By Kate Snyder
A proposal for a residential project that would bring nearly 200 apartments to Seattle’s Capitol Hill district was met with support from the city’s East Design Review Board. During an early design review meeting on Wednesday, the board voted in favor of moving the project forward to the recommendation phase.
The project developer is Hunters Capital, and the designer is Runberg Architecture Group.
Located at 416 15th Ave. E, the project site is located on the eastern edge of the Capitol Hill Urban Center Village, plans show. The site is relatively flat, sloping approximately six feet from north to south with the highest elevation at the northwest corner and the lowest at the southeast corner along the alley. The alley is roughly five feet lower than the street frontage along 15th Avenue E to the west. The site itself occupies most of the west half of the block bound by 15th Avenue E, E Republican Street, 16th Avenue E and E Harrison Street.
The proposal is a redevelopment of the Moore Family Building complex, which Hunters Capital has owned for several years. The current property totals approximately 37,800 square feet, and the proposed development would involve the demolition of two existing structures. According to project plans, the proposal involves the construction of a 192,200 square foot building that would stand six stories and comprise about 170 apartments in a mix of studios, one- and two-bedrooms as well as townhouse lofts. Plans also include approximately 100 vehicle stalls in a below-grade parking structure as well as 10,000 square feet of commercial space.
“The scale of the property provides an opportunity to develop a variety of retail and restaurant spaces that will fit into the scale of the existing commercial context,” project plans state. “Enhancing pedestrian life and access through the neighborhood is another priority that will contribute to the viability of the commercial spaces and help make this project a destination that draws neighborhood residents and visitors alike.”
The development team presented three massing schemes to the board. The first option, called the “3” scheme, involves significant massing modulation along the street facade as well as significantly less excavation than other schemes, but that option also would create a blank wall on the alley from the parking garage. The second option, or the “E” scheme, has a design that breaks up the massing facing the neighborhood residential zone and activates an alley with residential use. However, that option also includes a shallow massing modulation that would create an extra long mass along 15th Avenue E.
The applicant’s preferred massing option, called the “S” scheme, would allow a larger plaza along 15th Avenue E to break up the project’s retail facade and provide additional corner retail units with adjacent open space. That scheme would also preserve a tree along E Republican Street and provide more daylight and spatial relief to neighboring homes from the north podium deck.
The board agreed with the applicant’s preferred massing scheme. Board members appreciated that the “S” option had courtyards on both the alley and street sides as well as the setbacks from the nearby firehouse and alley.
Overall the board was supportive of the design. Members appreciated the public space along the south edge and the consideration for bicycle parking on that side of the building. The board noted that it would support a bicycle entrance at that end as well. One of the recommendations included that each townhome have its own street entrance if possible. The board also pointed out that the building doesn’t have to be six floors throughout the entire structure, which would allow for a variety of massing designs.
The project site has a history that extends back more than a century. The Moore Family Building was initially built in 1904, and the portion of the building that for several years housed a QFC grocery store was constructed in 1944, according to Hunters Capital’s website. The site operated for some time as a Price & Stephens Moore’s Food Store, and by 1956, the grocery store had become a Thriftway, while the building to the south had been demolished to make room for a parking lot. In 1964, QFC took over the grocery store and expanded the building to roughly 19,000 square feet. In May 2017, Hunters Capital acquired the complex.
Founded in 2001, Hunters Capital has curated a mixed portfolio of historic real estate and multifamily residential redevelopment. The company is not only the owners but also the managers of its residential properties. The firm is dedicated to preserving and revitalizing the character of Seattle’s most historic neighborhoods through the ownership, development and management of residential and commercial properties.