Urban Infill

[ The Madison Street corridor on Capitol Hill as seen from the Bank of America Tower ]

In the last decade or so, a whole lotta building has sprouted around the Madison Street corridor on Capitol Hill. In this photo: Trace Lofts, The Braeburn, The Pearl, 1301 East Union, Madison Market, 1700 Madison (Trader Joe’s). Construction cranes are visible at The Chloe and the Trader Joe’s addition. Just out of view to the bottom left are Agnes Lofts and 1111 East Pike (under construction). Just out of view to the top right is the Hearing, Speech and Deafness Center. Proposed projects include 1210 11th Ave, 1222 E Madison (right behind Trace Lofts), 954 E Union, and 1818 E Madison (Fratelli’s site).

But still a ways to go before it will be like Paris…

18 Responses to “Urban Infill”

  1. cale

    I really wish we could get a streetcar going up Madison.

  2. Madisonian

    Me, too!

  3. Nate Cole-Daum

    Who says we can’t? Madison is perfect for a streetcar.

  4. Sir Learnsalot

    You have my vote

  5. Keith

    And don’t forget the proposed Jewish Family Services office building that, if ever built, will go right in front of the white-gabled house that is peeking through the trees slightly above center of the photo. I actually live in the adjacent brick building (there has been some tension between the residents and JFS).

  6. BrianK

    Yes, Madison IS perfect for a streetcar. Again! There was a cable car on Madison for decades:


    Imagine riding from Elliot Bay to Lake Washington in this:

  7. Steve

    I think Sound Transit looked at it and found that the downtown-First Hill section of Madison is too steep for a streetcar. That’s not to say there couldn’t be a counterbalance, like there used to be on Queen Anne (and like Matt the Engineer and others are hoping there will be again), but it wouldn’t be as simple to build as the SLUT was.

    Even if we can’t get a streetcar, I’d settle for a fully-separated bus lane along Madison from downtown to 15th or so, especially if we could get some low-floor buses to go with it. The 12 *crawls* along Madison today, and with the First Hill hospitals, it often has to deploy the lift. A quick pedestrian can usually beat it.

  8. Steve

    On proposed projects: my personal favorite in that area (just out of view to the left) is 1205 E. Pine, which intends to renovate the existing Foley Sign Building at 12th and Pine (across 12th from the police station) and to add several stories of residential above it. I haven’t heard anything about it recently, so it’s probably on hold pending the return of economic good times, but it would be a nice addition to the neighborhood if/when it goes forward.

  9. Tony

    A potential alternative route for a steetcar would be to take pike/pine street from downtown through capitol hill and then merge with Madison at 15th St. This would avoid the impossible hill between first hill and downtown as well as the various hospitals. It would also connect Pike Place Market, the downtown retail core, the Pike/Pine neighborhood, the booming Madison Miller urban village shown in the picture, the Seattle Arboretum and Madison Park to the east.

    The planned first hill streetcar running north-south along broadway coupled with a rubber wheeled bus running in a tight, frequent loop between first hill and downtown (say up madison, down james st) would provide the necessary circulation for first hill.

    The area shown in the picture is the area between 12th and 23rd (the Madison-Miller urban village) which would still be served directly by a pike/pine-Madison line. The line should extend all the way out to Madison Park. There is a nice neighborhood retail district out there and a lot more multifamily than one would assume for such a wealthy neighborhood. A wealthier demographic like Madison Park really does require a higher quality form of transit, like a streetcar, to attract them.

    Just a thought.

  10. AJ

    So how many people are living in this photo? Or, rather, how many will when those units are filled?

  11. Ben Schiendelman

    I just want to mention – it’ll be a LONG time before this can be like Paris, because most of those streets are a lot wider than the streets in Paris. The building density gets you close to Paris densities, though! I’m looking forward to it.

  12. dan cortland

    Steve, the Foley building has been gutted and last I looked work was under way.

    If a streetcar were to make the neighborhood accessible to folks afraid of buses, the area might see more tourist-related commerce (more restaurants, more coffee). Given the recession, perhaps in the near future we’re likely to see more empty new commercial space, like that at John Court at 15th and John. Funny how increasing the supply of space doesn’t reduce rental rates enough to fill such spaces.

  13. Hey wait

    @12 “Funny how increasing the supply of space doesn’t reduce rental rates enough to fill such spaces.”

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand that a lot of times a developer of new construction will let the commercial space sit empty for a long time trying to get the rents and/or quality of tenant that they’re looking for. The office or residential portion subsidizes the retail, so they don’t need to lower rents to try to fill it quickly.

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong though… I *think* I remember reading something about landlords sitting on retail space until they got their desired rents…

  14. Steve

    @13: I agree that letting retail sit empty certainly seems to happen, but I’d really like to see the spreadsheet landlords use to make the decision to wait. I’m not in the real estate business, so I probably don’t know what I’m talking about, but it seems insane that it could be in a landlord’s interest to leave a space empty for 1-2 years in an apparently desirable neighborhood (e.g. the retail space of the new building at 65th and Roosevelt).

  15. dan cortland

    @13: the smaller commercial space at John Court is now a “green” dry cleaning business that competes with another dry cleaning establishment a few blocks north. A choice tenant? I dunno.

    I’ve heard commercial rents on Capitol Hill are similar to those downtown. The gentrification of CH seems to be the dearest wish of the property owners.

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