By Jack Stubbs
One new project in the works in Queen Anne, a 95-unit project being developed by Vibrant Cities, will not yet proceed to the next stage of the city’s design review process.
At an EDG meeting held on Wednesday, February 7th, the west review board unanimously agreed that the applicant team—comprised of Jackson Main Architecture and Ken Large Landscape Architect—would need to return for another EDG meeting and provide more information about the development’s massing and how the project would fit into the Queen Anne neighborhood context.
Located at 631 Queen Anne Ave N., the development calls for the construction of an 8-story mixed-use structure that will contain approximately 5,000 square feet of ground-level commercial space, a rooftop deck and 20 below-ground parking stalls, according to the project plans. The existing building on the site, the Manhattan Express Deli, would be demolished as part of the project plans.
Kicking off the presentation, Robin Murphy of Jackson Main Architecture highlighted some of the main goals of the project, which emphasizes a vibrant pedestrian environment along Queen Anne Ave. Additionally, the applicant hopes to design a project that unifies residential- and non-residential uses and is respectful of the character and scale of the current neighborhood context of Queen Anne.
The applicant team also emphasized some of the priority Uptown neighborhood design guidelines of its proposal, which include pedestrian accessibility to the development and integrating the building with the adjacent streetscape. Specifically, Murphy also discussed how the applicant team had paid particular attention to the structure’s height—considering the city-wide MHA up-zone regulations that are occurring—and the development’s relationship with the nearby Counterbalance Park.
Most of the board’s clarifying comments focused on how the development would relate to the surrounding neighborhood. Along these lines, the board requested the applicant to provide more information about various design elements of the project.
Board member Stephen Porter asked the applicant to elaborate on the design of the building’s scale, massing and facades also questioning whether the building would relate to proximate existing structures in the neighborhood. Board member Homero Nishiwaki expressed a concern with the development’s height, inquiring whether it would adequately conform with the Queen Anne neighborhood character. Finally, board member Patreese Martin asked the applicant how the proposed commercial space and residential entrances to the building would successfully activate the adjacent streetscape.
The public comment period of the meeting was brief, and the input from audience members was largely in support of the project moving forward. Maria Barrientos, a local developer, emphasized how the applicant had conducted positive community outreach about the proposed development. Additionally, Barrientos emphasized how the board should continue to consider the development in relation to the city-wide MHA up-zone changes that are occurring. Two other comments, voiced by members of the Queen Anne neighborhood, expressed support of the development’s current massing and scale.
Even with this support for the development from members of the public, the board ultimately agreed that the applicant team had not yet provided sufficient information about the development’s massing and scale. The board unanimously agreed that there was too much ambiguity in the applicant’s current project blueprints—especially regarding the plans for the proposed commercial space and exterior materials—which will need to be refined before the next EDG meeting.
Additionally, the board recommended that, moving forward, the applicant team pay special attention to how the height and scale of the building would conform with the historic Uptown neighborhood. Specifically, the board highlighted how the applicant team would need to provide updated project plans that adequately take into account the city-wide MHA up-zone regulations, city design guidelines and the Uptown-specific design guidelines.