A proposal that reimagines a current Safeway store as a 336-unit mixed-use development with ground floor retail is one step closer to coming to fruition, following a recommendation hearing with Seattle’s East Design Review Board. During the meeting, the project by Greystar, received approval from the review board, which also provided several conditions in moving it forward.
The project site is located at 1410 E John St. in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. With designs from architecture firm Weber Thompson, the project would reach five stories, include 373 vehicle parking spaces and ultimately replace the current retail with an updated ground floor Safeway totaling approximately 50,000 square feet.
“Our entire team is really excited to present this truly transformative project. There’s just so much positive change that this project brings to this part of Capitol Hill,” Austin Besse, senior associate at Weber Thompson, said. “It is a brand new modern grocery store, new retail along 15th and over 300 new households that will provide housing for your Capitol Hill neighbors.”
The design team previously met with the review board for an Early Design Guidance meeting as well as various neighborhood councils as recent as this year. In response to those meetings, the design team made several updates regarding the proposed courtyard and its relationship to the rest of the project, updated details about the materiality of the project and ways the retail and residential portion of the projects will come together as one project while still differentiating the two.
According to the design proposal, the courtyard now aligns closely with the crosswalk to provide a stronger pedestrian experience, and the spaces around the courtyard have also been reconfigured to add more active spaces. In addition, the building facade to the south of the courtyard has been angled in order to widen the courtyard at the sidewalk, ultimately providing more sunlight earlier in the day. The residential lobby has also been reconfigured so that retail spaces will now occupy the spaces at the sidewalk that flank the courtyard.
In general, the project proposal notes the design team’s aim to have a strong residential identity to the project throughout. The residential space will be most prominently situated along 15th, with other parts of the project largely devoted to the grocery store.
A mix of materials aims to further differentiate the spaces, according to the proposal. The project’s facade will primarily be made up of brick, with a mix of stacking patterns implemented throughout the southern exterior. Along 15th Avenue, the design utilizes a mix of smooth and textured fiber cement, and a light bronze color is also incorporated at residential entry points.
The project also incorporates landscaping throughout, with a mix of seating, planting beds and other foliage.
“Each entry point has been deliberately considered really to be consistent throughout the project, but with enough variation in uniqueness to maintain interest,” Besse said. “My colleagues put it really beautifully by saying that the planting along 15th complements the formality of the entry court, with a tapestry of green, apricot maroon, gold and white. The colors and textures play out the sharp contrast of the building facade and richness of the black and teal accent brick.”
Overall, the design review board was supportive of the project and ultimately decided to move it forward. The board was supportive of the design around entryways and noted that the design team was receptive of previous guidance.
However, the board also provided several suggestions and conditions. At the corner of 14th and Thomas Street, the board suggested that the design team elevates the materiality as it is a highly visible corner. The design team was also encouraged to leave any trees along Thomas intact. The board also conditioned that the design addresses any material flatness and looks at ways to add detail to the brickwork.