Seattle is changing, and fast. 62 cranes decorated our cityscape at the end of 2016—more cranes than any other U.S. city—and it seems like sometimes the entire city is under development. We’ve rounded up 10 development projects to watch in 2017 below. There are, of course, hundreds more where these came from. If there’s a development you want to see covered, the tipline is open.
The Washington State Convention Center expansion
An ambitious project to expand the Washington State Convention Center will add 1.2 million square feet of exhibition and meeting space, a 30-story residential tower with 428 units, a 16 story office building, and new retail and public spaces all along the exterior. This project is not only the largest in Seattle history, in the ballpark of $1.6 billion—it’s also starting to be at the center of a debate of just how much developers owe Seattle for use of public land.
The Lake City fire station development
Land originally owned by the city was handed over to the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) for this development, which has five stories of residential serving people at 60 percent and below area median income. The bottom floor also serves the community; current plans call for a preschool operated by the Refugee Women’s Alliance.
The ever-changing project at 23rd and Union
The corner of 23rd and Union has, on a macro level, been symbolic of gentrification and displacement in the Central District. On a micro level, a plot of land on the corner has been plagued by questions about ownership. It seemed like the project had come to at least some sort of peace with both. Lennar Multifamily Communities was set to develop the land with plans to give community group Africatown a 20% stake—but the land deal fell apart last week, leaving the whole project in total limbo once again.
Old Spaghetti Factory becomes new condos
The beloved Old Spaghetti Factory building—officially, the Ainsworth and Dunn warehouse—is a historic site, so it can’t disappear completely. So like Pike Motorworks and other historic buildings before that, a developer is working around it. The full project is 81,200 square feet of mixed-use residential, 31,320 square feet of commercial, and parking underground. The warehouse itself is only gaining one small level, with a terrace on what was once just the roof. Much of that square footage is coming from a five-story building on the former parking lot.
Value Village becomes Legacy Capitol Hill
Another development happening inside a historic facade: The Kelly Springfield Building, best-known as the former location of the Capitol Hill Value Village, will become a five-story office building with 12,000 square feet of retail. Originally, the project was going to sweep through the neighboring building that houses The Stranger and Rhino Room, but Legacy Commercial scrapped that plan after some difficult conversations with the landmark preservation board.
Fifth and Columbia Tower, aka The Mark
Construction on this high rise has been ongoing since 2008, which was a long time ago. Greg Nickels was mayor. Barack Obama hadn’t been elected yet. CenturyLink Field was still Qwest Field. (To be fair, construction was entirely halted between August 2008 and July 2014.) Originally called the Fifth and Columbia Tower during the first phrase of construction, the project has since ditched the older naming convention.When it’s finally completed, The Mark will be the fifth tallest building in Seattle at 660 feet, and will house a luxury hotel and 528,000 square feet of office space in a geometric tower. Tenant move-in is scheduled for May.
The new Rainier Square tower
Here’s a project that would knock The Mark into sixth place: an 850 foot skyscraper, developed by Wright Runstad & Co., to complement the existing 514 foot Rainier Tower. When completed, assuming no other building beats it to the punch, it will be the second tallest building in Seattle.
The shape is also notable in addition to the height. NBBJ designed a a tower that, after a wide base, sweeps away from the east side as height increases. It’s scheduled to break ground this summer, despite some controversy in testing the boundaries of the city’s affordable housing incentives.
Much like The Mark, Madison Centre’s construction started in the mid-2000s and halted during the economic downtown. (Both projects also include a green wall.) The 530 foot, 36 story skyscraper adjacent to the downtown library is almost complete. The most recognizable feature to pedestrians will be the curved, glass facade—perhaps an attempt to complement the library. It’s set to open later this year.
It’s been hard to not watch this development, but in case you aren’t clear on what they are: The geodesic spheres will house botanical gardens for Amazon employees to enjoy, along with the occasional field trip. There’s not much for the public inside, but there will be (another) green wall, a few open spaces surrounding the structure, and, Amazon says, some kind of retail element. Amazon’s adjacent high-rise office building, Amazon Tower II or the new Day One, opened late last year.
Seattle Civic Square
While nobody’s holding their breath, it’s quite possible that the vacant lot adjacent to City Hall will be a vacant lot no longer. The development, originally by Triad, was stalled during the economic recession, then plagued with controversy after the company was accused of trying to shake down a City Council candidate (go Hawks!). Then it moved along to Touchstone, but they weren’t able to get investors within their deadline. Finally, it looks like the lot will be developed by Bosa, after Mayor Ed Murray made a deal with the company to build a residential tower and pay $5.7 million into an affordable housing fund. Whether the current plan comes to fruition or not, the lot is definitely one to watch.
Seattle Curbed | February 2017
Sarah Anne Lloyd