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LMC to Bring 760-Unit Residential Development Back to Seattle Design Review Board for Second EDG Meeting 

LMC, Encore Architects, Seattle, University District, Laurelhurst, Westman Group

By Catherine Sweeney 

LMC, a Seattle-based developer, is hoping to deliver a 760-unit residential project between the city’s University District and Laureltown neighborhoods. On Monday evening, the development company met with the Northeast Design Review Board for an Early Design Guidance meeting but will have to return for a second following several suggestions from the board. 

Located at 3020 NE 45th Street, the project is designed by Encore Architects and would include three residential buildings totaling 943,600 square feet, including 25,300 square feet of commercial space and 650 parking garages. 

According to the project’s design proposal, the project aims to enhance the neighborhood by activating NE 45th Street and Union Bay Place NE. The development also aims to improve the pedestrian experience through expanded sidewalks, added plazas and engaging retail spaces. 

“We’re really excited about the opportunity for future residents to live in this community and interact with the broader neighborhood. As we thought through this opportunity, we’re really striving to create a best in class vibrant community that will complement the broader neighborhood,” Brad Reisenger, division president at LMC, said. 

The buildings would be designed into three structures above a connected podium. The bulk of the podium would also be reduced by two massing breaks along both street frontages. Upper level stepbacks along both street frontages are also proposed as a way to reduce the mass of the building.

Each building would also include a private courtyard with spaces between buildings serving as added amenity areas. Residents at the planned development would also have access to a larger courtyard that contains a large existing tree, which will serve as a focal point for the project. 

During the meeting, the project team proposed three massing options. The preferred option, which was ultimately approved by the board, included two eight-story buildings and one nine-story building above a below grade garage. According to the proposal, the preferred scheme’s massing ‘focuses outward creating a porous character at the edges to give neighbors relief from the scale and mass of the building.” This massing option also provides a strong pedestrian streetfront among primarily car-centric designs.  

Another option, which was not selected to advance in the design process, included a massing scheme with two eight-story buildings. The buildings would feature street level commercial and residential units above a below grade garage. However, the design would have closed-off courtyards and a long, uninterrupted facade along NE 45th Street, creating a lack of pedestrian scale.  

The second unselected option consists of three, eight-story buildings composed of street level commercial and residential units with a below grade garage. Once again, however, this option provides little at the pedestrian scale. 

“We’ve probably had 30 unique options that we’ve been through in terms of massing the site and trying to balance all of our needs and criteria and how to configure a really exciting route around this preferred option or some common elements across all of them,” said Bruce Machat of LMC. 

Overall, the board approved of the third and preferred option. However, the board also gave several suggestions for the team to consider when returning for the additional EDG meeting. 

The board suggested additional details of the massing of the north building and how it relates to the massing at the garage and at the lower level. They also requested additional details about the facade as the design remains in the early stages. 

Additionally, at the corner of NE 45th Avenue, the board requested the project team make it more clear where the retail entryways would be placed. The board also suggested adding more trees to the proposed central courtyard to blend in with a proposed exceptional tree that will likely be left on site.