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Plans for Office Space in Historic Kelly-Springfield Building Gets Approval from Seattle’s Design Board

Ankrom Moisan, Capitol Hill, Seattle, Kelly-Springfield, Kelly-Springfield Building, Legacy Commercial
Rendering: Capitol Hill Legacy | Ankrom Moisan

By Brittan Jenkins

With overwhelming unanimous support, the proposed five-story office building atop the historic Kelly-Springfield building gained approval from the Seattle design review board in a Wednesday night meeting at Seattle University. Architecture firm Ankrom Moisan is designing the building while Legacy Commercial is developing it. The Seattle office of landscape architect Place will also be working on the project.

Architect Phillip Bozarth-Dreher with Ankrom Moisan, presented updated plans for the office building after undergoing a first round of early design guidance from the review board. Included in the plans are 65,000 square feet of office space and 12,000 square feet of ground level retail.

The project went through a series of meetings with the Landmarks Preservation Board before it was eventually approved to move forward, however it will have to undergo a final presentation to the Landmarks Preservation Board where it will then be considered for a Certificate of Approval. Once the project obtains the approval, the project can move forward into construction, which is set for Summer 2017.

The architects wanted to preserve the historical components of the Kelly-Springfield Building, which used to be the Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company in 1917. “We definitely want to do the right thing by all of our neighbors,” said Bozarth-Dreher. He added that with the rich history of the building and the neighborhood, they wanted to honor its history with help from local artists at Electric Coffin Company. The group plans to create a work of art on the building’s garage door as an homage to the tires that used to be sold in the original building. “In order to make this garage door as much of as an asset as we can, the Electric Coffin Company was hired to paint a custom installation on here,” said Bozarth-Dreher. “It will be inspired by the tread of the tires that used to be sold at the Kelly Springfield Building.”

In another tribute to the rich and diverse nature of Capitol Hill, the landscape architect working on the project said the plants on the roof will bloom to resemble a rainbow — a consistent theme throughout the vibrant neighborhood.

Aside from the incorporation of tire tread on the garage and rainbow greenery on the roof, the architects wanted to also differentiate the buildings significantly as to not lose the originality of the existing historical landmark. Bozarth-Dreher said the look they are pursuing is a sleek, minimalist facade to offset the current structure. The Board said that they appreciated the architect’s thoughtfulness in preserving as much of the original building as possible.

During the meeting, members of the public had the opportunity to comment on the project’s progress. One of the members there was the chair of the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council who voiced the support of the council for this project. He said the council is so excited about this project and it gives unconditional support. He also said he believes the office building will provide a daytime alternative to the nightlife which is much needed. He went on to say that this is the best combination of new and old the area has ever seen.

Another nearby homeowner said that he loves this project and is thrilled about what it will do for the neighborhood but had concerns over noise pertaining to the garage and asked for more clarification. With the way the garage is designed, there were originally plans for mirrors and audible noise to alert cars when pedestrians are crossing. While community members said they feel safety is important, the office building is immersed in a residential neighborhood where people are sleeping and don’t want to hear alarms going off in the night. The Board requested that a statement in writing be produced to indicate that there would be no audible noise from the garage and build confidence in nearby residents that noise will not be a nuisance.

During Board deliberations, concerns over the rooftop were brought up. As the project stands now, there are minimal plans for the rooftop in terms of providing typical amenities of what other offices are currently offering. Bozarth-Dreher said the idea of a less structured roof is that the future tenants will be able to build it out to provide whatever they feel are the needs for their employees. While some members of the Board weren’t sold on that model, they ultimately gave the OK for the plan as is to allow for tenants to provide their own amenities.

Even with a few minor concerns, the Board overall felt that this is a very strong project and mixed a new elegant structure with the existing structure very well. “It’s a nicely done nod to preservation and it is a really nice design,” said Board member and architect Curtis Bigelow. Board member Natalie Gualy echoed Bigelow’s stance on the project saying, “In my four years of doing this, this is the most exciting project I’ve seen in the Pike/Pine area.”