First some background: While the Bel Roy Apartments may not be landmarked, they are certainly historic. The Moderne building was constructed in 1931 and designed by famed architects and UW professors, Lionel H. Pries and William J. Bain. TThis was one of the last projects the two architects built together as their partnership dissolved when the Depression took hold. Pries remained at the University and mentored a generation of influential architects including Minoru Yamasaki and Ken Anderson. Bain went on to start what would become one of the largest architecture firms in the world, NBBJ. The Bel Roy was hailed as one of the first modernist buildings in Seattle, incorporating flat geometric lines and zigzagging floor plans, a huge departure from the previously popular revivalist styles.
Unfortunately the Bel Roy now stands in the midst of languishing houses and its historic fame is hard to see through the overgrown shrubs. But the owners of the property along with the development firm Point32 have some big plans for the old building along with five homes adjacent to it.
View Bel Roy in a larger map
Although the project is in a nacsent stage, I spoke with Chris Rogers, CEO of Point23 and former resident of the Bel Roy, about what we might see in the future. He said they intend to refurbish the Bel Roy and build a new residential building to the Northeast that respects the historic style. He particularly mentioned adding some open space like the big courtyard gardens of the 20’s and 30’s. He also wanted to, what he called, “finish” the streetscape by improving the sidewalk with landscaping and street trees. I asked if they were considering any commercial space since its just down the block from the commercial strip with Artemis/The Lookout. He said current zoning did not allow this but many neighbors had shown interest in some small commercial space.
It’s not clear whether the buildings will be apartments or condos but Rogers said they wanted to build a “diversity of units”. There is no set timeline for the project but don’t expect construction until late 2010 or early 2011. As the plans are developed more they will go through the design review process but please feel free to leave your opinions here, Point32 is trying to get as much community input as possible.