Another One Bites the Dust

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

1
I remember going to that Bauhaus coffee. Shame. Isnt that where the Seattle riots happened? My friend from Seattle said he was sitting in there drinking coffee when suddenly the riots happened outside. I may be thinking of some other coffee shop.
2
I agree. It is sad when great old places are replaced with new generic buildings that have no soul and bad retail spaces. But density is important too, and the more apartments build, the lower the rent should go (eventually). Why not push these developers to design an awesome space for Bauhaus and other retailers on the first floor, and make this building the model of pike/pine development (IE roll out the welcome mat to developers who in exchange have to work with the community to design at least a great retail environment on the first floor). Perhaps too naive, but the "historic landmark model" cannot be used for all the interesting buildings around, nor can all the projects be opposed.
4
Why do they have to replace the NICE buildings? There's an ugly-as-hell cement bunker across the street that is just begging to be torn down.
5
Perhaps setting a limit on the percentage of the area of a block, say 15%, that any new building can occupy would help.
6
"But as developers home in on Pike/Pine, they threaten to displace the very things that make the neighborhood so attractive to renters in the first place."

Absolutely.

As for Price's point at the end of the article about trusting MDG to do what's right for the property, I have no doubt that whatever goes up will be complete shit, based on their other buildings and the general trend of new development in the area.
7
What can be done? Buy it from the developer if its that so important and historic. Show them the $$$ and the Bauhaus will survive.
8
Maybe the only thing more disturbing than some tone deaf developers clumsily misstepping their way through the early approval and design process is our local blog fanning the flames of discontent by spreading false rumors such as the BMW project displacing Bill's or the Lodge...which it doesn't. How long 'til we're reading about the rumors spreading a George W. Bush presidential library displacing BabeLand & the HoneyHole? Really?
9
This story is a bit too late. You act like Capitol is being gutted, the essence of this quaint urban village is being rip apart. Sorry, that happened years ago. Anyone who does not think this neighborhood is "Belltown Hill" is mistaken.
Capitol hill was dismantled and sold to the highest bidder years ago, when higher rents pushed out the quirky demographic that made Capitol hill special. This city is being gentrified at an astonishing rate. The plans that are already in motion by pseudo-hip politicians like Mcginn, and all his corporate lackeys will destroy any semblance of any "original Seattle" left. In Ten years this place will be unrecognizable. And it will be one of the most affluent cities per sq foot west of the Mississippi. After the tunnels are complete and the Yesler terrace is dismantled and replaced with high rise condos that no-one can afford, anyone not making 150,000+ per year will not be allowed in the city.
Sorry, quaint story but its all too late and guess what you guys all voted for it.

And you think republicans are the only bad men out there.
10
Bycott any business that moves into the new building. Advertise now that any business that moves into the new building will be boycotted mercilessly ... that gives businesses fair warning to choose anywhere else in the city other than the new buildings on this block. This sort of a boycott effort advertised now will get the developers attention. However, Seattleites usually don't have the will to do anything this effective.
11
There's always Georgetown.
12
I, for one, welcome our new density increasing overlords. We have lots of coffee shops, but the rental market is rather tight at the moment.
13
I hope The Stranger will post when the design review meetings are happening.
14
Apply for public housing or Section 8 if you cant afford rent. New buildings are always torn down. I live in a huge 8 story block built around 1908. It has bas reliefs of two Golden retrievers in cement on the front and has never had interior remodeling. There are cigarette burns on the hardwood floors and lumpy walls. I have been in it for 4 years and will never leave! The new building that was built in a modern style behind me has already been torn down.
15
I am shocked at this...I go to Bauhaus every week...I have fucking had it with those fucking developers tearing down and gutting out our businesses on capital hill!!! All they do is gut/tear down a business,build a shitty,high priced condo buliding,then move in rich,high priced stores that fund their wallets and not thbe community!!! This hill has value in community and independently run businesses,not shitholes like condo,restaurant dumps!!! Get that fucking shit off OUR hill,and stay the fuck over in Bellevue,you fucking Bill gates cocksuckers!!!
16
@12 That block contains many businesses that make Capitol Hill what it is. It's more than just a coffee shop. I'm all for growth, but demolishing the thing that makes an area great isn't the way to do it. New retail spots will open, but it isn't the same. Check out the new Blue bistro.

I don't see how the rental market is hurting right now either. Craigslist if full of rental listings in the area.
17
About a half mile north on Broadway, another contemporary block-long development called the Joule Apartments opened in 2010. Three retail spaces remain vacant, and the remaining eight spaces are national chain stores (Umpqua Bank, UPS Store, GNC Nutrition, Zoomcare) and local chains (Qdoba Mexican Grill, MOD Pizza, Blue Moon Burgers). The Joule block is nearly twice as long as the Bauhaus block, but only one tenant in the Joule is a single, independent business: Saizen Sushi

Interesting that the one independent business is the one that is failing. Saizen never has any customers. On the other hand, Blue Moon is wildly popular and MOD Pizza is doing alright.
19
Seattle won't be happy until it's been torn down and replaced with Bellevue. Why do we even have an architectural review board if they're just going to rubber stamp everything? You can't build a building with character - that takes decades to develop. The new buildings, functional and instantly forgettable, replace what can't be replaced. The people need to stand up to the developers. Let's see some good old fashioned protesting!
20
What a fucking disaster. Short term gain indeed. Cmon Stranger, this is your doorstep. Fight this, Seattle.
21
People, lets save the Bauhause!!!
Write letters, go to the review meetings...do what you can.
I used to live on Capital Hill, a block from Buhause...but I moved away.
23
@18

not sure of the exact dollar amount, but when you reach it, you can only be considered "eccentric". also, how much money to you have to make to post such willfully obtuse tripe rather than something with an actual opinion?
24
@9 is right, to a point. We're all sad that this is happening to our neighborhood; this is the emotional side. The fact that this is nearly a done-deal is no reason not to fight it. It's the character of the buildings that make this community vibrant, even as it changes. Everyone who works and lives here has a stake in this. Emotions and opinions aside, this is going to really ruin the viability and the very attraction that makes pike/pine a place where, even during a recession, many small businesses thrive. Good luck with that in behemoth "mixed use" hardyboard and vinyl garbage.
25

So, when are the review meetings to be held? I've never been to one before, but I'll throw down and come to them for this!
26
@29 Would you have Seattle remain a low-density suburb with low-slung warehouses and separated uses? What's so charming about that?
28
I hate to see these businesses being forced to move -- I used to live very close to there and spent a lot of time sitting outside of Bauhaus.
That said -- is there no middle ground? Can we move this developer (and others) to build a 2 story brick base with the taller parts of the building set back? Can we move them to purpose design the corner where Bauhaus sits for an indoor/outdoor coffee house? Its probably impossible to maintain 100% of the character of a place, but making an effort towards compromise rather than entrenched pro/anti opinions would get us a much better outcome.
29
The 95% of Seattle that is a low-density suburb with low-slung warehouses and separated uses should be built up.

High-density usage should not be replaced by quasi-high density usage, as would be the result of your false dichotomy and of this proposal.

Your momma's charming. Greetings from the future, @26.
30
As Dominic alludes to, but doesn't explicitly state, the ground floor of the completed building will be 75% devoted to parking, just like it is in every new "mixed-use" building.

The retail "front" will be just that: a front.

Currently, 0% of the ground floor is for use by automobiles. No one but an idiot would call that "increased usage density."
31
While it will be truly unfortunate to lose these buildings, which truly are a serious part of the neighborhood, The Stranger lost all credibility with me on zoning issues when they declared that the Funhouse should be saved.
32
You people act like there's no other places to sit and have coffee in Capitol Hill.
33
More apartments definitely does not mean lower rents. It could even mean increased rents due to exclusivity. Shit, maybe even Bill Clinton may want to open an "office" there and fart around with his southern accent. There will be old people living in them wearing izods and khakis chomping ice-cream cones with blank expressions on their faces. Say goodbye to reality!
34
Certainly there must be one gay guy walking around that block so that the Stranger can turn it into the greatest civil rights issue modern times.
35
@32 - yes. what the world needs s more cookie cutter starbucks.
36
Having moved from the east coast less than a year ago from a city founded in 1629, I am somewhat astounded that there is so little respect in Seattle for the few parcels of genuine historical architecture that still exist here. Developers may hate working in places like Boston with their notoriously obstreperous historical societies, but you know folks, once it's gone you can't get it back -- you can only build those pathetical disney-like simulacra that infest so much of America.
37
wall of sound noooooo
38
@36: You from Lynn?
40
When I find myself missing the way Seattle "used to be," or "used to make me feel," I just visit Portland. Fred Armisen is, for lack of more descriptive words, just barfing up truth-nuggets when he tells us "the dream of the 90's is alive in Portland."
41
It's happened to Austin, it's happening to Seattle.

A once bright, thriving artistic community being wiped out and cheapened by "progress".

Those who forsake History are doomed to suffer in bland, Wal-Mart inspired living and consumer based Gulags.

I no longer live in either of these towns for this reason. Seattle locals, fight for what you love!
42
This is not enough to act on, give us dates, names times and places damn it!...

"The developer could hew to the city's intent and produce something wonderful. Hillenbrand asks the public to be involved. "We need bodies at design review meetings,"

Yeah-dah everyone is upset--empower us already, I have my pitchfork ready!

I hope your future reporting is solution based not just wining. We need to stop this shit from happening.
43
Not In My Back Yard!
44
So when and where do we protest to save Bauhaus?
Seriously, just say when and where. I'm almost forty and I grew up in that coffee shop and on that block. This is unacceptable.
45
I wish I had millions of dollars to fight this. But I don't.

And what is sad is I used to live on the hill several years ago up on 15th Ave East and loved it. I've considered moving back but in the last couple of years seeing Capitol Hill turn into Bellevue / Redmond Town Square I'd rather take a gun to my head and pull the trigger several times first.

Capitol Hill is dead. I expect The Cuff, Neighbors and the rest of the bars to be shut down in a matter of a few years.

BTW, building up density can be done without gentrification.
46
When the owner of the Garage bought up, then sold the Cha Cha block to a developer with an uninspired record, we howled the design rules would allow some shit building in its place. We howled only - no follow up campaign to change the rules.

Now the owner of this building sold to a developer with an uninspired record, and here we are howling happily together once more.

This is the sort of thing Barney Frank talks about: having fun being mad together with friends has become what Americans think political activism is.
47
So very sad. The reason we go to these places is their character, the old married to the new in a romantic union. ONe of the things I used to love so much about seattle is that I could enjoy the modern while simultaneously being surrounded by the rich past and heritage of the city. Most of that is gone now - the out of state developers descended on the city like locusts after the earthquake, and now these other out of state or suburban hell developers are nothing but maggots feasting on the remains of our history.

It's awful.
48
They're gunning for Bill's? Now I'm pissed.
49
There is some confusion about new housing developments in the USA. I am not sure about other lands. But these new condos are trash. They're like gated communities. Often half the units sit empty and the developer has a real potential to go bankrupt. They will stand like the Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea.
50
It's funny hearing gentrifiers bitch about gentrification. I'm pretty sure Capitol Hill is already gentrified. The stake through the heart was the destruction of the old kinkora building Capitol Hill might as well be upper Queen Anne now.

@41 It happens everywhere. Artsy fartsy types move where the rent is cheap, yuppies and developers soon follow. Maybe you can be original; move somewhere dingy and start your own cultural scene. Then in 20 years you can rightfully bitch about Hillman City losing its cultural cache.

51

Isn't this article a bit hypocritical coming from The Stranger?

You guys have been pushing Density everywhere and now it's coming back to bite you in the ass.

52
So many comments, so little understanding. Like @5, who says "Perhaps setting a limit on the percentage of the area of a block, say 15%, that any new building can occupy would help." No, that wouldn't help -- that would utterly destroy the neighborhood, by filling it with waste ground (and then waste, and crime). This is one of the classic mistakes of the 60s and 70s.

Now we're making new mistakes. We're filling the blocks, which is good, and rising upward, which is also good. But we're destroying the thing that makes the block usable in the first place: THE STREET.

The street is a room, with furniture and places of interest on both sides: SHOPS. This is what makes interesting urban spaces.

I only wish I was smart enough to describe what happens on streets like this in mathematics -- I know the formula is out there, I just lack the ability to describe it. You want more separate uses per block, but you also want short blocks. There is an exponential multiplier -- a block with four shopfronts has more than twice the interest, and the foot traffic, of a block with only two. But a block that's 2,000 feet long is not as interesting as a block that's 500 feet long, because the cross street is an opening to another side -- more ways for traffic to move in and out increases interest. Maybe count cross streets double or something.

I'm glad to see Dominic identifying another huge factor, elaborated by d.p. @30: shallow retail spaces. I've been harping on this subject here for years. Shallow retail spaces, caused by giving over most of the ground floor to the parking garage, almost by definition cannot be filled by interesting uses. The best you can hope for is a yoghurt shop or a nail salon or a check cashing joint or tax office or something -- something that doesn't require a stockroom, something that just serves customers one at a time at a counter. Restaurants and shoe stores and the like have problems in these spaces.

Another thing, though, that is not addressed in this article, is the natural cycle of neighborhoods. We THINK we know what this cycle looks like, but the history or gentrification is not long or deep; it's possible that the classic gentrification cycle has played out, or changed in some way, in response to immigration in particular. If I had to describe what I think goes on in 2012, as opposed to 1978 or 1992, I'd say that neighborhoods need to become laboratories for immigrant economies in order to be successful. That's what lends some vitality to seemingly banal uses like nail shops or cruddy teriyaki joints -- these are gateways into the American economy for poor immigrants.

Neighborhoods are never static; a neighborhood achieves iconic status by means of a process in flux -- that's why there's a Bauhaus in this building in the first place (I remember when there wasn't, when the idea of a coffeehouse there would have been laughed at even by the hipsters of the day). This isn't about Bauhaus. If you "preserve" Bauhaus you preserve nothing -- Bauhaus would probably disappear eventually anyways. EVERYTHING disappears eventually. The trick is to make sure that it is replaced by urban vitality. Not 24 Hour Fitness.

That vitality comes from immigrants, for the most part. There is a hipster vitality, which has floated Pike/Pine to its current state, but can that last forever? I doubt it. And, honestly, the thing that hipsters need more than anything right now is to ally with immigrants, because immigrants need similar spaces to themselves -- namely, cheaper spaces. Which means older spaces, even ramshackle spaces.

The crappy nail salon is an immigrant response to modern building -- it fits the terrible spaces that modern builders build. If builders are forced to build better spaces, better uses will come. But our track record in forcing better building is poor, because the people who do the forcing don't know what "better" means.

I'm not sure I do, either. I can describe it, and recognize it when I see it, but how to describe it in a building code?

Where I'm at right now on this is this: all newly built retail spaces must be AT LEAST twice as deep as they are wide, and retail space must occupy 85% of all street frontages (leaving room only for things like building entrances, utilities, etc. A maximum street frontage would be nice; giant entire-block buildings are soul-destroying. Another feature I'd like to see is to extend this retail requirement to the alleyways, too -- and REQUIRE alleys. Maybe relaxing the 2X depth requirement there.

And every potential member of the planning commission must be able to document, I don't know, 100 miles of street walking in shopping precincts of cities outside the US.
53
I've lived in or near Seattle my whole life. The 'cool' area used to be Belltown. And what has kept Capitol Hill from becoming Belltown is the independent developers like Liz Dunn. Unfortunately, some landlords, even cool ones, have raised asking prices for commercial rent to $48 a square foot. Rents are more like $35 psf. But the only people who can afford these rents are restaurant/ bars and chain retailers. Small independent retail is getting slaughtered. The way this is going, much of Cap Hill is going to look like Belltown. Hopefully some of Pike/ Pine can maintain its character

Ironically, Belltown retail spaces are now renting for as low as $18 psf. And there is a lot of population density. Many of the new businesses that have opened like Urban Hardwoods, Local 360, The Croc, Pinxto and the very cool Upstairs, etc, are booming, crime is down, and tourists are up, which greatly help the small businesses. There is a new artwalk, strong community groups,and investment coming from the City. Cheap rents too. Might be a good option once Capitol Hill jumps the shark. It's close.

A few developers are going to make a ton of money building shit buildings and flipping them. Someone else will get stuck with empty condos, and empty retail spaces. That will attract crime. And in 15 years the City will be having the conversation about Cap Hill it is now having about the ID and Pioneer Square, where we spent a billion dollars building sports stadiums that ruined those neighborhoods.

54
People who howl that they are opposing density miss the point.

Yes, and go read the Crosscut article by Roger Valdez where he says people complaining are just frightened children who fear change. He says this about every single outcry/concern over development in this city.

So now you know what Roosevelt felt. What needs to be torn down in our neighborhood NEEDS to be torn down but what replaces it? Given who is in charge (read:Sisley brothers), it will be boring and/or hideous. And you like the charm of the Bauhaus, then you'd love the character and stance of Roosevelt High School in our neighborhood. But we're going to lose some of that in the name of density.
55
Here's the RSS link to follow all Capitol Hill design review meetings. New meetings will update the feed, then scroll through the feed to see changes to previously scheduled meetings.
http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Planning/Desi…

Then attend the meetings and invite your neighbors and friends.
56
I'm afraid these things are made to be broken, like Fnarf says indirectly. It's odd to have now lived in a city long enough (20 years) to see some of the ebbs and flows of neighborhoods.

But as Fnarf also says, not much is sacred. There's a lot to like about more density. But it's going to destroy some stuff you value too.

Marx had this to say about the conditions of life in the modern world:

"All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind."

That's modernism. Nothing lasts. It's bad. Then it gets good for a while. Then it gets ruined for some people. But that's exactly the moment it gets good for somebody else.

I lived in Capitol Hill for 16 years and really enjoyed my time there. I also helped ruin Ballard for the old fisherman, when me and a bunch of other folks started hanging out there in the mid 1990s. Now some other folks are busy ruining Ballard for me. But these folks seem to be enjoying it as much as I did 8-10 years ago. So I guess that's just how it goes.

For me, when this kind of stuff happens, it's just a sign that it's time to move on. Like Meinert says, check out Belltown again, or start exploring the south end. Beacon Hill, Georgetown, Columbia City, Hillman City, White Center, Othello, even Burien and Renton, those are all cool spots.

Little by little, these spots are starting to evolve and get more stuff in them. Many of them are already served by light rail. By 2016, it'll be easy to get to Capitol Hill from these spots on the train, if you want to visit without having to park a car.

By July, we should have 4 new bars/restaurants on Beacon Hill that didn't exist last July. I just hope we have enough regular customers to support them. So come up to the top of Beacon Hill and check these spots out. Bar Del Corso is one of the best pizza places in Seattle. El Quetzal and Baja Bistro are both nice Mexican spots. Traveler's has great veggie Indian food.

We've got the train, and we also have a really amazing park that's coming on line little by little. Nice skate park there too. There's going to be a great water feature play area thing for kids called Beacon Mountain. It's opening in the summer.

If you play golf, well, we've got that too. Great ethnic groceries. Minutes from downtown, the stadiums, the ID, etc. on the bus or train. Near I-5, 99, Columbia City, Georgetown. West Seattle (where they just got a Trader Joe's).

Yeah, I'm a neighborhood booster. But that's how it happens.

When I started visiting Chicago regularly around 1987, Wrigleyville was the Capitol Hill of Chicago. I get the sense that Lincoln Park had been the Capitol Hill of Chicago before that. Then in the late '80s/early '90s, Wicker Park started bubbling and by 1995 it became the Capitol Hill of Chicago, because Wrigleyville was starting to feel the way that Ballad is starting to feel now. Maybe it still is the Capitol Hill of Chicago. But probably it's somewhere else now, like Logan Sqaure. That's how this stuff goes. Things move around.

All in all, Capitol Hill has had a good run. But most places like this become a victim of their own success eventually. Capitalism is a lot like Meatloaf in the movie Roadie: "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing." Once a place is caught in the crazy upward spiral of irrational optimism, nothing is going to stop it from being overbuilt. Then, once it's overbuilt, the downward spiral can begin.

There's an apocryphal quote attributed to Wayne Gretzsky, the hall of fame hockey player:

"I don't skate to where the puck is; I skate to where it's going to be.

Fixating on this shit in Capitol Hill is skating to where the puck is.

If you loved Capitol Hill in the early 1990s (or before) or maybe even in 2001, you're probably going to hate it a little more everyday in 2012.

As someone else said, Capitol Hill's fate was pretty much sealed a long time ago. Every low rise building is at risk of being torn down and redeveloped. As that happens, a lot more sacred cows will be slaughtered. So look around. If you love a local business in Capitol Hill and the business owners don't own the building, assume that it will probably be at risk of either getting priced out of the market or displaced by new development in the next 5 years.

The only thing that will save some businesses are the few old timer sentimental landlords who don't want things to change. That's definitely part of what has helped certain longstanding business survive in other neighborhoods like Ballard.

So stop skating to where the puck is and start skating to where it's going to be. At least for now, imho, that probably means skating south.
57
I'm pro-development and pro-urban density. But this particular development is bad, bad, bad. Look at Belltown, people! They did the same thing there: Tore down cultural draws to make room for ugly, cheap-ass buildings and now the neighborhood is a wreck. Development must be done thoughtfully, not willy-nilly.
58
Are there any groups out there involved in writing letters/protesting the complete demolition of this block? If so, there's a group of people including myself who would be interested in joining or starting something up.
59

#57

The old NIMBY-ism come back to haunt the urbanists...sure, you guys have been pushing density everywhere but your own backyard!

I hope they steamroller every espresso bar and bike rack to build 200 story luxury flats and make the rents start at $7500 a week for a studio.

Then you get a taste of your own medicine.

60
Oh please.

Take your NIMBY attitudes and move back to Kent, where more development than this happens every day with no public input.
61
As to Belltown, it actually got wealthier inhabitants as a result of that development.

Those aren't cheap condos there, they are upper end condos. Half of the problem is the rich people there whine a lot about the street drunks that the poorer original inhabitants didn't complain about.

Seriously, does nobody remember mattresses being set aflame, and public urination in alleys being a problem?
62

#60

Yeah? And where exactly "in Seattle" are you situated?

Let me guess...3 bedroom SFH, Lynnwood.
63
It isn't just redevelopment that is killing these neighborhoods, it's the cost of the real estate boom.
Building bought in 1960 $200,000 and paid off in 1990 vs same building sold in 2007 for $12,000,000. What kind of rent do you think the new owner is going to need to charge to cover that mortgage?
If you're thinking of opening a business in a developing neighborhood, BUY THE BUILDING!
65

#61

When I moved here I knew some artists who rented an entire unused car repair garage in Belltown on 2nd avenue.

Cost per month? $200!

They were right across from Septieme.

But that was when Septieme was in Belltown.

And I mean the smaller original one with 7 tables.
64
@56 Word.
66
Suddenly, belatedly, and still in denial, the Stranger begins to realize that maybe its promotion of density uber alles has been misplaced, and accelerated the gentrification of the neighborhood it so cherishes.

"We didn't mean THIS kind of density," they howl, lamely.
67
is this the end of the Stranger and Seattle Transit blog alliance?!
68
People make it sound like this is the end of Capitol Hill; gentrification and corporate america ruining everything. But I think some of you need to go and read the history of the neighborhood you love so dearly. It has always been a bastion for gentrification and development, for the emerging local shop owner and budding cultures of the decades. It is cycle that happens to neighborhoods so close to the downtown corridor.

I wonder what the people though as they saw the houses on 14th going in. The BMW dealership going in. The apartment complexes of the 50/60s going in. QFC/Safeway...This is not the first time this place has been "gentrified".

People are moving back into the cities, and Capitol Hill is prime real estate.

It is just a shame that the old buildings have to go, rather than being refinished. Things change, but that doesn't mean to can't be a part. I am positive this community will always have a varied culture.
69
@66: I don't think the promotion of density has been misplaced. You just have to be real about what that means. This is how the urban landscape regenerates itself. But that will always have costs as well as benefits.

Now that it's getting more real in Capitol Hill, people will have to confront that, including Stranger staffers. Even when the head knows that something makes sense in the grand scheme of things, the heart may still recoil at the costs of getting there. Honestly, given the arc of the publishing industry and the cost of rent in Capitol Hill, I can imagine the Stranger being forced to move its offices out of there at some point. And if they don't move, it may well be a financially irrational reaction from the ownership who all live in or near Capitol Hill and I'm sure like being within walking/biking distance of the office.

Ultimately, it's about what phase of an evolution you prefer to be a part of.

To me, the earlier ascendent phase of something is the interesting part. I like seeing the band at the Tractor or the Crocodile, not later on at the Key Arena. I never saw Nirvana. Fate didn't put me in a club when they were playing, and I just couldn't justify seeing them in an arena.

But that's my deal. A much larger group of people prefer the Key Arena phase. They don't want to invest energy, money, attention, or whatever, in something until they are sure that everyone else is into it too.

Capitol Hill is entering its Key Arena phase (or at least its Paramount Theater Phase).

If you're into that, cool. Or if you were lucky, astute enough, rich enough, or whatever, to buy property up there and get vested before things got crazy, cool for you too. I'm sure Capitol Hill will continue to be a nice place to live. It may even get nicer in some ways. But the demographics will continue to become more upscale and so will the kind of businesses that open there. Consequently, a lot of folks won't be able to afford the rents anymore, whether to live or to start a small business.

That being said, if you don't already own a place up there, and you're more interested in boot-strappy creative stuff, I just can't see how you would consider Capitol Hill to be a great place for that anymore (unless you already made a bunch of money at a .com or you come from lots of money).

Everybody has their role to play. If you are an artist, musician, or other creative type person, your role is to see beauty and possibilities in places and situations that aren't obvious to most other people. Most people see a run down neighborhood or house. You see the basis for something you can transform into something beautiful.

You don't skate to where the puck is. You skate to where it's going to be. You go out into that metaphorical wilderness and start building something, because it pleases you to do that. And if you do something cool, little by little, other people see that and they want to be a part of it too.

But at some point, if you are successful, the beautiful thing you made will take on a life of its own and it will probably snow ball into something outside of your original vision and control.

Maybe it will better in some ways, but probably it will start to get worse in others. If you were fortunate enough to buy in at the right time, when the prices were low, you'll either have a place that remains a nice place to live (in spite of the changes) or you'll be able to cash out at a good profit and skate to where your intuition tells you the puck will be going next.

But at a certain point, you probably won't be able to hold back the larger market forces that are ruining the beautiful thing you helped make. And if you do succeed, there's a good chance that the regulations you help put in place will have unintended consequences down the line somewhere else.
70
this isnt about density or even gentrification you fucktards. its about design.
71
@70 Design? Hardly. If you consider a misshapen blob of 1900s, 1920, 1950-70s, and 2000s unified design, then I think you need to walk Capitol Hill more often. Get off your feet rather than smoking a joint off Pine making credulous comments at the average passerby.
72
Boo hoo. Capitol hill has been over for decades. How many blocks do they have to raze and replace with yuppie condo's before you loser hipsters figure it out and pack it in?
73
@71 So if I'm, like, not a bum like you imply, I win? Great.

Design is more of a broad term than you are probably aware of. That's part of the problem. The place WORKS right now, it's everything a city block should be. Want to make a quick buck and tear it apart? Chances are the replacement will not be designed to include existing uses / scales. It could be designed that way, but in reality we know it won't be.
74
@73 Sounds like your broad term is pretty minimal to me; the case, talking about what only works for you and not the city, the future, or the past? I always find it strange that the people as yourself comment, you are going to leave the neighborhood anyhow. When the going gets rough (or not to your liking), you just leave rather than fight the system.

There are a great many business and buildings that have come up to Capitol Hill. We only tend to harp on the bad decisions.

I also find it strange that there has to be a winner and loser. If you must win, then great. I don't see how leaving is a win. Or calling people fucktards a win.

Most people are not builders.

I don't believe in intolerance, but that term might be too broad for you to be aware of.
75
If you Capitol Hill types would just stop selling your land to developers, this wouldn't be a problem.
76
Dear GOD when will Seattle STOP replacing blocks of appealing architecture with completely uninspired crap?! Can we please put a moratorium on the use of corrugated metal siding and bare concrete? There needs to be a citizen's board of aesthetic review, and 90% of the commercial architects working in Seattle need to be stripped of their license to build anything larger than a sandwich. (This should include 100% of the architects working for Vulcan) It's time for the citizens of Seattle to demand thoughtful design in ALL new construction! The time is NOW!
77
@74, no, there doesnt have to be a loser. that's the point, but in the way this scenario that will play out, the developer will be the winner and the existing community losers. and it doesnt have to be that way. so much so that it's shocking people have to be told that.
it is a beloved cornerstone of the neighborhood. what is so hard to understand about that? people would not be so against it if there was any assurance that it would be done right. so if you are defending the possibility that it will be torn down and replaced with a totally different generic animal, im calling you a fucktard. and no, i dont tolerate bad decisions.
79
@66 I'll admit to that exact position. I've been pro-density for the last 15 years, chiefly from an environmentalist point of view. However, I've been forced to step back and say "whoa, this isn't exactly what I was asking for". We *should* disallow some development (and landmark some of the oldie but goodies, while simultaneously increasing density, if that is possible. It's a lot to ask, but we're not going to just roll over for these out-of-state development firms.
80
@78.. I'm not against high density urban infill. I don't imagine that the Melrose Block building is of enough historic significance to protect. The problem I have is with what is replacing these older structures, all over Seattle it's uninspired garbage. (see further up Pine or virtually anything built in Ballard over the last 15 years) I don't think people would be as upset if they felt that what was replacing these existing structures was both of appealing design, and fit within the context of the neighborhoods' character. Hell, you could even keep the ground floor facade.. my point is, we should have a say in what replaces what's removed. I don't even live on the hill but Seattle as a whole is my city, and I hate to see the erosion of character from any of our neighborhoods. What do people like about the Melrose block? I would assume it's the white brick, large wood sash windows, high ceilings, and relief details on the facade.. looks like it was an old Ford dealership or something from the twenties... there's a good place to start with whatever you replace it with. It CAN be a win win.
81
Fnarf @52:

And for the love of god, just abolish minimum parking requirements, like any city with a brain did long ago. Building "density" that still favors auto usage -- pouring more cars on the same crowded streets and further obstructing our primarily surface-based transit -- is arguably dumber than not having density at all.

Developers that wish to electively include parking should be required to put it 100% below grade. Nothing at street level but a ramp, and the ramp must be placed at the furthest point in the building from any pedestrian thoroughfare. And the parking garage must be ventilated through the building's upper floors -- no more blasting 70 mph exhaust air directly at the sidewalk.

In addition to improving the streetscape and the usefulness of the ground floor for actual urban purposes, this would make it cost-prohibitive to build excessive parking. Parking rental costs would be divorced from unit rental costs, pushing demand for (now slightly cheaper) units up and demand for (accurately cost-assessed) urban car ownership down.

Westello @54:

No, this has absolutely nothing in common with Roosevelt.

Here, people are defending a well-activated urban block against encroaching uniformity, while recognizing the need for the neighborhood to grow in healthy and organic ways. In Roosevelt, you were arguing over blighted slum properties and trying to put a permanent cap on any growth at all.

And Roosevelt High School was never threatened. You boneheads kept arguing the importance of "preserving views" to and from the school, which is irrelevant to any discussion of the Bauhaus block and is doubly stupid because your precious high school is identical to 10,000 other schools across the country.

The Roosevelt example is relevant in that, despite the $500,000,000 subway station investment in your backyard (paid for by all of us), you weasels succeeded in limited all upzoning to about six square blocks. The uninteresting and historically unimportant single-family homes on the other 100 square blocks within walking distance of the station will be forever unnecessarily preserved.

And since you've made sure growth and densification can't happen anywhere but places that are already dense, we're seeing the destruction of already-functioning density like the Bauhaus block. So thank you and fuck you.
82
Westello @54:

No, this has absolutely nothing in common with Roosevelt.

Here, people are defending a well-activated urban block against encroaching uniformity, while recognizing the need for the neighborhood to grow in healthy and organic ways. In Roosevelt, you were arguing over blighted slum properties and trying to put a permanent cap on any growth at all.

And Roosevelt High School was never threatened. You boneheads kept arguing the importance of "preserving views" to and from the school, which is irrelevant to any discussion of the Bauhaus block and is doubly stupid because your precious high school is identical to 10,000 other schools across the country.

The Roosevelt example is relevant in that, despite the $500,000,000 subway station investment in your backyard (paid for by all of us), you weasels succeeded in limited all upzoning to about six square blocks. The uninteresting and historically unimportant single-family homes on the other 100 square blocks within walking distance of the station will be forever unnecessarily preserved.

And since you've made sure growth and densification can't happen anywhere but places that are already dense, we're seeing the destruction of already-functioning density like the Bauhaus block. So thank you and fuck you.
83
I live near the 15th Avenue East retail district. I recall not too long ago when the City People's owners - supposedly progressives who care about community, sold their building to Walgreens, who in turn created a monstrosity, abusing rules allowing remodeling by retaining one wall. In reality it is a new building, entirely out of place on the block, or any block anywhere. Bad posters in so called windows on the street side. What they could have done was demonstrated on Broadway in their mixed use building at Pine.

The issue is not construction, it is bad construction of ugly buildings, who have worthless shallow balconies, bad stucco exteriors, dead streetscapes and many other sins that design professionals can describe better than I. But anyone knows junk when they see it.

The city has an obligation to require that for the privilege of building on our streets, design and function must meet standards befitting the community.
84
So glad I moved to Portland! This city honors its history and assets.
85
@50, you're spot on. My friends and I have been calling capitol hill Queen Anne west for some time now.
86
Fnarf@52: Really, limiting a building to 30% of the streetwall is going to lead to crime? A minimum of three buildings on each side of the street is too many?
87
@85

wow, you and your friends must be heirs to the Cabaret Voltaire with that kind of edgy branding...

to everyone else disingenuously harping on the density thing: I don't think most people who argue in favor of higher density would advocate the complete waste of resources that will be used in this construction. rather than smartly building upon what already exists, they are ripping everything down, wiping the slate clean and then building up. not to mention that what's being done to the businesses that exist there is a kind of quasi-imminent domain scenario that in the end will benefit no one besides the developers. this isn't some derelict building, it's a thriving city block. it serves a purpose and a person who just rips it down to build their own structure in its place isn't doing it to better serve an increasing central city population here.

88
I agree with the fact that this is too little too late, for the past 25 years, we have seen the interesting areas of first: Belltown, from the 80s-90's and then Capitol Hill from the 90's-10s; go from dilapidated, but full of incredibly unique, independent and interesting cultural spots from bars,shops, and eateries buildings transfer owners and develop into the ultra modern developed mixed use buildings, just right for the incoming homogenized consumer upper middle class. Many of the older creative and interesting folks have long moved on, and all that is left is a Capitol Hill™ conceptual brand, based on nostalgia and not current facts or cultural relevance. 1989 will.never.happen.again. Deal with it, nearly every city with any sort of 'artistic neighborhood' is having similar 'growth patterns' Freetown Christiania, this is not.
89
@86, I may have misunderstood you. I thought you were saying "limiting building to 30% of a block", not "limiting A building to 30% of a block. If you mean more, narrower buildings, I am in 100% agreement. It's just empty space I'm opposed to.
90
Witty @87
91
@88 Tombstone. This should be a corner to defend against that type of obituary. This will be a show of cultural muscle or monetary acquiescence.
Funny thing is how little Portland gets brought up. Similar scale, esp recently, but a total different direction. And no, do tell me to move. It's not about me, it's about human life. Fucktards.
92
Bauhaus is my favorite FAVORITE place here. The shameful sale of its building guts me.
93
@88

I associate 1989 with being 8 years old and really wanting to see Batman. it's not about people wanting to relive the past. it's about the constant dismay felt toward unabashed capitalism masquerading as progress.
94
shit, I just noticed I did the same cliche as aardvark.
95
But, actually, does anyone know how to begin to push back on this development? I don't even know where to start? Some people seem to be stating that changing historical preservation laws are where it is at, yes?
97
I remember Seattle has all those weird suburbs, like Wedgwood. You ought to start razing those and building blocks of environmentally friendly low-income housing! ;)
98
in general, i'm with j-lon. at the same time, i think s/he's a little too "go with the flow" on the whole thing. yes, development happens and neighborhoods change and ebb and flow and all that.

what's hard for me about this, and what i think the article does a good job pointing out, is that MDG's other developments have a LOT of vacant street-level retail. so they have a track record of taking out thriving stuff and putting in ugly stuff that, in addition to being ugly, is not even accessible to smaller, local tenants who could make it less ugly. MDG would rather eat the cost of waiting for a safeway or a qfc to come in than lower rents to a level that would encourage participation in the local economy by local businesses.

which, yes, makes sense economically - lowering rents and dealing with tenants who don't have billion dollar credit lines would take a little bit away from the revenue these guys earned on the property - but it does not make sense community-wise or long term value-wise.

so, yeah, development happens. my problems with this thing are the short-sightedness and the siphoning of money from local economies to big box headquarters and developers who don't even live in the area. i think the real estate development world would do well to start thinking about their investment returns in terms of more than just revenue.
99
in general, i'm with j-lon. at the same time, i think s/he's a little too "go with the flow" on the whole thing. yes, development happens and neighborhoods change and ebb and flow and all that.

what's hard for me about this, and what i think the article does a good job pointing out, is that MDG's other developments have a LOT of vacant street-level retail. so they have a track record of taking out thriving stuff and putting in ugly stuff that, in addition to being ugly, is not even accessible to smaller, local tenants who could make it less ugly. MDG would rather eat the cost of waiting for a safeway or a qfc to come in than lower rents to a level that would encourage participation in the local economy by local businesses.

which, yes, makes sense economically - lowering rents and dealing with tenants who don't have billion dollar credit lines would take a little bit away from the revenue these guys earned on the property - but it does not make sense community-wise or long term value-wise.

so, yeah, development happens. my problems with this thing are the short-sightedness and the siphoning of money from local economies to big box headquarters and developers who don't even live in the area. i think the real estate development world would do well to start thinking about their investment returns in terms of more than just dollars.
100
Here, people are defending a well-activated urban block against encroaching uniformity, while recognizing the need for the neighborhood to grow in healthy and organic ways. In Roosevelt, you were arguing over blighted slum properties and trying to put a permanent cap on any growth at all.

It's nothing like Roosevelt because Roosevelt isn't full of self-entitled hipsters. Just solid, longtime, taxpaying citizens. And if the city can ignore them and get away with it, trust me, you hipsters on Capitol Hill don't stand a fucking chance.
101
I don't think most people who argue in favor of higher density would advocate the complete waste of resources that will be used in this construction. rather than smartly building upon what already exists, they are ripping everything down, wiping the slate clean and then building up. not to mention that what's being done to the businesses that exist there is a kind of quasi-imminent domain scenario that in the end will benefit no one besides the developers

Excuse me, you fool, the "density advocates" are, whether they know it or not, nothing more than developer whores.
102
This is sad, I've always cherished the Bauhaus. However, The Stranger and its readers/supporters should not be so gobsmacked. I feel for all those in Cap. Hill reeling from this, but when it comes to The Stranger, you reap what you sow.

For many years you've zealously shoved this density down the throats of other neighborhoods, and when folks have confronted it, and voiced concerns--you hurled expletives and slurs of "NIMBY's!." at them. But you know what, if you can't have a say in your own backyard, where can you say? Right? Think about it The Stranger, you've been shills for developers all along and the character of so many neighborhoods has been destroyed by soulless apartment and townhouse buildings. Sometimes a little bit slower way of life, green spaces, and skies amidst the buildings--well, it makes this town more than some soulless urban jungle. Sprawl may have its downside, but vertical sprawl, or density run amok, is not the undying value you should be pushing for. It's never the same thing as when it happens in your own backyard, is it? With that said, best of luck in preserving some of the wonderful, character-filled buildings you've got in that part of town.
103
Man, it was just back in Sept. when Dominic said this (and worse) about the Roosevelt neighborhood and its denizens in the face of massive new development:

"Some neighborhood screechers say that they'll only allow a 40 foot building in the immediate vicinity, which would sabotage the whole project."

Who is screeching now? Man, I take no glee in this--I just wish The Stranger would have a more live and let live attitude. You're all quick to judge others (Dominic is really not half bad comparatively), but have a hard time putting yourselves in the shoes of others until you're forced to wear them. Best to all and good evening.
104
If you just moved to Seattle, you might have a hard time understanding why it used to be cool to live here, before the satanic new federal bldg destroyed the summer sunset light that used to hit Broadway around SCCC, and when the Doghouse was a nearly complete 50s diner, complete with piano bar and waitresses with beehive hairdos. They could take tourists there by the busload today if it hadn't been stripped out and turned into the Hurricane, a soulless, ugly drug haven.

Belltown used to be affordable, you could rent rooms in houses across Capitol Hill for under $200. The city that produced the last big rock music of USA is no longer, and it is no longer friendly to artists, which it never was, but at least it was cheaper than LA and NYC. You'll never know what a party the OK Hotel was before they turned it into overpriced art studios and condos. Bumbershoot was once enjoyable. The list goes on.

This city blows, and the mayor is a clown for moneyed interests. Amazon is about to implode traffic in the soon to be unliveable S Lake Union 'neighborhood' by throwing up one million sq ft of office space for what is basically a monopoly destroying every other retailer around, run by a CEO who thinks giving back to the community isn't his concern. Occupy isnt done by a long shot. Developers need private visits from the population.

Viva Argentina for nationalizing their own oil. Americans are still too indoctrinated to raise a hand in their own defense.
105
@14:

That's not only the most callous thing you could say, it's the most asinine. You realize there is a LOTTERY for the Section 8 WAIT LIST? That is can only be applied for once per household per year in a 10 day timeframe that everything is done to prevent from being public knowledge? That the WAITING TIME, should you miraculously get on that list is over 3-4 years long at this point?

You are a completely confounding moron.
106
My god, @92, @100, @103. Do you have to be functionally retarded to live in Roosevelt?

http://seattletransitblog.com/wp-content…

The thick black lines surround the only parcels that the NIMBY-endorsed plan would upzone. Those fragments add up to fewer than six blocks -- including precisely zero complete blocks. Barely 350 additional people will be able to live within walking distance of a $500 million subways station for all eternity -- and most of those new residents would be shoved right next to the highway (generous!). Those massive swaths of single-family yellow would remain untouched forever.

This is a big loss for every fucking Seattle citizen who doesn't already live in Roosevelt.

That is unbelievably different from an argument for targeted preservation of a single, already-dense, already-mixed-use, already-working-to-the-best-of-its-potential urban block while acknowledging that the surrounding area is destined to grow and change and that no urban neighborhood will or should be frozen permanently in toto. That's the exact opposite of your "keep all density hemmed in and away from my white picket fence" approach.

Oh, and Roosevelt High School is the most generic-looking school building on the planet, you dolts.
108
Okay, I told myself I'd stay out of these discussions, but this hits too close to home.

I was born and raised in the Roosevelt area, but Capitol Hill was where I liked to hang out during high school. Both neighborhoods mean a lot to me, and I believe that the emotional attachment is why the issue is so sensitive. I think most people will agree that it's healthy for a neighborhood to grow and mature over time. It's a bit like parenting (which I admittedly know next to nothing about), where we want to see our babies grow up, but we don't want them to become something we don't recognize.

I love the old brick buildings along Pine. They have character. From looking at the other projects that the Madison Development Group it seems reasonable to assume that whatever is built in the place of Bauhaus will be seriously lacking in charm (23rd & Madison anyone?). To me, this is a setback. Yes, we want to live in a progressive, more sensible and denser city, but I think we also want to live somewhere we can be proud of aesthetically.

And personally, my problem with the proposed development near Roosevelt High School is not what is being built or where, but by whom. The Sisleys own a large amount of property in the area, and all of these houses and buildings are dilapidated, poorly maintained pieces of shit. Now they want to tear them down and build a six story building in their place. Who's willing to bet that whatever they build will be shoddily constructed, poorly maintained, and in ten years will have us screaming to get rid of it? I have very little faith in the Roosevelt Development Group after the new Rising Sun Farms building collapsed during construction. If they can't even get a fruit stand built properly, how the hell are they going to manage a six story building?