The East Design Review Board moved two projects forward Wednesday that many hope will lead Seattle forward to new ways to develop the rapidly growing city.
24th and Union’s “inclusive development” showcase Liberty Bank Building and 1300 E Pike’s first Passive House-certified mixed-use project in the city received their final blessings from the review board Wednesday night clearing important hurdles on the way to the start of construction.
In its first decision of the night, the board unanimously approved the affordable housing development from Capitol Hill Housing slated to fill the lot that used to be home to Liberty Bank, Seattle’s first black-owned bank. But the group moved the development at 2320 E Union forward on the condition that Mithun architects reexamine its color scheme — a mix of beige, orange and brown — and choose more vibrant colors. “The color choices were a little bit more muted than they could have been,” board member Sarah Saviskas said.
Some commenters agreed. “We think it could go a little further. It’s 2016, not 1972,” Jeff Floor, co-chair of the Central Area Land Use Review Committee told the board during public comment. The committee continues to support the project including its request for a contract rezone that would allow the project with City Council approval to build to 65 feet tall in an area currently zoned for 40-foot limits.
The building is planned to have 115 studio, one-bedroom and two bedroom apartments and four commercial spaces. Apartments will be available at 30 to 60% of the area median income, ranging in price from $434 to $1,154.
The project to create the Liberty Bank Building is hoped to become a template for inclusive development in Seattle with a respect for history and the empowerment of the African American community. The color scheme is intended to represent African American culture. Al Doggett Studios has been hired to curate art for the building that will honor the Liberty Bank and reflect African American cultural heritage as well. Nine artists will create 11 works for the development.
1300 E Pike
Over at 1300 E Pike, developers made their case for a six-story building with 45 apartments and 3,187 square feet of retail space that could be Seattle’s first Passive House-certified, net-zero energy, mixed-use development.
So far, it’s winning the race to be the first in the city. With only three board members present, they approved the project 2 to 1.
Board member Curtis Bigelow cast the no vote, saying he would like to see the project use better materials, not “cementitious” paneling, and that it had too many ideas and no focal point. If developer Cascade Built and the architects at Weber Thompson had better materials, he said he could support it.
“I feel like they did not put their money where they should have,” he said.
Overall, he said the project has improved with more unity throughout and “we’re very excited about the passive housing.” But it wasn’t enough to earn his support.
Saviskas reluctantly supported the project, saying she would like to see better materials used as well.
Board member Natalie Gualy noted that building passive housing is more expensive. The project can’t have everything to develop the project at a reasonable cost. If the development moves forward at a reasonable price, it might lead a passive housing trend.
The passive features at 1300 E Pike will include increased insulation, and “exterior shading devices” to shield the south and western faces of the building from “heat loads.” Meanwhile, the design will use “the old rhythm of the column spacing” and “many elements such as the brick and the ornamental pieces on the current facade” but will not include full preservation of the auto row building currently at the corner sold by Fran’s Chocolates after moving its operations to Georgetown in 2014.