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After Stern Community Feedback, Project Team for 114-Unit Residential Project in Seattle’s Othello Neighborhood Presents More Muted Design

Isola Homes, Cone Architecture, Seattle, 6515 38th Ave. S.
Image Courtesy of Cone Architecture

By Meghan Hall

Both developers and architects often look for ways to make their projects stand out, sometimes with limited success. For Bellevue-based Isola Homes and Cone Architecture, original plans for a bright, vibrant new residential development in Seattle’s Othello neighborhood had to be reworked after the community strongly objected to the proposed materials palette. After several months of evaluation, the project team will soon return to face the Southeast Design Review Board with its revamped plans for a 114-unit residential project, hoping the development will better adhere to the community’s vision.

Located at 6515 38th Ave. S., the project will include a number of small efficiency dwelling units (SEDUs), as well as efficiency dwelling units (EDUs) and one-bedroom residences. The goal is to produce a pedestrian-oriented project that will cater to the neighborhood’s rapid growth and development.

“The objective for these apartments is to promote a pedestrian-oriented lifestyle which supports and takes advantage of the thriving Othello neighborhood,” project documents explain. “The demographic that will benefit most from this housing will be young professionals and wage earners in the neighborhood, and city-dwellers seeking a more connected lifestyle. These apartments will create a convenient and variety of housing options that is supportive of the vibrant and community-oriented neighborhood.”

The properties immediately surrounding the project site include multifamily apartment buildings, low-rise commercial businesses and single-family homes. The project is located on a  busy thoroughfare and will be located next to the future Graham Link Station.

The proposed building will have three volumes, with the tallest massing form located at the northeast corner of the property towards Martin Luther King Way. However, the project team has since scaled back the massing so that it is completely out of the setbacks on all sides. The massing was also reduced towards the south, where single-family homes adjacent the property, and a lower, three-story volume is proposed towards the west to better connect to other multifamily developments in the area.

Previously, the project team had proposed a vibrant and bright materials palette that would add a pop of color to the neighborhood. After adhering to board requests to seek additional community feedback, the materials presented were not as well received by community members, who asked that both Isola Homes and Cone Architecture rework the materials in accordance with the local neighborhood context.

“Neighbors expressed distaste for bright colors which they felt were obnoxious, overwhelming, and unrelated to the overall expression of the neighborhood,” project documents stated, which gave a blunt recounting of the community’s demands.

The community added that they would support durable, horizontal materials at the south and west to better relate to the residential scale and texture of single-family structures. A more muted palette of vertical, silver metal siding, longboard tongue-and-groove metal siding in a darker, brown color, both light and dark gray fiber cement panels and dark gray metal for the juliet balconies will be presented at the next design meeting.  Darker materials will be placed on the lower, more dominant levels, while lighter materials will be used towards the top.

“As the outreach to neighbors continues, the Board encouraged the applicant to understand the local history and study how the design can acknowledge the people and the place, using the context as a potential placemaking opportunity,” documents state. “After hearing from community members, a muted palette of subtle colors and high-quality materials is proposed to better blend with existing structures.”

The revised project will be presented in the coming weeks, at which point the review board and community will evaluate the updated design scheme. The project is far from Isola Homes’ first in the neighborhood; according to its website the company has also developed the Cabochon Collection: Amber Central District, as well as the Cabochon Collection: Opal, which is in development. Its communities are primarily for-sale, and the company has four other communities throughout Seattle under construction: Bloom, in Green Lake, Corazon South in Capitol Hill, Cabochon Collection: Amber, and Cabochon Collection: Jade.