By Meghan Hall
Seattle’s early design review guidance process is meant to give developers and property owners advanced feedback on the scale and design of their projects in an effort to streamline project approvals further down the line. Most projects advance to the design review phase after one or two early design guidance (EDG) meetings, but in a somewhat rare move, the East Design Review Board has unanimously requested that the project application team for 216 10th Ave. – which submitted an application to demolish several single family homes and build a six-story, 111 unit apartment building on the site — return for a third EDG meeting, even though the project has been allowed to apply for a Master Use Permit.
The proposal was submitted by Palo Alto-based Vertical Product Development and Spokane-based Pondera Architecture. The second iteration of the project, presented in early October 2018 to the board, showed vertical massing transitions in response to the site’s sloping topography. According to project plans presented by Pondera Architecture, the height of the building was also broken down with multiple terrace, and exterior common area amenity space was added along the site’s primary pedestrian corridor.
However, the design review board did not feel that the second round of plans responded adequately to its previous guidance, where it asked the applicant team to better connect the development to the pedestrian realm. Additionally, the board presented several concerns regarding the applicant team’s lack of community outreach — feedback expressed in the first EDG meeting — as well as the fact that the designer was not present at the first or second EDG meetings.
The design review board also stated in its analysis that the design packet submitted for the review was incomplete and did not contain adequate context analysis, renderings or accurate dimensions, which compromised their ability to evaluate aspects of the project’s design.
However, only the Director of Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, Nathan Torgelson, may require a third EDG meeting from an applicant, despite the board’s recommendation. After considering the board’s feedback, Torgelson granted the project team permission to move forward and submit a Master Use Permit application, provided they work closely with city planners to improve upon the project proposal based on the board’s feedback.
The City of Seattle did not return The Registry’s request for comment.