Chophouse Row — a model for community-minded adaptive reuse and infill

Dunn & Hobbes’ adaptive reuse of an old auto row building on Capitol Hill is model for how to preserve and help existing communities thrive.

The keystone to the 12th Avenue Marketplace
Dunn & Hobbes has created magical small-scale development projects in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood for over a decade, using either new construction or adaptive reuse of existing buildings.  Their latest project, Chophouse Row, is their largest and most complex, combining both new construction with the adaptive reuse of an existing heavy timber structure into 45,000 square feet of office over a market hall of retail with three units of residential above.  The project bookends the 12th Avenue Marketplace, a half-block master plan Dunn & Hobbes founder, Liz Dunn, began in the late 1990’s while working with Leslie Bain (formerly of Weinstein AU).  Chophouse opened in 2015 and was named one of the top 25 projects in the world by ULI.  Ironically, the project was originally designed solely as a residential building of new construction, to entirely replace the existing structure.  But as development began to pick-up after the 2008 downtown, new institutional residential construction flooded Capitol Hill, creating the opportunity to instead build creative new office space for the growing small business market looking for alternatives to existing office inventory.

Chophouse is a good example of community-minded development, reusing an existing structure to create inherently affordable spaces for small business while giving back 15% of buildable area to the public as a commons.

Chophouse Row’s design and development strategies are remarkable and worth emulating as we continue to grow and choose how to approach existing buildings.  First is the simple environmental benefits of adaptive reuse.  By retaining the existing building, the project saved 450 metric tons of carbon.  Combining that with high performance building specs and well-designed passive systems like automated night-time thermal flushing has created a highly sustainable project.  Second is the value of its relatively small scale commercial spaces which range from 250-1,800 SF for retail spaces and 3,000-10,000 SF offices.  As neighborhoods grow, new and existing small businesses are often priced-out as new redevelopment typically favors large-scale spaces which are unaffordable to small businesses.  Chophouse Row is providing a rare scale of lease for small local businesses that are inherently affordable.  (See FIX’s work on Seattle’s Commercial Affordability Initiative).  Perhaps the most striking aspect of the project is its urban design which gives-up 15% of its zoned buildable area to the public in the form of a privately managed mews and courtyard.  In a zone where lot-line development is allowed and in an economic climate where most developers are maximizing net rentable area, Chophouse Row sets a precedent for how to create a profitable project while prioritizing the public experience, reinforcing that the private development sector can be a positive force in neighborhood creation.

FIX’s Role
FIX was retained by Dunn & Hobbes from 2012-2015 for several projects. FIX created the initial feasibility study for Chophouse Row, including program selection, massing studies, code analysis and pro forma modeling.  FIX went on to provide complete project management services, including management of design, construction and tenanting.  FIX helped develop the operating business model for anchor tenant, Cloud Room, a co-working center and amenity space.  See our post on the complexities of constructing Chophouse Row.

Congratulations to Dunn & Hobbes, SKL Architects, Graham Baba, MRJ Constructors, and the whole Chophouse Row team for being named a finalist in the 2016 ULI Design Excellence awards.  Other noteworthy awards include the 2016 AIA Seattle Honor Awards and the NAOIP 2015 Mixed-Use Development of the Year.  See also the ULI Case study on the project for more details.

ClientDunn & Hobbes
Size45,000 SF
Location11th & Pike Street, Seattle
ProgramOffice, Residential, Retail
RoleVisioning & feasibility analysis
Pro forma and financial modeling
Project & construction management
Tenanting strategy & positioning
ImpactCapacity: Enabling the mission of sustainable urban infill projects for small-scale developer.