My first design review board experience

Curious about design reviews I decide to go to the 1210 11th Ave Early Design Guidance meeting tonight. I picked this project because it is very likely going to impact my view of downtown and if I’m going to have to listen to it buying built and stare it, it better be nice! As I stood outside #3211 at SCC wondering why the room was dark, Lisa from the city showed up and told me it was canceled. Turns out the architect threw their back out.

Fortunately there was a meeting later in the night for 1205 E Pine, commonly known as the Foley Sign building at the corner of 12th and Pine. Unfortunately I had hockey game in Renton (we won) so I only caught the first hour.

In attendance was the board, the architect and his crew, the developer, a neighboring business owner (someone from The Cuff because apparently there are noise concerns), what appeared to be three citizens and myself.

The first half hour of the meeting Steve Johnson, the architect from Johnson Architecture (Johnson Architecture also did Monique Lofts and Trace Lofts both re-use projects on Capitol Hill), recapped the previous presentation and then addressed the board’s concerns and introduced some new designs. I was very surprised at how low tech the presentation was. I was expecting PowerPoint but it was all big poster boards like a high school science project. I was pleased with the designs he presented. I was fearing that the three additional stories on the old building wouldn’t look well integrated but it really does look good with the top three floors feature floor to ceiling aluminum clad wood windows, the residential entrance will be recessed with green walls, there’s a green roof top deck, and they’ll be adding more trees to the sidewalk.

I probably only caught 75% of the board’s questions to the architect and developer. The questions centered around the south wall (they were concerned that the lower level would be new but I was wondering why no windows?), the color of the old and the new portions, why aren’t they pursuing green certification (developer feels LEED is geared towards commercial and the LEED program for residential isn’t out yet), etc. Not having been to the Early Design Guidance meeting I don’t know what was asked before but I felt the board was really grasping for good questions. It reminded me of those awkward moments in school where you ask a question only so that your name gets written down on the list of students who asked questions that day.

Sadly I had to leave before the public was allowed to ask questions and the subsequent board deliberation.

The juicy gossip revealed is that the developer is in discussions with a Belltown restaurant who is looking at relocating and would take up most of the retail level space. Who could it be?

I’ll try to go to more of these in the future and will keep my eye on the upcoming project reviews for interesting downtown condo ones. If you go to any I’d be happy to post any recaps here or link to them on your blog because it seems like public attendance is low but by blogging about it we’ll likely involve more people in what’s going on.

About Matt

Matt , Urbnlivn's publisher, has a love for lofts with industrial features and new construction condos that is only eclipsed by his passion for outdoor sports and urban living. Phrases such as “polished concrete” and “exposed brick” are music to his ears. You can also find Matt on Twitter or skiing.

  • nitsuj

    “I was expecting PowerPoint but it was all big poster boards like a high school science project.”

    That made me chuckle. I think I’m going to go to one of my pitches with poster boards one day in lieu of ppt and see the looks I get.

  • nitsuj

    “I was expecting PowerPoint but it was all big poster boards like a high school science project.”

    That made me chuckle. I think I’m going to go to one of my pitches with poster boards one day in lieu of ppt and see the looks I get.

  • http://www.meaninglessinseattle.blogspot.com/ dunno

    I posted this on Cliff’s Cosmo blog as well but what do you think about running for local public office? You certainly know of the issues that face those who live in urban Seattle and would make a better rep than most I know of in office now.

  • http://www.meaninglessinseattle.blogspot.com/ dunno

    I posted this on Cliff’s Cosmo blog as well but what do you think about running for local public office? You certainly know of the issues that face those who live in urban Seattle and would make a better rep than most I know of in office now.

  • http://twitter.com/mattgoyer mattgoyer

    As a resident alien I can’t vote so I doubt I could run for office :). But thanks for the kind suggestion. However I also don’t really feel qualified. I feel like so many more of you commentators know the issues much better than I do. All I know how to do is blog.

  • http://blog.mattgoyer.com Matt

    As a resident alien I can’t vote so I doubt I could run for office :). But thanks for the kind suggestion. However I also don’t really feel qualified. I feel like so many more of you commentators know the issues much better than I do. All I know how to do is blog.

  • seattle67

    Here’s a really good first person account of a Design Review Board meeting that took place about a project in Ballard last November.

    http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/ballard/archives/126710.asp

    I think the big problem with the entire Design Review Board process is that the city promotes it as a bigger opportunity to voice concern and make significant design changes than what it really is – an opportunity to polish up the edges.

    And I bet that’s why you are seeing this reflected in lower attendance at these meetings, ‘why bother showing up for something that’s going to get built anyway?’ (Actually, you see better attendance in Seattle’s ‘single-family’ neighborhoods where they’re not having to deal with as much development as a neighborhood like Capitol Hill.)

    The reality of the whole design review process in Seattle is that the DRB is limited by the city to focus its efforts on recommending changes to the cosmetic details of a project (cornices, landscaping, color palettes, signage, lighting). Unless there’s a clear code violation, don’t expect the DRB to tackle significant issues (bulk/scale, usage, traffic, environmental) because the city does not give it that power. (And yes, the DPB and DPD could tackle these issues if they were permitted to more aggressively interpret state SEPA regulations)

    However, that said, if cosmetic issues are important to neighbors (and they should be), the DRB meetings can be an effective way to push those ideas through. In Wedgwood we had some luck through the DRB process of improving the exterior of the building so that it better fit into the neighborhood.

  • seattle67

    Here’s a really good first person account of a Design Review Board meeting that took place about a project in Ballard last November.

    http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/ballard/archives/126710.asp

    I think the big problem with the entire Design Review Board process is that the city promotes it as a bigger opportunity to voice concern and make significant design changes than what it really is – an opportunity to polish up the edges.

    And I bet that’s why you are seeing this reflected in lower attendance at these meetings, ‘why bother showing up for something that’s going to get built anyway?’ (Actually, you see better attendance in Seattle’s ‘single-family’ neighborhoods where they’re not having to deal with as much development as a neighborhood like Capitol Hill.)

    The reality of the whole design review process in Seattle is that the DRB is limited by the city to focus its efforts on recommending changes to the cosmetic details of a project (cornices, landscaping, color palettes, signage, lighting). Unless there’s a clear code violation, don’t expect the DRB to tackle significant issues (bulk/scale, usage, traffic, environmental) because the city does not give it that power. (And yes, the DPB and DPD could tackle these issues if they were permitted to more aggressively interpret state SEPA regulations)

    However, that said, if cosmetic issues are important to neighbors (and they should be), the DRB meetings can be an effective way to push those ideas through. In Wedgwood we had some luck through the DRB process of improving the exterior of the building so that it better fit into the neighborhood.

  • http://2200life.blogspot.com EconE

    ditto on what dunno said.

    Are you able to get dual citizenship and then run for office. I have no idea how it works for “aliens”…jeeze…what a dumb word…but if Arnold can take over California I don’t see why you can’t deal with Seattle. And I don’t think that you give yourself enough credit for your abilities outside blogging.

    Three cheers for the future Mayor Goyer!

    well…at least I’d vote for ya.

  • http://2200life.blogspot.com EconE

    ditto on what dunno said.

    Are you able to get dual citizenship and then run for office. I have no idea how it works for “aliens”…jeeze…what a dumb word…but if Arnold can take over California I don’t see why you can’t deal with Seattle. And I don’t think that you give yourself enough credit for your abilities outside blogging.

    Three cheers for the future Mayor Goyer!

    well…at least I’d vote for ya.

  • peckham

    “Are you able to get dual citizenship and then run for office.”

    No. You must denounce your former citizenship when you become a US citizen. Dual citizenship is not officially recognized in the USA.

  • peckham

    “Are you able to get dual citizenship and then run for office.”

    No. You must denounce your former citizenship when you become a US citizen. Dual citizenship is not officially recognized in the USA.

  • uptown

    Yes, you can (and I do) have Dual Citizenship with the USA.

    Read page 5 – paragraph 9 of your USA passport if you don’t believe me; it’s titled ‘Dual Citizens’.

  • uptown

    Yes, you can (and I do) have Dual Citizenship with the USA.

    Read page 5 – paragraph 9 of your USA passport if you don’t believe me; it’s titled ‘Dual Citizens’.

  • Peckham

    United States law recognizes U.S. Dual Citizenship, but the U.S. government does not encourage it is as a matter of policy. My statement about renouncing former citizenship was totally incorrect. Time for a new set of glasses.

  • Peckham

    United States law recognizes U.S. Dual Citizenship, but the U.S. government does not encourage it is as a matter of policy. My statement about renouncing former citizenship was totally incorrect. Time for a new set of glasses.