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After More Than a Year of Review, Design for 95-Unit Apartment Building in Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne Neighborhood Approved

Seattle, Hycroft Investment, Johnston Architects, Lower Queen Anne, West Design Review Board,
Image Credit: Johnston Architects

By Meghan Hall

The Seattle planning and approvals process is multi-faceted and complex, usually requiring numerous stages of both design and technical review to guarantee projects are code compliant and beneficial to the surrounding community. At the end of January, developer Hycroft Investment Inc. and Johnston Architects LLC received the green light — with conditions — to move forward with the entitlement process for their proposed 95-unit, mixed-use development located at 412 2nd. Ave. W. in Lower Queen Anne. In addition to residential, the development will have 2,595 square feet of commercial and retail space, a rooftop amenity and parking for 58 vehicles.

This was the second design review meeting for the development team; city documents state that the project had gone through an earlier recommendation meeting in July of 2018. According to reporting also done by The Registry at the time, the project had been unanimously approved by the five members of the West Design Review Board. However, a departure request identified by the City’s zoning review late in the process required the applicant team to present a code-complying and preferred design to the Board for consideration. Prior to its two recommendation meetings, the project had not been by the Board since its Early Design Guidance meeting in August 2017.

Image Credit: Johnston Architects

City documents state that the departure the zoning planner identified was a Land Use Code anomaly, which required more landscaping at the site than previously interpreted. During its January review meeting, Johnston Architects and Hycroft presented plans in which additional code-required landscaping was incorporated into the building’s setback areas. Bio-retention planters with trees, canopy coverage of the sidewalk and paved areas for seating and retail spill-out were proposed. Design documents state that the enhanced landscaping will include entry breaks leasing to residential and retail spaces and are meant to reflect a park-like Uptown character.

The landscaping will be partially comprised of Green Vase trees, Winter Gem Shrubs and Japanese Maples in order to enhance the exterior façade. The exterior of the building will be clad primarily in textured wood, extensive glazing and large windows.

The Board generally supported the changes made to the project and approved it to move forward, provided the development team retains the natural wood product on the east façade and integrate the vents into the window system on the East façade and gasket. The Board also unanimously recommended the approval of a proposed departure, in which the project’s exterior features such as pavers and street furnishings would cover more of the setbacks than the 30 percent maximum allowed by code. The Board’s support means that nearly a year and a half after Hycroft and Johnston presented the project’s initial design, the development team can move forward with the remaining approvals and entitlement process.