By Jack Stubbs
There is no shortage of projects in the pipeline in Seattle’s bustling Capitol Hill Neighborhood, and a 90-unit development was recently given the green light by the East Design Review board at an Early Design Guidance (EDG) meting held on Wednesday, March 7th.
At the meeting, SMR Architects presented preliminary project plans on behalf of Pioneer Human Services, the developer of the project. Pioneer Human Services is a Seattle-based non-profit organization that offers housing, treatment, training and employment opportunities for people overcoming the challenges of criminal history, substance use disorders and mental health issues. Landscape architect Fazio Associates Inc. is also on the project team.
The development, located at 1717 Belmont Ave., calls for the construction of a 7-story project that will include 90 residential units, 59 bike parking stalls and a resident courtyard area. There is an existing apartment building and associated parking lot on the site which will be demolished as part of the project plans.
According to the submitted plans, the new development will represent the first step in Pioneer Human Services’ plans to rehabilitate and redevelop their current housing portfolio to create long-term stable, efficient and sustainable housing to better serve their clients and community. The main goals of the project are to increase housing affordability in the surrounding neighborhood, strengthen and enhance the adjacent streetscape through the incorporation of open spaces and landscaping, create a building massing that is appropriate for the neighborhood context and encourage pedestrian interaction with the development along the adjacent street.
When given the opportunity to ask the applicant clarifying questions about the project and deliberate about the proposed development, the East Design Review board mostly focused on how the applicant team planned to program the building, as well as how the project would fit into the surrounding neighborhood context.
The board ultimately supported the applicant’s preferred massing option and also gave the project team substantial guidance about how to refine the development moving forward, according to Wendy Shark, public relations specialist with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections. Additionally, the board supported the applicant team’s objective of creating a building that responded appropriately to the other existing building types, entry patterns and masonry structures on the block.
Specifically, the board directed the applicant to remove the ground-level setback from the project plans, refine the design of the entrance to the development, and explore different material options for the building’s exterior facade. The board also emphasized that the applicant team should refine the design of the courtyard and work on differentiating it from the public realm along the streetscape.