By Jack Stubbs
Seattle’s Northgate neighborhood serves as and epicenter for surrounding development, with major projects continuing to take shape around the Northgate Mall, which in the coming years will experience an evolution of its own.
Developer Mill Creek Residential, architect Ankrom Moisan and Brumbaugh & Associates are currently collaborating on Modera Northgate—located at 10661 8th Ave. NE—which is a five-story, 400-unit residential project that will also ultimately include 240 residential parking stalls.
At a Recommendation meeting on March 22nd, the design team were approved to advance to the next stage of the city’s design review process, dependent on certain conditions recommended by the design review board. The board’s feedback primarily related to the relationship between the proposed development and the adjacent streetscape; the external design-related façade elements of the project; and concerns around how the project’s streetscape would impact the pedestrian experience.
The board’s recent approval marks the latest chapter for the project, which was called back for an additional Design Review Guidance (DRG) meeting in February 2020.
At the recent recommendation meeting, both the design team’s and the review board’s feedback focused on how Modera Northgate would fit into the surrounding Northgate neighborhood, which has seen a significant number of developments reach completion.
Modera Northgate is just across 5th Ave. NE from the Northgate Mall, whose redevelopment is also working its way through the entitlement and design review processes. The Prism, a 138-unit complex completed in 2019, and the Enclave, a 265-unit development finished in 2014, are also located nearby, as are numerous parks and the Northgate Community Center.
The design team emphasized how its most recent design plans for the development had incorporated design-related feedback at the previous DRG meeting in early 2020. These earlier recommendations were how to refine the scale and massing of the building to better fit the Northgate neighborhood context, and how to more effectively design the exterior facades to better fit 8th Ave., which is adjacent to the project.
Chris McBride, architect at Brumbaugh & Associates, emphasized how the development team had worked to collaborate with the project team to effectively incorporate the project into the surrounding neighborhood setting. “We worked really hard with Ankrom Moisan to get as much landscape along with north side of the building as we could,” McBride said. “[The urban garden] is a design element that we’re really excited about, it’s both open and inviting for the public but also a private space for residents, especially along 8th Avenue.”
The Design Review Board’s questions focused on the how the project’s urban garden and shared residence amenity space would be incorporated into the project, and how the exterior massing would impact the nearby pedestrian experience and adjacent developments in Northgate.
Community members’ feedback focused around how Modera Northgate would adequately conform with the existing fabric of the surrounding Northgate neighborhood. Specifically, public comments emphasized a desire to see the design team better integrate open space into the project; consider potential impacts upon nearby wildlife; and adequately consider issues around traffic circulation and community residents.
Ultimately, the design review board decided to advance the project, dependent on various conditions. “On the whole, this is a large project and it’s really well-grounded in its massing moves, with materials following those move,” one board member noted.
In terms of its feedback, the board recommended that the design team work on better integrating the westernmost building, refine the exterior façade materials, and further refine the relationship between landscape elements and the pedestrian experience along the streetscape. “I think there’s a missed opportunity here to create a network of community spaces and better connect [the project] to Northgate Park…I would recommend that we make it possible to connect the development to nearby Transit Center and increase pedestrian connectivity,” a member of the board noted.
With the design review board’s recent approval of Modera Northgate, the up-and-coming neighborhood evidently has a new project on the horizon.