230 Broadway development “elegant” but still requires a closer look

Wednesday night’s early design guidance meeting for the 230 Broadway project revealed a Brix-like apartment and retail complex that left the Capitol Hill Design board wanting more specific details.

The 7-story mixed use development will house 235 residential spaces (47 units of affordable housing), room for 24,000 sq. ft. of retail, have space for neighborhood offices and will stretch from Thomas St. all the way to Castle and the tanning salon; replacing the space for the farmers market as well as a multitude other businesses. (If you need to brush up your memory on the guts of the project, a link to the architects proposal can be found here.) As with any project of this size landing on the uniformly two-story area on and around Broadway, concerns surrounding its mass, looks, and function as a community space topped the issue list for the review board.

While it received the most praise in our previous coverage of the development, the proposed courtyard and community room became clouded in confusion after the board began looking into the function, placement, and use of the space. As a whole, the board felt the design left too many questions about whether the courtyard, located in the center of the building, was open to the public or restricted only to the tenants. According to lead architect Brian Runberg, street access would be restricted at night in parallel with a community room hours by way of a “welcoming” gate, but the board felt the current design, which has no visual or physical access to Broadway, lacked character as an effective public space. “For a space that is supposed be a community space, it’s pretty impoverished,” said Bryan Cavanaugh, the business owner representative on the design review board. This brought up questions of possible relocation of the community room or rearrangement of entrances, but ultimately resulted in the board wanting more clarity.

As a brand new yet lasting face of Broadway, community members and board members wanted to ensure the facade would reflect the culture and historical precedence created by the current retail stretch on the street. Runberg’s goal with the Broadway facade was to create a “strong urban edge” — reinforcing the vibrant night life, creating wider sidewalks, and allowing retail businesses to create unique storefronts. The board praised these efforts, but without a solid decision on the look and setback of the front, they demanded a strong, clear, and simple front that would be made interesting by the individual store owners.

The final board recommendations also called for more definition on the how the building turns the corner at 10th & Thomas, and a clear design on what turned out to be a controversial service alley on the south end of the building.

Despite the criticisms, the review board did commend the architects and developer for their analysis of the history of Capitol Hill developments as well as the new building’s aesthetic fit into environment of Broadway. One went so far as to call the design “elegant.”

Taking the advice of the board and community with them, the next step for the developers, according to project planner Lisa Rutzick, will be applying for a master use permit. After more zoning and environmental assessments, the group will come back to the design review board for more community input.

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2 thoughts on “230 Broadway development “elegant” but still requires a closer look

  1. You didn’t mention that community members had serious reservations about the building’s size: one suggested it should be two buildings. The architects overlooked “Height, bulk and scale” as significant design issues they thought needed to be dealt with.