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Pine + Belmont Condo Development: More Details Revealed

By January 11, 2007

Pine and Belmont

I’d link to introduce Carl Goodman who will be joining me here every once and a while at Urban Living. Carl, is a bit older than me, has lived in New York but now lives in a penthouse above an older condo on Capitol Hill (apparently your dollar goes at lot further here). He’s going to provide a great balance to my blind enthusiasm for new developments. Without further ado… – Matt

by guest contributor Carl Goodman

The developer and architect of the Pine + Belmont mixed-use condo development, slated to begin construction the end of 2007, unveiled some additional features during a January 9 community meeting organized by the POWHat neighborhood association.

The block eyed for the new development – the entire north side of Pine Street between Belmont and Summit Avenues – falls squarely within POWHat, or the Pine Olive Way Harvard area triangle.

At the meeting, Wade Metz of the development entity Murray Franklyn and architect Peter Greaves of the Weber + Thompson design shop described these planned Pine + Belmont features:

  • Five stories: one for retail, four for residential
  • Concrete lower portion, wood-frame upper portion, clad in various materials (which have yet to be determined)
  • The commercial storefronts, stretching along the entire Pine Street side, will encompass about 5,000 sq. ft., and have double-height ceilings
  • With 24-foot-wide structural bays, the development could accommodate up to seven retail establishments on Pine, although the spaces can be combined
  • Retail rental price point: about $30 per sq. ft. per month, more than double what current establishments on the block pay
  • About 102 residential units on the upper four floors, ranging from 500 sq. ft. studios to 750 sq. ft. one BRs to 950 sq. ft. two BRs.
  • Residential sales price point: about $500 per sq. ft. (or $375,000 for a one BR), versus what the developers contend is $700 per sq. ft. downtown
  • Residential entrance: On Belmont, across the street from the Press Condos
  • Garage entrance: On Summit, across the street from the Crawford Condos, containing underground parking for up to 150 cars
  • Adherence to Energy Star standards; no attempt to adhere to LEED or other enhanced standards
  • Targeted demographic: Young singles and couples
  • Expected move-in date: mid 2009

Metz and Greaves have taken to the PR circuit, such as the POWHat meeting, to defuse neighborhood concerns about their role in the radically changing ambiance of the Pike/Pine Corridor. The Pine + Belmont development will displace some beloved neighborhood watering holes, such as the Cha Cha Lounge, Kincora Pub, Manray, and Bimbo’s Bitchin’ Burrito Kitchen, housed in a series of charmingly dilapidated low-rise buildings.

However, Metz made clear that the new complex would not include bars, given that homeowners will inevitably complain about the noise. Metz expects his company to retain control of the retail spaces to reap rental income. While he vows that his preference is for retail other than Subway sandwich franchises, tanning salons, and dry cleaners, he also indicated that the considerably higher rents will make it unlikely that funky neighborhood businesses become tenants.

Not surprisingly, the current architectural renderings of the complex reflect the homogeneity of the developers’ aspirations. The building appears blocky and bereft of true design inspiration. Skimpy, unusable, Juliet balconies adorn the elevations. An ineffective attempt at relieving the monolithic Pine Street façade is sought through the incorporation of a series of tiered shallow setbacks, allowing the sidewalk to become wider at the downhill Summit Avenue corner.

Another concern is Weber + Thompson’s role a couple of years ago in designing the ungainly apartment complex at 700 Broadway East, situated at the northern terminus of the commercial heartbeat of Capitol Hill. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s architectural critic rightly called the complex, “a prime example of how mediocre architecture can drain Seattle’s vitality and saps our souls.” Weber + Thompson, incensed at the critique, played the heavy and threatened the sue the PI.

While soft-spoken architect Greaves claims his firm will not produce a similar soul-sapping complex at Pine + Belmont, many POWHat members expressed skepticism. The developers expect their plans to progress quickly, with a final Design Review Board meeting expected to be held by the end of February. While community input will be welcome at the meeting, many claim the Board has no real enforcement mandate.

As a result, it appears likely that Pine + Belmont will be yet another example, as The Stranger recently reported, of condo developers using “the ‘hip’ factor to sell condos up and down the Pike/Pine Corridor. Now they’re about to kill the bars and businesses that make the strip vibrant.”

Update from Matt: Check out the Slog for more commentary