By Jack Stubbs
A mixed-use development in Seattle’s Central District, which will include between 140 and 160 residential units, was recently approved at an Early Design Guidance meeting on December 13th. At the meeting, the applicant SKL Architects presented preliminary project plans on behalf of the project developer, Daniels Real Estate.
The eventual user of the development is the Pratts Fine Arts Center—a facility for beginner and established professional artists—which has been looking to expand its campus in the Central Area neighborhood. The mixed-use development is a long-term partnership between Pratt and Daniels Real Estate, who will share occupancy and ownership of the mixed-use project, according to the submitted project plans.
The proposed development, located at 1900 S. Jackson St., calls for the construction of a new 6-story building with one mixed-use level of institutional and commercial use at street level, five levels of residential use above, and one level of below-grade parking with approximately 100 stalls. The first level will consist of 13,969 gross square feet, which Pratt Fine Arts Center will occupy to expand its operations, as well as 2,700 gross square feet of commercial space, which a retailer will eventually occupy. The upper four floors will consist of between 140 and 160 artist-inspired studio, one- and two-bedroom units.
The project site for the development is currently utilized by Pratt as a surface parking lot, which will be demolished as part of the submitted project plans along with a one-story concrete building owned by Pratt.
The applicant team hopes to revitalize the Central District by increasing arts education opportunities for neighborhood residents with the Pratt Fine Arts Center’s expanded campus. Additionally, the development will emphasize Pratt’s existing on-site “Yellow Building” and will also include Pratt Yard, an 11,600 square foot space, and an exterior courtyard accessible by the public.
The board’s clarifying questions centered mainly around the development’s integration with the surrounding community. Board member Andrew Haas asked about whether community members would be able to access the proposed Pratt Yard, also wondering about how the applicant would further integrate the development using more transparent materials. Board member Barbara Bussetti asked about whether the massing and scale of the building was appropriate from a pedestrian perspective at street level, while board member Curtis Bigelow echoed this idea, asking about how Pratt’s ground-level uses would encourage pedestrian interaction with the development.
Public comment during the meeting echoed the board’s concerns about the development’s compatibility with the Central District neighborhood. One speaker, a member of the Central District Land Use Committee, raised issue with the development’s lack of affordable housing, but also voiced his overall support of the project on behalf of the committee. Other comments concerned community members’ desire to see a reduced height, bulk and scale for the development.
During its deliberation period, the board circled back to issues of compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood context. Overall, the board expressed its support of the development’s height, scale and massing, also emphasizing how it would like to see the applicant further explore and articulate the proposed ground-level uses and activities for the development in terms of how it would activate the adjacent streetscape.
The board gave the project the green light to proceed to the next phase of the design process, also highlighting certain conditions for the applicant to integrate into the development’s design before the next meeting. Specifically, the board emphasized how it would like to see the applicant further refine the building’s height, bulk and scale; work on the transition from the development to the adjacent streetscape; and provide more detailed project plans for the proposed courtyard area and arts alleyway.
Having received approval from the board—pending certain conditions—the applicant will now submit a Master Use Permit to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection for review before the next meeting.