134-Unit NIWA Apartments in Queen Anne Given the Green Light at Early Design Guidance Meeting
Earlier in the evening, the applicant team had seen its other project in Queen Anne—the 95-unit Roystone Apartments—denied approval by the west review board. The applicant was given the green light this time around, however, on its other project in the works.
On Wednesday, February 7th, a 134-unit mixed-use development in Queen Anne was unanimously approved to proceed to the next stage of the city’s design review process at an Early Design Guidance meeting. At the meeting, the applicant—Jackson Main Architecture—presented preliminary project plans on behalf of Vibrant Cities, the developer of the project. The landscape architect for the project is Ken Large Landscape Architect.
The 8-story development, located at 513 1st Ave. N., will include ground-level commercial space, a residential rooftop area, a residential lobby and an outdoor open space for pedestrians along the adjacent street. Additionally, the development will include two live-work units and 31 below-ground parking stalls. The existing structure on the site, a retail store, will be demolished as part of the project plans.
Beginning the applicant team’s presentation, Robin Murphy of Jackson Main Architecture articulated the primary goals for the development, some of which include creating walkable, transit-oriented housing in the Uptown neighborhood; activating the adjacent streetscape with landscaping elements and ground-level commercial uses; and creating a development that conforms with the current and future context of Queen Anne.
Additionally, Murphy explained how the applicant team had held various meetings with Seattle Uptown Alliance, a Queen Anne neighborhood group, and also considered the height and massing of the project in relation to the MHA up-zone changes occurring throughout the city.
Most of the board’s clarifying questions focused on how the applicant planned to program the development. Stephen Porter asked for more information about how the location of the residential lobby and building entrances would impact accessibility to the development, while Homero Nishiwaki asked the applicant to provide clarification on the relationship between the proposed live-work units, the adjacent alley and the streetscape.
The board’s other comments highlighted how the development would integrate into the surrounding neighborhood context. Board member Patreese Martin asked the applicant team to elaborate on its plans for the proposed open space and whether it had conducted sufficient outreach to residents of the Queen Anne neighborhood and owners of adjacent properties about the development. Additionally, the board members also highlighted potential safety and security issues with the project, especially in relation to the adjacent alley and open space.
Public comments expressed during the meeting reflected approval of the proposed development. One audience member, a resident of Queen Anne, discussed how the developer had conducted positive community outreach with the Uptown neighborhood and also expressed his support for the building’s massing and scale. Another audience member expressed her support of the project’s design, specifically the proposed ground-level uses and the applicant’s choice of materials, adding “I look forward to further development of the project.” Written comments from SDOT encouraged the project team to prioritize a pedestrian-friendly design with the development moving forward.
During its deliberation period, the board agreed that, while there remained some ambiguity in the applicant’s project plans—specifically concerning the building’s massing and scale—the development was promising enough to be advanced to the next stage of the city’s design review process.
The applicant team will now submit a Master Use Permit to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection for review.
In the meantime, the board also asked that, moving forward, the applicant provide more detailed project plans about the building’s exterior materials and landscaping elements. Additionally, the board recommended that the applicant work on further activating the adjacent streetscape by refining the design of the building’s entrances.
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