Proposed Uptown project gets early design OK

A proposed eight-story mixed-use development for 513 First Ave. N. will move forward in its design process, after getting the go ahead from the West Design Review Board on Wednesday night.

The plan for the current site of Queen Anne Liquor & Wine, Chutneys, and the former Floyd’s Place — backed by real estate development firm Vibrant Cities — calls for approximately 134 residential units, 31 parking stalls and 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail. As part of the Uptown rezone, the site was included in an area where maximum building heights more than doubled, from 40 to 85 feet.

Robin Murphy with Jackson | Main Architecture emphasized the opportunity that the location provides; in close proximity to Seattle Center, and an eventual light rail station.

In particular, much of the focus went to an element in the preferred option: a mid-block connection between the development’s south edge and the neighboring Inn at Queen Anne. The residential lobby would be on that side of the building, with retail spaces off of First Avenue North.

“This has more options for subdividing the commercial space,” Murphy said.

But to an extent, the mid-block connection requires the cooperation of the adjacent property owner to make use of the full space between the two buildings, with board member Patreese Martin asking if the entire plan depends on that buy-in.

Murphy said if they failed to get that partnership, they would pursue creating a green space along that stretch.

“It would still function fine,” he said.

Also discussed were a pair of live/work units included in the preferred option, located along the alley facing the parking lot next to Dick’s Drive-In. Though Murphy acknowledged the potential for further redevelopment across from their site, he said the local burger chain has a long-term lease at that location, making it unlikely.

The preferred option also included a rooftop deck on the building’s south side, meant to provide views of downtown, Elliott Bay, and Puget Sound.

Public comment was predominantly in favor of the proposal. Former city councilmember David Della said the design fits with the neighborhood character and potential future development, while developer Maria Barrientos — who co-chairs the Uptown Alliance Land Use Review Committee — noted that that group liked many features of both options 2 and 3 when project architects came to them in late November. She referred to the first option — designed with an interior courtyard — as a non-starter.  

That sentiment was echoed by the review board, which unanimously supported the preferred massing scheme, and the mid-block connection.

“I appreciate the direction they’re going in,” said board member Stephen Porter.

When the project again comes before the board for a recommendation phase meeting, members wanted to see further development of the through block, regarding safety, privacy, lighting, and signage, along with more detail on the how the live/work units would interact with both the mid-block connection and the alley.

The board also encouraged the architects to seek a zoning departure, due to a mistake in the adopted Uptown rezone legislation that recorded the upper level setback requirement at 45 feet, instead of 65. A correction is planned, but the board is directed to evaluate projects in line with the code as written.

If the board approves the updated development plans at the recommendation meeting, a final published decision from the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections would follow, along with the issuance of a master use permit. 


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Early Design Guidance Presentation (FINAL) — 513 1st Ave. N. (Feb. 7, 2018) by QueenAnneMagnoliaNews on Scribd