The East Design Review Board narrowly passed a recommendation for the city’s potentially first multifamily Passive House project on Wednesday, after Curtis Bigelow constructed a long list of arguments for blocking 1300 East Pike.

A partnership project between developer Maria Barrientos and Cascade Built that has undergone a few changes over the year, 1300 East Pike would adhere to energy efficiency practices related to Passive House standards.

Bigelow, a senior project manager with NK Architects, didn’t have any issues with the Passive House concepts, which includes a thermal envelope for the six-story mixed-use development, high-performing windows, automated window shades and a heat-recovery ventilation system.

But a big sticking point for the design review board member was the

decision by developers to use fiber cement siding for 1300 East Pike, when the board had taken issue with the material choice at the last review meeting in September.

“Clearly that did not come through at all,” Bigelow said.

Many of the surrounding buildings, including the former Fran’s Chocolates building that sits on the project site currently, were constructed with brick.

Resident Andrew Haas said during public comment on Wednesday night that he was upset developers are not preserving the 6,560-square-foot character structure, which is within the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District. The incentive for preservation would be the allowance to construct the project up to seven stories. As proposed, five floors above retail will include 45 apartment units.

“We can take them one by one this way,” Haas said of losing historic buildings in the Pike/Pine corridor, “and that’s frustrating to me.”

East Design Review Board chair Natalie Gualy sided with developers on the material choice, saying higher-quality materials could make the project cost-prohibitive and turn other developers off from Passive Housing.

Bigelow said developers were told during the last review meeting to focus on one design element before returning Wednesday, but added another by varying the colors of the exterior mechanical shades. Weber Thompson architect Kirsten Clemens said three different colors were selected for the shades, to provide a “pixellation” quality.

The 1300 East Pike development includes a laser-cut metal panel screen for both commercial and residential access, with wood incorporated into the residential entry and exterior stairway, which was added in response to the review board’s concern the residential portion was not given enough attention.

Clemens said gathering spaces are planned near the base of the stairs and also on the “meadow-like” rooftop.

An interior courtyard was redesigned for commercial retail use. About 1,980 square feet of retail space is planned along East Pike, with 1,965 square feet of retail/office on 13th Avenue.

The Capitol Hill Arts District and EcoDistrict have been tapped to work with the design team to engage an artist for a large mural on the north side of the building, which Clemens said responds to community feedback. The mural would tell a story that reflects the project, as well as the importance of the two districts in the neighborhood, she said.

EcoDistrict staffer McCaela Daffern said she’s excited to work with the design team on the mural, adding she believes the project will create an attractive environment at the pedestrian level.

With so many design elements, Bigelow said the design team failed to listen to the review board’s direction to focus on one.

While he did not favor of allowing the project to proceed, Bigelow’s protests were outweighed by support from Gualy and “reluctantly supportive” board member Sarah Saviskas, who also didn’t like the material choices for the project. A note to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections will address the review board’s concerns about the cement siding (Hardie Board) choice.

The board agreed to all requested departures for the project, including reducing street-level uses along 13th from the minimum-required 80 percent to 72 percent, allowing the width of the office space to exceed 30 feet — up to 36 — additional overhead protection and counting the metal screen as meeting transparency requirements.

The issue of the size of the garage entry, for just 13 vehicles, was put to rest by the understanding that it will eventually also serve as the entry for an adjacent project that calls for up to 100 below-grade stalls.

Brad Augustine with Madrona Real Estate told the Capitol Hill Times he is working with the Aoki family to acquire an adjacent property for redevelopment. That project has been delayed due to contaminants on the property, he said. That project will preserve the brick character structure and take a bonus floor, and also use take advantage of the city’s multifamily tax exemption program for affordable housing.


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