If you’ve walked to the southern part of Stone Way anytime in the past several months, you’ve likely seen the white land use action sign in front of 3542 Stone heralding the arrival of a new development and the demise of another one of our neighborhood’s old, low-rise buildings. While Stone Way Cafe will remain, gone will be Hashtag and Sea Ocean Books to be replaced by Living Stone.
The new building, plans for which date back at least as far as early 2018, will consist of a five-story office building with retail shops on the ground level facing Stone and 36th Street. A three-level parking garage below ground will provide about 150 spaces for cars as well as parking for over 100 bikes, and a large cistern will be dug for storing water. Access to the parking garage will be via 36th Street (rather than the very busy Stone Way) while bikes will have their own access ramp from Stone Way along the south side of the building.
While this type of construction is not unusual for the city, what is notable is that Living Stone will join a growing list of green buildings under construction or already built. In exchange for “going green,” developers receive waivers from some of the zoning rules. Living Stone will be able to build 15’ higher than the zoning in that area would normally allow.
Living Stone is receiving this concession under Seattle’s Living Building Challenge. This lays out guidelines for developers to follow which are based upon 7 core design concepts outlined by the International Living Future Institute. These seven concepts, referred to as petals, are Place; Water; Energy; Health and Happiness; Materials; Equity and Beauty, and collectively they seek to guide builders to produce buildings that are:
- Regenerative spaces that connect occupants to light, air, food, nature, and community.
- Self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site. Living Buildings produce more energy than they use and collect and treat all water on site.
- Healthy and beautiful.
Buildings can qualify as “green” and thus receive zoning variances by either satisfying all seven petals, or, as Living Stone has done, by satisfying any three (Place, Materials and Beauty in Living Stone’s case) as well as two other conditions imposed by the city:
- Reduce total energy usage by 25 percent, or more based on the Energy Use Intensity (EUI) targets in the Target Performance Path of Seattle Energy Code Section C401.3 and use no fossil fuel for space and water heating
- Reduce potable water demand by using only non-potable water to meet demand for toilet and urinal flushing, irrigation, hose bib, cooling tower (make up water only), and water features, except to the extent other applicable local, state, or federal law requires the use of potable water.
Living Stone is by no means a rarity in receiving concessions from the city in exchange for making their building green. One need look no further than the Brooks Building one block south. In that case, the developers were able to build 20 feet higher than zoning allowed by meeting the Living Building standards in place at the time.
The owner/general contractor for Living Stone is SRM Fremont. The architect is Weber Thompson which also designed the Watershed building currently under construction at 900 N. 34th street in Fremont (practically underneath the Aurora Bridge). This building is also taking advantage of the Living Building program.
The original schedule set back in 2018 was for demolition to begin in September 2019. Obviously, the schedule has slipped a bit. In October, the Seattle Dept. of Construction and Inspections determined that no EIS was needed. Also in October, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Board ruled on the structure to be torn down saying that it is “unlikely that the subject building would meet the standards for designation as an individual landmark.” So all the pieces now seem to be in place for work to begin. The Daily Journal of Commerce reports that ground breaking will commence in the 1st quarter of 2020 with a completion date sometime in late 2021.