By Kate Snyder
A project that would bring nearly 100 apartments to Seattle’s University District has reached another milestone. The Northeast Design Review Board supported plans for a 96-unit multifamily building on the city’s north end during a recommendation meeting on Monday.
The project owner is Bona Fide Properties 6 LLC, based in Mercer Island, according to the plans submitted to the city. The architect is Seattle-based Neiman Taber Architects, and the landscape architect is Murase Associates, also based in Seattle.
Located at 5115 and 5107 24th Ave. NE, the site is within the Ravenna Springs area of the University District community. Out of the project’s total units, seven would be small efficiency dwelling units, 81 would be one-bedroom and eight would have two bedrooms, project plans show. Additionally, the project includes 14 vehicle parking stalls and 88 bicycle spaces. The site is situated less than 100 feet from the Burke-Gilman Trail, and the immediate vicinity includes a number of neighborhood amenities, parks and services. Also less than a quarter mile away is the U-Village shopping center that contains multiple restaurants, shops and grocery stores.
David Neiman, partner at Neiman Taber Architects, gave an overview of the project to the board during the recent meeting. He noted that there is a magnolia tree situated on the project site that would be relocated prior to construction, and he explained the characteristics of the surrounding neighborhood.
“Buildings around us are all low-rise multifamily buildings, although most of them were built a generation or two ago and they’re more modest in scale than what current zoning allows,” he said.
Project plans detail the ways that the proposal has been refined since an early design guidance meeting that took place earlier this year. In one instance, bicycle parking has been placed along the alley side of the building where it will have the least visual impact to the overall project aesthetics. Another change is that the entry sequence at the lobby has been enhanced to create a clear sense of arrival, augmented with benches, bicycle parking, landscaping and hardscaping. A distinct notch was placed in the middle of the facade to provide a clear identifier for the entry lobby.
Landscaping, hardscaping and signage have also been incorporated into the design in order to provide a sense of arrival and destination. According to plans, the vehicle parking area has been redesigned to create a landscape screening buffer between the parking area and the ground floor residential units. Nandina Shrubs, which can grow up to eight feet tall, will be planted between these dwelling unit windows and the parking stalls. The landscape plan also provides planting along the street edge between the patios and the public way.
Overall, the board was satisfied with the changes to the design since the previous meeting. Board members thought there was a good refinement of the project, particularly with the massing at the southeast corner, and they liked the landscape plan as well as the relationship between the building and the planting in terms of color. The board also appreciated the detailing in both the materials used and the street and alley facades. One suggestion was for the development team to study the project’s courtyard units so that the facade there could be better organized. Another request was for more details on how the magnolia tree that is supposed to be relocated would be replaced if the tree doesn’t survive the relocation process. Ultimately, the board voted in a unanimous decision to move the project forward.