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Only in Seattle: An apartment building designed for bicyclists

Bicycle commuters head out of downtown Seattle on a bike lane adjacent to car traffic. A new apartment building is under construction at 6th and Lenora in Seattle catering to cyclists with bike parking, a cycle shop and bicycle club. (AP/Elaine Thompson file photo)

More than 300,000 cyclists put their bikes on Metro buses every year. Seattle is considered a bike-friendly city with the mayor frequently riding his bicycle to work. Now, a developer is building an apartment complex especially for cyclists in – of course – Seattle.

“I’m not one of the rabid bicycle commuters, but I ride bikes all over town all the time,” says Matt Griffin, who has logged 200,000 miles on bikes in the past 30 years.

So far this year, he’s ridden 8,000 miles on a bike. He racked up 50 miles alone on the day I talked with him about a new development going up in downtown Seattle.

Griffin is a managing partner with the Pine Street Group. They’re designing and building an apartment complex for bicyclists.

It’ll have a bike shop on the ground floor, 250 bike parking stalls for residents, and a bike gym.

“We actually put in men’s and women’s showers and locker room. We have elevator entrance from the alley so people who don’t live in the building but want to become bike commuters could belong to the bike club for a small fee, leave their bikes there for service, shower, get coffee, and go on to work,” he says.”

“I would definitely be interested in that,” says cyclist Tom Harkin who rides from Shoreline to downtown Seattle every day. “Our office doesn’t have a decent shower and that alone would make me join the club even though I couldn’t afford to live in a condo in Seattle.”

Griffin took me through the Via 6 Apartments construction site at 6th and Lenora just east of Belltown.

The building is 350-feet long, which is bigger than a football field. They’ve designed the structure to look less imposing with two towers, linked in the middle by a common area.

Architecture meets anthropology in the building’s function because they had to think about what people would need in a building if they didn’t have a car.

Seattle’s Tom Douglas will open a restaurant in a 10,000-square-foot space on the ground floor with will include a cake shop, coffee shop and grocery store.

Douglas is also developing a line of foods called “Tom’s Home Remedy,” Griffin says, “which is stuff he makes in his kitchen, you take it up to your apartment and microwave it.”

If you don’t live in the apartment building, this place still hopes to be a hub for bicyclists.

“If you’re a commuter from the north end, you can come in here, shower and catch a bus to Microsoft or Amazon, or head off to Tacoma,” he says.

Griffin says with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s goal of creating dense communities, it makes sense.

“The more the better. The more people we have live downtown the healthier it’ll be,” Griffin says. “You look at what makes San Francisco, New York or Chicago fun in the neighborhoods it’s because there’s a high density that work and live there and that make all their bars and restaurants succeed. It’s exactly what we should have.”


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