An apartment development slated for Greenwood, a Seattle neighborhood that has long been defined as one of its outermost edge neighborhoods, received a narrow approval this week from the Northwest Design Review Board held in Ballard. Developer Shea Properties, an Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based mixed-use builder, along with architects Runberg Architecture Group and Brumbaugh & Associates Landscaping Architecture presented the vision for the 220-unit development on Monday evening that received a conditional approval to advance the project to the next phase of development review.
Shea is not a stranger to Seattle. The developer recently opened its 296-unit development called Leeward in South Lake Union, which is an 11-story, luxury apartment complex with two rooftop decks, a sky deck and fitness center. Most of its activities, however, have been in the office, retail and industrial developments on the west coast, primarily in Southern and Northern California.
The Greenwood project, located at 320 N 85th St. in Seattle, is a six-story mixed-use residential building consisting of approximately 210-220 residential units with 4,000 to 5,000 square feet of commercial space and parking for roughly 120-130 cars. The figures correspond to one of three options presented to the Design Review Board and the choices available for each.
The development sits in the Greenwood neighborhood of north Seattle, which is approximately one block east of the intersection of Greenwood Ave. N and N. 85th St. The proposed apartment complex is just six blocks west of Highway 99 and 1.5 miles west of I-5.
The site is located in the Greenwood-Phinney Ridge Residential Urban Village and the Greenwood Town Center. This area has a number of recently approved and upcoming developments that include the 105-unit Janus Apartments at 101 NW 85th St. and the 70-unit development at 8403 Greenwood Ave N. Overall, the location gets a very respectable 96 point Walk Score rating, considered “walkers paradise,” as well as 53-point “good transit” score and a 76-point, “very bikeable” bike score, according to the board presentation.
“We’re really excited about this project. Greenwood is a great neighborhood in Seattle. It’s got a lot of really positive energy, and it’s already a very successful mixed-use community,” said Melissa Wechsler, a principal with Runberg Architecture Group, who led the presentation of the project to the board. She outlined the details of the property, focusing mostly on the three massing options that provided a slightly different take on the lot.
Key to the success of the development, according to her firm’s research, will come from the neighborhood feedback. During public meetings held prior to the presentation to the board, the residents explained to the developer and designer that retail will be key to the success of the project because so much of the neighborhood is anchored around the small-scale retail in the adjacent streets. That neighborhood context will also help shape the western facade of the structure, which at this point is relatively flat and monolithic. It would be visible from the busiest street in the neighborhood given that the developer is also seeking to scale up the building by additional 20 feet.
Overall, the board liked the presentation and found the details presented by the architect and the developer to meet the needs of the neighborhood and their design criteria. However, it spent most of its time deliberating the massing of the structure and the size of the proposed development, which would stand out in the traditionally two-story busy urban neighborhood. Board member Chris Bell pushed for the building to be broken up into three separate structures instead of the single E-shaped structure preferred by the applicants. The rest of the board didn’t see a need for that, calling instead for greater definition of the three sections of the building that jet out.
In a 3-1 vote, the board voted to approve the development with conditions surrounding the design, which the developer will work into a retool that will be presented in the next phase of the design review.