Row House Cafe to Close, Making Way for More SLU Development

By Daniel Person

In September, we profiled Row House Cafe as part of a series on “hold outs” in South Lake Union, the once-blue-collar hood that is now ground zero for the Amazon takeover.

“Sitting in the heart of South Lake Union at 1170 Republican Street, the scruffy restaurant sits in deep contrast to the glittering newness around it, its oldness a form of defiance. And therein lies its beauty, say its fans,” we wrote then.

Well, not for long.

The Seattle Times is reporting that the three old homes that were fused together to create the bar and restaurant have a date with a wrecking ball “some time in 2018.” There was a push to get the 1911 homes designated historic landmarks, but to no avail.

Photo credit: Jose Trujillo

“By one vote, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Board did not muster enough votes to designate the site a landmark. A majority of the 11-member board was needed to approve the designation, and the vote was 5 to 4,” the Times reports today.

In place of the small homes will be a 91-unit apartment complex with a gym and an “indoor pet relief area,” the Times writes. This lends credence to the contention that a lot of Seattle development is dog shit.

When we wrote our story, Row House’s general manager Erin Maher was philosophical about the changing neighborhood around here, saying that the growth was a blessing and a curse.

“We opened because we knew this area was undergoing dynamic growth; we just had no idea that it would happen literally on every block in this neighborhood,” she said. “I don’t think anyone anticipated there would be so much construction all at once.”

However, she added, “You’re not going to stop growth. Physics just won’t allow it.”

No, it seems, it won’t.

Syndicated from the Seattle Weekly

Seattle City Council Approves Re-Zoning SLU for Taller Buildings

By Monica Nickelsburg

The Seattle City Council voted to increase building heights in the South Lake Union and downtown neighborhoods Monday (April 10th). It’s the second upzone that South Lake Union has seen in the past five years.

The upzone allows for buildings with an additional one to five stories. In exchange for taller buildings, developers will be required to build at least 2.1 percent affordable, income-restricted units or pay fees to the city that will go toward nonprofits that focus on affordable housing. If developers take the fee option, there’s no guarantee that the housing it funds will be built in South Lake Union or downtown.

The program is an extension of Mayor Ed Murray’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) plan to all of South Lake Union and a significant portion of downtown. It was a point of some contention during the City Council meeting Monday. Councilmember Lisa Herbold proposed an amendment that would increase the mandatory affordable housing to 5 percent, but it was voted down by the council.

South Lake Union has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past decade driven by the growth of Amazon, which is headquartered there. But it’s not just Amazon — Seattle’s booming technology industry is drawing record numbers of newcomers to the region, creating traffic and affordability issues around downtown.

The City hopes this legislation will reduce congestion by encouraging more people to live near their offices and alleviate some of the housing affordability issues longtime residents are facing.

“This legislation that we’re about to pass today really does set the city on a new path and a new course of requiring all construction in the city, whether it’s commercial or residential, to contribute to affordable housing,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess during the meeting. “We’ve never had a mandatory program like this.”

The upzone stems from the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), a plan aimed at adding 50,000 new homes in Seattle over the next decade, 20,000 of which would be reserved for low- and middle-income residents.

Syndicated from GeekWire.com

Bertha Finally Breaks Through in South Lake Union

Bertha has broken into daylight.

The giant tunnel machine chewed through the side of the disassembly vault at South Lake Union about 11:25 a.m. Tuesday, after an overnight stoppage at the concrete head wall.

Bertha arrived at the tunnel’s north portal 29 months late and four years after launching in Sodo to dig the highway tube that will replace the earthquake-damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The 57-foot, 4-inch wide rotating cutter, moving north on a slight upward slope, gradually pushed concrete chunks forward as it nosed through the lower part of the concrete wall.

Bertha breaks through

Despite sprinklers raining water into in the vault, thick dust filled the area and drove media and officials witnessing the event into an enclosed area.

On Monday, Joe Hedges, project administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation, couldn’t stop smiling as he complimented the contractors, WSDOT’s oversight team, and said Washington residents should be proud the long dig was accomplished.

“To remind everybody what’s been done in the last 11 months, (they’ve) tunneled over 1.5 miles, with just amazing results, underneath the heart of the city, tunneling a five-story tunnel,” Hedges said.

Though the state and Seattle Tunnel Partners are fighting in court over a half-billion dollars in repair and delay costs, STP has also created goodwill by cruising at 40 or even 50 feet a day since passing beneath the old Alaskan Way Viaduct last April 29.

Hedges noted that much work is left to be done before the tunnel opens to traffic in early 2019.

“We’re not at the fourth quarter, we’re only at about halftime,” he said.

Crews must complete the underground double-decker highway, with two lanes going north and two going south.

There was no public access to the site, just west of Aurora Avenue. WSDOT has installed an online vault cam and is tweeting under the hashtag #Berthabreakthrough.

STP manager Chris Dixon and state officials kept saying there won’t be much spectacle. Public interest has grown anyway. Banners of Tutor-Perini and Dragados USA, the major tunneling partners, have been hung over the wall for infrastructure sponsors worldwide to notice.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Mayor Ed Murray, along with other elected officials and WSDOT leaders, were on hand for the breakthrough.

The governor acknowledges his tunnel frustrations from the 29-month delay. During a long repair stoppage in 2015, he told KIRO radio host Dori Monson that a homeowner in similar straits would whip a late contractor “like a cheap mule.”

But Inslee said last week the technology is equally memorable, and he looks forward to watching the breakthrough.

He recalled a visit early in the project, feeling like he was in a Star Wars film.

“When you stand in the tunnel, it’s five to six stories tall. It’s mind-boggling. When you go into the control room, you feel like you’re in the Millennium Falcon control room.”

Inslee also warned the state has far to go. “We’re still in a race against the next earthquake, to take the viaduct down,” he said.

Murray sponsored the 2009 tunnel legislation when he was a state senator, shortly after Gov. Chris Gregoire chose to build a single-bore, deep highway to replace the earthquake-damaged viaduct.

As mayor, Murray said, he’s had little influence over the tunnel job because it’s not only a state contract but a design-build contract in which STP does final engineering and takes on the financial risks.

He admits there were times he wasn’t sure Bertha would make it.

“Because of the way the design-build contract works, we, the city didn’t have insight into what the issue was,” Murray said. “For a while there it was unclear what was going to happen.”

He said the waterfront revival, after the viaduct is gone, “is going to capture the imagination of the city.”

Responsibility for cost overruns may take years to be settled.

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, last week sought to revive the issue with a bill that would withhold state revenue sharing for transportation, liquor and marijuana-related health programs, and municipal courts unless Seattle pays any future cost overruns.

The 2009 legislation said excess state costs would be borne by property owners who benefit, and “a promise is a promise,” Orcutt argues.

Murray said of that concept: “I really don’t think, if you’re a Republican legislator or a Democratic legislator, you want your local city or county to pay for state roads. I think that would be an unbelievable way to go.”

Syndicated from The Seattle Times

South Lake Union Rezone Approved by Council Committee

A Seattle City Council committee took a step forward Tuesday in rezoning South Lake Union, Lower Queen Anne, and Downtown neighborhoods.

The Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning committee voted 3-0 to forward the legislation, which would allow taller building heights in exchange for affordable housing.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold expressed her concerns on the equation used to determine the heights and suggested she could provide amendments in the future.

As crafted, the legislation would allow buildings up to 40 feet taller than the current code, depending on the amount of affordable market units within the building.

Councilmember Rob Johnson, who chairs the committee and presided over multiple amendments, acknowledged there will likely be changes to the legislation before a full Council vote on April 10.

Syndicated from King5 News.

The Allen Institute

Central atrium inside Allen Institute.  Photo: Anthony Bolante/Puget Sound Business Journal

Science, art, and efficiency integrate seamlessly, not unlike our own left and right brains, in the architecture and structure of The Allen Institute building, located near the southwest bank of Lake Union. The large, LED-driven installation on the exterior façade, which is based upon neural brain activity and perception, transitions between colors and layered images. And among other unique building features is the engineering marvel of corralling existing mineral springs so a building could reliably stand on the site. The Allen Institute at 615 Westlake Ave. N. encompasses three entities: the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Allen Institute for Cell Science and Paul G. Allen Frontiers.

Allen Institute exterior. Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography

According to Puget Sound Business Journal, philanthropist Paul Allen’s 270,000 square foot, 7-story building has now won two awards from Engineering News-Record: ENR Northwest’s “Project of the Year” and Best “Higher Education/Research” project. Only 20 real estate developments were given commendations this year for any “Best of the Best” category. The two awards mentioned were given to the Allen Institute, in ENR’s words, “for achieving the promise of a collaborative concept, overcoming dewatering and structural challenges, and preserving a historical site.”

Dewatering? Structural challenges? What historical site? Well, “dewatering” refers to the mineral springs mentioned earlier; they bubbled up during initial excavation, which had to be addressed so the structure of the building wouldn’t buckle. Especially since the P4 parking garage is 34 feet below water level. Through a series of dewatering wells built during construction and careful monitoring over time of water pressure on shoring walls (more than 100 of them), the team was able to determine that the structure would hold. Because of a clever treatment system that filters the ground water so efficiently that it is released into Lake Union cleaner than the actual lake water, the WA Department of Ecology approved it.

Looking east toward Lake Union.

The integrity of the former Ford and Pacific McKay car showrooms on-site, designated as a historic landmark, needed to be considered. Pioneer Masonry catalogued, disassembled, and stored any protected components from the buildings, especially the terra-cotta façade which was later reassembled using a virtual 3D model made previously. The new building was built to wrap around the older ones.

The new Allen Institute building wraps around historic car showrooms.

The interior of the facility has interesting features as well. Studio SC built the external public artwork called “Pathways” that adorns the exterior, but also provided wayfinding graphics/ signage within the building. The central atrium of the building is built to promote easy access between labs and offices, between co-workers in different departments. The excess heat produced by the data center, which stores a huge amount of information, is effectively re-routed to provide heating and cooling for the building. Besides the data center, the institute also has wet and dry labs, an electron microscopy area, auditorium, and a center for education.

Studio SC’s public art installation “Pathways”, exterior.  Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography

Paul Allen, who initially made his fortune as co-founder of Microsoft, began this non-profit in 2003 to study the workings of the brain in an “open science” model (greatly simplified, meaning easier access to scientific knowledge and research). An interesting link to explore, the Allen Brain Atlas, gives a peek into the depth of what is studied here.

 

Owner/Developer: Vulcan Inc.
General Contractor: GLY
Lead Design/Architect Firm: Perkins+Will
Subcontractors: BOLA Architecture + Planning; Candela; Sparling; Coughlin Porter Lundeen; McKinstry; Affiliated Engineers NW; Valley Electric; GeoEngineers; Pioneer Masonry