By Jack Stubbs
At the third time of asking, a project team who is pushing for the construction of a 14-story hotel development across from Pike Place Market was given the approval to proceed at a third Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting held on Tuesday, April 3rd.
In spite of extensive public and community opposition expressed towards the project at the meeting—which was attended by roughly 80 members of the city, surrounding neighborhood community organizations and long-time residents of Pike Place Market—the downtown review board ultimately voted to advance the development to the next stage of the city’s design review process.
At the meeting, applicant Ankrom Moisan presented updated project plans on behalf of developer Marketview Place LLC, a partnership of Stellar Holdings, Inc. and Seattle Properties. Spectrum Development Solutions will be representing Marketview Place during the design and application phase. HEWITT is the landscape architect for the project. The project was most recently reviewed at an EDG meeting held on February 6th, 2018 and originally seen by the board in October 2017.
The development, located at 103 Pike St., is a 14-story 121-room hotel that will have an additional 5 residential units. The project will also include 2,600 square feet of street-level commercial space, 3,700 square feet of commercial space on the second floor, and a rooftop bar and amenity area open to the public.
The undertaking is set in a prominent downtown intersection, just blocks from the waterfront and adjacent to the iconic Pike Place Market on 1st Avenue, which is a prominent thoroughfare that connects Belltown, Pike Place, Pioneer Square and the Stadium District.
Beginning the applicant team’s presentation, president of Ankrom Moisan Dave Heater discussed the primary design changes that had been made to the project plans since the last EDG meeting held in early February. At the previous EDG meeting, the downtown review board and members of the public had expressed concerns with how the development would fit into the surrounding neighborhood context—specifically how it would relate to the nearby Pike Place Market and the adjacent residential Newmark Tower—and also highlighted issues with the development’s massing and scale.
Heater emphasized how, in the updated project plans, the applicant team had worked on creating a building height that was more appropriate for the neighborhood context, especially relative to the adjacent historic Pike Place Market. Heater also reiterated how the current tower design would more successfully conform with the entrance to the market and the emphasized how the applicant team had worked on further integrating the development along Pike St and 1st Ave. Heater also discussed how the new project plans also include various open space and landscaping elements meant to enhance the streets surrounding Pike Place Market and revised the design and location of the hotel entrances to minimize impacts on the market.
When given the chance to ask clarifying questions about the project, the board’s inquiries focused on the exterior programming of the hotel. Board member Aron Argyle asked the applicant to elaborate on its plans for the design of the windows and location of guest rooms. Board member Grace Leong asked about the relationship between the development along 1st Ave., inquiring how the hotel’s height would impact surrounding historic buildings in the neighborhood. The board’s other comments requested the applicant to further elaborate on the design and materiality of the exterior facade.
The public comment period of the meeting was robust and long-lasting, with roughly 25 audience members—neighborhood residents and members of community groups and neighborhood organizations—voicing their firm opposition to the proposed development. Most of the comments took issue with the height, bulk and scale of the 14-story project and emphasized how it would negatively impact the areas around 1st and Pike St. and the entrance to Pike Place Market. One audience member, a resident of Queen Anne an a former member of the Design Review Board, expressed concern that the hotel would negatively impact the historic views from the market and urged the board to encourage the applicant to increase the building setback.
A couple of the comments expressed approval of the hotel project, especially in terms of how it would enhance the pedestrian experience along the streetscape and put more eyes on the street.
Several members from the Save the Market Entrance group—a grass roots coalition of city residents and other supporters dedicated to preserving Pike Place Market—urged the downtown review board to send the development back for another design review meeting and emphasized that the 14-story hotel was much too tall for the surrounding neighborhood and would negatively interfere with the character of the historic market.
The advocacy group has circulated an online petition to the city of Seattle in opposition to the development that currently has 14,600 signatures. Other members from the neighborhood group and surrounding community urged the board to deny the project approval, citing particular concerns that the hotel would disrupt the view corridor from Pike Place Market and invade the privacy of residents of Newmark Tower, an adjacent residential complex.
Nick Setton, a member of Friends of the Market, an advocacy group created in 1964 that seeks to preserve the historic character of Pike Place Market, also urged the board to deny the project approval, emphasizing that the height of the hotel was out of place with the neighborhood context, especially around the 1st and Pike intersection.
Another neighborhood resident also voiced his opinion that the proposed hotel was entirely out of place in the historic area around Pike Place, a sentiment that was vigorously supported by several other audience members in attendance. “This is the first time I’ve seen this project. This is a good example of what Seattle has become: it’s a fine, serviceable boutique hotel and people will stay here and see the market; that’s great. But it does very little for the residents of the city,” he said. “There are a lot of people here representing their love for this view and this street and the Market that was built 110 years ago. I doubt anyone will come to Seattle and say that this [hotel] represents Seattle.”
In spite of the extensive public comment opposing the proposed hotel, the downtown review board ultimately decided to advance the project to the next stage of the city’s design review process. The board recommended that the applicant work on revising the exterior materials and facade of the building, also suggesting that it present some alternative massing options at the next Design Review Recommendation meeting. Additionally, the board highlighted how it would need to see more detailed information about the building setbacks in order to mitigate impacts on the views along Pike St. from the Market.