By Jack Stubbs
There have been several mix-use developments approved in Lake City in recent months and early last week, another project was given the green light to proceed in the city’s design review process.
On Monday, July 16th, a 69-unit development located in Lake City in North Seattle was approved by the northeast review board at an Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting by a vote of three to two. At the meeting, the project applicant, Seattle-based David Vandervort Architects presented preliminary plans to the board on behalf of property owner Wei Ming Yang.
The 6-story development, located at 14001 Lake City Way NE., will include 1,020 square feet of ground-level commercial space and 69 below-grade parking stalls. Additionally, the project will include a first-story garden courtyard facing Lake City Way and a shared roof deck amenity area. The goal with the development, which will include a mix of one- and two-bedroom units along Lake City Way and NE 140th St., is to contribute much-needed market-rate housing in north Seattle. Two existing structures on the project site will be demolished as part of the applicant team’s project plans.
At the meeting, the project applicant discussed the neighborhood context around the site, the pros and cons of the three proposed massing options and descriptions of the design and materials being used for the project. The applicant also discussed some of the constraints of the project site, namely around maintaining the privacy of the street-level dwelling units along Lake City Way and ensuring effective pedestrian and vehicular circulation around the project.
When asked to provide clarifying questions about the development, the board requested more detailed information about the design of the entrance to the courtyard area as well as how the applicant planned to program the structure’s blank facades. Additionally, the board asked for more information about how the applicant planned to orient the rooftop amenity area and whether the street-level units would successfully activate the adjacent streetscape. The board also asked the applicant team to elaborate on its placemaking goals with the project, specifically in terms of how it would successfully balance privacy with street-level engagement and activation for the units along Lake City Way.
There was one public comment expressed during the meeting by a property owner to the west of the proposed project, who voiced excitement about the in-the-works development.
During its deliberation period, the board ultimately decided to advance the project to the next stage of the design review process with various recommendations for the applicant team to consider. The board approved the applicant’s preferred massing option and also agreed that more work would need to be done to further refine the overall design of the project. Specifically, the board encouraged the applicant to work on emphasizing a sense of place with the project by activating the ground-floor units along Lake City Way. Additionally, the board requested that the applicant work on developing its concept for the design of the courtyard area and provide pedestrian circulation studies for the next stage of the design review process.
Having been given the green by the board at the initial EDG meeting, the development follows on the heels of a couple of other approved projects in Lake City in recent months. On February 26th, a 7-story, 252-unit development located at 1729 30th Ave. NE.—one mile south of the proposed project and designed by Ecco Design Inc.—was approved by the northeast review board. And on April 23rd, a 100-unit project designed by Hybrid Architecture and located at 12320 32nd Ave NE. was advanced by the board at a Design Review Recommendation meeting.