4726 15th Ave NE

Tonight the Northeast Design Review Board will give early design guidance on a 129-unit design for 4726 15th Ave NE. The plan calls for a mix of small efficiency dwelling units and apartments plus 3,510 square feet of street-level retail, all built to a silver LEED environmental standard.

It’s an early design, but D/Arch’s work looks promising so far. The juliet balconies seem a nice touch and one that makes the facade more interesting. The rooftop patio also looks like it will be a great amenity for residents with its green roof, fire pits, and planters. Providing some larger two bedroom units should also help house some families or households seeking more space. The spectrum of choice from small efficiency to two bedrooms is commendable.

The site is occupied by three single-family residences meaning this project would displace three households to create 129 new ones. Yet another example that most developments do not replace large apartment buildings but rather displace parking lots or single-family residences, typically in the name of building more than a hundred new units. In other words, John Fox and the Seattle Displacement Coalition severely misrepresent how and to what extent displacement is happening.

This proposal requires a contract rezone from LR3 to NC2-65 which would trigger the MHA-R requirement. That means the project would provide at least twice as many units guaranteed affordable for 75 years than currently exist on the site (and likely not affordable given the location). The developer could either pay the in-lieu fee or provide on-site affordability. If the rezone is determined to be of the M1 variety, then 9 percent of units would be below 60 percent of area median income or a $20 per square foot fee would be paid. That’s would be more than a million dollars based on Alternative C’s total square footage minus the commercial floor area which falls below the 4,000 square foot allowance for street-level retail. (For more on MHA details and tweaks read this.)

Preferred Alternative 3 would build 129 units. (d/Arch)
The three alternatives offer different massing options. (d/Arch)

The 6:30pm design review takes place at Good Shepherd Center. People can also submit comments to the City’s assigned planner, Holly Godard, at holly.godard@seattle.gov. At 8pm, the board will provide early design guidance on a small efficiency project at 1403 NE 65th St.

Those interested in commenting on the the U District Rezone should attend the 2pm briefing January 19th at City Hall. I’d argue we should see it passed as soon as possible so projects like this one fall under MHA automatically whether or not they seek a contract rezone.

Seattle Times Indulges He Said, She Said Displacement Analysis

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Doug Trumm is publisher 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 in 2019. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.