The 24-story First Hill senior living community development project on Terry Avenue has passed the second stage of Seattle’s Design Review program with flying colors and is moving forward. The East Design Review Board met on Wednesday, Feb. 8, for the recommendation stage to hear applicant’s solutions and proposals to the board’s guidance from the early design meeting for 620 Terry Ave.

Jennifer Sanin with Ankrom Moisan Architects highlighted the updates to the design during a presentation to the board. The senior living community building is proposed to include 243 residential units and 132 parking stalls below grade. The board was pleased to see how far the applicant has come since their last meeting, and their responsive approach to all of the board’s suggestions.

“We’re very happy to see that the applicant was very responsive to our guidance and mindful of the adjacent Old Colony condominium building in its designs,” said board chair Natalie Gualy.

Columbia Pacific Advisors announced last March it was entering a long-term ground lease with the Archdiocese of Seattle and St. James Cathedral to construct the senior living community. Columbia Pacific Advisors is also developing the 1001 Broadway project, a 16-story mixed-use development that will include 265 residential units and a Whole Food Market.

Areas of concern addressed at the Feb. 8 design review meeting included massing, tower placement, the ground floor, podium, access, streetscapes and setback landscapes.

The building is designed as two towers, with a podium that will serve for an enriched pedestrian experience. A creative approach makes the facade resemble a curated paintings collection, “up close, it is one piece, as one moves back, the pieces reveal as part of a collection [and] becomes a piece of art,” according to the design package.

Per the board’s recommendation, the south deck was moved to the most southern corner of the building, to make sure it gets a majority of sunlight most of the year, and expanded to serve as an outdoor dining area.

The applicant also expanded the setback in the podium another 4 feet in the alley between the project and the Old Colony, creating a 20-foot separation between the two buildings. The parking garage entry was shifted 80 feet to the south and aligned with the 1050 James project’s parking access.

The design also includes a larger setback of 10 feet on Terry Avenue, where the main resident entry is located, allowing for a 29-foot-wide sidewalk. The applicant accounts for Terry Avenue’s Green Street title by incorporating outdoor plazas, bike racks, trees, landscape, benches and more sidewalk attractions, to create “a lively, interactive and pedestrian oriented open space,” according to the package.

In response to the early design guidance, the updated design introduced an outside space on the 24th floor and a sky bar and lounge that will provide an incredible view of the Cascades and Mt. Rainier.

Though the general feedback from the board was positive, a few concerns raised by the public were discussed during board deliberations. One of the major concerns was the location of the garage exhaust that was designed to be facing the alley and the Old Colony building.

“I’ve been thinking about it, and I feel like this is an alley. There is 20 feet to where the Old Colony is. The only alternative is to put it on the sidewalk and, it’s an alley for a reason,” Gualy said. “I would much rather have it there then put it out on a sidewalk for pedestrians. We also need to remember that the applicant already moved the building four more feet. It’s unfortunate, but it is a better approach.”

Though the blue and green color palette of the proposed design brought disagreements among the group, the board came to a decision to support the colors as reflective of Seattle’s greenery, mountains and blue skies.

“I actually want to commend them for the towers,” said board member Barbara Busetti. “Initially, my first reaction to the colors was skeptical, and I wasn’t convinced. But the more I look at it, the more I see it as elegant and playful. Each of the towers have similar language but at the same time have different personalities.”

A strong suggestion to get rid of the weathered steel material around the podium and in the alley to keep a clean appearance and discourage graffiti writing on the wall was made by the board and public.

The Old Colony residents have also voiced their concerns around the use of the alley, and the betterment of the pedestrian and traffic experience and safety.

While the board has no jurisdiction in that area, Garry Papers, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection planner assigned to the project, said they are working with SDOT to introduce a solution in the near future, possibly through alternative pavement materials and clear markings for pedestrian areas.

The 620 Terry Ave. project was approved to move forward, joining with three other proposed developments along Terry and James Street. Click here to review the entire design proposal.