By Meghan Hall
While COVID-19 may have put a pause on physical construction practices, many developers are moving forward with big future plans almost undeterred. In May, Palo Alto, Calif.-based SummerHill Apartment Communities submitted an application for land use approval of a master development plan, design review and land use permit for its newest development: SummerHill Highland Park. The multi-phase project, located on the Bel-Red subarea, is expected to bring 397 apartment units to market upon its completion.
The development site is located at 14021 and 14121 NE 20th St. in Bellevue. The property is adjacent to Valley Creek, located to the west, and Highland park, to the south. The existing parcels include three, single-story strip mall buildings and associated parking that will be demolished as the project begins construction.
The project includes two apartment buildings that are oriented around a central courtyard. The courtyard is open to the south, emphasizing views into nearby Highland park. The larger of the two buildings will be a seven-story structure with 209 units, while the smaller building will rise six stories and include 188 apartments, as well as accessory parking. The units will be a mix of open-one, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. Both buildings will have designated amenity space on the first and fourth floors, totaling 10,834 square feet. Plans show that amenities include club rooms, a fitness center, wifi café and roof terraces.
The larger, seven-story building will be constructed as Phase One, while the smaller building will be constructed as a part of Phase Two.
According to Runberg Architecture Group, architect of record for the project, the building massing and architectural design will be influenced by the natural influences of the adjacent park, as well as existing development to the north and east. The design of the buildings will utilize a textured wood look and fiber cement panels in earthy tones, while light grey panels at the base of the building will provide for a modern, finished look.
“The project proposes to use high quality, long lasting materials. The wood-look and textured fiber cement panels reference the natural context adjacent to the site while the base and connector feature a regular grid pattern of fiber cement panels that provide contrast with the vertical elements and grounds the buildings,” states Runberg in a memorandum to the City. “The main building entries are highlighted by material and color change: Phase 1 features a light metal panel expression while Phase 2 features dark metal. Both lobby entries will have wood-look textured fiber cement panel and large expanses of storefront for visibility and pedestrian interest.”
Proposed timing for the start of Phase One’s construction is March 2022, with completion in March 2024. Phase Two will kick off at the completion of Phase One, with delivery expected in March 2026.
SummerHill has been active throughout the Bel-Red corridor in recent months. In April, SummerHill purchased a 1.50-acre development parcel located at 1600 132nd Ave. NE from BTAM Bellevue LLC and Eliott Khan Investments for $12.3 million. The property is slated to become SummerHill—Bel-Red, an eight-story, 250-unit residential project. The sale on the property closed shortly after SummerHill received approvals for the development.
“We are very excited to have received approvals last week on 249 units in Bellevue directly across from the future 130th Avenue East Link Light Rail Station,” said Doug McDonald, chief operating officer and executive vice president of SummerHill in an April comment to The Registry. “We closed on the property. We are providing 49 affordable units as a part of the overall project along with 187 parking spots. SummerHill is focused on delivering high quality transit-oriented housing and this location will allow for easy efficient transit access to downtown Bellevue, Redmond and Seattle. We are happy to be part of this new area and looking forward to providing new housing in Bellevue.”
The project is also designed by Rubnerg Architecture Group, and is a mix of studio-, open one-, one- and two-bedroom units. Amenities include a yoga room and two-story fitness studio. As of this writing, SummerHill Apartment Communities had not yet returned The Registry’s request for updated comment.
According to a recent report released by Marcus and Millichap’s Dylan Simon Team, development in East King County will remain strong due to large employers taking space in both Bellevue and Redmond. In East Bellevue, there are 2,096 apartment units currently under construction. Another 533 units are approved, while an additional 1,492 units are under review. However, even with a strong number of apartments in the pipeline, Marcus and Millichap expects that entitlements, as well as the number of projects will slow—giving the multifamily market some needed time to breathe.
“Given that permitting offices are working remotely and there is concern over near-term market fundamentals, we expect a slowdown in the number of apartment deliveries once buildings currently under construction are completed,” states the report. “We believe this is healthy for the market, providing time to absorb new inventory and prepare for a vibrant rebound ahead of us.”