Even in the midst of over a dozen other planned projects in the same neighborhood, Seattle-based Caron Architecture and owner North American Asset Management Group LLC want to add a 36-story mixed-use residential development to the Denny Triangle in one of the city’s most active and bustling development neighborhoods. However, the plans failed to reach a consensus earlier this week by the Seattle Design Review Board and community members who were concerned about the development’s look and integration into the area.
During the January 3rd meeting, Radim Blazej, CEO and founder of Caron Architecture, presented the plans for the 36-story mixed-use structure, located at 2300 8th Ave. in Seattle. The building would add 331 residential units to the area and provide over 5,000-square-feet of commercial retail space on the two corners of the development. It would also include 75 below-grade parking stalls, which is not required due to its proximity to the frequent transit corridor but had been added as an amenity by the developer, along with 110 bike stalls and a protected bike lane. Residents would also have rooftop views of the Space Needle as well as South Lake Union.
Designers, architects, and city planners considered three options for the site, two of which seemed to have less interest by most accounts. The preferred option, option three, offered fewer stories and limited balconies but provided a more dynamic appearance that appealed to the aesthetic of the community. The other two options offered fewer units, a taller building and larger balconies.
While the proposed designs provide some variety to the structure, Blazej and his team preferred option three because of its appearance and fewer stories even as community members pushed back arguing the design of option two was more intricate and wouldn’t hinder sight lines as much.
In response, Blazej said option two is more expensive and technically complicated compared to option three, but community members said they preferred the overall look of option two because the renderings of the outside of option three looked too busy, to which Blazej agreed. He added option one is essentially impossible to execute due to the unique shape and size of the lot.
An owner of a condominium in a nearby building voiced his concerns over sight lines. He fears the new development might hinder his view of the Space Needle. Another resident of nearby Enso Condominiums, located at 820 Blanchard St., shared the concern and was particularly concerned that the photos presented in the plans were outdated and not representative of the final product. Since new developments have taken shape in the area he said the photos didn’t match the community landscape and the Board couldn’t make an informed decision with the photos alone.
During his presentation, Blazej said consistency with the landscape that surrounds the development’s future home is important, adding they’ve paid special attention to the impact of shadows on neighboring buildings. “We’re trying to lower the height of the tower to mitigate shadows on Denny Park,” Blazej said.
While there were a number of questions surrounding the project, there was excitement around some of the possibilities the building could offer, which was warmly welcomed. A couple residents were intrigued about the proposed art plazas that would be located on the corners of the building. While Blazej said he is not sure what might be there in the final design, his team offered the possibility of a vertical structure to elongate the space.
City planners carefully considered all the comments and discussion points, and in the end decided that they would like to see updated plans at a second Early Design guidance meeting, which would be held in the near future. The developer along with the architects now have more time to finalize a plan that will satisfy the concerns of the Board and of the community.