Caron Architecture, a local design firm, will present their 4201 Stone Way proposal to the Northeast Design Review Board tonight (September 12th) for the second round of Early Design Guidance (EDG). The site currently houses Cabinetpak Kitchens, a cabinetmaker showroom dominated its large garage with three doors facing Stone Way. The preferred option would build 51 apartments, almost 3,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space, four surface parking stalls, and 13 bike parking stalls.
Stone Way is a street undergoing major transformation from its warehouse past to a commercial node complete with apartments ranging from efficiency to luxury. For more about that transformation read my piece from December. Watermarke Apartments, just north of the site, was an early four-story apartment addition in 1989, while in 2008 the five-story Howard Park went in across the street.
The preliminary design looks promising with an inviting patio space for a future restaurant. The awnings and balconies provide a nice horizontal element. More details will come out as the architects move beyond early design, but the project looks like it’s well on its way. The sparing use of parking is commendable. No parking is required because the site is near frequent transit and within the Wallingford Residential Urban Village.
In the first round of early design guidance meeting, the Board asked architects to respond better to the surroundings, impose less on neighborhood adjacent single-family homes, and questioned the use of townhomes.
In response, the the architects say that “[t]he project has been reconsidered as a mixed use building with apartment units, and no longer contains townhouses. There are no blank walls proposed in the preferred option.” The Board also suggested building less parking to increase the commercial space thereby reducing land use code departures. In the second iteration, the architects say that “[t]he change in program from townhouses to apartments has moved the amenity area to the roof, and there is no longer an exterior stair. The mail room is conveniently located along N. 42nd St. Different options for the back of house operations have been considered, and are shown in the three different proposed options. Parking quantity has been reduced in order to help reduce the number of departures requested.”
At the first EDG, the design review board said that the corner should be more celebrated and pedestrian mobility improved. In response, the architects say that:
The commercial space is set back at the southeast corner to provide additional public space and to emphasize the importance of the corner. The upper levels at this corner are more prominent and heavily glazed to provide a texture unique from the rest of the building and provide additional emphasis. Entries are located at grade to maintain a clear pedestrian path and minimize excessive stairs and ramping. Increased setbacks are shown in Options 1 and 3 that will help buffer the adjacent single family residences.
Fundamentally, a project to deliver 51 apartments and a commercial space (likely a restaurant it would seem) in place of a cabinet showroom that lacks the pedestrian-friendly design elements nor the residential capacity to serve the neighborhood’s surging demand is a big upgrade. The design review board likely will find a few elements to highlight for further improvement as the project proceeds toward Recommendations. From the sidelines, though, it looks like a promising project and a welcome improvement for Stone Way.
How to Get Involved
If you’re interested in attending the community design review meeting for the project, you can do so tonight (September 12th) at the Good Shepherd Center, Room 202, located at 4649 Sunnyside Ave N. The Northeast Design Review Board will convene the meeting at 6.30pm. Alternatively, if you wish to submit comments in written form, you can do so by e-mailing the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) at PRC@seattle.gov.
For more design review materials and upcoming meetings, see the SDCI’s design review page.
Doug Trumm is the executive director of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.