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Design Review Board Recommends 46-Story Apartment Building in Downtown Seattle Move Forward to MUP Application

Pinnacle Plus, Plus Capital Partners, Hewitt Architecture, Seattle, Pike Place
Rendering Courtesy of HEWITT

By Bekka Wiedenmeyer

Nestled in the heart of Downtown Seattle is 1516 2nd Avenue, a site surrounded by buildings from all eras of historical Seattle with major pedestrian activity created by Pike Market Place, located one block west. In November, Pinnacle Plus Development, LLC, Plus Capital Partners, LLC and architecture firm HEWITT presented an amended proposal to the Downtown Design Review Board for a 46-story apartment building with retail and below-grade parking at the site during a final recommendation meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Board unanimously approved the design and recommended the project move forward to MUP application.

The site, owned by Pinnacle Plus Development, LLC and Plus Capital Partners, LLC, is currently developed by a four-story commercial building constructed in 1963 and a surface parking lot. The existing building, which is not a designated historic landmark, is set to be demolished to make way for the project. Directly adjacent to the north of the site is a seven-story apartment building, which is also not a designated historic landmark, and an eight-level parking structure directly adjacent to the south. Across the alley to the east are two city landmarks, the Olympic office tower and the Fischer Studio Building, which are now condominiums. Two more landmarks are located on the block corners, bookmarking a residential tower. The rest of the district is composed of mixed-use buildings from different decades, providing a home for the foot traffic that flows from closeby transit corridors, Pike Market Place and Pike/Pine couplet.

There are multiple goals to the currently unnamed project, according to the proposal. The design team broke these goals down into three separate categories in the project proposal: Be a good neighbor, be in the know and be smart. Through this project, the team is hoping to give people a chance at home ownership and allow people to invest in the neighborhood, along with allowing for an architectural expression that takes into account the character of the community and its inhabitants. The team is also aiming to activate pedestrian use of the surrounding street level areas and make the space useful in terms of connecting the downtown retail core, Belltown and Pike Place Market. Lastly, the team hopes to exercise Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principals so that pedestrians can have an improved experience through the addition of the building the neighborhood.

According to project documents, the 19,440 square foot site will be comprised of a 46-story, 518-unit apartment building with retail with space for 270 below-grade parking spots. Features include outdoor amenity areas such as rooftop terraces, with varied floor layouts to accommodate residential project studios, storage, amenities, commercial space and more.

The project has a “Mama and Baby” tower design, as described by the project team, with the 484 foot Mama tower rising over a 90 foot long podium. The Baby tower is connected to the Mama tower by three story columns, which not only provides cohesiveness but also simultaneously allows for an organic break in the massing. The Board initially supported this as the preferred massing option in the first early design guidance meeting in October 2018, but also supported public comment that the design team study the facade development further, especially in the transition to the northern podium. In response, the team lowered the height and setback the podium, which the Board supported.

Other design features of the project include a porte cochere design at the alley, which has increased setbacks that will permit more light, air and activation opportunity in the alley. The Board recommended the team validate their proposal for the alley design with SDCI and SDOT and make any changes the City required for safety or vehicular functionality purposes, of which the Board will be supportive.

Additional comments made by the Board that were addressed in the final recommendation meeting encompassed tower placement, with the Board suggesting the previously mentioned transition be achieved not only through height reduction but also through massing and material detailing. The Board also supported the proposed lighting plan of the buildings, but recommended the team share more details during MUP review so that lighting from the lobby and exterior void would not glare or overlap the alley.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the four Board members approved the design and recommended the project move forward to MUP application. Pinnacle Plus Development, LLC, Plus Capital Partners, LLC and Hewitt Architects will be expected to provide further information regarding lighting and alley design at the MUP review meeting, and with the Board’s support, will move closer toward their goal of providing a space for people to have a home and ownership in the surrounding community through the site at 1516 2nd Avenue.