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 30-acre area to address a shortage of housing in the city of Seattle.
And on Wednesday, August 8th, a 335-unit development slated for the neighborhood was approved at 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, which was last reviewed at an initial DRR meeting in early June 2018.
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 is comprised of 335 units, 198 parking spaces, 7,200 square feet of ground-level commercial space, an interior courtyard area and 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 a project with an appropriate massing and scale.
At the previous meeting, the board had generally approved of the applicant team’s massing of the project and requested that the team resolve design issues relating to the building’s street-level setbacks and frontages. In response to the board’s guidance, the applicant set the building further back from 12th Ave.; worked on refining the architectural expression at the SE corner of the building; added different materials to the project’s exterior facades; and redesigned the lobby area entrance along S. Main St.; and improved the programming of the retail space to further activate the streetscape, according to the submitted project plans.
The east board ultimately approved the applicant’s current project plans with several conditions, according to Sean Christiansen with Ankrom Moisan.
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, according to SHA’s web site. 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.