Updated Thursday, May 4, 4:25 PM with a quote from Hey, Skanska & Brooks, down in front! (see below for the quote).
The Seattle Times reports that the city’s Design Review Board has approved Skanska’s current design proposal for Stone34.
I haven’t seen anything new on the Hey, Skanska & Brooks, down in front! Facebook page, but I did see the following update posted on the Stone34 page:
The Design Review Board recommended approval of Stone34 and affirmed that the current design meets the City’s Design Guidelines – your great comments and letter of support were KEY to making that happen, thank you!
Last night, at our 4th Design Review for this project, the Board heard loud and clear from the community that this is a beautiful building, an important deep green project, and a wonderful community asset. The DRB was appreciative of the design team’s responsiveness to the feedback of the board, and the community.
We plan to continue the dialog with you and there will be many more opportunities for updates and additional feedback as we move forward – stay tuned!
Here’s what the folks on the Hey, Skanska & Brooks, down in front! Facebook page had to say:
Many thanks to all the neighbors who showed up in force at the various Design Review Board meetings. While the Board decided to approve the design, your voice made a big difference in the process in three huge ways:
1) We demonstrated that the building as it is currently being proposed is “controversial” as it was described in a Seattle Times article yesterday.
2) The community outpouring likely helped the Design Review Board require that Skanska chisel away at the top floors. While the building is still way too massive for this neighborhood, it’s definitely better than the original design.
3) In spite of the massive efforts by Skanska to sway the Board, the vote was close. Originally the votes was 2 to 2 on granting the departures for the extra 20 feet. (The chair changed his vote so the final result was 3 -1). The final vote to recommend the project was 3 to 1.
Getting the design approved through the DRB is only one step in the process. At this point, the city council has still not passed the legislation that would allow the height departure.
The report in the Seattle Times that the “Board assumed” the amendments would pass is not entirely correct. The Board was told by DPD that they had to assume that the legislation would pass for its review of the project. Even then it is not clear what amendments the Board was to assume were in effect. Between the third and fourth DRB meetings, Skanska/Brooks/DPD changed the proposed amendments to eliminate the requirement that the departures not conflict with adopted design guidelines!
The neighborhood still has ample opportunity to make a difference! There are still many issues with this building that need to be addressed. So far, Skanska has not adequately demonstrated that the departure is warranted.
The pending legislation that would allow this departure states that Skanska must demonstrate that the departure would result in a development that better meets the intent of the adopted design guidelines or that better meets the goals of the Living Building Challenge.
We know that a taller building does not better meet the DRB guidelines – especially the one that states that projects should be “compatible with the scale of development for the surrounding area and should provide a sensitive transition to near-by, less intensive zones.”
An 82-foot building in an area zoned for 45-feet – and within feet of a designated shoreline zoned for 30 feet – does not lend itself to a “sensitive transition.” The minor setbacks that Skanska has established cannot do enough height and bulk mitigation to satisfy the DRB guidelines.
We also know that a taller building will not result in a development that better meets the goals of the Living Building Challenge. The LBC should not be allowed to be used as a pretext for obtaining unrelated special privileges in conflict with existing land use law.
(Hat tip to Nancy M. for the heads-up!)