Update: The Country Doctor addition will have another shot at getting through the East Design Review Board 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, in the Stuart T Rolfe Room of Seattle University’s Admissions & Alumni Communications Building, 824 12th Ave.
Country Doctor Community Clinic’s plans for a new dental clinic and expanded medical and administrative space in Capitol Hill were stalled by the East Design Review Board on Wednesday.
Executive director Linda McVeigh had expected the board would pass the Country Doctor expansion project on to the next phase of design, but instead the EDRB decided its list of criticisms warranted a third review sometime later this year.
Country Doctor was first in front of the EDRB in October 2015, seeking demolition of the old Betty Lee Manor for a four-story expansion project to provide a new dental clinic and expanded services for WIC, maternity, HIV and chronic pain.
The dental clinic, medical services and administrative offices will be on the first two floors, with eight market-rate housing units on the third and fourth — a mix of studio and one-bedroom apartments.
One of several Country Doctor Community Health Centers serving low-income patients, the Capitol Hill clinic started at the old Fire Station No. 7 building in 1971, moving to its current site on 19th Avenue East in 1987. Country Doctor purchased the Betty Lee Manor in 2012, but had leased space in the building many years prior.
Demolishing the 2,350-square-foot building will free the nonprofit up to construct the 9,000-square-foot addition at 510 19th Ave., between the Country Doctor Community Clinic and Capitol Court Apartments.
Environmental Works has been working with Country Doctor for more than two years now, as the project seeks LEED Silver certification standards.
Architect Bill Singer delivered the latest design to the review board on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
While the review board had wanted the new building to honor the history of Betty Lee Manor, Singer said, “There was nothing salvageable about the building.”
The Country Doctor expansion will include a commemorative plaque on the corner of the building, he said, with an image of Betty Lee Manor and a brief history.
Material choices made on 19th Avenue were to distinguish the medical half of the building from the two floors of residences, Singer said. Dark brick was selected for the first floor, with dark paneling for the second-, and then gray paneling for the third and fourth floors.
The review board had issues with the second floor, particularly the window alignments in relation to other floors, as well as the massing for the backside of the structure, facing residences to the east. Singer said clearance requirements for a power pole and line dictated how that side of the structure was designed.
“It feels like they have several solutions to the same problem for a fairly small width of building,” said review board member Curtis Bigelow.
Sarah Saviskas said the brick on the front portion of the building seemed to only cover 1 1/2 stories, while fellow board member Christina Orr-Cahall wondered about bringing down the gray paneling to the second floor. Singer reiterated the desire to express the change from clinic to residential uses.
“It is that middle space that’s having all the trouble,” Orr-Cahall said.
While darker tones were fine for the front of the building, review board chair Natalie Gualy said it sounded like the public would like brighter colors on the back, facing residential neighbors. One resident made such a request during public comments.
Acupuncturist Eric Hartmann, who operates out of a clinic at 1908 E. Republican St., behind Country Doctor, expressed concerns about alley access and parking. He said he worried about vehicle clearance — particularly with ambulances and garbage trucks — and the effect on his clients, especially in regard to his one handicap space and wheelchair lift.
Singer said a traffic analysis in the east alley didn’t address turning radius or the handicap lift. Making more room for Hartmann’s office would mean the loss of a dental chair, he said, and Hartmann would need to purchase a portion of Country Doctor’s property if he wanted increased space.
“I think that’s just poor planning on their part,” Bigelow said of Hartmann’s concern for his handicap parking spot, as unfortunate as the predicament is.
He said he wanted to push the project forward, but felt the design was not ready. The rest of the board agreed.
City design review planner Carly Guillory told the board it could move the project forward, if it decided to put specific conditions on the design for developers to follow. Bigelow worried that path could be “onerous.”
Guillory said it could be possible to fill an empty slot for another design review board meeting in several weeks with Country Doctor’s project. If that doesn’t work, it could be many months before the expansion project has another chance to be vetted by the EDRB.
Singer told the Capitol Hill Times Environmental Works will be back in front of the East Design Review Board on May 10 for a new Community House mental health treatment center at 23rd Avenue and South Jackson that will provide 53 units for clients transitioning out of homelessness, which is a high priority for Mayor Ed Murray. The mayor announced Community House was among several projects included in a $47 million housing levy investment back in December.
Country Doctor applied for a master use permit in June 2016.
“At this point, we’re waiting to see when the city issues a permit,” McVeigh said prior to the meeting. She declined to comment following the meeting, but could provide an update Friday.
The hope had been to start construction in July, and open a year later.
The $6.5 million Country Doctor Community Clinic expansion is mostly being funded through public monies, including a $1.2 million award from the Seattle Human Services Department last year.
Country Doctor Design by branax2000 on Scribd