The K Block at Seattle Center

Queen Anne folks have surely forgotten the history of the K block which after nearly 35 years of temporary uses is being transformed into a permanent beacon of Uptown’s future. Most people know the block as the home of Teatro Zinzanni which has rented the eastern edge along 3rd Ave. N. for nearly 15 years and which will be closing its doors in the early spring of 2017.  The 43,000 square foot block now consists of five different parcels all of which were originally given to the city in 1982-1983 by Charles Osborn, the trustee of the Kreielsheimer Foundation which lent the block the ‘K’ in its familiar name. After several trades in ownership, the three northern parcels were finally given to the Seattle Opera in 2000. Now, sometime this year developer Maria Barrientos will begin the construction of a transformative high-rise apartment building on the Roy Street or northern part of the block.

Ah! You won't see the Space Needle from here any more whatever the tower's height.
Ah! You won’t see the Space Needle from here any more whatever the tower’s height.

 

It hasn’t been decided yet if the tower will loom 85 or160 feet over Roy Street, but either way this is the …Continue reading “The K Block at Seattle Center”

Almost Nothing Left at First & Denny!

Looking east up the hill at Denny Way and First Avenue. Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives.
Denny Way & 1st Ave Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

This odd-shaped intersection separating Queen Anne’s Uptown from Belltown is uniquely historic. It doesn’t add much to local history that the line demarcating Queen Anne as studied by the Queen Anne Historical Society runs along the middle of Denny Way. As you might suspect though, our line of demarcation is not a random choice. In fact, it separates William Bell’s 1853 land claim from David Denny’s and provides a neat reminder of the day in February 1853 when David’s older brother Arthur and his brother-in-law Carson Boren jockeyed with Doc Maynard for the site of Seattle’s downtown and argued about how to lay out the city. …Continue reading “Almost Nothing Left at First & Denny!”

Huh? My mother-in-law’s an ADU?

There was a lot of chatter this summer of 2016 over the proposal to allow the construction of three-story Detached Alternative Dwelling Units (DADUs) on modest sized lots now hosting single family homes. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) tend to be independent dwelling units in an attic or a basement with separate doors and appropriate emergency exits. Realtors call an ADU a mother-in-law.

Some people fear that these new dwelling units will change our neighborhoods by increasing density and expediting the loss of the neighborhood’s historic character. Interestingly, the historic character of Upper Queen Anne especially the area west of Queen Anne Ave. with alleys includes a large number of alley houses. A brief tour of the area north of Smith between First and Third Avenues revealed at least 15 alley houses, all of which add to the historic character of Upper queen Anne. At least two of these alley houses are brand new, and three of them on Galer between 1st and 2nd West are really for the birds.

These Alley Houses are for the birds.
These alley houses are for the birds

It may turn out though that the increase in DADUs (Detached ADU) and ADUs has an effect not unlike what happened in response to the Urban Villages created as part of the 1993 Comp Plan. Although written primarily to prevent urban sprawl in rural King County, the plan forced multi-family apartment buildings and condos into the Urban Villages and successfully protected single family homes and the historic neighborhoods in which they are located. Upper Queen Anne and Uptown were both designated villages with the Uptown village encouraging more commercial development than Upper Queen Anne’s.

I am particularly interested in the DADUs constructed long ago in our neighborhood and which now in their own right add its historic character. In many cases, the DADUs are located along the alley edge of simple single family homes and may have replaced early garages. Of course, that conclusion may indeed be speculative, for many of the houses in the neighborhood were constructed before cars were the prevalent way to get around. As is more likely, the alley houses expanded the main home on the lot making room for growing families or newlyweds. The house at 2004 First Avenue N. is said to have been a wedding gift for a newlywed child.  Even if it isn’t an alley house, the gift idea lends credence to my guess. …Continue reading “Huh? My mother-in-law’s an ADU?”