Home AEC Low Tide Properties’ 174-Unit Apartment Project Met with Approval from Seattle’s East...

Low Tide Properties’ 174-Unit Apartment Project Met with Approval from Seattle’s East Design Review Board

East Design Review Board, Low Tide Properties, Seattle, Capitol Hill, MG2 Architects, Vancouver, Puget Sound

By Kate Snyder

A proposal that would bring more than 100 residential units to Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood was met with approval during a recent recommendation meeting. On Wednesday, the City’s East Design Review Board voted in support of a project from an entity affiliated with Low Tide Properties, a Vancouver, B.C.-based investment and management company. The firm is working on the project with MG2 Architects for the design.

Located at 1661 E Olive Way, the proposal consists of a 174-unit apartment building with approximately 2,700 square feet of commercial and 90 vehicle stalls in below-grade parking, according to project plans. In the project site’s surrounding area, several structures of similar scale and typology have been proposed or constructed, which reinforces to the design team that its approach of a dense multifamily building along E Olive Way is appropriate for the area and would be part of a continuing trend of the neighborhood.

Eli Hardi, project manager at MG2 Architects, presented details about the project’s design to the board during the recent meeting, highlighting the site’s location and way the project’s space is used. 

“We are bordered on the west by Belmont, the east by Boylston and the north by Olive Way,” Hardi said. “We have predominantly commercial uses across Olive Way, wrapping Boylston and Belmont, and then we have our residential entry off of Belmont as well as our garage entry. All other uses at the street level are residential units.”

Since the project was in front of the board during a previous early design guidance meeting, plans show how the design team has adopted the board’s prior recommendations. The prominent corners along E Olive Way are used as commercial spaces and the commercial storefront is set back to create further distinction between the upper, angled volumes. The setback from the right of way establishes opportunity for the commercial tenants to capitalize and establish spill-out spaces, creating an indoor-outdoor commercial environment, and with landscaping and planting, the corners located along E Olive Way are focused on establishing a meaningful pedestrian experience. Additionally, the juxtaposition of the solid, masonry massing above with the transparent glassy base below is meant to reinforce the prominence of the corner. The glassy storefront is designed to create a visual relationship between the internal commercial functions and the right of way.

Hardi also went into some detail about the building’s facade and modulation.

“The modulation of the facades serves several purposes, even with the inclusion of gaskets to break up the elevation plane,” Hardi said. “The movement of the facades further alleviates a nearly 250-foot long facade, and it mitigates a canyon-like effect that’s created in particular along Boylston. Modulation helps create variation in the overhead massing and we feel makes the street more [appealing], and it starts to define the occupied spaces below as well as leaving space for trees and defining the right-of-way.”

The board was overall supportive of the project. Specifically, board members were generally pleased with the way the design was refined since the previous early design guidance meeting. The board liked the team’s approach on the project’s massing as well as secondary architectural features. In a discussion, members of the board shared that they want to see more integration of seating options or other opportunities to break up the large retaining wall planned on Olive Way, though board members also highlighted that they were generally supportive of materials used for the retaining wall. At the Boylston corner on Olive, board members were also supportive of commercial use but agreed that further development of that stairway entry would be beneficial to the project.

Founded in 2011, Low Tide acquires and holds office, industrial, multifamily rental and retail properties for the long term, according to the company’s web site. The firm purchased the 1661 E. Olive Way site in 2019 for $8.2 million along with another property at 123 Boylston Ave. for $8.7 million in a combined $16.9 million transaction, according to The Registry’s previous reporting. Each of the properties currently house office buildings totaling 17,500 square feet. The seller of the two properties was Rizit Company and Olive Building LLC affiliated with Alexander Milkie and based on Mercer Island.