By Meghan Hall
Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, located in between the city’s bustling downtown and industrial districts, has experienced a bit of a development renaissance in recent years as new projects have slowly worked their way through the pipeline. New projects, such as the 2538 Beacon Ave. S. development, will continue to work their way into the neighborhood as up-zoning throughout the city and the expansion of Seattle’s Light Rail continue. The 84-unit development was moved forward in the application process at the end of September 2018 by the Southeast Design Review Board.
The project is proposed by XH Realty Inc., an entity associated with Yu XiaHou would demolish the existing buildings on the current lot and construct a 6-story apartment building with retail. The apartments within the building will be classified as small efficiency dwelling units, which typically are scaled-down studio apartments with kitchens and bathrooms. The project’s preferred option, designed by Seattle-based Studio 19 Architects, would also include 22 parking stalls and 3,360 square feet of retail space. The total footprint of the building would be approximately 53,300 square feet. A rooftop deck, storage and a green roof are also part of the project plans.
The site is adjacent to the Beacon Hill Light Rail Station and the Beacon Ave. South and South Bayview Street bus stops. Numerous small eateries and shops such as Despi Delite Bakery, Baja Bistro and the Beacon Hill Branch of the Seattle Public Library are all located within walking distance of the project site. Another project, similar in size at 66-units and 1,700 square feet of storefront commercial space, was moved along in the Design Review Recommendation process in February 2018. The project, located at 2912 Beacon Ave. South, is a short walk from the project site.
Per the applicant team’s design documents, the goal of the building’s design was to help maintain Beacon Ave.’s pedestrian culture through the use of simple massing and pockets of landscaping. The massing of the building would be broken up into two primary masses, and the building would be set back from all property lines to allow for glazing on the facades. A combination of rustic corrugated metal, perforated metal panels, brick and wood accents will make up the exterior of the building.
The board was receptive to the applicant team’s design, but the board emphasized the importance of maintaining and focusing on the pedestrian corridor and how it interacts with surrounding parcels. The board also asked the design team to connect the rooftop deck to Festival Street.
“They didn’t have any major adjustments but were focused on pedestrian-oriented design,” said William Lippitt, the development manager for the project and partner at Bridgewright LLC, a consulting, development and construction firm associated with the project. “They wanted the public spaces to be thoughtful.”
The application team will incorporate the board’s feedback into its future design and move forward with applying for a Master Use Permit. According to Lippitt, the overall timing of the project remains uncertain.
“It’s a priority to push the project through, and it’s also a priority not to build into a market glut,” he said.
Lippitt explained that the team wants to be shovel ready as soon as possible but will wait until the project is further along in the approvals process before deciding on a more specific date to break ground. When asked about the cost of the project, Lippitt said the designs were too preliminary to settle on a number.
Overall, Lippitt said the team is excited about the design and its future incorporation into the neighborhood.
“The Beacon Ave. retail spaces will be in keeping with the size and scale of the retail that was previously existing along that frontage, and then it will be separated on the opposite side of the building so that you have a very continuous an effective retail façade, residential façade and plaza that is tied into the neighborhood,” explained Lippitt. “We’re connecting the development right into the fabric of the neighborhood.”