Tonight at 6.30pm, the East Design Review Board will be hosting an Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting for the planned twin-tower project located on First Hill, directly adjacent to Town Hall Seattle. As this project consists of twin towers as well as a large amount of public open space, both EDG sessions will be utilized.
Located at 1101 8th Ave, Lennar Multifamily Communities will construct twin 32-story towers on the Spring Street half of the lot, with a total of 550 apartment units, 2,000 square feet of ground level retail, and parking for 410 vehicles, including spaces for use by Town Hall. The current plans are to have townhome units located along the 8th Avenue frontage of the East tower; however, at the request of the First Hill Improvement Association (FHIA), the developers are also looking at making that frontage available for street-level retail and moving the townhome units to the Spring Street sides of the buildings.
The plan includes vacating the north-south mid-block alleyway which will be situated between the two towers. The alleyway will still be accessible by vehicles required to support activities at Town Hall but will otherwise be made non-conducive to vehicular traffic. Planned catenary lighting would make the alleyway a more pleasant pedestrian-oriented thoroughfare. This will also be a convenient access point to the eastbound leg of the Madison BRT line which will have a stop directly across Spring St from this project (the westbound stop will be at Madison St & 8th Ave) as well as the Route 2 bus which stops at 8th Ave and Seneca St.
In order to make the necessary improvements, the alleyway must be officially vacated by the City of Seattle. In turn, the project proposes the following public benefits:
- Open, public courtyard in the northwest corner of the property in front of Town Hall working in conjunction with their new planned west entrance. This courtyard would be programmed by Town Hall and will be able to be utilized for events. The courtyard will also contain a water feature and landscaping to help deaden the noise from Interstate 5.
- A high-quality connection to Seattle’s Freeway Park, located directly northwest of this project, will be made diagonally at the intersection of Seneca St and Hubble Pl.
- Upgraded pedestrian experience along the rather steep alleyway between the two buildings, including elements such as seating and hand rails for those with mobility issues.
Pending sign-off from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), all garage access as well as trash and recycling pick up will be handed off of Hubble Place and not in the existing alleyway. This should also improve the pedestrian experience in this location to the extent possible considering that it will be located across the street from Interstate 5.
The intersection at Seneca and Hubble Place will hopefully, as part of the public benefits, receive a permanent traffic light to replace the current temporary one as well as improved curb cuts and treatments to the roadway to properly connect Freeway Park to both Town Hall specifically and First Hill in general.
The developers have already been communicating with the FHIA to make sure that the improvements are made in line with First Hill’s Public Realm Action Plan as well as with Town Hall to maximize the connection to Town Hall and their new planned West Entrance.
As this is only the first EDG meeting, or the first public step in the design approval process, there are no final renderings, only massing studies. Town Hall, FHIA, and other neighbors have already contributed suggestions and criticisms and they are being incorporated into the preferred design concept.
First Hill is one of the few high-rise zoned neighborhoods in Seattle and we welcome the addition of more housing in the neighborhood, especially considering the proximity to Downtown and several major employment centers. FHIA and Town Hall will continue to push Lennar to maximize benefits to the community and to improve the surroundings of an important civic institution. Public comment will be accepted at the meeting tonight (October 19th) at Seattle University or via email to the assigned planner, Garry Papers, at email@example.com.
Gordon is a native New Yorker who wisely chose to leave the Northeast in the early 1990s. A past resident of Belltown, and Queen Anne, he currently calls First Hill home. He is a board member of the First Hill Improvement Association (FHIA) as well as the FHIA Transportation Committee Chair and is constantly looking for ways to improve transportation up the hill.