By Jack Stubbs
On Tuesday, May 8th, a 156-unit development in Mt. Baker was conditionally approved at a Design Review Recommendation (DRR) meeting, pending the project applicant’s consideration of various conditions and recommendations relating to the overall design of the project.
At the meeting, applicant Mark Travers Architect presented updated project plans to the southeast review board on behalf of the property owner, Claremont Properties LLC. Landscape architect Glen Takagi is also on the team for the project, which was last reviewed at an Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting in August 2016.
The 7-story development, called the Link Mt. Baker Apartments, is located at 3208 Claremont Ave S. and will include 156 units (35 studios, 4 live/work units and 100 urban units), 100 parking stalls and 48 bike stalls. The project will also include 6,720 square feet of street-level commercial space, a ground-level plaza and a landscaped roof deck for residents.
Beginning the applicant team’s presentation, applicant Mark Travers discussed the changes that had been made to the plans since the previous EDG meeting. In response to the board’s guidance, the project team broke down the massing and architectural expression of the building and provided more detailing on the building’s exterior facades. The applicant also updated the design of the street-level plaza to better activate the adjacent streetscape and worked on the programing of the commercial space. The applicant also revised the design of the building entrance and added landscaping elements along the streetscape.
The board asked clarifying questions about the applicant team’s material choices on the building’s exterior and requested more information about how the building would be programmed at street level. The board requested more detailed project plans about potential tenants for the commercial and retail space along the street, also asking whether the applicant team had coordinated on the project plans with SDOT. The board expressed concern that the structure did not yet adequately conform with the character of Mt. Baker, and also asked what sustainable design elements had been incorporated into the building.
There was one public comment expressed during the meeting by a neighborhood resident, who requested more information about the interior programming of the building and how it would relate to the adjacent streetscape. She also expressed concern that the massing and scale of the building did not adequately fit the neighborhood context of Mt. Baker.
Much of the board’s discussion during its deliberation period focused on how the development would relate to the surrounding neighborhood character. The board recommended that the applicant team work on successfully programming the commercial and retail space and pay special attention to how the building would impact the pedestrian experience along the streetscape. The board also agreed that the applicant should address potential safety concerns by incorporating lighting features, amenities and landscaping elements to successfully activate the streetscape. The board also talked at length about the applicant team’s material choices, agreeing that different materials should be incorporated into the building’s exterior facade.