By Meghan Hall
Developer and architecture firm KOZ Development secured a win on Tuesday night, when the Southeast Seattle Design Review Board voted to move another of its proposed residential projects out of Early Design Guidance and into the formal Design Review Phase. Koz’s latest development–located at 3803 S. Warsaw St.–is expected to bring a five-story, 131-unit development to the Othello neighborhood.
“Our attraction to this site has a lot to do with the proximity to the Othello Light Rail Station, as with much of the other development that has happened within this area,” explained Koz’s Founder and Owner, Joshua Scott.
3803 S. Warsaw St. is far from Koz’s first project in the region. Over the past seven years, the firm has developed 2,500 units across the Puget Sound, primarily in transit-oriented corridors such as Othello. For 3803 S. Warsaw, however, Koz’s strategy is no different: it seeks to create a mixed-use affordable housing project that “emphasizes” urban living and acts as a”catalyst for urban revitalization.
In addition to the 131 residential units, 2,000 square feet of residential amenity space, as well as 2,000 square feet of retail frontage, are planned. No parking is included in the development.
After the project’s previous Early Design Guidance meeting, Koz development looked to update its schemes and blend two of its original options. The goal of the project is to express the transition of the neighborhood–in form, function, look and feel–between the residential and commercial zones that border the project site.
This new hybrid option, noted Scott, presents two equal masses which shift in orientation to connect to both commercial and residential zones. The scheme has been dubbed “Shifted Parallel.”
“We were also interested in a hybrid between [Concept Two and Concept Three]”,” stated Scott “…After quite a bit of study, that is ultimately what we are presenting. Conceptually, the idea is very much the same: a two sided building that is really trying to establish the MLK transit core as a more commercial, slightly more urban paradigm. Then looking more at how we fragment the West facade [we will] try to blend more closely with the single-family residential zone.”
The way the buildings are oriented will create two yard spaces align MLK and 38th Street, which can take advantage of the site’s southwest orientation and provides an additional buffer between the development and adjacent single-family uses.
Secondary fenestration and materials will continue to build upon the juxtaposition between denser, City-like development and single-family, with a strong urban form on both MLK Way and 38th Ave. S. Exterior facades will be dressed in a variety of cladding materials, textures and patterns, and storefront glazing will be used to convey transparency and proportionality. Large windows will be designed and placed to maximize daylighting. Shallow setbacks are proposed on MLK, as well.
Overall, the Board appreciated the massing presented and found that Koz’s hybrid approach was successful in responding to the transitioning neighborhood context. The Board was excited to see how the building’s design with landscaping, materials and further facade articulation will evolve in the coming phases. The Board particularly emphasized its appreciation for the lawn space, stating that it made the development feel more residential in nature and was extremely helpful in mitigating the impacts of development.
The Board did have a few questions related to the building’s ground floor programming, such as how vehicle drop-offs such as Uber would access the site and the lobby. The Board also questioned whether or not more retail space could be provided within the project in an effort to activate the property even more. Additional clarity regarding how the more “residential” facades would be clad and expressed was also requested moving forward, as the Board wished to avoid any blank wall or barren expressions.
Overall, however, the Board was pleased with the project’s progress and unanimously voted to move the development forward to a formal Design Review Meeting. Koz Development will return in the coming months with more refined designs for the development that will include additional detail about materials, landscaping and secondary facade treatments. Once those changes are in hand, the project will be set for final design approval.