The project that's been sitting in suspended animation on Capitol Way next to the Phoenix Inn since the near death of the big banks has come back to life. (This is the block where Yard Birds used to be, for those of you who've lived in Olympia a long time.) Last night the Design Review Board discussed a new proposal from the developers, who want to modify the design by adding a sixth story with nine to fifteen penthouses to the building.
They had eventually succeeded in getting approval to build the previous five story design, which would have looked like this from the Budd Inlet side of the building:
The project would cover the block, and have some retail space on the street, a lot of offices, and structured parking in the building for something like 408 cars (even though it's three blocks from the bus station, and on a route with fifteen minute headways supplemented by the Dash shuttle). (There seems to be a serious unreconciled gap between some planners' idealized visions about what will supposedly happen to driving on the proposed high density corridors thanks to frequent transit service, and the parking being designed for an actual project like this, served directly by every route in the city!) The original proposal devoted 137,000 square feet to the human occupants and 152,000 square feet to the cars, and the new version doesn't change that much.
(The developer - Vine Street Investors - won a lawsuit about the first version of the building blocking the water views of the people living in the Boardwalk senior housing complex across the street, on the grounds that the Shoreline Management Act allowed them to build a thirty-five foot building in the 200 foot shoreline buffer, that a thirty-five foot building would completely block the Boardwalk residents' views, and that therefore this sixty-five foot building wasn't doing any more damage to the views than was already legally allowed. They also eventually settled a second legal dispute, about the building blocking the views toward the lake and the Capitol from the penthouse on the building just north of the site, by agreeing to set the top stories of the building on that side back out of that view.)
In the new proposal, the building would look like this. (Of course, the developer's not actually committed in any way to those colors, and certainly not to brick, by this concept drawing.)
The additional height is allowed because this property is in the downtown blocks zoned UWH, where you can get another two stories added to the regular sixty-five foot height limits if you put housing in them. Since most of the issues about this building have apparently already been settled, for better or worse, the process of approving this modification may be relatively simple and straightforward...