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Building replacing Sunset Bowl gets green light

Posted by Geeky Swedes on April 27th, 2009

After a two hour meeting, the Design Review Board unanimously approved the design (.pdf) for Avalon Ballard, the 233-unit apartment building replacing Sunset Bowl at Market St. and 14th Ave. NW.

Board members praised AvalonBay Communities and Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects for incorporating many changes from the last Design Review meeting. But the board set four conditions on approval.

“To me, the biggest issue is the west facade,” said board member Mark Brands of the patterns on the west side facing 15th Ave. The same sentiment was reflected in public comments. “It looked like the project is due tomorrow,” said Cynthia, a neighbor who lives nearby. She asked for “something a little more subtle,” suggesting the architects commission a mural or bring in a graphic artist. The board set a condition requiring that AvalonBay tone down the pattern using a warmer, more subtle texture. Other conditions included adding a stoop on the north side, enhancing the northeast corner and softening the parapet.

As part of the project, AvalonBay will bring a bike lane, landscaped median and wider sidewalk area along 14th Ave. in front of the building. They said they’ve been working with SDOT and the 14th Ave. NW Visioning Project.

This is the entrance to the courtyard, off Market St. across from Safeway. After the meeting, we spoke with AvalonBay Development Director Derek Bottles about financing for the project given the economy. “It’s a little different because we’re a public company,” he said, declining to estimate when the building may be built. “We’re at the mercy of the economy like everyone else.” About 20 people attending the meeting, and Bottles said he has been reading the comments here on My Ballard for feedback about the development.

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65 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 BallardMan // Apr 28, 2009 at 3:57 am

    So sad.. another ugly condo in Ballard. They should have a great view of all the chop shops and Fre-lard light industry.

  • 2 Terry // Apr 28, 2009 at 4:05 am

    thanks for the update. Really not bad looking. I think most ill object to the size, but there is not a whole lot that can be done about that.

    This is only a billion times better looking than the Benaroya building on the old Denny's site.

  • 3 Armed Pacifist // Apr 28, 2009 at 4:10 am

    Welcome! A lot better looking than the crap they built up 14th ave from 1970-1990.

  • 4 snoopy // Apr 28, 2009 at 4:21 am

    I like this project for that location. And it will clean up 14th for at least that block. But, given the current vacancies and new QFC development in Ballard, I dont see this breaking ground for at least a year maybe two.

  • 5 milo dakkat // Apr 28, 2009 at 4:29 am

    It was really cool to attend the meeting, to see the board process and voice concerns directly to the developers. Glad to see everyone who did make the effort to attend and be a part of it. There were lots of ideas on how to make this a workable addition to the 'hood.

    It is not the most creative building ever designed and the size is pretty overwhelming but it has many positive elements for an apartment building, including street level retail and numerous points of entry.

    As for that wall, everybody in that room had a more effective solution than that ridiculous grid…hey, just ask me 'cuz I'm dying to put my degree to good use!

  • 6 CaffinatorX // Apr 28, 2009 at 4:44 am

    The process seems to go
    1 – submit mediocre design right out of the box
    2 – hold several hearings, agree to address concerns (except for the overarching concern that it's a deeply mediocre design)
    3 – hold a hearing to show revised plans, in which they make a very few, uncostly concessions but basically march ahead with the same sort of approach.
    4 – community sighs and hopes it'll be better next time.
    Pathetic, the whole thing.

  • 7 lakreitz // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:16 am

    Please get started as soon as possible so that no man's land is reclaimed by normal people trying to live their lives. This works for me.

  • 8 Ryan // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:24 am

    I was hoping for something a bit more original, but it's definitely better than what's there now (a boarded-up lot infested with bums). That whole corner near Safeway/McDonalds can only benefit from more pedestrian traffic (and not the kind that predominates there now!!).

  • 9 Ballardog // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:25 am

    At least they could tear down the bowl, use more secure fencing and clean it up a bit in the interim. The way the economy is going it could be awhile until construction begins.

  • 10 SPG // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:48 am

    Too true.

  • 11 ASDF // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:49 am

    Yes, by all means, shoo the bums along…so they can take up residence in your back yard.

    The Rape Of Ballard continues.

  • 12 SPG // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:51 am

    Other than the large west wall, this isn't that bad of a design. I like the use of the cedar, and the large courtyard and landscaped areas make it more appealing at the street level.
    I understand that the developers are reluctant to do much on that western facade as it will probably be blocked off by another building once the economy bounces back, but hopefully they come up with something better than checkerboard.

  • 13 Trix // Apr 28, 2009 at 6:00 am

    Ballardog – Hope they have the funding settled. We could end up with another muddy hole like the Denny's site.

  • 14 gooner // Apr 28, 2009 at 6:10 am

    caffinator. how did people reply to your objections at the meeting? they must have appreciated your opinoin there.

  • 15 Take back our streets // Apr 28, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Can the property owners please get all the Meth Heads off the property until this is built? They are stalking people trying to shop at Safeway. Hire a cop if you have all these millions to blow.


  • 16 Take back our streets // Apr 28, 2009 at 6:18 am

    90% of the crime starts at Bergen Park/Chai House Pay phone and ends up at Sunset Bowl, where the meth heads collapse on the ground outside, until an ambulance is called to take them away. Are you telling me every developer is suddenly too broke to pay for a rent a cop to patrol these eye sores?

  • 17 Geeky Swedes // Apr 28, 2009 at 6:22 am

    We asked about when Sunset Bowl will be demolished, but as the city requires, AvalonBay needs to secure a Master Use Permit first. They're one step closer now that they've received design approval.

  • 18 The End Of Ballard // Apr 28, 2009 at 6:34 am

    I find it incredible that the Food Bank and Soup Kitchens remain totally Silent about the crime, when their food is literally the ONLY thing drawing ex-cons, dealers, muggers, prowlers, meth and heroin users and transients into Ballard.

    In every case of street problems, it's someone here for the day or whatever they decide, who came only for the free food. This is insane.

    Every problem that has sprouted up, goes right back to the same source every time. The free food and lack of any police anywhere, enforcing any laws.

    Just move the the Food Bank and Soup kitchens to the U District, Downtown, or Northgate. There are police EVERYWHERE. We have none, so the shopkeepers are now playing psychiatrist, which is not fair.

  • 19 mike // Apr 28, 2009 at 8:59 am

    should read:
    1 – poorly copy interesting european project. then water down for american market and cheap developers.

  • 20 The Norwegian // Apr 28, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Is anybody here buying into this or any other condo project in Ballard? Why then all the concern? I think we need to form yet another club. “Hand-ringers united” or something close. Besides filling up with yuppies and their Bimmers what's the problem here? Sure, I wish all bowling alleys came back. Sure, I wish Ballard was Petticoat Junction, again. But then again wishes are for kids. Maybe some can “hope” this and others away? What part of progressive aren't some getting? Either this will further flush out the street schlubs OR give 'em yet another cool place to hang out. I really want to know when Market St will bring signals at intersections into the new millenium??? WTF is SDOT waiting for, more blood/bodily injuries? Shouldn't this be worked into proposals? How many more are we going to jam into the hood and still be stuck with signals from the damn 60's? Is there a stipulation where condo residents must not own any vehicles, and why not? Now that'd be progressive wouldn't it.

  • 21 peppy // Apr 28, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I don't understand that first image.

    aren't Safeway and this proposed development 'catty-corner' with one another?
    from what vantage point would you see the Safeway with this building across the street?

    I also love how the renderings show lots of families with kids and dogs moving into these apartments. I would guess this is not quite the demographic, but what do I know?

    I can complain all day long about this building, but since I couldn't make the community meeting my opinion is moot. glad to see they are cleaning up 14th which is a pretty derelict street. get parking OFF the median already.

  • 22 Stop the Fearmongering // Apr 28, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    “Every problem that has sprouted up, goes right back to the same source every time. . The free food…”

    You have no proof for this claim whatsoever. Like many of the posters to the 'My Ballard Police Gazette' you post knee-jerk reactions to the crimes and then rant about the Food Bank.

    I challenge you to list just one link or statistic that substantiates your claim of a crime listed here being linked to free food. 'I saw a meth heads in Bergen Park' does not count. Just one fact, EOB, just one. Otherwise you are just shooting off your mouth.

    Oh and for all you readers (and blog owners) that let this kind of crap perpetuate on this blog without saying anything about it: you are just as guilty as the violent idiots that are espousing handguns for not saying anything. Speak up.

  • 23 peppy // Apr 28, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I ignore the fearmongering, food-bank bashing, meth-head hating comments and choose to stay on topic. I don't think this makes me guilty of anything.

    now, about that safeway?

  • 24 milo dakkat // Apr 28, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    The buildings are on opposite sides of the street. This is the view from the McDonalds.

    Btw, burger king, mcdonalds, safeway, walgreens, shell, kfc are all within spitting distance of this apartment complex. Maybe they'll put in another starbucks and kinkos to complete the upscale corporate ballard mix.

  • 25 Stop the Fearmongering // Apr 28, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Then I guess that if you walk by someone getting strong-armed robbed without doing anything you are not guilty of anything either. Or maybe its just me that feels the need to speak out against what I see building on this blog.

  • 26 peppy // Apr 28, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    how is ignoring irrelevant comments in any way comparable to walking past someone getting robbed? do you feel like you're being 'robbed' of content by wasting your time reading those posts?

    there is nothing 'building' here. people have been raising issues against the transient population since the beginning of time (or this blog anyway).

  • 27 silence.kit // Apr 28, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Are you relatively new to this site?

    That's what that guy does. He spots of lies. You'll ask him for statistics or any sort of documented evidence and he won't have any.

  • 28 gmer // Apr 28, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    You mean the bergen park pay phone. At least that is where it was last time I walked by.

  • 29 Swedish G // Apr 28, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    I'd love it if we could, for just one day not use this blog to argue with each other.

    Back to the design. I'm curious what credentials the review board has. Does anybody know? Are they designers? City planners? Architects? My reason for asking is that it would be a shame if politicians were art directing the new face of Ballard.

    That said, I like this design. It's interesting and modern.

  • 30 peppy // Apr 28, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    there are some positives–like the recessed balconies.

    I'm still not thrilled with the west side. am I correct that there is NO retail on this side? The 15th ave side seems more logical for ground floor shops than the Market side to me.
    I'm curious what spaces are behind those massive walls that wouldn't benefit from a west-facing window with probable views of the olympics.

    the compromise was to come up with something more subtle then? someone suggested a mural or graphic artist which doesn't sound subtle to me. is this about contrast? too much? colors too cool? the 'Avalon Ballard' makes the building look like a big sign to me–like the Northgate Target.

    ultimately it's a scale problem. this building will be fine to drive by, but walking up 15th in particular, there is little to relate to human sized creatures.

  • 31 gmer // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    You can't very well have retail along a burger king parking lot. Anytime in the future the burger king parcel may be redeveloped. This explains why there is no retail on the west side, and only windows in the recessed area. If you look around this is how most buildings are designed along property lines that are shared with neighbors, the north end of canal station for example.

  • 32 chopper_74 // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I agree about the parking on 14th, the law is being ignored wholesale there.
    Of course, that means that they will just move a couple spots N. or S. (sigh)
    But the condo residences may have more pull with the city to change that…
    I hope that they join the block watch.

  • 33 chopper_74 // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    The problem that many have with the free food is that it's not for locals who need it, it's for every low-life that stumbles his sorry ass into town.
    And sorry, off topic, but had to say it…

  • 34 Duane // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Gee another sterile hospital looking condo project. That's exactly what seattle needs more of!

  • 35 peppy // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    thanks for clarifying. from the perspective, I thought the West side of the building was actually ON 15th. I forgot about that other clutter.

    I finally looked at the pdf linked in the article which shows the site plan. glad they're improving 14th anyway (with retail on the East side then)

    hopefully that BK will be redeveloped so the checkerboard on this one gets obstructed.

  • 36 milo dakkat // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    I'm curious what their credentails are too and I'm sorry I didn't ask when I was there. There was a lot of architecture jargon and I know one of the people was a city planner.

    That west wall is problematic since a new building could go in next year or in twenty. (I'd be happy to see the demise of the burger king.) Still, there has got to be a more thoughtful solution than that slapped together grid (I think I saw this once on a storage building in Brooklyn). Something with more texture, subtle coloring or sculptural elements would be nice even if it's a temporary long-term idea. A play off the proportions in the adjacent windows or from the grid pattern on the southwest corner is one thought. I don't like the stacked type of the signage either. Baaaad typography.

    This thing is practically in my back yard so that's why I have my opinions about it.

  • 37 milo dakkat // Apr 28, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    For the record, I do like the open public retail space around the stairs on Market and I like the improvement to that stretch of 14th Ave.

  • 38 SPG // Apr 28, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Write a letter/email/call the developers. I'm sure they want to keep the goodwill of the community on their side as they move towards building this project.

    Avalonbay Communities
    11808 Northup Way, Suite W311
    Bellevue, WA 98005
    Phone: (425) 576-2100
    Fax: (425) 576-8447

    National HQ:
    2900 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite 300
    Alexandria, VA 22314
    Phone: (703) 329-6300
    Fax: (703) 329-1459

  • 39 BallardDINK // Apr 28, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Good reporting, Geeky Swedes!

    As a large condo goes, this one is pretty attractive. It's solid-looking, so it fits the neighborhood better than a modern glass + steel design would. The landscaping would be most welcome.

    In any case, it's certainly better than an abandoned building / lot.

  • 40 boardbrown // Apr 28, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    They're different all over town, but they're typically made up of architects, landscape architects, and planners. In the case of Ballard, Mark Brands (cited in the article) is a local landscape architect who's firm specializes in public projects. My firm has collaborated with him on a few projects over the years…we're lucky to have him on our DRB.

    As for me, I'm not in love with this building yet. The renderings look promising, but they always do. That's their purpose. What I like about this project is that it's not trying to be a “historical” building…like the mess proposed for 15th and Market. This one is based on a modernist platform, which makes a lot of sense in this location. The long and short of it is, it could be a whole lot worse.

  • 41 boardbrown // Apr 28, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Good point gmer. Folks should realize that it's very likely another large building will go up someday between this one and the gas station. So in the long run, this west facade will not really be as visible as it is shown here.

  • 42 The End Of Ballard // Apr 28, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    The frount page of the Ballard Tribune called it The Chai House phone. So, I assume its theirs

  • 43 ethel // Apr 28, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    I live not far from the food bank, and have for many years, and the vast, vast majority of people who come there look pretty much like the people you see in any supermarket parking lot, just putting some groceries in their car and driving away, or taking their groceries to the bus stop and getting on a bus. There are a few people who look a little disreputable. They, too, come and get some groceries and go away again. The whole time I've lived there, the worst thing that's happened to me is one guy parking in front of my driveway (I reported him), and he was gone in under half an hour.

  • 44 TJ // Apr 28, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Thank goodness!! Anything is better then what is currently there….. The current building is equivalent with a welcome mat for transients. Broken window theory is more then just a theory…….

  • 45 MktStTwkr // Apr 29, 2009 at 12:16 am

    It's a pay phone on the sidewalk next to bergen park, not the chai house phone. Quit slandering businesses, they do a lot better dealing with transients than tullys or starbucks.

  • 46 SeaSpider // Apr 29, 2009 at 12:23 am

    You consider Burger King, McDonalds, Safeway, Walgreens, Shell, Starbucks, Kinkos and KFC upscale?? Wow.

  • 47 Ballard_Curmudgeon // Apr 29, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Was their any talk at the meeting about their financing situation? The sooner that terrible abandonned lot gets cleaned up the better.

    I don't think that apartments will push the transients to people's yards. I think it will get them to move to a different area. The more “housed” (god I hate that term) people walking around the less friendly it is for the professional bums and drug users. I wish I could spend more time walking around the main drag in Ballard.

  • 48 The End Of Ballard // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:11 am

    Yea, getting the Meth Heads out before summer comes is the priority. It will explode in the nice weather, especially with all the people hanging around with nothing else to do.

  • 49 The End Of Ballard // Apr 29, 2009 at 5:46 am

    You people are nuts at the Chai House. I am refering to a frount page interview with the owner of the damn place, from a few weeks ago in the Ballard News Tribune. Look it up online.

    HE told the reporter the Chai House payphone was used for drug deals all day, not me. He called it the Chai House Payphone, not the Bergen Park payphone, which it's not.

    He told the reporter all sorts of new transients were sitting in Bergen Park selling drugs, not me. He said people are “Just smoking a little pot” in Bergen Park and stated he had no issue with that, but disliked the hard drugs, not me.

    If you don't like your own frount page interview with a newspaper, next time just say “No Thanks” when contacted for one. Just dont jump all over the people who quote your own words in your own article.

    Coming from a person who has the name Market Street Tweeker, it's pretty easy to see why you are so adamant about keeping the focus on Bergen Park and not the Chai House.

    If you think the Chai House is running some sorta drug free zone, your kidding nobody. You put yourselves on the frount page, not me.

    Nobody is bothering you people, but, you keep coming off like something you're not. The whole place is geared toward the drug community, which is your business. But, dont attack anyone who discusses your own interview or your stupid payphone. Stay out of the media if you cant handle it, or dont know what you're doing.

  • 50 The End Of Ballard // Apr 29, 2009 at 5:55 am

    Incientally, It's called Libel not Slander. Quoting a frount page story and interview, you yourselves did, or even implying the payphone is closer to The Chai House than Bergen Park is neither. If you think you have a huge major case you are going to strike it rich over, file a law suit. You would get laughed out of any court. I have never been to the place, but I see transients all over the outside, which is enough for me.

    Don't set up a shop in the middle of downtown Ballard and try to be as counterculture as possible for attention, do frount page interviews with The Ballard News Tribune, then complain when someone finally notices you, warts and all. It's called keeping a low profile, because you don't need the light of scrutiny shined on you. But, don't think you're going to bully me.

  • 51 Linus // Apr 29, 2009 at 7:34 am

    It reminds me of the Swedish Cultural thingie on Dexter for some raisin.

    Only because I didn't have a blog to post to when it went up, can I now just finally, officislly scream in pain over the hideous Walgreens? We crossed our fingers that it would be something look-at-able. But Bleah. I still am so pissed off at whoever designed/planned that eyesore.

  • 52 silence.kit // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I'm beginning to think you're a joke again…I mean, you've had so many different names”

    * The
    * Susan
    * Ballard Tribune Double Standar
    * susan
    * Ballard hippy tea girl
    * Wrong Meth House. Ha ha
    * San Fran Pete
    * Big Fight at Bergen Park
    * I dont know the lady but..
    * Meth Heads hate pretty things
    * Rockabilly Posers are as bad
    * Just pay you taxes and shut up
    * Starbucks Arson. Please read
    * I like Egans
    * FEMA Camps
    * Dumb question but..
    * Thursday Foodbank Panhandlers
    * Dumb Question but..
    * Food Bank
    * Sad story indeed
    * Take back our streets
    * The End Of Ballard

  • 53 The kindly old woman 82 // Apr 29, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Can we ban Silent Kit and his slanderous lies of that gentleman? His pro drug stance is wearing thin and making this unpleasant for everyone. He is mentally ill. I know him in real life. He is on SSI for mental problems.

    Silence Kit

    Ballard is not even your neighborhood. What do you need to be the star of a nieghborhood blog for that is not even yours? Go onto your own neighborhood blog and let the adults solve the issues here. When do you leave for your own country again? Afganastan for the heroin poppies farming, if I recall correctly…

    Your a troll and Liar. Stay on topic and Let others speak for once. Its not the Silentkit blog

  • 54 S. Ballard // Apr 29, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    To The End of Ballard-
    Seems like you know a lot of stuff except how to spell “front”. Sorry I couldn't help myself.

  • 55 ASDF // Apr 30, 2009 at 12:14 am

    All part of the master plan to turn Ballard into a slum as quickly as possible.

    Plans are moving along nicely, aren't they?

  • 56 Ballard_Sucks_Now // Apr 30, 2009 at 12:39 am

    Silence Kit is off to go play with her friends someplace else soon. The adults will have to deal with the mess she left behind. Probably not the first time.

  • 57 Good Riddance // Apr 30, 2009 at 1:00 am

    SilenceKit is a man

  • 58 SPG // Apr 30, 2009 at 2:31 am

    It's really not that bad at all. Check out the PDF and get a look at the finishes and materials.
    The part that people have been objecting to is the large wall on the West side that doesn't have windows because they expect the neighboring property to be eventually developed.

  • 59 SPG // Apr 30, 2009 at 2:43 am

    I generally don't agree with silence.kit too often, but I have to point out that in the same post that you are asking to ban silencekit, you've assumed yet another alias to back yourself up. (kindly old woman, take back our streets, and the end of ballard are all the same person) and then you accuse silence of being mentally ill and on SSI for mental problems, a troll, and a liar. If anything was going to get anyone banned I think you're behaviour is closer to the mark.
    Pick one alias and stick with it so we know who we're talking to without having to hit your icon and 'view profile' every time.

  • 60 The tennis player // Apr 30, 2009 at 4:35 am

    Well said SPG

  • 61 silence.kit // Apr 30, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    This is what I'm talking about. You're just screwing with people. You probably don't even believe the things you're typing. Well done.

  • 62 SPG // Apr 30, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    You created another alias just to agree with me?

  • 63 zed // Jan 21, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Looks like just another big apartment building, in the drive to make Seattle as ugly as possible. My children won't be able to live in the city that they were born in, so it's just as well. If it interesting, old and unique in Seattle, count on it being destroyed for a condo or apartment complex. Only the 1950's provided uglier architecture than the schlock being “thrown up” in Ballard.

  • 64 Thatgirlkelly // Jan 21, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    No personality, boring and making things claustrophobic.

  • 65 rob // Jan 21, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    ballard is dead. and there's your proof.

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