By Kristin Bentley

Vulcan Inc. received an approval to move forward with its 237-unit residential project on Broadway Avenue in Seattle’s Yesler Terrace neighborhood. On Wednesday, the Seattle-based developer presented the proposed project, along with its design team from Runberg Architecture Group, to the city’s East Design Review Board.

Residential Lobby
Residential Lobby

In 2006, the Seattle Housing Authority began a formal process of redevelopment planning for Yesler Terrace. The new master plan includes replacing low-income housing, as well as adding market-rate housing and neighborhood improvements. New streetscapes, bike and pedestrian paths, hillclimbs and parks are also key features of this new plan. Street adjustments include the removal of Spruce Street and the creation of Fir Street west of Broadway.

The site for the proposed project is a full city block bound by East Fir Street to the north, 10th Avenue to the east, Yesler Way to the south and Broadway to the west. It is across the street from the Yesler Community Center and a future neighborhood park, and is near a streetcar line and stop, a connection to downtown and offers easy access to nearby bike paths.

vulcanBrian Runberg, the lead architect on the project and a principal at Runberg Architecture Group, and his design team presented the seven-story development that includes a pocket park on the northern edge of the site, 7,995 square feet of retail space along Yesler Way and parking for 149 vehicles.

In seeking inspiration, the team shared that it pulled from designs that are original to the Pacific Northwest that offer vertical elements, provide a hovering protective roof and maximize natural light. With this in mind the design was carried throughout the project and into its amenities, which include a residential courtyard on the second floor, open spaces, a pet lounge and two roof decks. “The project has been enhanced to a higher degree with its connection to the outdoors and nature,” Runberg said. “We also have an irresistible stair that is visually open to the outside through windows and goes up to the rooftop.”

Retail along Yesler Way
Retail along Yesler Way

Runberg continued on to explain that each of the project’s corners were emphasized with distinctive vertical forms and expressions with horizontal planes at the top and bottom, while the spaces in between were designed to have a different expression that is grounded to the street level. Key elements of the proposed project are where the common spaces are located. “All across the frontage on Yesler, that retail has its own expression,” he added.

After deliberating, the board approved the project to move forward by majority vote, with the condition that higher quality materials are used than what was presented in the proposal. For instance the brick accents were shown on the lower level only, which the board believes should carry all the way up. The board also voiced that they were disappointed that more natural materials were not used as they had anticipated when the design team presented the project as being connected to the outdoors and nature. However, the board agreed that natural wood materials require high maintenance, which would be tedious for such a large project.

cafe“I wish this was a stronger project because it’s such a prominent location,” board member Natalie Gualy said. “I don’t think this project is as successful as the one we recently reviewed across the street.”

Vulcan and Runberg Architecture Group designed another proposed project approved by the board in March that is located across the street at 123 Broadway. Once complete, the seven-story 194-unit apartment complex will provide 2,403 square feet of ground level retail. According to Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors, including these two projects in Yesler Terrace Vulcan will deliver over 2,000 units into Seattle’s housing market by 2020.