There was a time when Dexter Avenue North could turn sunshine gray. Karen Clark, who used to work on the sordid street of warehouses, says, "I remember seeing a pregnant prostitute once on the way to my car."
Get ready to say goodbye to that Dexter. Maybe. Capstone Partners has proposed developing a six-story commercial facility with 400 underground parking spots and 10,000 square feet of street-level retail, to be designed by LMN Architects. Zoning on Dexter allows developments up to 65 feet high, but a special biotech exemption enables Capstone to build to 85 feet, mirroring the big research facilities across the water on Eastlake Avenue East.
However, the development, which will house an as-yet-unnamed biotech tenant, raises major questions about the future of the neighborhood. Capstone principal Mike Hubbard says there are no renderings yet for what will replace this concrete tundra—the design is being adjusted to accommodate neighbors' requests.
Since it opened nine months ago, the Neptune condo building across the street from the proposed development isn't wanting for residents, but it's still seeking renters for its empty storefronts.
And farther up on Aurora, there is grumbling. Andy Mayorkinos, who owns Andy's Mobile Auto Repair (in the path of the planned development) knows his business will be pushed out. Meanwhile, residents of the Regency Apartment Condominiums on the west side of Aurora are said to be mad because Capstone's building will block there views.
However, a view is a fleeting thing. If the gray expanse of Dexter is replaced by a vivid street connecting downtown to Fremont, it will have been more than worth the tradeoffs.
Janet Williams, who moved to the Neptune last week to be closer to her South Lake Union job, thinks the residential density will bring new businesses to the area. "It will be great to walk out the door and have retail right there," she says.