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St. Luke’s Episcopal Church’s Proposal for 206-Unit Residential Development in Seattle Gains Approval in Design Review

A church in Seattle has hopes to bring more housing to the city’s Ballard neighborhood, and after gaining approval from the Northwest Design Review Board during a recent recommendation meeting, it’s even closer to that goal. The proposal from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is for the construction of an apartment building that would not only house market rate and affordable units but also the church itself in a new permanent home.

St. Luke’s is partnering with Security Properties and BRIDGE Housing on the project’s development, according to submitted plans. VIA Architecture is the designer.

“Our congregation has been part of the Ballard neighborhood for over 130 years, and we are planning for the next 100 years in the same location,” said Britt Olson, a priest at St. Luke’s, during the meeting. “When we began to dream what might be possible with our land in 2017, we engaged members of our community and the neighborhood in an envisioning process. The priorities that emerged were to retain control of our land and to remain as part of this community, secondly to provide as much family-focused affordable housing as possible and finally to design a flexible, multi-purpose space for not only St. Luke’s worship and programs but for use by others.”

The project site is located at 5710 22nd Ave. NW. Currently, the two-parcel site holds St. Luke’s existing church and facilities – the proposal is to redevelop the site into a 206-unit building, plans show. The homes would be primarily one-, two- and three-bedroom units with a limited number of studios. Approximately 172 parking stalls will be provided and accessed from a single driveway off 57th Street. No commercial or retail spaces are planned. In addition to the market rate housing, there will also be 20 percent of homes designated as affordable. Those units will be income restricted for individuals and families earning 60 percent to 80 percent of the area median income – for an individual, 80 percent AMI is an annual income of $63,350.

Brian O’Reilly, principal at VIA, presented details about the proposal to the board. Along with the apartment building discussed during the meeting, the same development team is working on a proposal for an 84-unit affordable apartment building on the same site but as a separate project.

“The project we’re proposing is this really important addition to the civic core of Ballard, and it solidifies St. Luke’s presence here while bringing the vibrancy of new housing to the neighborhood,” O’Reilly said.

During a previous early design guidance meeting, the project was met with widespread support by the Northwest Design Review Board. In that meeting, the board specifically commended the project team on the development’s connection to light and open space. However, the board also asked the development team to consider making the residential entrance off of 22nd Street more profound, given its proximity to and visibility from the park.

Similarly in the most recent meeting, the board was overall pleased with the project and voted unanimously to move it forward. In addition to the support given, though, discussion during the most recent meeting also concerned one of the project’s entrances. Board members asked that the development team add veracity to the main entryway, possibly by removing some of the panels in that area just to break up the design as well as add more light and transparency. Board members also requested that the design team look at increasing landscaping in that area as well.

The board was ultimately satisfied with the project’s design evolution, from the previous EDG meeting to the most recent recommendation meeting. Brian Johnson, board chair, highlighted the proposal’s journey over time.

“We felt the development had come along quite nicely from design guidance and had really taken some of our early comments into consideration,” Johnson said.