By Meghan Hall
The end of 2019 proved to be a big season for project approvals for developers in the up-and-coming Northgate neighborhood, with two large residential projects clearing Early Design Review and providing a glimpse into the neighborhood’s transformation over the next couple of years. Three projects—a seven-story, 181-unit building and a nine-story, 222 unit project, both at 401 NE Northgate Way, and a five-story, 290-unit complex at 11201 Roosevelt Way NE—received the green light from the Northeast Design Review Board. While the three projects were approved at the end of the year, City documentation detailing their approval has only more recently become available. The developments are located within two blocks of one another and were approved at the same meeting in December.
The first project to face the Review Board was 11201 Roosevelt Way NE. Proposed by Seattle-based IS Property Investments in conjunction with Studio Meng Strazzara, a local architecture firm, which is currently developed with a commercial building dating to the 1950s, as well as a surface parking lot. The new development will include a mix of unit types, from studios, “urban one-bedroom,” one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. Several live/work units as well as 5,000 square feet of amenity space facing Roosevelt Way NE are also part of the project plans.
The project team’s preferred massing option indicates that the development would be an “E” shape, taking advantage of large perimeter setbacks, mature trees and south-facing courtyards to enhance the ground-level experience. Pedestrian walkways, notes the project plans, are of particular importance due to the Light Rail’s expected arrival in the neighborhood in the coming years.
Overall, the Board appreciated the preferred massing option, believing that it was the best arrangement of uses when responding to the site’s context and adjacent intersection. The Board also appreciated that the massing eases the transition in zoning to the north of the site, which is primarily developed with two-story multifamily structures. As the design continues to evolve, the Board encouraged the project team to create a strong base expression and scale the design upwards in a more vertical rhythm.
At the end of the meeting, the Board unanimously recommended that the 11201 Roosevelt Way NE project move forward to MUP application. Directly following was the evaluation of the second of two apartment complexes 401 NE Northgate Way, within a few minutes’ walk of the Roosevelt project.
The 401 NE Northgate way Project building reviewed—known as “M3”—is to be developed by Simon Property Group and is designed by architecture firm GGLO. The goal of the M3 property, according to project documents, is to revive the Eastern edge of the project site.
“As the second residential building on the reimagined Northgate site, M3 will establish Northgate as a place where art, diversity, athletics and innovation thrive,” project documents state. “Working synergistically with M2 to serve as a neighborhood gateway and repairing critical pathways for pedestrian connection, building M3 reinvigorates the eastern edge of the project with dynamic presence of residential, retail and amenity.”
Upon completion, M3 will be home to 167 residential units, 5,298 square feet of commercial space and seven townhomes. Like the 11201 Roosevelt project, the proximity of the Light Rail Connection on 5th Ave. NE, as well as connectivity to the neighborhood and surrounding development, was paramount in driving the design of the building.
A bridge will connect M3 to another residential building, denoted in the plans as “M2.” M2, also approved at the end of last year just prior to the design approval of M2, will rise nine-stories and accommodate 222 units. The materiality and expression for both buildings will be similar, using dark brick, wood panels, powder coat perforated metals and light ceramic panels for the exterior facades. The massing of both buildings seeks to frame the connection to the Hill Climb, the Northgate Mall project’s planned central park and the associated community center.
For M3, ground level retail masses are mostly pulled forward to engage with the pedestrian realm, although a few are set back to accommodate covered terraces for dining and entrances. The building’s massing is also further inspired by water features located at the adjacent hill climb. The townhomes will be vertically articulated, and large terraces will provide further depth and modulation.
M2’s design will include linear, organized massing and active programs at the corner of the building. Large massing moves are broken down with recesses and gaskets, and like M3, will signal transitions from retail to residential and other uses.
Both M3, approved on the same night as the Roosevelt project, and M2, approved the week prior, were given the green light to move forward with approvals. For M3, Board suggestions included improving the transition from M3 to the bridge element through the use of simpler materials, and building upon the effectiveness of the east and south facades by implementing more consistent fenestration and materials application. For M2, the Board asked the development team so simply the west façade by removing an upper level setback and working with the planner to revise the expression of several materials, including the extension of dark-colored brick and the wood materials proposed for the soffits.