By Jack Stubbs
At the third time of asking, developer Vulcan Inc. finally has another project on the way to downtown Seattle.
On Tuesday, September 4th, a 44-story, 463-unit development slated for Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood was given the green light at a third Design Review Recommendation (DRR) meeting. At the meeting, applicant Ankrom Moisan presented updated project plans to the downtown review board on behalf of Vulcan. Landscape architect Site Workshop is also on the team for the project, which was last reviewed at a DRR meeting in early mid-July 2018.
The 5th and Lenora project, located at 2025 5th Ave., calls for the construction of a 44-story tower that will also include 3,300 square feet of street-level commercial space, a rooftop amenity area and 315 below-ground parking stalls.
The applicant team is targeting various environmental goals with the project and hopes to meet the Seattle 2030 District Challenge and Salmon-Safe Certification. The project is targeting a 70 percent reduction in energy use in relation to the national median baseline and 50 percent less water consumption relative to the local average, according to the submitted project plans.
Beginning the applicant team’s presentation, Gregory Wharton of Ankrom Moisan discussed the primary changes that had been made to the project plans since the last DRR meeting, at which the board had expressed concerns around the massing and programming of the tower and its relationship to the adjacent streetscape.
In response to the board’s feedback, the applicant worked on refining the design and modulation at the top of the tower (looking to emphasize a “waterfall effect” with the building’s massing), integrated different materials into the structure’s exterior facade and improved the design of the building podium in relation to 5th Avenue by adding street-level canopies, glazing and signage elements.
Most of the board’s clarifying questions focused on how the applicant team planned to program various aspects of the tower. The board asked for more detailed information about the relationship between the lobby entrance and the adjacent streetscape and also requested that the applicant provide more information about how it would further break up the tower’s massing.
There were several public comments expressed during the meeting. A land use attorney representing Chainqui Development’s underway 594,000 square foot project, which is located just down the street from Vulcan’s project at 2005 5th Ave., encouraged the applicant to further consider how Vulcan’s tower would fit into the surrounding neighborhood context. A resident of the nearby Escala Condominiums expressed concerns around vehicular access to the tower from the adjacent alleway, and a resident of the Hillcrest Condominiums asked the applicant to consider issues relating to the building’s exterior materiality.
During its deliberation period, the board’s discussion focused on the relationship of the building podium and the adjacent streetscape. The board recommended that the applicant work on refining its plans for lighting in the adjacent alleyway and consider adding artwork elements. Additionally, the board recommended that the applicant consider adding signage elements along the streetscape and work further on the building’s exterior materiality.
The recently-approved 5th and Lenora tower is roughly one mile south of where Vulcan has another large-scale project in the works in South Lake Union. In mid-August, the developer announced that Google would be occupying Block 36, a 12-story, 322,000 square foot office project located at 520 Westlake Ave. N. Block 36, on which construction will begin in fourth quarter 2019, is across the street from the underway Lakefront Blocks (also developed by Vulcan), which is a four-building, mixed-use office campus for Google that will ultimately comprise 638,000 square feet of office space, 11,500 square feet of retail and 149 market-rate units.