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268-Unit Student Housing Development in Seattle’s U-District Approved at Second Design Review Recommendation Meeting

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Seattle, Weber Thompson, Site Workshop, Phoenix Property Company, University of Washington, U-District, student housing, design review
Rendering courtesy of Weber Thompson

By Jack Stubbs

On Monday, July 9th, a 268-unit student housing development slated for Seattle’s University District was given the green light at a second Design Review Recommendation (DRR) meeting. At the meeting, applicant Weber Thompson presented updated project plans to the northeast board on behalf of developer Phoenix Property Company. Site Workshop is the landscape architect for the project, which was most recently reviewed at an initial DRR meeting in mid-May 2018.

The development, called “Trailside,” consists of three adjacent seven-story buildings that along with 268 residential units will include 258 parking stalls, 27,300 square feet of amenity/lobby space and 2,400 square feet of retail space. The project will also include a landscaped roof deck and an outdoor arrival/courtyard area.

Located at 4801 24th Ave NE, the project sits adjacent to the Burke Gilman Trail, directly north of the University of Washington and east of the University Village shopping mall. The project site and surrounding parcels are slated for the proposed HALA up-zone and the applicant team is currently waiting for the city to pass the legislation for the HALA Environmental Impact Statement, which is expected in third quarter 2018. The project team is also seeking a street vacation permit, which will likely be approved by City Council in third quarter 2018, according to the submitted project plans.

Beginning the applicant team’s presentation, Weber Thompson discussed the primary design changes that had been made to the project plans since the last DRR meeting. At the previous meeting, the board had expressed concerns with how the three adjacent structures would relate to each other in terms of their massing, as well as how the project’s exterior should be changed to better fit the neighborhood context of the U-District.

In response to the board’s guidance, the applicant revised the design of the “lantern” lighting elements to better activate the building entrances and simplified the overall design language of the buildings, especially in terms of the exterior materials. The applicant also altered the orientation of the project’s street-level unit entrances to better activate the streetscape along 24th Ave. NE and strengthened the relationship between the outdoor arrival/courtyard area and the adjacent buildings.

Most of the board’s clarifying questions focused on how the applicant planned to program various elements of the project. The board asked the applicant to clarify how far the buildings were set back from 24th Ave., and also requested more information about the distance between the proposed retail space and the street-level landscaping. The board also asked for more information about the exterior materials and what plans the applicant had for signage and way-finding elements.

During its deliberation period, the board expressed its approval of the applicant’s revised design of the building entrances and the lighting elements in the project’s exterior facade. The board also discussed the applicant’s material choices at length and agreed that the project team should refine the exterior detailing and materials of the buildings at street level.