By Meghan Hall
Vibrant Cities, a Seattle-based multi-family based real estate developer, and Jackson Main Architecture received approval in mid-November 2018 to proceed with the application process for an eight story, 127-unit mixed use development in the heart of Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood at 513 First Ave. N. The most recent design review meeting, which occurred after the project had already gone through Seattle’s early design guidance process, has been approved by the West Design Review Board to apply for a Master User Permit (MUP).
Project plans for the development also include 5,876 square feet of ground floor commercial space broken into five separate retail spaces and 29 below-grade parking stalls. The residential units will be located on floors two through seven, while the eighth floor of the development will be reserved for the last few residential units and amenities such as bike storage and a fitness room. Roof decks and balconies will help to provide outdoor space. The existing structures on the site — a restaurant and a retail store — will be demolished. Once completed, the building will total 97,211 square feet.
According to Matt Laase, a principal at Jackson Main Architecture, the review board was generally supportive of the project’s contemporary design, which was granted approval with certain conditions.
“The design is really taking modern cues from the adjacent buildings,” explained Laase. “We were encouraged by the community to pursue a modern solution and to be respectful to the more traditional buildings in the neighborhood.”
The ground floor is composed primarily of masonry and glass. Two different brick colors were used and protruding window bays accented in yellow provided a color contrast on the building’s façade along 1st Ave. N. The project team also broke down the building’s massing by providing a half-block through-passage to connect First Ave. and an alleyway.
“We were encouraged to activate that as a unique pedestrian crossing, as this project kind of splits the middle of a long block, and there is a need to create some cross connection,” said Laase.
The review board’s critiques were not significant; they asked the development team to select a color other than yellow to reduce the amount of contrast between materials. The development team had also requested a departure, a setback that would have been less than required, but the board denied this request.
“The yellow will be likely to change to create something that is more subtle,” said Laase. “But we think that those were really good comments and feedback, and we don’t see the design being diminished by doing that.”
The new development would be located in Seattle’s growing Upton neighborhood, which has traditionally been defined by smaller retailers and restaurants, as well as 1920s and 1930s era homes. Within walking distance of the site is a Safeway, CVS, SIFF Cinema Uptown and Dick’s Drive-In. Key Arena is also located about a block away from the site. The neighborhood is changing as more modern, mixed-use developments such as the one proposed by Vibrant Cities and Expo, located across the street from the project, continue to pop in the area.
Laase says that the development team has already started the MUP application process, and that the development should break ground in the second quarter of 2019. Completion of the project is slated for the first quarter of 2021. Laase was unable to comment accurately on what the cost of the project would be.
“We think the project will provide another positive addition to the heart of Queen Anne for years to come,” said Laase.