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Downtown Design Review Board Approves IPB Properties’ 221-Unit Mixed-Use Project in Seattle’s Belltown Neighborhood

Downtown Design Review Board, Bosa Properties, Seattle, Belltown, Belltown on First Limited Partnership, Vancouver, Perkins&Will, Hewitt, Puget Sound

By Kate Snyder

A proposal for a mixed-use residential building in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood has taken another step toward completion. The project was met with approval from the Seattle Downtown Design Review Board during a recommendation meeting on Tuesday. The board supported the plan unanimously and moved it forward to the next phase of the design review process.

The owner is listed as Belltown on First Limited Partnership, an entity affiliated with IPB Properties, formerly Bosa Properties, which is a real estate development and asset management company based in Vancouver, B.C., according to public records. The architect is Perkins&Will out of the firm’s Seattle office, and the landscape architect is Hewitt, also in Seattle, according to project plans.

Located at 110 Clay St., the project is a 16-story, 221-unit apartment building with 11,300 square feet of retail space and below-grade parking for 200 vehicles and 244 bicycles. The orientation of the proposed 348,000 square foot building promotes open space and pedestrian interaction along 1st Avenue and Clay Street by locating the tower to the north of the site, project plans show. The facade steps back off of 1st Avenue to promote and establish new pedestrian engagement, and open space is located to the west and south of the tower to maximize views and solar access for outdoor residential amenity spaces. Landscaping elements along Clay Street and 1st Avenue are designed to promote the distinctive character of the Belltown neighborhood.

According to plans, the design team studied adjacent historic projects in the area and integrated a design language to tie the old to creative contemporary architectural solutions to promote visual interest. Erik Mott, principal and design director at Perkins&Will, presented details on the project to the board on Tuesday, highlighting the way the building works within the historic and cultural context of the surrounding neighborhood.

“Belltown has a rich architectural context with a wide variety of architectural styles represented within the neighborhood,” he said. “The guidelines encourage us to develop an architectural concept and compose the building’s massing in response to geographic conditions and patterns of urban form found nearby.”

During a previous early design guidance meeting, the development team presented the applicant’s preferred massing concept, which included the construction of a courtyard along 1st Avenue, increased daylight for residents and more public space. The board at the time supported the preferred massing option.

The board’s approval came with several conditions on the project’s design. One condition was for the development team to study and explore a darker grout joint on the building’s white cement prefabricated concrete to better enhance the patterning that is present when viewed from a further distance. Another condition was to provide a more defined expression and interpretation of the area’s history and culture through the project’s artwork so the art doesn’t come across as just branding but part of the existing culture. A third condition was for the planned canopy on Clay Street to provide more publicly viewed interpretive elements than just on the underside of the element. The board also discussed making a fourth condition for the commissioned artwork to come from local artists, but members decided to just recommend that suggestion rather than make it a condition.

Overall the board was pleased to see how the design team has continued developing the massing since the previous meeting and highlighted the simplicity, uniformity and consistency of the planned materials. The board also appreciated that the project continues the themes of the surrounding neighborhood context as well as the proposed interpretive elements referencing the history of the site.