Dean Falls' Madison Street Redevelopment Project

March 31st, 2005: Master Use Permit for Dean Falls' development is issued.

See DPD notice for details

The project has applied for its Master Use Permit. There was a final Design Review Hearing on this project on Wednesday, September 1, 2004 at 6:30 p.m. in the East Precinct Community Room (1519 12th Av).

For more information regarding this application or the Design Review process, you may contact Scott Kemp, DPD Land Use Planner at 206-233-3866. If you are unable to attend this meeting but would like to be informed of future meetings, please call the Land Use Planner to become a party of record.

Scott writes (9/14/04):

Andrew, I missed you. You can get a copy for your website. The DRB portion may be drafted along with the MUP decision. You may either want to put it on your site or put a like to its location on the DPD site.

There were no major issues raised. Minor ones included the hours of public access to the plaza area and fountain or no fountain. The developers would like to allow 24 hour access, but, are concerned that security considerations may not allow that. A level of resolution was reached at the meeting to condition the project to require that any gates fold back flat against the building, and that they be open during daylight or business hours of any business in the non-residential portions of the building whichever results in the plaza area being open earlier in the morning and later in the evening.

The Board recommended that the fountain which has been shown in the plaza area throughout the design review process be incorporated into the final project.

Materia board where shown and these materials will be required in the final building.

8/25/04: Jay Reeves, architect for the project, noted (in a phone message to Andrew) the following about the upcoming hearing:

The general design of the building will presumably remain much as it was at the last hearing (here are photographs and the report from the March 17, 2004 Design Review hearing).


See the section "Notice of Application" near the top of this web page for details of the Master Use Permit and how to comment on it. Here are more details of the Permit application process.

Confused? Try this DPD page on "Public Comment on Proposed land Use Actions"


Details of Planning efforts to date on this project:

The project, like all other large projects, will be examined at several Design Review Hearings. A volunteer panel of (mainly) architects examines and comments on the project: the public can attend, listen, learn and comment. Below are details from:

Design Commision Hearings: vacating the alley

Dean Falls' group approached the Seattle Design Commission and asked to take over the alley that runs through the property. The Commission denied them permission on May 1st, 2003 and August 21, 2003. The Commission offered advice on redesigning the project and on Dec 4, 2003 they approved the "alley vacation". Meeting minutes are now available.

In brief (Andrew's summary: see the plan): the vehicular alley will disappear, and will be replaced by an "allée", a pedestrian alley through the site (think "Post Alley"). They will compensate for the loss of the alley square footage by setting back the buildings from the property lines.

Here are some pictures from the Dec 4, 2003 presentation (scanned and annotated by Andrew):

These drawings were also presented at the Jan 21, 2004 Design Review Hearing.

Other relevant resources:

Feb 10, 2004: Andrew Taylor writes to Dean Falls' architects and to DPD about continuing the study of the shadows cast by the proposed building

March 12, 2004: There will be a Public Hearing of the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee to take testimony about the proposed Alley Vacation.

Second Design Review Hearing

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

HERE is a SCAN of the official meeting report (59 kb PDF file: converted to text: typos?).

From the meeting announcement:

The site is located on the northwest corner of E Madison St and E Denny Way. The site is split zoned Neighborhood Commercial 3 with a 65' height limit (NC3 65') and Neighborhood Commercial 2/Residential with a 65' height limit (NC2/R 65'). The proposal is for a six-story building with a public courtyard through the site, ground floor commercial and residential units and five-stories of residential units above (187 total residential units). Parking for 312 vehicles will be located in a below grade parking garage. The proponents are also petitioning the Seattle Department of Transportation for a vacation of an alley on the site.

The applicants have applied for Design Review related to development of this site for a mixed-use development. At the early design guidance meeting, the applicants will present information about the site and vicinity. The public may offer comments regarding the design and siting of a mixed-use development on the subject site; and, the Design Review Board members will also offer comments and identify those Citywide Design Guidelines of highest priority in developing the site.


Andrew Taylor's impressions of the Second Design Review Hearing (stream of consciousness).

  1. Ron Jelaco, Director of Design for Sclater Partners Architects, described the "big picture" of the neighborhood, and presented a site analysis drawing that was too detailed for me to present here (contact Andrew if you'd like to see it: it's full of explanatory notes). He noted that he's lived within a few hundred yards of Madison for 25 years. Main design features were the view south along 21st towards the corner of the building (where Denny takes a dog-leg) and the main entryway at the corner of Denny and Madison.

  2. Jay Reeves , Architect at Sclater Partners, described the physical design of the project. As shown in the plan view, the project now has 3 components, which are separate buildings at ground level, but are joined in places at higher levels (see the East and South elevations and the North-South and East-West sectional drawings). There will be an active central courtyard with a fountain: restaurants are hoped to use this space. The East Denny Way side and the courtyard will both feature townhouse type apartments at ground level (see plan), while the Madison Street face will feature two 6 story apartment buildings with retail at ground level (retail opens onto Madison, the Madison-Denny corner and the courtyard. Townhouses will have stoops and awnings on the Denny side. Expectation is 198 to 210 rental apartment units.

  3. The courtyard has major entrances onto Denny and Madison, and a smaller one onto the alley to the West. The Design Commission wanted the entrances to be open to the public as much as possible, but was receptive to the possibility of gateing some of them at night. In exchange for vacating the 2000 square feet of alley, they are setting back the Denny and Madison Street sides of the building by 2.5 to 3 feet, hence regaining the area lost from the alley. The townhouses off the courtyard will have a "mews" like feel. They anticipate cafe tables in the courtyard. There will be 2 large decks on the roofs for tenant use.

  4. Upper levels of the Denny Way sides (above the townhouses) will be apartments. The building on the north side (where Denny Way runs East-West) is set back somewhat to allow sunlight to access the buildings to the North: 3 foot setback at ground level, then two further 3 foot setbacks higher up (see the East elevation). This was in response to the long-articulated neighborhood concern about shadows cast by this very tall (65') building onto shorter (typically <= 35') buildings to the North. I spoke to the Board about this and presented them with 3D shadow drawings from the City rezoning study.

  5. Parking will all be underground (2 levels?) and will all be accessed from the alley to the West (see plan). There will be 32 stalls for retail customers, then a security gate for access to residential parking. The corner next to the Twilight Exit actually belongs to the adjacent property (the lawyers' office at 2014 E. Madison) and holds 2 of the required parking spaces for that project. Those parking places will be relocated within Dean Falls project and the corner will become a public plaza.

  6. Design Departures (requests for the Design Review Board to waive some design rules): DPD rules allow the upper parts of the building to occupy no more than 64% of the area of the lot ("upper lot coverage"): the applicants requested that number be raised to 70% (they'd previously asked for 72%). I suggested that further roof-level setbacks (to decrease the shadow effects) would be a suitable mitigation for this request.

  7. Design Review Board deliberations (i.e. their discussions at the end of the meeting):
    a) the next Design Review meeting will probably be the final meeting, at which signage, building materials and specific entryways etc will be addressed.
    b) As part of their considerations of "Height, Bulk and Scale", the Board considered the neighbors to the North to be important, and suggested the applicants stepped down the North side for "solar access". The did not consider the present setbacks on the North sides to be a substantial setback, and wanted the applicants to make more than a token response to the neighbors. After examining the shadow diagrams they noted that it would not take a lot to mitigate the shadow problems. They noted that they often request that applicants lose a few units to provide light, and hence show respect to the neighbors.
    c) they found the windows monotonous, but the building design fragmented!

  8. One of the project architects notes:

    Thanks for including me in this mailing route. I'm very glad that you are available and willing to extend the communication of these processes to the people in your organization.

And, I think that you brought up an important point. It's clear that you've been able to tell from the two presentations that you've seen where I've talked -- the axis down from Meany School and the Miller Playfield that terminates into our project is indeed really significant for me. In no trivial way, it gives our project a really important role -- to link that civic place to it, and to the 'high street' shopping and services that should be available soon on Madison. Thanks for pointing that out.

Ron Jelaco

Sclater Partners Architects, PC
2230 8th Avenue
Seattle, Wa 98121
(206) 624-8682

  1. A neighbor, who attended the meeting, notes

I'm really excited about this project. It is a huge improvement over the earlier design that included a parking lot on grade. It also looks viable enough to actually happen, which is almost too good to be true.

The only thing that worries me is the retail does not necessarily seem well suited for use by the Twilight Exit, my favorite bar and a great neighborhood cultural asset. I know people who make weekly visits to our neighborhood from as far away as Ballard for the privilege of going to the Twilight. Hopefully Stephan can find a good spot to relocate if necessary. I know he had been planning to reoccupy the site after it was redeveloped, but I have not talked to him since the meeting so I don't know where he stands now.


First ( May 7, 2003 ) Design Review Board Hearing for 2040 E. Madison.

Here's the City Early Design Guidance Report on the project

(see also the Design Commission Alley Vacation process)

From the DPD meeting announcement:

Project #2204305; The Director of DPD is convening the Design Review Board for an early design guidance meeting regarding the following location: Address: 2040 E Madison St; Application Number: 2204305; Applicant: Carlos De La Torre; Applicant Phone: (206) 624-8682
Zoning: NC3 65', NC2/R 65'; DCLU Planner: Scott Kemp; (206) 233-3866

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The site is located on the northwest corner of E Madison St and E Denny Way. The site is split zoned Neighborhood Commercial 3 Commercial with a 65' height limit (NC3 65') and Neighborhood Commercial 2 Commercial/Residential with a 65' height limit (NC2/R 65'). The proposal is for a six-story building with ground floor commercial and 187 residential units. Parking for 312 vehicles will be located in a below grade parking garage. The proponents are also petitioning the Seattle Department of Transportation for a vacation of the alley on the site.


Daily Journal of Commerce article gives lots of background on the project.

(A section below discusses the separate issue of abandoning the alley in the property)

Details on the Design Review process.


Andrew Taylor's notes on the 5/7/03 Design Review meeting: (see also the City Early Design Guidance Report on the project)

The take-home message is: a good start, but the parking, building size and orientation need work!

(The meeting was also attended by Darlene Flynn of Dept. of Neighborhoods, a representative from Capitol Hill Housing Improvement Program [building at 20th & Denny] and several other neighbors)

Carlos De La Torre, (206) 624-8682, of Sclater Partners Architects described the project. He described and showed photo boards of the neighborhood: more details than the board seemed to want or you and I need, and was urged to move on to project details.

He started with the this diagram showing how far the project could extend in various directions. It can't ever fill all that volume, but the diagram shows how far it could extend in different directions: 65' tall and out to the property line on all sides except the alley, where there is a height-related setback: top of building must be ~ 10' back from the alley. Apartment building across alley has large rear yard, so no present problem there. (The architects website gives a sketch of a 65' building in context).


"Conceptual Massing": how far the project could extend (click image to enlarge).

Traffic: All motor vehicle access to the site was proposed to from the alley, via separate entrances for residents and customers. Both the Board and the audience had concerns here: traffic would either go out to Madison and have difficulty with the busy arterial, or would circulate through the already crowded neighborhood streets. Andrew suggested that vehicles enter the building from Denny, across the street from the tire store, and next to the Denny/Madison traffic light. The Board generally approved of the idea, but the DCLU staffer cautioned against breaking up the street facade with parking entrances when there were alternatives. Board members asked how customers would find the parking in the alley.

The architects proposed 3 types of parking:

Neighborhood Impacts: The project is adjacent to (recently upzoned) L-4 apartment buildings to the north, and may leave them in shadow for much of the year, if not well-designed. The architect showed (click on cross-section below for enlargement) that they had made an attempt to move the building back from the adjacent apartments on Denny. However he didn't show what effects that would have on the shadows. The Board echoed Andrew's concerns and recommended that the architects make better efforts to prevent the 65' building from overwhelming the adjacent apartment buildings, and also suggested that he provide shadow diagrams (like these) at future meetings.

A cross-section through the building (click on it to enlarge)


Building Design: a 65' building with ~ 200 apartments and ~ 12,000 square feet of commercial space, 60' in depth. The ground-floor level of Madison Street and Denny Way (to the East, opposite the tire store) will be commercial spaces; the ground floor of the North side (also E. Denny Way!) will be townhouse type apartments. See cross-section (above) to get the idea




Proposed building design (click on it to enlarge)

The architect then presented the design shown here. In essence, the apartments are in a U shape, with the open side on Madison, and have access to a courtyard that is on top of the commercial development. Light, air and a great view of Mt. Rainier were noted as advantages of this arrangement. The Design Review Board had many concerns:

The Board suggested putting the bulk of the building on Madison (as it had been in previous drawings) and facing the open courtyard to the West, where it would be quieter, would get evening sun, and would face (at a distance) the brick apartments on 20th.

Board Discussions: There was much talk about the need, for the design presented, to abandon ("vacate") the alley that runs through the property [ see below] but the Board seemed to approve of the alley vacation.

The architects were questioned about the proposed "Design Departures": these are requests for the Board to waive some aspect of the building code to allow the project to be built. The building code requires no more that 64% of the area of the upper levels of the property be occupied by building. The architect requested that the lot coverage be increased to 70 -72%. The Board saw nothing in the plan to merit the requested departure (some public amenity is typically offered in exchange for a design departure). They remarked that they needed to see something of merit to justify the extended lot coverage. They suggested that reducing the height and bulk of the north part of the project would be a suitable public benefit.

They also reiterated the need to orient the U to the west, and the question of parking entrances, mentioned above.

The Board suggested that the project would need two more Design Review hearings.