As Capitol Hill and First Hill continues to change and new developments increasingly pop up around the neighborhoods, two more projects went before the East Design Review Board last Wednesday.
The board, city staff and Seattle residents listened and weighed in on the design proposals for the current two-story medical office building at 515 Minor Ave., and the 111-year-old building at 1833 Broadway Ave.
Having passed an early design guidance meeting, the 515 Minor Ave project was up for a recommendation decision.
“The current two-story building, along with the parking space, is to be completely removed, and the overarching objective for this project is to provide a six-story-high caliber medical office space,” said James Walker, senior associate at Collins Woerman, the firm in charge of reconstruction and design of the medical office space.
The two-story building set for demolition is located next to a four-story medical building. The main highlights of the architectural design for the new First Hill Medical Office Building includes a porte-cochere — a covered vehicle entrance to a courtyard — adjacent to the main entry and off of Minor Avenue, to allow for patient drop off and pick up. Having the main entrance on Minor Avenue is due to its least steep slope and a pedestrian-friendly feel. The design also connects the two lobbies and garage access between the current four-story and new buildings.
The presentation also highlighted the retail space that will be located on the corner of Jefferson and Minor, as well as the bike room space on Jefferson. And, favored by the majority of the board members is the north patio garden off James Street that leads to the first-story link between the buildings. The patio will include a seating area and an abundance of greenery, including bio-retention plants.
During the deliberation, the review board provided feedback on what it believes needs improvements. Comments were made to allow for more plants in front of the porte-cochere and provide a privacy screen for the bike room. Overall, the board was pleased how far the project has come since the first EDG and allowed it to move forward.
“We’ve seen a lot of positive movements, and it’s come a long way since the last EDG,” said board chair Natalie Gualy. “We were appreciative of the courtyard space, and are hoping to see some privacy film for the bike room, and asking the applicant to ensure that, whatever bike racks are provided, they are all user-friendly. We concur that the project move forward with the next stages.”
Second on the agenda was the first stage of the review process for the project on the 1833 Broadway Ave. The current three-story, 111-year-old building is to be demolished and replaced by a six-story mixed-use apartment building.
“The purpose of today is to evaluate the massing and site planning of the project at this time,” said Garry Papers, the Seattle Department of the Construction and Inspections staffer assigned to the project. “The project is still somewhat conceptual and is focusing on the larger massing issues, with more detailed architectural design coming later.”
The applicant had presented three different schemes to the board on how they see the project developing. Two of the schemes provided by the architects allow for no unit variety, zero to little parking space and no windows on the south side that faces the entrance to the light rail station. While the two schemes maximize on retail space, the board members found they lacked in meeting a majority of the design guidelines.
The third — preferred — scheme provides for a variety of apartment sizes and types, a 19-stall below-grade parking garage and a minimized blank wall facing the transit station. It also proposes for the residential entry to be located on Broadway and allows for setbacks and wider sidewalks.
After deliberations, board members agreed the applicant needs to come back for a second EDG and focus on meeting highlighted guidelines, such as accounting for adjacent sites, streets and open spaces, architectural and facade composition and exterior elements and finishes.
“The applicant needs to take into account that the transit station is permanent, and treating it as blank wall is a mistake,” said board member Barbara Busetti.
“This site deserves much more than what is presented today,” added Gualy. “This is located in a major part of the neighborhood, and needs to be treated as such. The south wall is going to be one of the most visible aspects of the new building, and we want to see more attention being allocated for that.”
The board wants to see a more detailed report on how the massing will compare to other properties, a design proposal with the residential entrance on Denny Avenue and a more modern exterior design with high-quality materials that has become representative of recent neighborhood development.
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