By Jack Stubbs
A development set to transform the Filipino Community Center in south Seattle was unanimously approved tonight in the first stage of the city’s design review process.
On Tuesday, May 8th, a 95-unit development in Othello was given the green light at an Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting. At the meeting, project applicant Rolluda Architects presented preliminary project plans to the southeast review board on behalf of the project owner, the non-profit Filipino Community Center in Seattle.
The project team also includes Beacon Development Group (the owner’s representative); J.A. Brennan Associates PLLC (landscape architect); IL Gross Structural Engineers; Sider + Byers Mechanical Engineers; Sazan Group (electrical); KPFF Consulting (civil engineer); Core Design Inc. (land surveyor); Robert Ward (geotech); and Juan B. Iringan (cost estimating).
The 5-story development, located at 5727 37th Ave S. adjacent to the Filipino Community Center, is viewed as an expansion of the existing facility. The project calls for the addition of 95 low-income senior housing units and 33 parking stalls. The development also includes a 5,000 square foot learning center comprised of four classrooms dedicated to cultural heritage classes; a community gathering space on the second floor; and a garden on the fifth floor.
Kicking off the applicant team’s presentation, Alex Rolluda of Rolluda Architects discussed the neighborhood context around the site, how the project would fit into the character of the Othello neighborhood, and the different massing options being proposed. The hope is that the building respects the history and cultural heritage of the surrounding Filipino community and reflects the existing community center—which has been operational since 1935—through specific design choices and local artwork. Rolluda discussed the priority design guidelines for the site and how pedestrian and vehicular circulation would impact the current design plans.
Most of the board’s clarifying questions focused on how the applicant team planned to program various design elements of the project. Board member Carey Dagliano Holmes asked how the applicant would ensure pedestrian safety around the site. Board member Jhomar Small requested more information about the location of the entrances to the learning center, also asking for clarification about its proposed uses. Board member Chris Folley requested that the applicant clarify the three different massing options, while board member Charles Romero asked the applicant how it would successful program the ground-level commercial space relative to an alleyway adjacent to the site. The board also asked for more detailed plans about how parking would be integrated into the project site.
There was one public comment expressed during the meeting, which requested more information about how the development would successfully transition between the Filipino Community Center and the adjacent residential zoning around the project site.
During its deliberation period, the board discussed the applicant’s different proposed massing options about how the development would fit into the surrounding neighborhood context. The board recommended that the applicant further explore the programming and proposed uses for the learning center and ensure that the new project successfully relate to the existing Filipino Community Center. The board expressed its approval of the applicant’s plans for the proposed open space and emphasized the importance of acknowledging the historic and cultural fabric of the surrounding community in the project plans moving forward.