By Jack Stubbs
On Tuesday, September 4th, a 405-room hotel planned for downtown Seattle—which is part of a larger two-phase, 1.4 million square foot hotel project—was given the green light at a Design Review Recommendation (DRR) meeting.
At the meeting, project applicant MZA Architecture presented updated project plans to the downtown review board on behalf of developer R.C. Hedreen Co. Berger Partnership (landscape architect) and Coughlin Porter Lundeen Inc. are also on the team for the project, which was last reviewed at an Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting in November 2017.
The project, called Ninth & Howell Hotel and Residences and located at 824 Howell St., calls for the construction of a 34-story hotel that would include up to 405 rooms, 10 residential units, approximately 6,700 square feet of ground-level retail and restaurant space.
Beginning the applicant team’s presentation, Ming Zhang of MZA Architecture discussed the neighborhood context around the site, and how the project’s design would look to compliment an adjacent development.
The project—bounded by Stewart and Howell to the north and south and Eighth and Ninth Avenues to the west and east—represents the second phase of a larger two-parcel hotel development on the same block. The other project under construction, located at 808 Howell St. and expected to be complete in 2018, is a 1.4 million square foot development comprising a 45-story Hyatt Regency Hotel with 1,264 rooms and 105,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space. When complete, the LMN-designed hotel will be the city’s largest hotel and cover three-fourths of a city block.
Both projects will look to capitalize on the city’s $1.7 billion expansion of the Washington State Convention Center, which the city hopes will bring more economic activity to Seattle and the wider region. The in-the-works project—which consists of three blocks in downtown Seattle—calls for the addition of 1,230,000 square feet of gross floor area to the existing WSCC, as well as the construction of a 404-unit residential tower and a 500,000 square foot commercial office building.
Construction on the WSCC expansion project—which includes more than $92 million in public and community benefits relating to affordable housing, street-level improvements for walkers and bikers a and public art and new open space—is expected to be complete sometime in 2021.
Continuing its presentation, the applicant emphasized how it had worked to further integrate the Ninth & Howell Hotel to the adjacent streetscape and refined the design of the top of the tower. Additionally, the applicant looked to create a more unified elegant massing design; set the tower slightly further back from Howell St.; refined the exterior facade of the building to reflect the character of the hotel project further down the block; and added artwork elements to activate the adjacent alleyway.
Most of the board’s clarifying questions focused on how the applicant planned to program various aspects of the project. The board asked for more information about the applicant’s plans for artwork in the adjacent alleyway, and also asked the applicant how it would ensure successful vehicular circulation and pedestrian safety around the development.
During its deliberation period, the board focused on the project’s relationship to the underway Hyatt Regency Hotel and discussed how the 824 Howell St. hotel would successfully relate to the adjacent streetscape. The board agreed that the applicant team had made progress when it came to refining the design of the hotel’s podium, and emphasized how the applicant should look to preserve the green street along 9th Ave.