Moving forward with its first Seattle project, Vancouver, B.C.-based developer Westbank Project Corp. received an approval from the design board for two 41-story residential towers above a three-story podium containing 889 units in the city’s Denny Triangle area, near the Amazon headquarters campus. The project, with its waved exterior lines and cascading greenery designed by Vancouver, B.C-based Henriquez Partners Architects, will be unlike any other building in the city and is anticipated to break ground in January.
According to Michael Chaplin, a development manager for Westbank in Seattle, the design was modeled to emulate the look of a European building. “The site is triangular and this design introduces the radiuses to play off the multitude of angles that the site presents itself with,” said Chaplin. “This way, you’re not trying to fit a square box on top of a triangle.”
We’re making sure that the building isn’t just internal but external as well, in terms of what it provides to the community and how people interact with it
The proposed project site, located at 1200 Stewart Street, was acquired in September 2015 for $52.8 million, according to public records. Previous owner Lexas Companies, a Seattle-based multifamily development company, had already obtained a master-use permit to build a 35-story twin tower residential and hotel project. However, Westbank chose to make some modifications to the design, which required the developer to reenter the approval process with the city.
“The original design has a six to eight story podium throughout the whole site, and we reduced that to limit the seven story portion to the corner of Minor and Stewart,” said Chaplin. “We then dropped the podium down to three levels and introduced the pedestrian galleria, which connects Denny and Stewart in alignment with the alley that is being vacated.”
The project includes 149,309 square feet of retail space and, according to the design proposal, the location of the site is ideally situated for downtown workers, visitors and residents. The street level retail is service-oriented with an emphasis on walk-in pedestrian clientele that live within walking distance and would potentially be a pharmacy, bank, restaurant and coffee shop. The second and third levels of retail would be more destination focused and would draw in clientele from further away in order to attract more people to the project.
A glass galleria, an interior street that will be the project’s largest open space, creates a pedestrian connection through the triangular-shaped block between Stewart Street and Denny Way. Structural glass walls and skylight allow natural sunlight to fill the space while street level kiosks add market-like activity to the space, and spiral stairs and catwalks draw people to the upper two levels of retail space.
The lobby for the apartment units is also accessible through the galleria so that the two are connected in a large open space. “We’re making sure that the building isn’t just internal but external as well, in terms of what it provides to the community and how people interact with it,” said Chaplin. “A big reason for the galleria is that you don’t go into this lobby and a door shuts behind you. Instead, you go into this great galleria space and the lobby is just a part of it.”
Amenities for the residential space include an outdoor rooftop pool at the top of one of the towers with large gathering spaces and views of South Lake Union. The other tower’s rooftop will have a business center with additional outdoor spaces. In total there will be four stories of available amenities, two stories will be located at the very top of each tower, one will be on the roof of the seven-story podium building on the corner of Minor and Stewart, and another on the fourth floor.
“This was our first experience with the design review board process and we’re very excited about the outcome,” said Chaplin. “We’re looking at a couple other potential sites for development.”
Westbank had been looking for sites in the Seattle area for over tens years before the opportunity for 1200 Stewart Street was presented, says Chaplin. The developer has a second proposed residential project in Seattle at 707 Terry Avenue, a 33-story twin towers with 440 units and 7,600 square feet of street level retail. The project is a collaboration with Frye Art Museum and is designed by Seattle-based architecture firm Perkins + Will. This project will go before the design board on September 21 and is potentially anticipated to also break ground in January.