By Kate Snyder
A proposal for an eight-story, approximately 126-unit mixed-use building in Seattle recently hit a design milestone. After hearing a presentation about the project during an Early Design Guidance meeting on Monday, the Northeast Design Review Board voted to move it forward to the master use permit phase.
The project developer is Jenkins Properties with the design being done by PUBLIC47 Architects. The landscape architect is Karen Kiest Landscape Architects, the civil engineer is Pacland Engineers and the general contractor is Sierra Construction.
Located at 917 NE 63rd St., the site is in the Roosevelt neighborhood. Nearby are the new Roosevelt light rail station, Cowen Park, Greenlake Park and the University of Washington. Roosevelt Way NE and NE 65th Street are the commercial corridors anchoring the mixed-use and mixed-density neighborhood, which consists of single family homes, townhomes, apartment buildings and large commercial buildings.
This project would provide between 105 and 126 apartments, approximately 4,000 square feet of commercial space and about 40 parking stalls. According to project plans, the proposal is focused on contributing to the neighborhood by providing high-quality residential space with access to nearby public transportation, I-5 and Green Lake. Off-street parking would be accessed off the alley, and project leaders are studying sustainability strategies to both minimize its environmental impact and take advantage of views from the site.
Three massing designs were presented during the meeting.
Option 1 is an eight-story building composed of street level commercial uses with residential space above and below grade garage accessed from the alley. The building would be about 101,247 square feet with 107 units and 37 parking stalls. Commercial space would total approximately 6,654 square feet. The advantages to Option 1 include code-compliance and a courtyard to break down the scale along Roosevelt Way. However, it also results in bulky massing along 63rd Street and less flexible commercial space.
Similar to Option 1, Option 2 would be an eight-story building with commercial space and a below grade parking garage. However, this option would total about 120,630 square feet with 116 units, 71 parking stalls and 5,030 square feet of commercial space. Option 2 would also include a courtyard to break down the scale along 63rd Street but would result in bulky massing along Roosevelt Way. Additionally, the southern courtyard would eventually have much of its daylight access blocked by future development to the south.
The applicant’s preferred massing was Option 3, which was also an eight-story building totaling about 102,270 square feet. This design would feature 126 units, 40 parking stalls and 3,367 square feet of commercial uses. The upsides of this design include courtyards to break down the scale along Roosevelt Way and 63rd Street, a “visually unique and interesting” massing brought about by an interlocking courtyard concept and two varied outdoor spaces for residents to access, one of which is covered and usable in all four seasons of the year. The drawbacks to this option are three departure requests related to the design’s upper level setback, maximum driveway slope and ground floor residential setback.
During the meeting, Martha Cox, associate at PUBLIC47 Architects, highlighted some details from the preferred massing scheme, and shared more information about the interlocking courtyard design.
“The preferred massing strategy engages both Roosevelt and 63rd, taking inspiration from and responding to the prominent corner site,” Cox said. “The courtyards help to reduce the perceived mass of the project, and year round open spaces are provided to residents, which are so valuable in our climate. Though not required, the project provides commercial along Roosevelt, further accentuating the corner site location and continuing the pattern of commercial on Roosevelt. The residential lobby is situated along quieter 63rd and is setback and related to the courtyard above, anchoring the lobby in an easily identifiable location. The interlocking street-facing courtyards provide the air, light, life and energy for the building and act as the lungs of the building.”
The board was generally positive about the design and favored the same massing – Option 3 – as the applicant. As part of its guidance to the applicant, the board requested more information about any specific buildings or contexts that provided inspiration for the design, more information about the property located to the south and the potential relationship between the two properties both pre- and post-development and more details about plans for the west facade. The board liked the overall architectural cohesion but would also like to see more of how that cohesion works across all four facades.