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Cohen Properties’ 120-Unit Residential Project Moved Forward by Seattle’s Northwest Design Review Board 

Cohen Properties, Fremont, Seattle, Atelier Drome Architecture, Northwest Design Review Board

By Catherine Sweeney

Cohen Properties’ 120-unit apartment project is taking a step forward in Seattle. The project team recently met with the Northwest Design Review Board for a recommendation meeting, at which point, it was ultimately moved forward to a master use permit. 

Located at 4401 Fremont Ave. N, the project – which features designs from Atelier Drome Architecture – would include the construction of a five-story building with ground floor commercial and an underground parking garage. Currently, the site is developed with three buildings, which would be demolished for the project to take shape. 

“With us tonight is our project owner, Alex Cohen,” said Michelle Linden of Atelier Drome Architecture. “As a lifetime resident of Seattle, and a long time resident of Fremont, Alex is passionate about contributing to the urban fabric, providing housing and commercial opportunities for our neighbors. So, we feel very fortunate to work on this project with him and in a neighborhood that he spent so much time in.”

The project site is located at the north end of Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, which has seen consistent residential growth, according to the design proposal. Overall, the project aims to support this increase in population while also building on the neighborhood’s character upon the north Fremont neighborhood character, while responding to its position as a visual corner at the intersection of Fremont and N 44th. 

The project team previously met with the design review board for an early design guidance meeting in November of last year, according to The Registry’s previous reporting. At that time, the team suggested two other design options. The first featured 2,658 square feet of commercial space, 115 housing units and 44 parking spaces, while the second option included 5,068 square feet of commercial space, 112 housing units and 46 parking spaces.

Ultimately, however, the board approved a third option, which was also the preference of the design team. This option features a broken down massing with vertical stacking. The massing also features recess that adds to the larger pedestrian realm. The ground floor commercial spaces are also broken up to provide a streetscape compatible with the pedestrian experience along Fremont Avenue. 

Since that meeting, the team updated the overall scheme through various elements, including material and color palette, added amenities and several other features. 

In incorporating feedback, the property will feature a variety of materials and colors, including several types of brick, black steel, vinyl and cementitious board lap siding. Balconies have also been added on the western facade of the building. At the corner commercial unit, extra space has also been added for better pedestrian connectivity. 

In addition, the project requires a departure from code. The team requested a departure due to a needed powerline setback. According to the proposal, the design would provide better overhead weather protection and allow for development of level exterior spaces for commercial and retail use. 

Overall, the board approved of the project, noting its strong modulation and responses to the board’s previous guidance. However, several conditions were also given in moving the project forward. This included finding a more complimentary color to the brick proposed as well as making sure the east and south windows match. The board also suggested some added differentiation in landscaping to further define entries.