By Peggy Chapman
Northwest Asian Weekly
There will be a new kid on the block in the Chinatown-International District neighborhood on the corner of 8th Avenue South and South Lane Street beginning summer of 2017.
The proposed land use application at 616 8th Avenue South states that there will be a 14-story, 230,060 squarefoot, mixed-use structure containing 158 hotel rooms and 103 apartments, with retail space on the ground level. There will also be parking for 175 vehicles. The existing structure (behind King’s Hookah Lounge) will be demolished. The new building will be a SpringHill Suites by Marriott.
According to Han Kim, construction is expected to start in the summer of 2017 and is estimated to take about 18 months. Kim, who is Korean American, is the Seattle-based partner of Hotel Concepts and stated this will be his first development project in the International District (ID). Hotel Concepts purchased the site in 2014 for $4.5 million.
Studio19 Architects are the lead designers on the project and KPFF Consulting Engineers will serve as the civil engineers.
Kim is optimistic and expects the venture will attract tourists and residents to local services, like restaurants and grocery stores; it will also be pedestrian-friendly:
“We expect the new neighbors to be less dependent on cars, as we are very close to Union Station and downtown. We also expect them to be single professionals. The travelers for our hotel will also utilize the diverse ethnic restaurants around the area.
All these will add to more pedestrian traffic around that area throughout the evening, which should make the area a lot safer at night. The hotel will also have security and staff to make the area immediate to our building cleaner and safer.”
While Kim is enthusiastic, there is also neighborhood reservation, particularly from the institutions and residents around the development.
International Community Health Services (ICHS), a nonprofit community health center in the ID offering primary medical care, behavioral health, WIC, and health education services, has concerns. Its ID clinic is located at 8th Avenue South and South Dearborn Street, one block away from the development.
According to a statement by Teresita Batayola, Chief Executive Officer of ICHS, the main concerns with the development are:
- The vehicular access on South Lane Street and 8th Avenue South
- The combined impacts of traffic on 8th Avenue South
- The zoning scale impacts and shadow impacts of buildings in the immediate area
- The street frontage on South Lane Street and 8th Avenue South
- The potential construction impacts.
Batayola stated in her comments to the proposal, “South Lane Street functions as a drop-off site for the elderly who attend the adult day services at Legacy House, which is located across the street from the curb cuts proposed by the project. Several access and other vans drop off and pick up elderly clients throughout the day. Emergency vehicles also need access to Legacy House around the clock.”
Batayola also stated that “ICHS is concerned about the shadow impacts of such a large building out of scale of every other building in the Chinatown-International District neighborhood. This proposed structure would infringe on the ‘right to light’ of the residents in the community, by shading the ID Village Square, which was redeveloped to be a bright spot of the community.”
Kim said he understands the neighborhood concern. “They are concerned about the bulk and scale of the project and the increase in traffic, once the project is completed.
We are working on changing the facade to blend in with the neighboring buildings and setting back the building on higher levels, so the pedestrians won’t notice the size of the building so much. All our parking needs will be handled within the building that will have valet service.”
There are also distinct opinions about the development on both sides, based on the posts on the Vanishing Seattle blog — which focuses on changes in institutions, businesses, communities, and cultures of Seattle:
“Look at what’s there now. I live in the neighborhood and not only see absolutely nothing wrong with this; I look forward to it as a major improvement,” posted Michael Dare.
“It’s coming: the gentrification of the ID,” posted Patty Fong.
Peggy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.