Home AEC 363-Unit Apartment Building Proposed in U-District Clears First Early Design Review Meeting

363-Unit Apartment Building Proposed in U-District Clears First Early Design Review Meeting

barrientosRYAN, Cahill Equities, HEWITT, Seattle, University District, University of Washington
Rendering Courtesy of Runberg Architecture Group

By Meghan Hall

The site of a Key Bank along the main commercial corridor in the University District is getting closer to redevelopment. A 22-story residential high-rise proposed by barrientosRYANand Cahill Equities has received the go-ahead from Seattle’s Northeast Design Review Board at an EDG meeting on Monday night to proceed to the next phase of the city’s design review process.

Located at 1300 NE 45th Street, project documents posit the development as a “unique building,” in that it will be marketed as an affordable housing choice within one of the quickest densifying neighborhoods in Seattle, near a population who is often considered to need affordable housing the most: students. Upon completion, the building is expected to total 259,772 square feet and will include 3,328 square feet of commercial space.

The development is slated to have 363 residential units, the vast majority of which will be small efficiency dwelling units, or SEDUs, for short. The project will also include 20 open one-bedrooms, 20 two-bedrooms, 20 three-bedrooms and 40 four-bedrooms. Generous amenity spaces will be included on each floor. A sky lounge, fitness center and roof deck will be included on the top level.

Design documents indicate that barrientosRYANand Cahill, in conjunction with Runberg Architecture Group and HEWITT Landscape Architecture, the project’s architects, will strive to create a robust network of pedestrian and outdoor spaces so that the development serves as a “front yard” for the U-District community. The emphasis of human-scaled elements and the rich use of materials at the pedestrian realm are just two of the strategies the development team will deploy to accomplish the task.

The overall massing of the design team’s preferred option will present a grid-like façade. The base of the building will be differentiated from the tower, with the first three levels establishing a datum that corresponds to the height of other historic structures nearby. A horizontal ground plinth will build upon the strong established base, providing texture, while fenestration from the tower will also carry down to create a composed façade. The façade grid will mimic patterns expressed on the ground floors, which will feature structural columns. Common space balconies will provide additional modulation and fenestration to break up the façade. The upper level penthouse will be composed of a strong, directional language with views to the south.

Overall, the Board supported the third massing option, but had several questions around the contextual analysis, particularly the streetscape and landscape, and how the development relates to The Neptune, a well-known local theater that sits adjacent to the project site. The Board also asked for more detail on the project’s required setbacks and wanted further clarification on how the design will accommodate an existing bus stop on the site.

Despite these questions, at the end of the meeting, the board unanimously approved the project to move forward. barrientosRYAN and Cahill will come back in several months with revised massing based on the Board’s feedback.

barrientosRYAN, Cahill, Runberg Architecture Group and HEWITT are also working together on another Seattle residential project in Queen Anne. In October the team also received positive remarks for the Safeway-owned site located at 2100 Queen Anne Ave. There, the plan is to construct a 310-unit mixed-use development over a 50,000 square foot Albertsons/Safeway supermarket. Instead of students, the units will cater more towards roommates, couples and families. 

Seattle-based barrientosRYAN has nine communities at various stages of the development pipeline, no small feat for a metro so constrained when it comes to multifamily housing. As tech firms continue to draw talent to the region, healthy employment will continue to drive rental demand moving forward, notes Marcus and Millichap in its 2020 Puget Sound Multifamily Outlook. In 2019, the metro created some 65,000 jobs, the strongest annual increase in more than two decades. And, while 9,900 units were delivered in 2019, more will be completed in 2020, with about 10,300 units coming to market. Despite these deliveries, and plans by barrientosRYAN, Cahill and others to deliver more units, rents will rise 3.4 percent, hitting $1,825 per unit by the end of 2020.