By Meghan Hall
As Seattle seeks for new and innovative ways to grapple with its growing housing crisis, developers are more often proposing apartment buildings that incorporate small efficiency dwelling units and congregate housing into their plans. A new development proposed by Seattle-based HYBRID Architecture on behalf the property owner, would take advantage of this growing trend by constructing a five story apartment complex with 129 efficiency dwelling units and six live-work units at 5011 15th Ave. NW in Ballard.
In many major markets across the United States such as Seattle or the San Francisco Bay Area, there is a need for affordable, market-rate, non-subsidized rental product. Small efficiency dwelling units are intended to fill that market gap; according to information provided by the project team, a 175 square foot space would rent for around $875 per month. The units proposed by HYBRID Architecture and team would appeal to single-occupancy renters. Units would include a bed, table and chair, closet, refrigerator, microwave and private bathroom. Full-sized kitchens, 101 bicycle parking spots and the laundry facilities would all be shared. Private balconies and decks will also be provided for a small percentage of the units. There will be no vehicle parking provided on-site.
Currently, the project site is occupied by a retail building with an at-grade parking lot and a two-story office building. Both structures will be demolished to make room for the new apartment complex.
This was the second early design guidance meeting for the project team, who presented an updated version of their preferred scheme at the end of October 2018. The building would be broken down into two L-shaped buildings and have a central courtyard and ground floor amenity space in the center of the development. The design strove to break down the massing of the building in order to better incorporate the development into the neighborhood. At the board’s request, the updated plans took into account a wider courtyard to increase public space and adequate privacy.
The design of the project strove to pull from Ballard’s history as an industrial neighborhood and a district in transition to create a development that responds to the character of the surrounding buildings. Vertical light grey metal siding and large windows will make up the upper levels of the development, while the bottom level will be covered in darker metal cladding. Wood stairs with metal railings, planter boxes and pavers will also make up the exterior design.
The Northeast Design Review board generally supported the updated project plans, including the increased height and width of the courtyard and the revised massing option. However, the board asked the design team to further refine the courtyard area to create additional opportunities for use and interactions. After receiving a recommendation from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the board recommended adding a planting strip along 15th Ave. NW to create more of a buffer between street traffic and the pedestrian walkway.
Overall, the board was supportive of the project and agreed that the project team should move forward an apply for a Master Use Permit.
HYBRID Architecture did not respond to The Registry’s request for comment.