By Kate Snyder
A proposal that would bring a 25-story student residential tower and an adjacent parcel of open space to Seattle’s University District was approved during a recommendation meeting on Monday. The Northeast Design Review Board voted in favor of moving the project forward.
The project owner and developer is Core Spaces, a Chicago-based real estate development and investment firm focusing on student housing and build-to-rent communities. The architect and landscape architect is Seattle-based GGLO, the structural engineer is DCI Engineers, also based in Seattle, and the civil engineer is Bellevue-based Navix Engineering.
The proposed project is a 221-unit student residence tower at the northern edge of the U-District. The planned tower is located at 1205 NE 50th St., and the open space is proposed for 4751 Brooklyn Ave. NE. The two sites are adjacent to each other with an alley between them, project plans show. Retail space totaling 1,170 square feet is slated to be established along 50th Street as well as the corner that would contain the tower entry and ground floor program on 12th Avenue. The tower site is currently occupied by a vacant, brick-clad, one-story retail building that would be demolished prior to construction.
Jeff Bates, senior associate at GGLO, presented project details to the board. He noted that another parcel adjacent to the project is also planned to be part of the development but is under separate contract and separate review.
“We’ve got a great campus here, almost a mini-campus, where we’ve got these two buildings and open space,” Bates said.
According to project plans, the building’s massing is designed to relate to the immediate context of the surrounding structures while contributing to the emerging tower language of the U-District through a more playful and exuberant massing that employs tactile materials and livable terraces with open spaces at the tower setbacks. The tower is meant to provide a distinctive architectural presence along 50th as well as be a focus of new development in the neighborhood, which is primarily residential.
Several key drivers identified by the design team include the idea of “nestling” the new tower into the urban context, reinforcing the tower’s presence at the 50th Street gateway approach from Interstate 5 and developing the tower facade in a way that is consistent and able to be modulated to contextual cues. Other goals highlighted were leveraging the tower facade to create an effective backdrop for the new open space on Brooklyn Avenue and creating a “special place” at 50th and 12th as well as street facades along that corner.
The board was overall satisfied with the project and voted unanimously to move the proposal forward. During their discussion, board members agreed that the project’s configuration at 12th Avenue and 50th Street was appropriate and that a proposed student cafe, though not a public site, would create the most activity at that corner. The board also agreed with the placement of the retail space along 50th Street. One recommendation from the board was to use plantings and landscape design to frame the seating areas on both 50th Street and 12th Avenue to create a continuous flow.
Core Spaces is a vertically integrated real estate company focused on building, buying and managing student housing and build-to-rent communities, according to the firm’s website.
During the presentation of the project, Jonathan Kubow, managing director of development at Core Spaces, highlighted that this would be the firm’s third project in the U District. The company’s other developments in the neighborhood include the Hub on Campus U District Seattle, a 111-unit student housing building at 5000 University Way NE, and the ōLiv Seattle, a 211-unit building for students at 4515 Brooklyn Ave NE.
“Personally, I think this project is going to be the most exciting of the three that we have in the U District due to its unique programming and layout of the 25-story tower, a public park and amenities with a heavy focus on health and wellness,” Kubow said.