Monday, November 10, 2014

Proposed Bike Hotel Now Gong to Be Restaurant And Bar At Bill the Butcher Location


Site where new Bar and Restaurant will be 

The proposed Country Inn to be located at 3600 NE 45th Street, where Bill the Butcher and other shops currently are, was to be a small European style hotel, is no longer in the works. 
Permit 3014432 was cancelled by the applicant on May 8th of this year.

The property is owned by Seattle and Bellevue developer Ron Sher, who is an avid cyclist and owns Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park and Bryant, and also owns and was involved in revitalizing the Lake Forest Park Shopping Center and Bellevue's Crossroads Mall in the late 1980's. Sher is also Director of Cascade Bicycle Club.

The original plan called for demolishing three structures along the Burke-Gilman Trail: a 2-story wood frame building (Bill the Butcher) and two 1-story wood frame buildings (Violet Sweet Shop, Bakker Dry Cleaning, and Chelsea Estate Services) and called for "departures" (refers to allowing the developer to not follow the land use code) would have been needed. 
Instead a permit application, Project # 6414474, was submitted on June 20th, to "alter the existing buildings for future restaurant use", Michael Whalen, an architectural consultant listed on the original permit application, told the Laurelhurst Blog Staff recently.
The permit says:

Remodeling and expansion of (2) existing commercial buildings for future restaurant use.

Michael also told our staff:
This project is very different from what was previously proposed and is now basically a remodel project. The existing buildings will be retained and altered for restaurant use.   
A number of improvements will be made to bring the buildings into conformance with current building codes.  These include a new elevator to provide accessibility to the second floor, a new interior stair to provide code-compliant exiting, structural upgrades for improved seismic resistance, new windows, doors, insulation to improve energy efficiency, etc.   
There will be new siding, windows and doors, so the exterior appearance will be changed, but the basic building massing (height, length, setback, etc) will be much the same as it is today.   
One new addition is a deck to be located over the parking area west of the current Bill the Butcher space.  This will provide some outdoor seating adjacent to the Burke Gilman Trail, and provide access to the second floor from 36th Ave NE.
Since this is a relatively small project, it is exempt from Design Review or the type of MUP process required for larger projects.  Therefore no Design Departures are being applied for;  the project has been designed to conform to all current regulations in the Land Use Code.  As mentioned in a previous email, a building permit for the work has been applied for. 
A separate permit application has been made to SDOT for a new stair to replace the existing one in the 36th Ave right-of-way.  The new stair will be located a bit south and west of the current stair.  This will provide more space between the top of the stair and the Burke Gilman path, and provide a connection to the proposed new deck. This stair will include a bike runnel on one side. 
There are no improvements within the Parks Department property (Burke Gilman Trail) anticipated under either of these permit applications. 
I don’t have any specific information about construction schedule or tenants.   
Please let me know if you have any further questions on this.  Thanks again for your interest in this project. 
Ron Sher added:
I'd be happy to talk more about the project. What Mike Whalen recounted is correct. Our goal is to create a restaurant with decks that is accessible both from the bike path by way of the 36th extension and from below.  
It will be a place that will encourage cyclists, pedestrians and others to congregate in a relaxed outdoor/ indoor setting. We don't have a tenant yet, nor do we know exactly when we will start the renovation, but it could be as early as the first of next year. 

The Laurelhurst Blog Staff followed up with both Michael and Ron with the below questions but they discontinued answering after several tries:
  • In reading your helpful information, the project seems very similar to what was initially proposed and that with the remodel no MUP is required. Are you going that route to avoid a MUP? The MUP process, as you know, allows an opportunity for public comment and likely design review, which is not required with a "remodel."
  • Nevertheless, will you provide any opportunity for public comment since there are parking issues and the business and outdoor deck will be right up against a residential area (with potential noise past 10pm)?
  • In regards to parking, as was noted in your previous design proposal, how will you deal with the lack of parking as there is limited parking on the site? Where will employees park? Where will patrons park?
  • Lastly, what is the building permit number and are the proposed plans available on DPD's website? And has there been a DPD person assigned who is handling the building permit and other permitting requirements?
The developer had also originally been in talks with the Parks Department,  with suggested potential improvements to the Trail, which are no longer included in the new application. These improvements included: providing a separation between pedestrian and cycle traffic in the areas on either side of the 36th Avenue pedestrian way crossing, providing  provide improved ADA access to the Trail, providing new stairs within the 36th Avenue right-of-way, with bike runnels, providing a new public open space at the east edge of the 36th Ave right-of-way, connecting to a new outdoor terrace space (deck) on the applicant’s property, provide new outdoor seating opportunities and providing  new bike racks.

The Laurelhurst Community Club said in its most recent newsletter about the new application:
These new plans allow the developer to avoid getting a MUP (Master Use Permit), so a public comment period is not required.  
The biggest question is how the developer will deal with the limited parking.



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