By Jack Stubbs
A new residential tower is coming to South Lake Union’s skyline.
This evening, on Wednesday, March 28th, a 278-unit building slated for Seattle’s bustling South Lake Union neighborhood was given the green light to proceed at a Design Review Recommendation (DRR) meeting.
At the meeting, architect Ankrom Moisan presented updated project plans to the west design review board on behalf of Pillar Properties and Reel Management, who are jointly developing the project. Landscape architecture firm Hewitt is also on the project team. The residential development was last reviewed at an Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting held in April 2017.
The 28-story development, called the 9th & John Apartments, is located at 820 John St. adjacent to Denny Park. Along with 278 residential units, the project will also include 9,400 square feet of indoor residential amenity space; 5,391 square feet of street-level retail; and 248 below-grade parking stalls.
The priority city design guidelines for the project include creating a residential community that serves the demand of the growing population of South Lake Union; enhancing the pedestrian experience along Denny Park; emphasizing a “green street” along John Street through the use of landscaping elements and amenities; and preserving Denny Park as a safe, community-oriented resource for neighborhood residents, according to the project plans.
Beginning the applicant team’s presentation, Jennifer Sobieraj Sanin, managing design principal at Ankrom Moisan, articulated the changes that the applicant team had made to the project plans since the last EDG meeting. At the previous meeting, the board recommended that the applicant work on reducing the massing and scale of the building; incorporate different materials into the building’s exterior to better fit the neighborhood context; and work on further activating the adjacent streetscape through landscaping and ground-level amenities.
In response to the board’s guidance, the applicant team emphasized the development’s exterior facade and incorporated materials into the building that better fit the neighborhood character. Additionally, the applicant team added various landscaping elements and amenities to enhance the “green street,” and also improved the massing and design of the rooftop. The applicant team focused on the design and orientation of the project in relation to another in-the-works 28-story development adjacent to the site being developed by Greystar, which will include 374 units. Finally, the applicant also added more retail space along 9th Ave.
Most of the board’s clarifying questions focused on the current design and programming of the project. Board member Homero Nishiwaki asked the applicant to clarify the relationship between the units and resident amenity space. Board member Brian Walters requested the applicant to provide more information about the materiality of the building facades, also asking whether the building’s massing would successfully transition to the streetscape along 9th Ave. Finally, board member Stephen Porter asked the applicant how it would adequately integrate the retail space and amenity area into the development along John St.
During its deliberation period, the board recommended that the applicant team work on refining the exterior materiality and expressed its approval of the added retail along 9th Ave. However, the board also requested that the applicant work on the programming of the interior retail space and revise the location of the building entrance. Additionally, the board recommended that the applicant improve the exterior signage along the street from a pedestrian perspective.