By Jack Stubbs
Fana Group of Companies, who is developing a 55-story mixed-use hotel and residential tower in downtown Seattle, recently received good news as its project was approved to proceed to the next stage of the city’s design review process.
On Tuesday, February 6th, a Design Review Recommendation (DRR) meeting was held for the mixed-use tower in the heart of downtown Seattle that will include 494 residential units and 203 hotel rooms. At the meeting, architect Weber Thompson, the applicant, presented updated project plans on behalf of Fana Group of Companies.
The 8th and Pine mixed-use development, located at 802 Pine St., was previously reviewed at an EDG meeting in November 2016, at which point the project plans called for 395 residential units and 178 hotel rooms. The residential portion of the building will be either condos or market-rate apartments and will be supported by various interior and exterior amenities, according to the updated project plans. The proposed development will also include 415 below-ground parking stalls, as well as a hotel ballroom and meeting facilities.
The development is located in the downtown urban core in Denny Triangle, just two blocks from the Washington State Convention Center and four blocks from Westlake Park. The development is approximately a mile from Pike Place Market and the waterfront.
The development’s location in Seattle’s Denny Triangle area is noteworthy: the neighborhood has edged past South Lake Union as downtown’s fastest growing neighborhood, with a 27 percent increase in population in the past five years, according to the project plans.
According to the applicant team, the design and proposes uses of the development is also impacted by the three-site $1.7 billion Washington State Convention Center expansion occurring a block to the east. This project—which was approved at a design review meeting in January 2018— will include a 1,230,000 square foot addition to the existing Washington State Convention Center; a 404-unit residential tower and a 500,000 square foot commercial office building.
Beginning its presentation, the applicant team discussed the primary design elements of the project that it had revised since the last EDG meeting. The applicant team worked on reducing the overall massing of the development and also refined the programming of both the hotel and residential entrances and the retail space at street level.
Specifically, the applicant team worked on further enhancing the development’s facade by integrating different materials on the tower’s exterior, and also changed the design and location of the hotel lobby and bar area to better integrate the development with the adjacent streetscape.
During the board’s clarifying question period, board member Aron Argyle asked the applicant team to elaborate on its plans for how it would differentiate between the public versus private realm with the development, also asking about the building’s proposed retail uses. Board member JP Emery expanded upon these inquiries, also asking the applicant to clarify the architectural relationship between the hotel bar and the lobby entrances from street level, also asking about the proposed stairway element connecting the residential and hotel sections of the development. Finally, board member Anjali Grant inquired about the relationship between the tower and the Olivian, a nearby residential apartment complex, also suggesting that the height of the proposed building might be a potential concern moving forward.
There were a couple of public comments expressed during the meeting that related to the development’s integration with the neighborhood context and how the building’s height would relate to other developments in the vicinity.
During its deliberation period, the board decided to advance the project, but also articulated several design recommendations for the applicant team to integrate into the development as it awaits a decision on its submitted Master Use Permit from the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection.
The applicant team will need to work further on refining the building’s massing and scale and provide further information about the development’s exterior elements, including the facades. Additionally, the board stated that the applicant team would need to further explore the relationship between the development and the nearby Olivian Building and clarify the design of the proposed stairway element. Additionally, the board expressed that it would like to see more detailed plans about the development’s ground-level commercial and retail uses and design of the residential and hotel entrances at street level.
Finally, the board urged the applicant team to provide more information about impacts of the building’s height moving forward. According to the submitted project plans, the applicant is currently exploring the possibility of taking advantage of the potential 50-foot height increase due to the HALA up zoning regulations occurring city-wide.