By Jack Stubbs
On Wednesday, July 25th, a 58-unit project planned for Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood was approved at an Early Design Guidance meeting. At the meeting, architect SHW presented preliminary plans to the east review board on behalf of owner and developer Johnson & Carr. Land surveyor Chadwick & Winters is also on the project team.
The 7-story development, located at 420 Boylston Ave. E, will include 58 small efficiency dwelling units, a rooftop amenity area and 61 parking stalls. The project is also seeking zoning incentives based on Built Green Certification and the inclusion of affordable housing, according to the submitted project plans.
Kicking off the applicant team’s presentation, Sarah Hatfield of SHW discussed how the neighborhood context around the project site—which is predominantly multifamily, zoned mid-rise and located near the active commercial district along Broadway Ave. E.—would impact the design plans. The applicant also presented the pros and cons of the team’s three massing options, and emphasized how the massing of the preferred concept would look to successfully activate the streetscape through landscaping elements; enhance the pedestrian experience; and conform with the character of the surrounding neighborhood.
Most of the board’s clarifying questions focused on the relationship between the proposed development and surrounding multifamily projects. Board member Melissa Alexander asked for more information about the design of the building entrances and access to the ground-level units. Board member Curtis Bigelow asked the applicant to elaborate on the proposed design of the landscaping along Boylston, especially in relation to nearby existing residential projects.
There were three public comments expressed during the meeting by neighborhood residents, who articulated concerns about the relationship between the proposed development and the Anhalt Building, a landmarked historic residential building originally constructed in 1929. The neighborhood residents voiced concerns that the building’s massing and scale did not conform with the surrounding context in Capitol Hill and would negatively impact the experience of residents living in the Anhalt.
During the deliberation period, the board talked at length about how the project would conform with the existing character of the neighborhood and the nearby Anhalt Building, given residents’ concerns. The board agreed that the applicant would need to work on improving access to the ground-level units from the street. Additionally, the board encouraged the project team enhance the overall massing and materiality of the building’s exterior and provide more detailed plans for landscaping along Boylston Ave to enhance the pedestrian experience.