By Jack Stubbs
Seattle’s Yesler Terrace neighborhood has been in a state of transformation ever since the 1940s when the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) began redeveloping the area to address a shortage of housing in the city of Seattle.
However, one phase of a mixed-use project in the heart of the historic 30-acre neighborhood will not yet proceed to the next stage of the city’s design review process.
On Wednesday, May 30th, the east board asked the applicant team for a 335-unit development to return for a second Design Review Recommendation (DRR) meeting. At the meeting, applicant Ankrom Moisan Architects presented updated project plans to the east Design Review Board on behalf of developer Lowe Enterprises. Landscape architect Site Workshop is also on the team for the project.
The nine-story project, called Block 5/Building A and located at at 209 12th Ave. South, comprises one half of a larger two-part, 510-unit development. Building A, the project most recently asked to return by the board, is comprised of 335 units, 198 parking spaces, an interior courtyard area and 6,000 square feet of ground-level retail space. The project also includes an adjacent pocket park. According to the applicant’s submitted plans, the main goals of the development—in line with the Yesler Terrace Master Planned Community Guidelines—are to provide market-rate and affordable housing for the Yesler Terrace neighborhood and honor the unique history of the area by creating an appropriate massing and scale.
Having first developed Yesler Terrace in the early 1940s to address a lack of housing in the neighborhood, SHA in 2006 began the redevelopment process by conducting extensive public outreach with local neighborhood residents and neighbors, and Seattle’s city officials about how to transform Yesler Terrace into a model community. In 2013, SHA officially began implementing its revitalization plan to replace the 561 aging housing units on the property for families who earned no more than 30 percent of the area’s median income. In addition to replacing the outdated housing units, SHA also plans to create up to 1,100 low-income housing units at Yesler Terrace.
At the meeting, Ankrom Moisan presented the different massing options for the project and also reviewed the primary changes that had been made to the project plans since the original Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting held in September 2017. In response to the board’s guidance, the applicant team made changes to the building’s massing and scale; refined the streetscape and frontages and entrances, and made changes to improve vehicular circulation around the site and increase safety and security along the street.
In general, the board approved of the applicant team’s response to the guidance and design studies, according to Bryan Stevens, customer service manager and media relations with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections. However, the board also recognized the complexity and prominence of the project site, and had several unresolved concerns relating to the building’s massing and street-level setbacks and frontages. The board recommended that the applicant team work on refining its preferred massing option and set the building back further from 12th Avenue. Ultimately, the board agreed that the applicant would need to further incorporate the feedback about the project’s massing and street-level elements and return for a second DRR meeting.