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By Kristin Bentley

HB Management and their architect VIA Architecture did not receive an approval from Seattle’s Downtown Design Review Board last night on a tower width expansion for its proposed 2300 Sixth Avenue project. Due to the existing neighboring Insignia twin condo towers and Clise Properties’ proposed twin-tower project planned for the same block, VIA and developer HB Management face zoning restrictions that are requiring a downsize to their modern new apartment development.

According to land use code, downtown towers are required to stay within a limited width in order to provide enough lighting to surrounding structures. Now that VIA’s request to build a 155-foot-long façade along Sixth Avenue was denied, it will have to go back and redesign the project for a third time before HB can move forward. Another obstacle will be in requesting a zoning exemption during the next phase when the firm goes into the master use permit process. Due to a 60-foot restriction between towers, HB will again be facing zoning regulations that may require the developer to build smaller towers if they do not receive this exemption.

“We hope that the city will hold true to its zoning code, that if there were significant departures that there would be a benefit to us or someone else by making it a better project.”

“I’m a big fan of the architects and their work, it is a beautiful building,” said Richard Stevenson, a representative of Clise Properties. “We hope that the city will hold true to its zoning code, that if there were significant departures that there would be a benefit to us or someone else by making it a better project. We just see this as a disaster for our project.”

After review, the design board said that it will recommend to the city council that both the 2300 Sixth Avenue and Clise Towers projects be required to build back 30 feet from the street. The proposal for Clise Towers is only weeks further in the process, so the board stated that it is only fair that both projects be considered when making this decision.

Located at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Bell Street in the Denny Regrade neighborhood, the 2300 Sixth Avenue proposal is for twin 41-story apartment towers that will provide 1,016 units, a six-story podium offering 25,000 square feet of retail space and 627 underground parking stalls. The developer plans to build compact units that are targeted to attract millennials in Seattle.

Amenities include a restaurant with outdoor dining, co-working location designed to attract tech workers, a speakeasy and lounge with event space, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

“We’re very proud of this project, we feel it offers an advancement in design,” said Matt Roewe, director of major projects and planning for VIA in Seattle. “There’s a lot of resources inside the building to make it fun to live there.”

HB Management is the developer on the project. The Seattle-based firm specializes in real estate advisory, development and management services. According to Seattle-based Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors 2016 Development Pipeline Report, the firm has five planned projects and one that is under construction. A 201-unit seven-story apartment building in Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood is anticipated to be complete by July 2017. These six developments will deliver approximately 1,767 units into Seattle’s housing market.

Upon permit approval, the 2300 Sixth Avenue and Clise Towers projects would create one of the densest blocks in downtown Seattle, according to the Downtown Design Review Board. With Insignia’s proximity to the two development parcels, it has raised concerns for tenants. These concerned Seattleites attended last night’s meeting to voice their concerns that the development will block light, increase wind sound and cause higher levels of traffic.

“I love the design and look forward to being your new neighbor, it looks like a place that would be fun to hang out,” said Insignia tenant Randy Wilcox. “As we watch our neighborhood and Seattle grow, it’s an exciting time. But ultimately, the thing that we all prize here is sunlight and air that provides relief on gloomy days.”

One of the suggestions that Clise Properties brought forward was for HB Management to consider building one tower instead of two, however, HB said that would not create any desired results. “I have a big love for what we’ve come up with here,” said HB Principal Jonathan Breiner. “One of the reasons we weren’t fond of the idea of building one tower in the middle is that it would not provide any more air or light coming through. Instead it would provide a perfect block to that center gap.”

“There were opportunities for our neighbor to push themselves away without sacrificing any square footage in their two towers, and they had a long time to do it,” added Breiner. “We couldn’t make them do that, it was their choice. But part of the reason we are close to them is because they declined to move their building.”