Community Post

25th & Union

For the last two years (or more) I regularly passed by the southwest corner of 25th Avenue and E Union where a 5-unit mixed use building has been rising from what for years was a vacant “trash magnet” lot and then, for awhile, a deep hole in the ground. And rise from the ground it did. All four stories. And slowly. But the wait appears to be worth it. The finished building makes a handsome eastern “bookend” to the E Union Street pedestrian commercial district that runs from 25th Avenue west across 23rd to 20th Avenue.

The red brick treatment of the street-level commercial story does a nice job of breaking up the verticality of the 4-story facade. The brick imbues the building with a solid quality that says “I plan to be here awhile.” The red brick material and its detailing is something that you normally associate with buildings from a bygone era -like a handful of older buildings within the East Union Street pedestrian-oriented commercial corridor. Indeed, red brick is about the only common architectural thread of the buildings in the corridor, including Key Bank, Thompson’s, the Central Cinema Building, and the building at 23rd and Union that was demolished because of earthquake damage. Come to think of it, red brick would be an excellent choice for the street-level facade of the mixed use building proposed to replace the demolished building at that dominant corner. Red brick used there would extend that common thread and contribute to a solid, “rooted in local history” feeling that the currently sterile 23rd & Union hub surely lacks.

Enough already about facades. It’s the planned use of the 25th & Union building that’s both interesting and exciting for the neighborhood: “Live Above Work”units. Each unit consists of a three-level townhouse-style residence above its own street level commercial space with one underground parking space for the owner. Each of the five units is offered for sale in fee simple title because the property has been shortplatted into five lots (amazingly enough; how did they do that?).

These units offer the self-employed a “stairway commute to work.” It seems to me that a stairway commute to work is the ultimate in convenience and in “living green.” And what an exciting neighborhood-building concept: People living in the neighborhood who own and operate businesses in the neighborhood.

Despite these attributes just one sale is pending, according to the building’s designer and development partner, Randall Spaan. He informed me however that someone has applied for a liquor license to open a wine bar in the commercial space of another unit, the one on 25th Avenue. The applicant is the same team that owns and operates the Bottleneck Lounge on E Madison (across from Crush). The establishment they envision for 25th & Union is the kind of place that people can walk to from home at the end of a long day, have a Grey Goose martini or a glass of wine and a
cheese plate, and unwind with their neighbors. This is the kind of neighborhood development that’s common in European and East Coast cities. How cool would that be for this CD neighborhood?

And other cool uses for the other spaces -services and retail that the neighborhood can really use- hopefully will follow. That is more likely now that all of the commercial spaces on Union Street are immediately available for lease. In response to the currently slow sales market the developer has decided to hold onto the three units on Union Street and lease both the commercial spaces and the townhouses above, either separately or together. All of the residences have 3 bedrooms, a tall loft-style space with exposed wood beam ceilings as the main living space, and three roof decks, including a really large one with for entertaining on the very top floor.

The commercial space of the corner unit is the largest and is tall enough to have a mezzanine level in the back. I was told that it has 680 square feet. The other two spaces each have 483 square feet with 13-foot ceilings. All of them have covered entry porches and oversize windows a few feet from the sidewalk that let in tons of natural light. In sum, each of these makes for
really nice neighorhood commercial space. It will be interesting to see who and what occupy the now completed building and really make it a living, breathing part of the neighborhood.

0 thoughts on “25th & Union

  1. WOW! I was in Seattle about a week ago and saw these places for sale. I couldn’t believe what a value they were! Being from southern California I know that Seattle has been a good value in comparison, but I was astonished to find that not only did you get a great townhome but also a retail space included in the price. Why don’t more of these exist, is it the City zoning laws or what? As soon as my home in California sells I will be there looking to possibly purchase one of these great places. Who is the architect or designer of this project? Has he/she done other amazing things like this? I could not believe what a great addition this was to the neighborhood this project was and also that you could actually buy one of these for 550K. Is this a trial type project or opne that is common?

  2. Kudos to both the developer and designer of this really cool building. Makes me think of Europe with it’s cool facade. A friend of mine in considering leasing one of these spaces as a yoga/fitness/massage studio and hope she does. It would be a great addition to our little corner of the world. Thanks to the owners for cleaning up yet another corner. I met there with the Realtor who is handling the sale and leasing of the property during a opening for Brokers a few Thursdays ago and found out he has lived in the CD since 1982 and really shed some positive feedback on the hood. He told me the days by-gone when he and his partner we buying homes in the ‘hood for 30-35K. Its fascinating to see the gentrification of the area and yet also how neighbors co-habitate with each other relatively peacefully.

  3. The brick is very, very nice and adds a ton of vaule. This is perfect for the neighborhood. I look forward to the wine bar. The folks who buy these units will be richly rewarded. Look how close they are to downtown!

  4. I’m one of the realtors handling this great property–If you or someone you know is looking in the CD for a GREAT opportunity to own a house PLUS a commercial space (even if they lease out the commercial space to subsidize their mortgage payment)this is it!
    No where else in Seattle can you get this much square footage, complete with garage parking held in “fee simple” title, no HOA dues and available financing for folks with decent credit and a down payment! If you are interested in seeing or learning more, talk to us, Mark Anton or Jim Richardson at 206-860-0988. You can also see photos on line @

  5. I initially was very skeptical about this project. I didn’t know much about this live/work concept so I didn’t want to believe it. Wow was I mistaken. Not only was I surprised how cool the units were when I toured the project, but I was thourougly impressed with the floor plans of the townhomes and the commercial spaces. It all works and I cannot believe these haven’t sold out. Anyway it is a sweet addition to the neighborhood and I hope as a community we will all welcome and support the new businesses that lease the commercial spaces. It sure would be great to not only have a local watering hole but maybe a coffee shop as well.

  6. I’m not equipped to pass judgment on “astroturfing.” But I can pass judgment on the project: It’s definitely a great addition to the neighborhood.
    Cooper’s cynicism could better be directed elsewhere.

  7. Cooper, have you even been inside this project to see what it is all about? If not, then hold your cynicisim to yourself. I have walked every inch of this project from start to finish and I can guarantee you that it is an outstanding project. Would I change somethings possibly?, sure, but to have this project be built in our neighborhood is tremendous. It’s a positive addition, and god knows we need some positive additions right now in our neighborhood. We need more street frontage commercial space. We need more businesses to make the central area more viable. Everyone who lives in the cetral area will benefit. Cooper, what have you done in the central area to make this a better place to live?

  8. I’m **not** knocking the project; I’m pro-development. I’d love to throw my dollars at more coffee shops or a little cocktail lounge.

    I’m just saying, the article and several comments read like ADVERTISING COPY, and “S CALI SCOTT” “MIKEY” and “MARK ANTON” all seem like the same person to me.

    PeterG, thanks for your input. I’ve seen you post many times so at least I know you’re credible.

    Raymond, on the other hand, opened an account on Friday to post this article, so yes, I’m suspicious that it’s thinly-veiled marketing by the developer.

    It really makes me laugh when people post to a community chat board and say, “keep your opinion to yourself.” Jeebus, folks!

  9. Cooper, has it occurred to you that Raymond was so impressed by the 25th & Union project that he/she wanted to comment on it, only to find that one needs to register to comment? In other words, have you considered the possibility that the desire to comment on something of importance to this person in his/her neighborhood that was the impetus to register? (If you didn’t, then you truly are a cynic.)

    So why did you first register? Was it to comment on a story you read? Or was it to originate a story of importance to you? Or was it to make a reply to someone’s comment?

    In my case, it was the latter. I first registered so I could comment on your comment. I felt that your comments could better be directed toward the substance of the story, e.g., is it good or bad architecture, good or bad development? Observations of that substantive type would be of some value to the readership of this e-paper. ‘Nuff said.

  10. FYI – I emailed Raymond on Friday to verify if he was an owner or otherwise had a financial interest in this particular building. I didn’t receive a response to that email. I ended up not deleting the story because it had some interesting information, and I thought it would be good for site readers to draw their own conclusions. However, it wasn’t promoted to the front page because we couldn’t be sure about the motivations behind it.

    But beware in the future – we will be very likely to delete any postings that are of an underhanded commercial nature. i.e., you’re promoting a business, but being sneaky about it and trying to mislead people into thinking you’re just an uninterested 3rd party.

  11. Neighbors, in my mind weather Raymond is a resident of the Central Area or a ficticious character is not the point. I believe the point of the story is that, in my opinion, we have this great new project in our neighborhood and we as neighbors can either embrace the building or not. I choose to embrace it. I can’t wait for the day that I as a neighbor can walk to one of the future businesses on Union street. As for now I can only hope that viable businesses will take a chance and lease these spaces. I yearn for the day that I can comfortably patronize a business in our neighborhood without walking past drug dealers & users, prostitutes, panhandlers and many other unseemly persons.

  12. That thing took this long to rise out of the ground, only to deliver blank, boring facades from fake brick and awful vinyl, gray siding. This poor development is the reason people in Seattle get so worked up about multifamily, when they need to embrace higher density and sustainability, but unfortunately don’t often see it executed well.

  13. Gerry, Gerry, your comments make no sense. That’s REAL brick on that building –excavated from a borrow pit somewhere and baked in a kiln (not fake). Those are REAL brick pavers in the courtyards –excavated from a borrow pit somewhere and baked in a kiln (also not fake). And the siding is not vinyl; it’s fibre-cement board (gawd, can’t you tell the difference?). And the facades are anything but blank: There’s one hell of a lot of modulation and and one hell of a lot of windows in that building -on ALL sides, even the ones facing the neighbors, not the streets. (BTW, you don’t come by modulation and windows cheaply, not REAL brick.)

    As for higher density and sustainability…this project IS higher density (hey, there’s over 10,000 square feet of residential and commercial space on a 4000 square foot lot) –And what’s not more sustainable than living above your place of work?

    Now as for the gray color, you may have a point….Gerry, I just don’t think you thought this through before you posted. One too may glasses of wine, perhaps?

  14. Such a Kerfuffle!
    For the record I work for the federal goverment and have no financial interest in 25th & union. My first residence in the CD was the St George apartments (now the Urban Leage building). I guess I’m dating myself in revealing that. I now live in Madrona/Leschi. I work downtown & pass along Union Street almost daily. I simply admire what was done there. I think the CD would benefit from more little mixed use developments like that. End of story.
    BTW, Raymond is my birth town, not my name.