland in 1800 miles from Seattle to Minneapolis that is nothing but farm, ranch and wilderness land and don't think anywhere near enough about important constraints on the commercial sector, which doesn't generate anywhere near as much prosperity for the community anyways and yet we hold them to such a low standard while industry, which gives us so much more, must comply to such high standards. More attention must be given to this cultural pollution.
130
@87: Seattle apartment prices are dropping pretty fast because the capacity far exceeds demand. The same thing is true of office space. That's why you can't buy a house for less then 400K but apartments are now selling for 400 a month. A new apartment or office complex in Capitol Hill will simply compete with similar complexes in Ballard, Lake City, Lake Union, West Seattle and other locations and not increase the overall density of Seattle. Besides that, if you must go around tearing things down though, why not Lake City? Or the U-District? Those are ugly, and Capitol Hill has such wonderful small business in it.

US-2 may be improved to Interstate Standards soon with all the growth along the 2 corridor in North Dakota and Montana, and if it is it seems likely that it will be rerouted down 522 to take advantage of the already built sections of freeway from Woodinville to Monroe. It will likely end up running through both U-District and Lake city en route to Downtown, so there will be plenty of demand for new development there.
131
Also, I might add that it is possible to add stories to an old building without tearing down the original. Also, I cant understand just 7 stories. I live in a very old building that is 8 stories. Why build so small if you are building new? What is 3 more stories?
132
@131: It is POSSIBLE, but it is expensive, and the businesses would still probably have to relocate as it would take quite a while and be very disruptive. Still, if that seems like a commendable solution, you could state that they may increase the number of stories ONLY or otherwise leave it unchanged and if they find adding stories to not be sensible they simply leave it unchanged. Wouldn't do anything to help the businesses stay in the area however, though it would preserve the architecture.
133
According to this Chinese patent, there is a way to do it that adds shock absorbers to the old building and claims to reduce "great waste". I think it is a commendable and also very cool solution:

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5174085…
134
@131: Yeah but that method requires space to lay support columns, and I doubt such areas exist near the buildings. I've been in that area of town, and it always seems like there's barely enough room for the sidewalk. It might be possible to do it using an ultra high strength metal or composite, but then you start to increase expense because so few structures are built that way so your ability to prefab (mass-produce portions of the structure) declines dramatically. Still, I haven't looked at this en rigeur, and if you did it well enough and advertised you might CREATE a market for prefab, so I could be wrong, and thank you for fishing up this resource - it's very interesting. The Chinese are some of the best at construction in the world as they do so much of it.
135
Not just Pike/Pine corridor...There were and are wonderful 2-story brick buildings all along Broadway too...about half of them gone now thanks in part to the Stranger's rabid promotion of raising the building limit to six stories. Human scale fades to be replaced by the likes of the one-whole-block-consuming Joule with it's chain retail and the similar hugeness of the new structure at Thomas and Broadway. Way to go Stranger, once again.
136
Here's a thought; why doesn't M&P tear down the over hyped EMP instead? Paul Allen's "Gee, Let's Slap Down a Money-to-Waste Eyesore Right Where Everyone Can See It" temple of greed gets my vote for Seattle's ugliest building.
And does Seattle REALLY need a new sports arena? How is everybody going to get there with the current traffic mess?
@104: I don't go back quite as far as you do, but I, too, was born in this city and it is sad about the development run amok.
I don't feel like I know Seattle anymore.
137
@136: Well, for starters: is the EMP for sale?

Didn't think so.
138
@135: Growth Management Rules are sterilizing Seattle. You allow expansion to occur on a tiny portion of that 1800 miles of farm and ranch land between Seattle and Minneapolis along I-90 and the market to go around ripping apart Broadway will die a natural death.
139
@104: I can't help but feel you blamed the wrong people. The reality is that if you read the GMA carefully you'll realize that it's only real purpose is to increase the returns of the Real Estate industry. There's a great old political quote, "the rich who control everything will not allow their wealth to be taxed away." You might do well to remember these corporate people weren't born yesterday and have seen more then a few round-ups and bucking broncos in their time.

The GMA does very little to protect actual wild land and everything to keep underutilized human developed land underutilized. Seattle grew naturally, with dreams and businesses, and now, since 1994 (not long after Kobain took one to the head), everything is controlled by a central government with no concern for the Mischelstein. They WILL artificially inflate the value of the land neighborhoods sit on TO DEATH. Why? To help their friends, that's why.
140
@9: "And you think republicans are the only bad men out there."

Progressives BELIEVE in progress at any cost. Why are you at all surprised that Seattle has been sold down the river by this "high-density green leaving" utopian fantasy?
141
These developers have absolutely no respect for history, urban cultur or architecture.. can't wait to see the pile of shit they build in its place with tin paneling, plastic siding, fake stucco and cheap interior finishings that will need to be renovated in 10 years. So shortsided...
142
I can see what some are saying though, it is just some little old building, of an older style made perhaps in New England, and what is New England but some little shithole with old women running around wallowing in their little cold colonial towns with bad public transportation. Big highways, auto-congestion, urban sprawl. And then they did basically knock down medieval Paris and rebuild it almost entirely in super-blocks. Antwerp Belgium for instance retains the medieval village quality. What do we really get out of medieval village cities on the East Coast like New York? Exclusivity, high rents, pseudo-Europeanism. To hell with this oppressive history.

Only, I would make sure you build something good and be organized, rather than haphazardly taking down this or that building and throwing up just any old stack of blocks. You might instead make this into a broader citywide plan, complete with public transportation built in, a new city, rather than selling out to big-box stores.
143
Fight this, Seattle!!! Capitol hill, let's do something about this!
144
According to the documentary "The Greenest Building", it is more environmentally friendly to keep the old building and remodel it to be more energy efficient:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyY4DnTap…

Where to get the money to do this? Maybe the USA should stop spending so much money on its military budget and fighting wars overseas and invest in infrastructural improvements.

    Please wait...

    and remember to be decent to everyone
    all of the time.

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