By Jack Stubbs
On Wednesday, May 2nd, a 95-unit project in Queen Anne was advanced at a second Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting. At the meeting, applicant Jackson Main Architecture presented updated project plans to the west Design Review board on behalf of Vibrant Cities, who is developing the project. The development was last reviewed at an initial EDG meeting held in early February 2018. Ken Large Landscape Architect is also on the project team.
Located at 631 Queen Anne Ave. N. in the Uptown area of Queen Anne, the proposed development cals for the construction of a 8-story mixed-use structure that will contain approximately 5,000 square feet of ground-level commercial space, a rooftop deck and 20 below-grade parking stalls. The existing building on the site, the Manhattan Express Deli, would be demolished as part of the applicant’s plans.
Beginning the applicant team’s presentation, Robin Murphy of Jackson Main Architecture discussed the primary design changes that had been made to the project plans since the last EDG meeting, at which the west review board indicated that the building’s massing was not appropriate for the Uptown neighborhood context.
In response to the board’s feedback, the applicant team worked on refining the massing and scale of the building; improved the exterior facades; and emphasized the commercial space and open spaces along the streetscape to further activate Queen Anne Ave. Murphy also articulated more detailed plans about how the project would relate to the nearby Counterbalance Park and adjacent Del Roy Apartment building. The applicant also refined the building’s exterior material palette to better fit the neighborhood character.
Most of the board’s clarifying questions requested more information about various design choices that the applicant team had made with the updated project plans. Board member Brian Walters asked for clarification about how the structure would relate to the adjacent Del Roy Apartments, while board member Homero Nishiwaki asked for more detailed plans about the overall aesthetic of the building’s exterior. The board also highlighted potential security issues, asking whether the applicant planned to incorporate a gate or fence into the project plans. Board member Stephen Porter also expressed his concern that, currently, the various distinct design elements lacked an overall cohesion.
There were two public comments expressed during the meeting, both of which articulated strong support for the project. The first comment, voiced by a member of community group Uptown Alliance Land Use Committee, articulated firm approval of the project, especially in terms of how it would relate to Counterbalance Park. David Della, a resident of Queen Anne and a former City Council member, also expressed his approval of the developer’s current project plans, also recommending that the applicant revise the building’s material palette.
During its deliberation period, the board mainly discussed the applicant’s proposed massing options and how the project would relate to the adjacent streetscapes. The board recommended that the applicant refine the design of the building’s podium, work on the design of the building entrance, and give more thought to the exterior facade and material choices.