By Meghan Hall
In June of 2018, Spokane, Wash.-based SRM Development acquired the historic Knights of Columbus building in Seattle’s Pike/Pine neighborhood, purchasing the property with redevelopment in mind. At the time of the sale, there was deliberation as to how SRM Development would keep the 107-year-old building as part of its redevelopment plans, and to what extent. Now, SRM Development’s plans for the site are becoming clear, as the developer, along with Runberg Architecture Group, plans on incorporating the original building into a 128-unit development it has planned for the site. On Wednesday, SRM and Runberg presented their plans to the City of Seattle at a second early design guidance meeting, where the East Design Review Board offered feedback supporting the project.
SRM Development acquired the property, located at 722 E. Union Street, for $18.5 million, according to public records. Until the transaction occurred, the property was owned by the Knights of Columbus Club of Seattle, a Catholic-based fraternal organization originally founded in New Haven, Conn. The Seattle chapter of the organization has been active in the area since 1902 and built the 33,196 square foot Knights of Columbus building in 1913 to use as its local headquarters. The organization strives to provide community services that support the Ministry of the Catholic Church. The decision to sell the property, according to previous industry reporting, did not come as an easy decision to the organization.
Renovation of the building requires careful consideration by both the Seattle Design Review Board and the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board. Plans to restore the building include cleaning and repairing the original clinker brick and sandstone, adding a new canopy at the main entry, new doors and restoring glazing on the building’s windows.
The building, which plans indicate will be used as office space, will connect to the new, ground-up portion of the development. The new part of the building will rise seven stories over a three-story basement. The gasket position of the new building strives to maintain as much of the original character of the Knights of Columbus Building as possible. An additional setback at the transition from the old to new building will create street-facing open space, while stepped massing at the upper levels of the residential building will allow the ground plane of the structure to relate more appropriately to the surrounding neighborhood context.
The Board had several clarifying questions for the project team, including how the design on the north facade evolved based off of guidance given during a previous EDG meeting, as well as some questions on material considerations and the overall layout of the units. The Board also expressed some concern that the architectural concept driving the design was not complete. The Board did also agree that the current proposal did fit with the neighborhood character and is consistent with other development in the Pike/Pine neighborhood. The Board also commended the project team on its chosen use of materials for the project, and unanimously voted to move the project forward to the next phase of the design review process, signaling that it was happy with the design direction the project had taken.
With preliminary design approval in hand, SRM Development and Runberg Architecture will return in the next few months for a formal Design Review Meeting that will reveal additional details about the building’s massing and materiality. If approved, the project will begin the Master Use Permit process.