Seattle’s Pike/Pine neighborhood of Capitol Hill embodies the transformation of Seattle’s original “Auto Row,” a neighborhood of lofts and warehouses within a five- or ten- minute walk to downtown, from scruffy bohemian counterculture into tony shops, restaurants, and condominiums. While much of the transformation has been positive, it is the pace of development and its impacts on neighborhood character that is a source of concern for the future of the neighborhood.

Lund Consulting worked with the Seattle City Council and land use staff to document the character of the neighborhood and to develop guidelines for conserving the neighborhood. Legislation sponsored by Councilmember Tom Rasmussen creating the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District was adopted by Ordinance 123020 in June 29, 2009 and became effective on August 7, 2009.

A second phase of work for Pike and Pine has resulted in recommendations for design guidelines to reinforce and preserve the neighborhood’s character defining features.

Lund Consulting developed the following list of neighborhood characteristics.

Architecture — one to three stories, early twentieth-century, loft style, former automobile sales and repair, warehouses. Frequent use of brick and concrete, extensive glazing. New architecture is high-quality and harmonious.

Uses — local, unique, independent and small-scale retail; small-scale commercial and office space; work and performance space for artists; residential; nightclubs, bars, restaurants and cafés; some gay-specific businesses, bars, and services; education and training; and some remaining auto-oriented businesses. “Gritty and authentic” are used to describe this neighborhood.

Culture — nightlife and restaurants, gallery and performing spaces; diverse — gay culture, alternative, youth and students. Importance of street activity.

Housing — over 90% renters, with several hundred subsidized housing units.
Community of Neighbors — a neighborhood that residents value and show their interest by being active in neighborhood issues. There is a diversity of people with respect to ages, incomes, appearance, and sexual orientation.

Neighborhood Goals

  • Conserve architecture and architectural character
  • Save the architectural characteristics of the best older buildings.
  • New construction and redevelopment should integrate in massing, scale, and grain to existing architectural character, without mimicking the historic architecture.
  • Save old buildings as a way to maintain space that is affordable and conducive to small business uses.
  • Preserve affordability
  • Preserve (or provide) affordable living, working, rehearsal, performing, and presenting spaces for artists.
  • Preserve (or provide) affordable rental housing to target those at a moderate- income level, such as young singles, students, and academic faculty members.
  • Provide incentives such that the economics of new buildings allow small local businesses to continue to afford to rent space in new buildings.
  • Balance the neighborhood’s diversity of people and uses
  • Support the geographic clustering of uses that occurs in the Pike/Pine neighborhood, especially arts-related, gay-related, nightlife and entertainment- related, and other gathering spots (such as coffee shops).
  • Continue to accommodate a rich mix of activities in Pike Pine as the area grows, including housing, residential support services, employment, institutions, independent retail, and entertainment.
  • While recognizing the changing demographics of the larger Capitol Hill neighborhood, continue to maintain the diversity of the neighborhood