By Meghan Hall
A new development project slated to rise in Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood was given approval to move beyond its Early Design Guidance meeting Wednesday night after careful board deliberation. The project, located at 300 W. Republican St., is expected to rise eight stories and bring a 162-unit apartment building to an underutilized lot. While the project was allowed to move forward with the Master Use Permit application process and pursue a formal Design Recommendation Meeting, the West Design Review Board strongly cautioned the project team that much more detail needed to be included in future project plans.
The development has been proposed by Snohomish, Wash.-based Koz Development. Koz also owns the property and is acting as the architect for 300 W. Republican, as well. The project will be the firm’s second in Seattle.
The building will include shared amenity spaces on the ground floor and roof levels. Most of the units in the complex will be small single-occupant studios ranging in size from 258 square feet to 357 square feet. Several two-story one- and two-bedroom units ranging from 448 square feet to 634 square feet will also be included. No retail or commercial space is planned for the property, and no parking is included in the project plans.
Koz presented several massing options to the Board last week, with all of its options attempting to match the changing Uptown neighborhood context. In the surrounding area, buildings are a mix of many different building types and uses, from large 19th century warehouses to apartment buildings to sleek commercial offices and single-family homes. Low-density retail is also part of the neighborhood.
“The Uptown Area is a mix of post-war architecture and Nouveau architecture,” explained Koz Development’s Jason Andersen. “…It is a hodgepodge of all sorts of different varieties of uses and materials. Little open space exists within the site, but significant development opportunities are still there.”
The Board went back and forth for some time about which design scheme it preferred amongst Koz’s several options, but ultimately agreed that Option C, favored by the project team, was the best choice. Dubbed “Full Square,” the project intends to activate the corner of the site at the pedestrian level with a large courtyard space which aligns with interior amenities. The ground floor level will also receive base relief and a façade treatment that is specific to the pedestrian scale, and all units will be outward-facing. Massing overall is designed to be “simple and restrained,” and lacked any deep setbacks, relief or modulation compared with the other two massing options presented.
At the time of the meeting, Koz had not yet hashed out a specific materials palette, but suggested the building would be clad in a mix of brick and metal panel.
The Board recognized that the existing site was a small one and required the development team to respond to topographical challenges; however, it expressed concern regarding the simplicity of the design and whether it was enough to warrant moving the project forward. The Board agreed that because it was a smaller site, that “aggressive” setbacks were not warranted, but the project was big enough to where more detail was needed in order to break up the façade and mitigate some of the scale of the building. The Board also noted that most of those viewing the building will do so driving up 3rd Ave. West, and that the building will appear larger due to its location on higher ground. The Board emphasized that on this note, additional fenestration would be needed to mitigate perceptions of bulk and scale.
“The building will read even larger and more massive as you come up the hill and perceive the building on your left,” noted one Board member. “The location and topography really impact the experience.”
The Board noted that the success of the project’s design will hinge upon the details of the project. The Board asked that future iterations of the project include details such as more articulations, recesses and clarity between the vertical massing options. The Board also asked for a study of the project’s entries, as well as additional evaluation regarding the units located to the north and how the outdoor amenity space will operate or provide privacy. The Board was also inclined to support the materials selection.
The Board did approve the project to move forward to recommendation phase. However, it cautioned that “a lot” of additional information and detailing would need to be provided at the next round of design review so the Board can more clearly evaluate the schemes’ success.