By Meghan Hall
Northgate has long been eyed by developers for its proximity to downtown Seattle, but up until recently it did not see the same rate of development as neighborhoods closer to the city’s downtown core. However, with the arrival of infrastructure projects such as the Northgate Light Rail Station and the redevelopment of the Northgate Mall, the district is seeing an influx of residential and mixed-use projects that will look to reshape the neighborhood. One of these projects, located at 10700 5th Ave. NE, received approval from the Northeast Design Review Board in early November 2018 to construct a seven-story mixed-use development with 235 residential units.
The project, which also includes 4,698 square feet of ground floor retail along Fifth Ave. and 230 parking spaces, was proposed by Seattle-based Grouparchitect and landscape design firm LA Studio on behalf of project applicant Goodman Real Estate. 10700 5th Ave. NE is a well-positioned site and is right in the middle of the up-and-coming Northgate Urban Center. The Northgate Mall, which will be redeveloped in the coming years and is projected to be one of the central and most prominent entertainment, commercial and retail destinations in the northern part of Seattle, is located just across the street. On the other side of the mall is Interstate 5, while a local library and community center sit just adjacent to the site. Menlo Park, Calif.-based Lane Partners is in the process of building a 134-unit mixed-use development right next door to the site, as well.
Many of the older developments in the Northgate area are between one and two stories, but higher-density projects are becoming more common. In its description of the project, the development team states that it anticipates that the density in the neighborhood will continue to increase substantially, and that the project fits into the greater scheme of development in the area.
Grouparchitect’s revised preferred option was presented to the board in response to feedback given by the board at a previous early design guidance meeting in August 2018. The main points of the revision focused on the areas that the board wanted the design team to address, which included an upgraded pedestrian experience, solutions to the multi-modal access and circulation, as well as a relationship that this project would have to its neighbors.
Emily McNichols, senior project architect at Grouparchitect stated that the design was focused on de-emphasizing cars and prioritizing bikes and pedestrians, part of a specific request to eliminate car access from access easement. “We saw walkers and bikers and skateboarders and people pushing strollers literally down the middle of this access easement,” she said. It was evident early on in the project, she added, how important this road was for the community.
The project team also expressed that a similar color palette and selection of materials to the Lane Partners’ development will be used in an effort to respond adequately to the neighborhood context. Gray cement panel siding, exposed concrete at the retail level and wood grain finished metal will be used to create the building’s exterior façade.
The board feedback focused generally on the same themes addressed in the revised proposal. While most of those concerns were addressed by the revised proposal, the board still felt the team needed to address the massing, the access easement as well as the façades of the project. The board wanted the design team to provide a trash removal and path study and an additional sidewalk study to understand how the roads may be impacted. They also had some questions about the precedent images in the proposal and how they responded to the final design that the firms were contemplating.
Even with all these items still under consideration, the Northeast Design Review Board moved the project forward and will allow the team to apply for a Master Use Permit, and 10700 5th Ave. NE development will join the wave of redevelopment currently sweeping across Seattle’s Northgate District.