Capitol Hill Infill – 1420 E. Howell


1420 E. Howell Street was formerly the site of (2) separated fourplex apartments with a shared drive / parking court and a nice backyard built in 1951. The proposal submitted to DCI in 2015 admitted to 57 units and zero parking across 4 stories. One block south of Denny Way, this is a premier site in Capitol Hill adjacent to the Group Health’s Family Clinic and behind Bakery Nouveau. DJC published this online article in March when there was just the rendering of an all red brick building and an elevation from the architect.


There are (3) exceptional trees in the ROW: an Austrian Pine, Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar that are being protected and will remain after the project is completed. Too bad the Doug Fir is sharing the ground with a power pole and has been limbed into ugly oblivion.

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The developer, Greenbuild Development LLC, is doing work all around town with spec condos and primarily works in Capitol Hill, West Seattle and Ballard. The particular 1420 Howell project is all studio apartments. We need to be diversifying our housing (not just one bed/one bath scenarios) because many people can’t afford to live alone in a new construction project and many plan to have children or even want a guest to stay with them when visiting.

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A magnificent thing about the project is BRICK! You would think that shouldn’t be that exciting. But, let me tell you it actually is just that exciting!

Brick is upwards of $35/SF to install, versus Hardie panels at $8/SF. This is a hard comparison and not even oranges to oranges. And there is a reason for the enormous price difference. I’ll give you a hint…it’s not aesthetics! Repeat after me! Quality Longevity and Durability! And oh, so much more.

These guys did fork up the extra budget for better materials, but more importantly the exterior cladding helps a building keep it’s insides intact. There is a reason we call it the ‘skin’ of a building. If the skin of the building is cheap and low quality, that usually means it is easier to install and that means holes and work arounds that end up with air and weather element leaking in and causing rot or damage. The longevity of this 1420 building will be an example to the city for quality construction.

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The other positive is the courtyard approach. They didn’t fully max out the site with a giant rectangle like the hundred other projects going in around the city. This takes restraint and kudos to Caron Architecture and Greenbuild Development for choosing something non-status quo. The entry sequence will be a pleasure for residents and passersby alike to not have something directly abutting the sidewalk and looming intimidatingly close.

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