Home AEC 400-Unit Apartment Project Moved Forward by Seattle Design Review Board

400-Unit Apartment Project Moved Forward by Seattle Design Review Board

Jabooda Construction Inc., Caron Architecture, Seattle, Lake City, Mercer Island

By Catherine Sweeney 

A 400-unit apartment project proposed for Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood is one step closer to becoming a reality, following an early design guidance meeting with the city’s Northeast Design Review Board. The project, which is proposed by Mercer Island-based Jabooda Construction Inc., went before the board Monday evening and was ultimately moved forward to a recommendation hearing. 

Designs for the project, which would be located at 12554 Lake City Way NE, come from Caron Architecture. Those plans show the development would include two six- to seven-story mixed-use buildings with 8,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space along Lake City Way NE and 260 parking spaces. The project would be developed in two phases, according to the proposal. 

The project also includes protecting and improving a portion of the site that is around the Little Brook Creek outflow, which is located along 33rd Ave. NE. According to Caron Architecture, the project is designed to respect the neighborhood’s surrounding context as well as the overall environment. 

“We are looking to provide a strong commercial edge on Lake City Way at the street level. We are planning to restore the creek area and allow that to be a neighborhood feature, both for the residents and public,” Radim Blazej, CEO and founder of Caron Architecture, said.

During the meeting, Caron Architecture outlined three design options that could potentially be selected for the project. 

The first option, referred to as “Linear Path,” offers multi-functional plaza spaces and places a strong emphasis on nature. As the name suggests, the spaces would be connected through a linear path. Overall, this design scheme would include the construction of two buildings with open space in between them. This would reduce the massing along Lake City Way while also providing open space for tenants and the public.

Similarly to the first option, the second design scheme – also called “Courtyard” – provides a deep connection to nature through a central courtyard. This scheme also provides a stronger street edge, according to the proposal, as well as more commercial space along Lake City Way. A covered plaza to the Northwest portion of the site also would serve to draw people into the space. 

The third scheme, which is also the scheme that was preferred by the design team, is called “Meandering Path.” This design scheme is similar to both option one and two but offers a curved path throughout the site. This option also aims to break up massing along Lake City Way by offering an entry plaza with retail space. Similarly to the above options, the third design scheme provides an interior courtyard space, providing separation between the two buildings. 

“This option blends the best of both options one and two in the form of a meandering path through the site,” said Angel Monzon, a designer at Caron Architecture. “At the end of the meandering path is a beautiful building framed viewpoint that highlights an enhanced repairing management area.”

Overall, the board was approving of the project, making the decision to move it forward to a recommendation hearing. While the applicant had a preference toward the third design scheme, the board generally supported some combination of the second and third schemes. 

The board also supported other features of the design, including the lobby at the south east corner of the building. They also noted that the stepping down of the south building in the third scheme responds well to the site’s topography. 

However, several recommendations were made for the design team to consider when moving forward. The board had some concerns about the phasing of the project, and asked for more clarification on what that will look like. In addition, the board wanted to see a stronger street edge as well as a connection or other type of activation at the mid block connection. 

Further, the board asked to see a stronger residential entryway and a better pedestrian connection to the site’s natural areas.