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Design Review Board Requests Second Design Review Meeting for 7-Story Apartment Building in Seattle’s Green Lake Neighborhood

Green Lake, Seattle, CollinsWoerman, Brumbaugh & Associates, Green Lake North LLC
Rendering Courtesy of CollinsWoerman

By Bekka Wiedenmeyer

Seattle’s Green Lake Neighborhood, located in a designated Urban Village overlay district, is populated mainly by multi-family and single-family residences with a handful of commercial and institutional structures. The main focal points of the neighborhood are the lake and the park after which the neighborhood is named, which characterizes Green Lake with water-related activities, pedestrian orientation and the motto of equally balanced work and play. In July, CollinsWoerman and Brumbaugh & Associates proposed a revised project for a 7-story, 158-unit mixed-use building in the Green Lake Neighborhood during a recommendation meeting to the Northeast Design Review Board, based on the suggestions made in the first EDG meeting in October 2017. In response, the Board recommended the project undergo another series of revisions and return for another design recommendation meeting based on the changes made.

The site, which is owned by Green Lake North LLC and located at 420 NE 2nd Street, is currently occupied by one- and two-story wooden and masonry structures and surface lot parking. The existing buildings are scheduled to be demolished to make way for the new apartment building. Surrounding the site are a variety of residential buildings, including several single-family residences built mostly in the 1920s along the eastside of NE 5th Avenue and a single multi-family residence located at the southeast corner of 5th Avenue NE and NE 72nd Street. The Green Lake Village mixed use apartment building, built in 2014 and home to the PCC grocery store and an underground parking garage, rounds out the surrounding area at the south side of NE 71st Street, where it occupies a full block. A number of multi-family residences and structures lines the north side.

According to project documents, the 135,160 square foot mixed-use building will include 158 residential units and 143 parking stalls, with 135 spaces for long-term bicycle storage and 16 spaces for short-term bicycle parking. The building will also include 18,373 square feet of commercial retail on the ground level. Amenities include an entry plaza, along with a separation between the residential and commercial entrances and a landscaped rooftop with string lighting at trellis and seating areas.

CollinsWoerman describes the podium and upper-levels as being set back along the rear facade, with the goal of creating a bigger separation from the adjacent buildings. This will help make natural light and air more accessible, the proposal states. One of the goals of the project, also according to the documents, is to remain consistent with the characteristics of the neighborhood, especially the pedestrian orientation. In accordance with this goal, the entry plaza is designed to be set back along the street-facing facade to create a pedestrian scale and connection with the Green Lake Village pedestrian cut through to the south, as well as to distinguish the entrances between the residential and commercial spaces.

The building’s materials are multifold, with smooth-faced brick veneer and exposed concrete at podium levels one and two and smooth finished fiber cement panel at levels three through seven. Profiled metal panel and with metallic medium gray finish and architectural flat-metal trims will be featured on levels two through seven. The storefront window frames are designed with anodized aluminum, and the residential window frames will be vinyl.

The Board generally supported the recessed, double height podium and mezzanine massing option in the first EDG meeting, stating that it had better articulation and more interesting features than the other options. The board members did have concerns during the recommendation meeting, however, about the current building mass with increased building height as a result of recent city-wide MHA HALA zoning changes. The revised design complies with the new MHA zoning with the building at five feet shorter than the allowed height, according to project documents, but the revision is five feet taller and has one more level than the original design presented in the first EDG meeting. Moving forward, the Board stated in the report that the project needs better structural scaling and architectural language that involves more street activation at the base of the building.

On the other hand, the Board supported the notched plaza, residential entry and mezzanine aligned with the Green Lake Village Pedestrian cut through for the adjacent sites in the first EDG meeting, but requested more information regarding the plaza space and how it will be used. The revised proposal included section drawings which more thoroughly demonstrated the relationship between the new building and adjacent sites, and the plaza as a widened sidewalk area designed to accommodate street furniture and landscaping elements to help activate the street. The Board asked for greater design detail on this topic in the recommendation meeting, however.

The Board also had concerns about the revised materials and forms of the building in the new proposal, stating the facade treatments did not read well together.

As per the new guidance suggested by the Board, CollinsWoerman and Brumbaugh & Associates will review the project proposal and design concepts again and return for another design recommendation meeting to resolve these concerns so the new project can accomplish its goal of blending in with the pedestrian-oriented, work-and-play balance of Seattle’s Green Lake Neighborhood.