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Design reviews: Knights of Columbus development’s Harvard plans, plus a ‘mass timber’ first on First Hill

A split decision last spring will bring one of twin new projects planned to rise around the historic Knights of Columbus building in front of the East Design Review Board again Wednesday night. Meanwhile, another project coming in front of the review board would create Seattle’s tallest “mass timber” building.

The 704 E Union component of the Knights of Columbus project — a planned seven-story, 37-unit apartment building that will neighbor the overhauled landmark — passed through the first stage of review in April with the board’s only concern centering on a “gasket” connection planned with the 106-year-old masonry clubhouse structure.

But before the full development can move forward to the final recommendation phase of Seattle’s design review process, its larger twin planned for the land currently dedicated to surface parking along Harvard still has a few rough edges that need to be smoothed including “unresolved issues relating to tree placement, open space and the relationship of the project to the neighbor,” the board’s report on the April session reads, the St. John’s Apartments and, most importantly to you summer drinkers, encroachment on the St. John’s bar patio. Fighting words, no? Settle down. There’s a plan.

722 E Union St: Design Review Early Design Guidance for a 7-story, 128-unit apartment building. Parking for 176 vehicles proposed. Existing 4-story building to remain. View Design Proposal      

Review Meeting: August 14, 2019 6:30 pm, Seattle University, 901 12th Ave, Casey Commons – Casey 530
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance  See All Reviews

Project Number: 3032716  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice

Planner: Michael Gushard — Email comments:

The projects from developers SRM Development and the Runberg Architecture Group follows the $18.55 million sale of the 106-year-old clubhouse building and surrounding parking lots to the developer last summer as the local Knights chapter sold off its valuable asset on the rise of Harvard between First Hill and Pike/Pine. SRM is planning a development and an historically respective overhaul of the 33,708 square-foot Knights hall. Earlier this year, the landmarks board approved SRM’s bid for protections on the building that will shape its overhaul. SRM also nominated the building for a listing on the National Register of Historic Places and hopes to qualify for a federal tax credit.

The 722 E Union component of the project that will return to the board for review Wednesday night is being planned for a seven-story project — boosted an extra story thanks to the Pike/Pine preservation incentive from not tearing down the Knights of Columbus building — with 125 market-rate apartments.

As part of the second “early design guidance review,” the board will hear the new plan for giving St. John’s patio due respect after requesting “that the applicant seek an elegant and neighborly solution to the loss of egress and trash storage for the neighboring building.” The updated proposal would create a deeper setback and space, the developers, contend, for apartment neighbors to the north to access the area.

Runberg has also provided more ideas on how to mitigate the removal of several “exceptional trees” that need to make way for the preferred design including the planting of a new grove and “vertical” landscaping:

You can also expect some discussion of garage access as parking for the development will be centered on the larger Harvard structure where architects are planning an underground structure with room for around 176 vehicles.

There is no commercial space being planned for either of the new buildings — the retail, restaurant, or office future of the Knights building will hinge on the adaptive reuse overhaul of the central structure. Or SRM could opt to create even more apartments in the rehabbed club building. For now, it remains empty while the long design review process plays out.

The building will only rise 85 feet — but it could be an important first step for Seattle architecture

1422 Seneca — ‘Mass timber’ highrise
Also on the agenda for the review board Wednesday night will be a new project that will replace a one-story 1949-built dental office with a 12-story apartment building with room for 108 small efficiency dwelling units. Good news, dentophobics — the building currently at 1422 Seneca will be demolished to make way for the project.

But there’s something cooler afoot. The project could also create Seattle’s tallest “mass timber” building.

“The proposed construction of a new twelve-story high rise mass timber structured building includes approximately 33’ 108 small efficiency dwelling residential units (SEDU’s), no commercial retail space, no live work units and no parking spaces,” the rather direct and to the point project description from developer Pryde Development and the architects at Clark Barnes reads. “The building is sited to support existing mass transit infrastructure, reinforce neighborhood public spaces with redevelopment of large sidewalk directly East of site, and respect adjacent building,” it concludes.

Thanks to changes in state building code, mass timber cross-laminated would buildings up to 18 stories can be built in Washington. Seattle is seen as an ideal market for the building type that is incredibly strong, requires less energy to produce, and has been hyped as potentially speeding up construction thanks to prefabrication.

All that, and you eventually get to watch a dentist’s office get demolished. Good plan.

1422 Seneca St: Design Review Early Design Guidance for a 12-story apartment building with 108 small efficiency dwelling units (SEDU) . No parking proposed. Existing building to be demolished. View Design Proposal  (29 MB)    

Review Meeting
August 14, 2019 8:00, Seattle University, 901 12th Ave, Casey Commons – Casey 530
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number: 3034493  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: Joseph Hurley — Email comments:

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Saoirse Cavanaugh
Saoirse Cavanaugh
1 year ago

This project would destroy a lot of greenspace.

1 year ago

Are you referring to the parking lot with a few medium-sized trees? Yes, those trees are nice but I wouldn’t call it “a lot of green space.”

1 year ago
Reply to  dave

I love the anti-development crowd. They’ll latch on to any quasi-argument and posture and pretend they have a leg to stand on.

This rendering looks great. It’ll bring much needed housing, your incoherent critique, Saoirse, has been logged and rejected as what it is: worthy of ridicule. Now let’s get on with the permitting process.

1 year ago

If 1422 Seneca can get the Maximillian’s garbage out of the freaking alley way, I would call it a worthwhile loss of a significant portion of my view. (I’m in the Manhattan on Boylston at Seneca.)

I question my own motives, but I’m surprised that they would go this high on this part of First Hill. The Point at UUB only goes up 8 and the KofC is only 8. I would expect about the same at this location as things step down in height as they approach towards Pike and Broadway.