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Vulcan’s Fifth Residential Development in Seattle’s Cascade Neighborhood Met with Approval from Design Board

Vulcan, Public47 Architects, Cascade, Seattle, South Lake Union, Stack House, Alley24, SCCA Patient House
Courtesy of Public47 Architects

By Meghan Hall

Vulcan Real Estate  is moving forward with its fifth residential development in Seattle’s Cascade neighborhood. Last week, the locally-based developer, along with Public47 Architects, revealed its design plans for 210 Minor Ave. N., a 118-unit apartment complex. Vulcan and Public47’s previous experience in the neighborhood paid off, and the West Design Review Board appreciated the project’s presented design schemes. As a result, the Board voted to move the project forward to a Design Recommendation Meeting.

“This is a neighborhood we’re familiar with, and we’re excited to help fill in this missing corner,” said Public47 co-founder Jeff Boone.

Currently, the property is a surface level parking lot and is described by the project team as a “missing tooth” within the neighborhood. One of the major goals of the project’s design is to fill this gap within the community and create activity along the street at a critical point in the neighborhood as it transitions to the denser portions of South Lake Union.

“…The goal is to create an enduring apartment [complex] that from the inside provides a variety of high quality dwelling units, while from the outside respects and complements its neighbors,” explained Boone.

The project team’s preferred massing scheme–dubbed “Channel”–features a one-story podium along John Street in an effort to respect existing power lines, as well as an entry plaza at the corner of the site. The lobby will be all glass in an effort to create transparency and visibility. A courtyard will also be located along the alley at the podium level and will provide open space for both residents and the neighboring SCCA Patient House, a project that Public47 also worked on within the neighborhood.

“The evolution of the preferred massing builds on the attributes explored in the first two alternatives: the positive relationship to the neighborhood SCCA in the second alternative, and the positive of the street level in the first alternative,” said Boone. 

Additionally, roof deck amenities, including an upper story amenity room, will carve out the top southwest corner of the building and provide views to downtown and the Space Needle. A two story setback along Minor will provide additional outdoor space and semi-private patios for street-level housing and will create a layered massing scheme, according to design documents. In all, the development will rise eight stories in height. 

Overall, the Review Board was appreciative of the development team’s design schemes and their evolution. However, the Board did have several questions about how the third massing scheme compared to the second massing option–an “L” shape–in its effectiveness. The Board noted that it appreciated the integrated balconies of the second massing scheme and asked that a similar concept be incorporated into the preferred scheme. The Board emphasized that integration of such outdoor elements–as well as any additional secondary modulation–would be key to the success of the design.

The Board did commend the project team on the placement of the roof deck and roof amenity at the southwest corner of the property. The Board also suggested adding more emphasis to the courtyard, and asked the project team to consider the blank wall treatment along John Street as the neighborhood continues to develop. 

Looking ahead, the Board also asked the project team to consider using high-quality materials to further emphasize massing moves and round out the design. However, it was overall pleased with the preliminary schemes and voted unanimously to move the project forward to formal design review.

The meeting was a step in the right direction for Vulcan, who has been developing in the neighborhood since 2002. Its other projects include the Stack House apartments, a 278-unit complex which was built in 2012, as well as Alley24, a mixed-use, full-block development with 172 apartments, 185,000 square feet of office and 28,000 square feet of retail. In the South Lake Union area of Seattle–of which the Cascade neighborhood is a part–Vulcan has completed 38 different development projects.