Jan 26, 2011

2200 East Madison: Design Review Report AND another hearing!

Summary of planning for development of an assisted living facility on Madison between 22nd and 23rd:

Architects Wolf Saar & Matt Roewe at the informal meeting
Design Review team at work
  • Jan 4th: informal meeting with architects and Aegis Living reps at Capitol Hill Housing's Elizabeth James house (just N. of the planned facility). Well attended, very informative meeting: many neighbors, mostly from 22nd Ave E., learnt about the plans and questioned the developers.  A good fraction turned up at:
  • Jan 5th Early Design Guidance Hearing, the official City planning meeting. Architects slide presentation is here and the Design Review report is here, and my impressions are below. In brief: the Board approved plans to chop down several large "exceptional" trees, but didn't like the plans for the visitor and delivery driveways on 22nd, and required the applicants to rework them and present them at:
  • another Early Design Guidance Meeting at 6:30 PM on Wednesday February 16th, in room 102/103 of Seattle Vocational Institute, 2120 S. Jackson Street. The applicants Design Proposal should be available here a few days prior to the meeting.
  • The team would be happy to meet informally with us again on Tuesday Feb 15th, if there is sufficient community interest. Please E-mail me, tayles@jps.net, if you would like a meeting.
  • NOTE: I video recorded the architect and Aegis reps presentations at the Board hearing and posted them on YouTube. I suggest you follow along using the architects' illustrations. Here is Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of the videos (about 10 mins each).
Here are excerpts from the Review Board report, illustrated with excerpts from the architects' presentation, about the main issue raised by the board. The concern, the impacts of the handling of vehicular traffic, dovetails well with the main concerns expressed by the 22nd Ave. neighbors.  BTW the neighbors liked the trees on the site, but were resigned to seeing them cut down: the Design Review Team were also happy with the architects' reasons for removing the trees (see report), and easily agreed that the architects' preferred design was the only viable one.

A-8 Parking and Vehicle Access. Siting should minimize the impact of automobile parking and driveways on the pedestrian environment, adjacent properties, and pedestrian safety. 
At the Early Design Guidance Meeting, the Board discussed at length the proposed location of the vehicle access and loading and drop off area clustered along the 22nd Avenue frontage. The Board was concerned that all of the back of house functions and curb cuts created a vehicle dominated and harsh pedestrian environment that lacks contribution to an active streetscape. The Board strongly recommended consolidation of these multiple drive lanes and garage openings to create a design that defers to the pedestrian and creates a more vibrant ground level. The Board observed that the proposed circulation was creating a large hole in the streetscape and a large gap between the gateway corner and the Lowrise zone to the north. The Board also stressed that the ground level should be integrated into the overall fa├žade composition to present a cohesive design. 

C-5 Structured Parking Entrances. The presence and appearance of garage entrances should be minimized so that they do not dominate the street frontage of a building. 

See A-8. The Board expressed support for departures from the loading berth size and driveway width if such reductions would result in a vibrant and attractive pedestrian streetscape along 22nd Avenue. The Board expressed support a decrease from the quantity of loading berths, if such an option is available through the Land Use Code. 
(click to enlarge and make legible)


3. Parking Location & Access (SMC 23.47A.032.B1b): The Code requires that street level parking be separated from street level, street facing facades by another permitted use. The applicant proposes to locate two parking stalls along 22nd Avenue. 
The Board indicated concern with the dominance of the 22nd Avenue frontage by curb cuts and driveways. The Board would like to see the vehicular access dimensions minimized and consolidated. See recommendations contained in this report. 
4. Curb Cut Width (SMC 23.54.030.F1b): The Code requires that single curb cut may not exceed ten feet in width or two may combined for a width of 20 feet. The applicant proposes two curb cuts on 22nd Avenue – one 15 feet wide and the other 30 feet wide. 

The Board indicated concern with the dominance of the 22nd Avenue frontage by curb cuts and driveways. The Board would like to see the vehicular access dimensions minimized and consolidated. See guidance contained in this report.   

Sketches of proposed design, from architects' presentation