A Vancouver-based private developer, Onni Group of Companies, received an approval on Wednesday by Seattle’s design board to move forward with the largest proposed residential project in the city’s new construction pipeline. The 41-story twin towers project located at 1120 Denny Way in the South Lake Union neighborhood will provide 1,179 units and over 28,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and anticipated to take about two years to complete.
Amenities, which in some cases can be a differentiator for projects like these, include a cyber cafe, valet parking, seven-story underground parking garage, children’s play turf and playhouse, landscaped roof deck with garden plots, outdoor kitchen, putting green and two outdoor swimming pools. John Street, which borders the block to the north, will become a pedestrian-oriented street with entry to ground level commercial spaces and be linked west towards the Space Needle.
The Seattle Times Park, on the corner of Fairview Avenue North and John Street, which is inside this block and part of this project, is also home to a time capsule with unknown contents that was buried by Seattle Times employees years ago. The citizens of Seattle seem to have a special affinity to the capsule. According to Gerry Eckford, a principal for Eckford Tyacke + Associates, the time capsule will be moved to another where it can enjoy more visibility and be preserved for the future generations. Residents Joanne Roberts and Herbert Curl, who attended a public meeting in February regarding the capsule’s future, submitted a written statement saying, “Please change the verb in reference to the capsule from ‘could’ to ‘must’ be preserved. It fits your concept of a multiple use area.”
Since the last time the design board met to review the project, the height of the two towers was increased to 125 feet. This led several residents from nearby Mirabella Seattle, a retirement community, to express a concern that the buildings’ height may increase again before breaking ground. Board member Boyd Pickrell shared this concern, and the other members agreed. “I really think this building is great,” said board member Christine Harrington. “But, given the concerns of the public and that the design team is asking for departures, the code was written for this particular purpose.”
After a vote, the board approved the project with the condition that the height of the towers be lowered.
Onni Group has another project under review by the board, and it happens to be in the two blocks just north of the Denny Way project located at 1120 John Street. It will involve, among other things, redeveloping the former Seattle Times Landmark Building and ultimately building four residential towers over two full city blocks. That development would deliver another 843 units into South Lake Union’s housing market. Honoring the newspaper’s legacy in the city, Onni Group plans to use vintage fonts from the paper’s history and display old headline quotes in an effort to unify the two neighboring projects and tie up the relation to city’s stalwart newspaper publisher. The design team on both projects is led by Vancouver-based companies Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc. and Eckford Tyacke + Associates Landscape Architecture.
The design ideas featuring old headlines resonated with some members of the design board. ”The inclusion of the art and headline quotes from the old Seattle Times is fantastic, I like that this is a part of the project,” said board member Janet Stephenson.