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Downtown Design Review Board Moves Forward Proposal for 464-Unit Mixed-Use Tower in Seattle

Downtown Design Review Board, Chainqui Development, Studio TJP, GCH Planning & Landscape, Griffin Building, Sheridan Apartments, Belltown, MZA Architecture, Hotel Andra, Seattle, Puget Sound

By Kate Snyder

Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood is one step closer to seeing more housing. During a recommendation meeting on Tuesday, the city’s Downtown Design Review Board voted in favor of moving forward a proposal for a 44-story mixed-use tower with 464 residential units, office and commercial space.

Chainqui Development is the project developer and owner of the site while MZA Architecture is serving as the architect, Studio TJP as the historic preservation architect and GCH Planning & Landscape as the landscape architect.

The project site is located at 2005 5th Ave. and consists of three parcels. Both the Griffin Building, which is a four-story office building, and Sheridan Apartments, a six-story apartment building, are located on the two parcels most south of the site – both of these structures are marked as landmarks. According to project plans, the design goals include extending the life of the Griffin and Sheridan buildings as well as integrating the new building into the Belltown neighborhood and maximizing natural light and views.

“The site is located at the northwest corner of 5th Avenue and Virginia Street,” said Craig Davenport, principal in charge of the project for MZA Architecture. “It consists of the most southern three parcels facing the monorail along 5th Avenue and includes the landmark Griffin Building at the corner and the Sheridan Apartments in the center. As viewed from Virginia Street, the site is slightly sloped from east to west and the alley is bounded by the Hotel Andra and the Griffin Building.”

In addition to the residential space, the proposal also features 18,832 square feet of office area, 3,532 square feet of street-level commercial area and 276 below-grade parking stalls in seven levels of underground parking. Other amenities include bike racks, renovated sidewalks and new street trees as well as a rooftop deck area. Previous versions of the proposal included fewer residential units and more office space.

The project had previously been presented at three Early Design Guidance meetings, the current proposal shows, and at those previous meetings the board showed support for details such as the simple and uniform building tower massing concept, the new formalism tower expression and concept, the tower placement and tapered massing, the street-level programming and design and the height of podium transition. In response to previous EDG recommendations, some changes were made to the project’s design, such as the creation of a symmetrical tapered form for the podium.

During the meeting, Peter Sherrill, design principal for MZA Architecture, emphasized the changes that had been made to both the podium and tower design.

“The upper podium massing has been revised,” Sherrill said. “The board provided guidance on the podium-to-tower transition, noting the tower could be better expressed by either creating a gasket or by setting back the podium. The response to guidance shows the revised upper podium that is now set back from the tower. All four corners of the tower are now clearly delineating a symmetric and pure tapered form that’s true to the New Formalism design style.”

Board members were overall satisfied with the design proposal. They supported the material selections that worked to complement the nearby historical buildings, were pleased with the overall massing concept and approved of the podium-to-tower transition. Aaron Luoma, board member, highlighted how much of the design was done with consideration of the nearby historic buildings and how appreciative the board is that the applicant took steps to mitigate the effects to the surrounding areas as much as possible.

“The board does appreciate the applicant’s diligence and the time it has taken to get to this point,” Luoma said. Recognizing that and I think overall the respect and the work that’s been done to preserve as much of the historic buildings that are present at the base of this tower.”