By Jack Stubbs
South Lake Union continues to be a hotbed of development activity, and the evolving neighborhood officially has a new project on the way.
This evening, on Wednesday, April 4th, a 162-unit project slated for South Lake Union, which is being developed by Seattle-based Intracorp, was unanimously approved at an Early Design Guidance meeting. At the meeting, applicant NK Architects presented preliminary project plans to the west Design Review Board on behalf of Intracorp. Karen Kiest Landscape Architects is also on the project team.
The development, located at 1405 Dexter Ave N., calls for the construction of an 8-story building which, along with 162 residential units, will also include 5 live/work units, an exterior courtyard area and 113 below-grade parking stalls. The two-parcel site is currently occupied by a one-story commercial building that would be demolished as part of the project plans.
The proposed development sits on Dexter Ave. N., a prominent thoroughfare in South Lake Union, and is one block from the edge of the lake and four blocks from Lake Union Park. Additionally, the multifamily project is just two blocks from Facebook’s recently-opened six-story, 150,000 square foot Westlake Office—which the company officially showcased to the public on March 13th, 2018—that will provide room for 900 additional employees.
The Westlake Office is also right across the street from the tech company’s office at Dexter Station, a roughly 346,000 10-story Class A office building which Facebook has occupied since early 2016 and currently houses approximately 2,000 employees.
Beginning the applicant team’s presentation, NK Architects discussed how the proposed project will take design and material cues from various other existing and proposed multifamily developments located along Dexter Ave. N., including the 296-unit Leeward Apartments; Dexios, a proposed 88-unit apartment building; and the 71-unit Anchor Flats Apartments, which will open in May 2018.
Additionally, the applicant team explained how it hopes to encourage street-level uses with the development and emphasize the north-south directionality along Dexter Ave. for pedestrians and vehicles. The project team requested one Departure regarding the orientation and location of the below-ground parking area.
The applicant also highlighted the relationship between the proposed development and the Nautica, an adjacent condo building, and discussed potential issues relating to vehicular circulation and parking around the site. Concerning the three submitted massing options, the applicant reviewed the pros and cons and defining features of each option. Some of these included the location of the courtyard area and building entrances, the project’s integration within the South Lake Union neighborhood context and how the building would be perceived from a pedestrian perspective along Dexter Ave.
Most of the board’s clarifying questions focused on how the applicant planned to program various elements of the project. Board member Brian Walters asked the applicant to elaborate on the relationship between the main building entrance and an existing transit stop on Dexter Ave., while board member Patreese Martin requested more clarification about the applicant’s plans for the location and orientation of the parking spaces in the building. Board member Homero Nishiwaki echoed this point, highlighting potential issues with the applicant’s current plans for the parking garage. The board also asked for more information about the landscaping elements and proposed materials for the project’s exterior, and how the different massing options would impact other nearby buildings—particularly the Nautica building—along Dexter Ave.
During the public comment period of the meeting, three residents of the adjacent Nautica building expressed their preference for the “L-shaped” massing option for the project, also highlighting potential privacy concerns for building residents.
During its deliberation period, the board ultimately agreed to advance the project, also discussing on the architectural expression of the building, issues related to parking and the street-level uses.
The board expressed its general approval of the “L-shaped” massing option but agreed that the applicant would need to further refine certain facade articulation elements before the next design review meeting. Additionally, the board recommended that the applicant provide more detailed information about the relationship between the live/work units and the streetscape along Dexter Ave. Regarding the applicant’s proposed plans for parking, the board emphasized how further consideration would need to be given to pedestrian safety and circulation along the street.