Los Angeles-based real estate developer Mack Urban did not receive an approval on Tuesday from Seattle’s design review board to move forward with their South Lake Union apartment tower. Instead, the developer, along with architects from Seattle-based Collins Woerman, must make several necessary changes to the project’s design before presenting to the board a third time.
1001 John Street, neighboring Amazon and the Seattle Times buildings, is a 43-story project that plans to offer 403 apartment units, 1,196 square feet of commercial space and 227 parking stalls. The podium is five stories with a public hill climb elevator and an overlook on the northwest corner, going from Terry Avenue up to John Street. According to Mack Urban, the hill climb will make it a very desirable pedestrian route in the neighborhood, because it will reconnect two pieces of John Street, a neighborhood green street running straight to the Space Needle.
The concerns are large enough for me that I want to see it again
One of the board’s goals is to encourage project designs to add unique character to the city’s skyline, and this project provides just that. “As we see more and more towers coming, we’re developing a composition of a curtain wall,” said board member Boyd Pickrell. “So we ask design teams to work on making something more interesting, and this is.”
However, the board did not feel that the overall design met all of the city’s design criteria. The design review board asked the design team to reconsider a number of items and make necessary changes before it can continue forward to the master use permit process. These changes include making the top of the tower more aesthetically pleasing, providing additional light at the two entrances and redesigning the John Street side in a more pedestrian-friendly fashion. “The design is definitely too car-focused, it needs to focus on the pedestrian’s perspective,” said board member Christine Harrington.
At the end of meeting the architect team attempted to explain how it could make the required changes without returning before the board, but Pickrell interjected saying that the board was going to end with the request that the team present the project again at a later date. The move by the design review board came after it had explained that it wanted to ensure that the team adheres to all of its requests; what it had heard was that some of these were not feasible. “The concerns are large enough for me that I want to see it again,” concluded Pickrell.
Mack Urban, a privately-held company that was formed in 2013 when Urban Partners, Harbor Urban and Mack Real Estate Group joined forced, had hoped to begin construction in the second quarter of 2017 and be completed in the third quarter of 2019. With the request to make changes to the project for a second time, this timeline may likely change.
Other projects in Seattle by Mack Urban are Smith & Burns, a 150-unit apartment development on Interlake Avenue that was finished in January of 2016, and two other projects currently under construction. Eleanor is a 260-unit project located on 67th Street anticipated to be completed in June of 2016, and Cyrene is a 169-unit project located on University Street that is scheduled to be finished in October of this year.