A planned seven-story apartment complex in Uptown will return for a second Early Design Guidance meeting, after the proposal was met with reservations from both the West Design Review Board and the public on Wednesday night.

The developers of the project at 100 Roy St. — the site of an existing three-story building with around 70 residential units — are aiming for 170 units with approximately 6,000 square feet of ground-level retail space and parking for 130 vehicles.

Diana Keys, the director of housing for Seattle-based firm Johnson Braund, noted that the site has its challenges, with the presence of overhead power lines, and a significant amount of slope.

The latter, however, helps with the zoning transition, Keys said, with the site zoned for buildings up to 65-feet, and everything directly north up to only 40.

But none of the three massing options presented convinced the board that the project was ready to move forward.

Board member John Morefield said it felt as though the project’s massing was derived by the zoning, and its articulation by the design guidelines, when it should be the opposite.

“I think the most successful projects take the spirit of the guidelines rather than a direct representation of the code,” he said.

While acknowledging that the site has its hurdles to overcome, board member Homero Nishiwaki felt the plans were mostly reactionary to those conditions.

“I think they need to come at it from the other end,” he said. “What is the spirit of the Uptown design guidelines?”

One element that earned increased scrutiny was a proposed covered arcade along Roy Street on the east corner of the site, which board members said felt out of place in the neighborhood. During public comment, multiple speakers expressed concerns over whether the arcade would be public space or dedicated to commercial use.

“There’s not much of a precedent of that in the area,” said board member Patreese Martin.

There were elements of the alternatives that did capture the board’s interest. Members were intrigued by the rhythm of the facade break-up in the code-compliant option, and the emphasis in the second alternative on attracting people to the site’s southwest corner. Nishiwaki noted the architects’ preference for brick as a key design element as “a good starting point.”

But that wasn’t enough for the board to give its approval, instead voting unanimously to bring the project back as opposed to advancing it to the recommendation stage.

“There isn’t to me a clear concept here of what this building is trying to do,” Martin said.

Rather than express a preference for any of the three massing options presented, the board chose to highlight certain principles for architects to consider as they retool the project, chief among them the zoning transition. Members also encouraged the project architects to conduct an in-depth study of the urban fabric of the “Heart of Uptown” character area.

“It needs to definitely do a good search of what it means to be an Uptown building,” Nishiwaki said.

The board was also unreceptive to a set of requested zoning departures, with the assumption that the plans presented in the second EDG meeting will be substantially different.

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Early Design Guidance Presentation — 100 Roy St. (Aug. 15, 2018) by QueenAnneMagnoliaNews on Scribd