By Meghan Hall
A new mixed-use apartment building at 444 Northeast Ravenna Boulevard — one of Green Lake’s busiest thoroughfares — was given the approval to apply for a Master Use Permit after the Seattle design board voiced its support in favor of a proposal submitted by Seattle-based owner Flatiron Properties and Johnston Architects LLC to construct a 113-unit mixed-use development on the site.
The project was evaluated by the Northeast Design Review Board at an Early Design Review on September 24th, and the board was generally supportive of the project’s design, according to Ray Johnston, founding partner at Johnston Architects and the partner on the project. However, the board asked the design team to clarify several details regarding site access from Oswego and the placement of bicycle parking.
“Ravenna is a homestead boulevard,” said Johnston. “We really like the idea of our building being responsive to two things: the breadth of Ravenna and the fact that bicyclists and pedestrians really use this corridor. We’d really like it to be friendly and community-generating on the ground level, adding to the sense of the neighborhood.”
The project site is just two blocks from the eastern edge of the lake, near the neighborhood’s commercial center. The area has slowly changed over the years and has a mix of single-family homes and newer commercial and multifamily developments. Additional multi-family developments are likely to pop up in the future, as Green Lake is one of several neighborhoods that is under consideration for up-zoning. If approved, the up-zoning will take effect sometime between the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019. The new Roosevelt Light Rail station will be built just a half mile from the site, as part the plans to accommodate increasing density across the City.
The proposed development would demolish the existing buildings on the 18,000 square foot site and construct a seven-story building with 2,075 square feet of commercial space and 113 apartments. One level of sub-surface parking — the entrance of which will be off of Oswego Place Northeast — with 24 vehicle spaces and 32 bicycle spaces are also included in the plans. A deck with potted trees, a fire pit, designated dog spot and tables and chairs is planned for the rooftop.
The exterior of the building will largely keep in character with the rest of the neighborhood in its simple, brick exterior. Wood and metal sidings would pose as accent materials. The façade on Ravenna has a recessed entrance, storefront windows and opportunities for outdoor seating and several trees would be planted on either side of the building along both Ravenna and Oswego. A steel continuous covered canopy would provide shade along Ravenna.
“We want to set a good standard with our building,” Johnston said. “It’s mid-block, so it needs to be nicely tailored, beautifully detailed and really inviting and pleasant.”
The design review board liked the materials that Johnston Architects had selected for the project, but asked that the team consider the design of the South façade, which will likely be visible for a more extended period of time, as the neighboring brick building is unlikely to see refurbishment in the immediate future. The board also suggested bringing the upper façade, currently elevated by columns, down to the ground. Johnston and the design team agreed with the board’s critiques and will work towards specific design solutions in the interim before the project’s next public meeting.
“There is a second public meeting, and our goal is to respond to the board’s suggestions and redefine our design a little bit, and then we’ll present and defend our solution in context of the board’s comments,” said Johnston in response to the project’s next steps.
The team will submit a Master Use Permit application before the next recommendation meeting. However, the timeline for delivery of the project and remaining approvals process remains unclear.
“You know I would guess that it’s about a year,” Johnston said. “It’s hard to predict in Seattle these days.”