By Meghan Hall
Seattle-based Alliance Residential Company and Encore Architects have teamed up to bring additional housing to one of the quickest growing neighborhoods in Seattle: the University District. With fresh waves of new students and talent arriving every year, the U-District is known as one of Seattle’s most pedestrian-friendly and vibrant neighborhoods. Alliance Residential and Encore hope to continue to build upon the district’s character with the construction of a 283-unit, mixed-use development at 4906 25th Ave. NE. The project team presented its preliminary schemes to the Northeast Design Review Board at the beginning of May, and received support to move forward with the Master Use Permit application process.
Alliance Residential presented three massing options to the Board; the third massing option and the team’s preferred scheme is composed of a series of massing bars designed to maximize solar exposure into the development’s multiple courtyards. The massing bars will also serve to breakdown the south façade and presents an individual presence to help the development relate to smaller buildings adjacent to the site. All services as part of the mixed-use component will be located to the south of the site.
The project team did not request any departures at the time of the meeting.
The units will be a mix of studios, one-bedroom, one-bathrooms, two-bedroom, two-bathrooms, studios and lofts. 250 below-grade parking stalls are also part of the current project plans. Currently, the proposed site is developed with commercial stores and parking lots. An Office Max is located to the east of the site, and Nordheim Court, a multifamily residential development, is located to the north. 4906 25th Ave. also sits right at the edge of the University Village, a major shopping center with retailers such as H&M, Amazon Books, Veggie Grill and Nike. The main University of Washington campus is a short walk away, as is the University of Washington Golf Range and Union Bay Natural Area.
Overall, the Board appreciated the precise packet and presentation, as well was the presentation of several different massing options. The Board also stated that the proposed design will play an important role in setting a precedent for design in a changing area of the University Village and commended the project team for a balanced design that responded well to both the existing context and future development. Alliance Residential and Encore also received unanimous backing of their third preferred option, which the Board stated most successfully broke down the upper massing of the building without over-modulating while also creating a successful base expression.
In its recommendations to the project team, the Board encouraged greater exploration of the projecting bars as part of the development’s façade to establish a strong rhythm and three-dimensional space at the pedestrian level. However, the Board did also request a graphic study that will demonstrate how the bars will interact with the recessed upper stories of the development, and how the overall design will transition between the two. The Board also requested that Encore and Alliance Residential study the use of balconies along the northern edge of the property to prevent the façade from appearing too monolithic in nature.
Alliance Residential and Encore will take these considerations into account as they work through the MUP application process and prepare for the next design meeting, which will give increased insight into materiality, landscaping and the finer-grained details of the design. If approved, the project will add to Alliance Residential’s growing portfolio in the region. The firm recently snapped up a prime redevelopment site close to downtown Bellevue, where it has proposed to build a seven-story assisted living and memory care building with 136-units and roughly 2,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. Alliance purchased the site for $12 million from Katherine and Burleigh Surbeck, of Bellevue.
Alliance also owns Broadstone Saxton and Broadstone Lexington, located in Seattle, Lionsgate North in Redmond, and Marvelle at Southcenter in Tukwila. To date, Alliance, which is one of the largest private multifamily companies in the U.S., has invested in more than $10 billion worth of real estate and currently manages a $15 billion portfolio.