Courtesy of Weber Thompson Architects
An early design look at the seven-story, mixed-use building planned for the old Petco space in West Seattle's Junction neighborhood. At this point, the design is more about general massing than the final look.

First look at the latest seven-story project coming to the Junction

Moving along at a steady clip so far, the 7-story mixed-use building planned for 4724 California Ave S.W. (the old Petco building), has its first Department of Planning and Development early design review coming up on May 24.

In advance of that meeting, an early design guidance package has been released by developers Urban Evolution out of Seattle and The Wolff Company of Arizona (originally Spokane). Weber Thompson Architects will design the building.

The preferred design from the early guidance packet is available for download at the top of the story.

Rob O’dea, a spokesman for the project, said the designs are in their infancy, and therefore not indicative of what the final building design will look like. The first round of schematics, he said, is more about finding out the preferred massing of the building in general terms. In other words, the design seen up top does not mean the 4724 project will be single-tone, khaki, windowless box.

What is known is that developers are planning on 80 residential units, 18 live/work units, 5,000 square feet of ground level retail (Urban Evolution said they will not bring in large chain retailers), and underground parking for 70 vehicles. According to the early design packet, they are also planning a mid-block walkway on the northern side of the building, connecting pedestrian traffic from California to 42nd Ave S.W.

Here is a narrative, as written by Weber Thomspon, with more details on their early design preferences:

The new project will enhance the fine grained retail found along California Ave.SW as well as relate thoughtfully to the emerging higher density buildings in the neighborhood. The entire ground floor facing California will be devoted to retail frontage that will relate well to the existing pedestrian environment and commercial uses. Live/Work units will line a portion of the alley façade at the ground floor and occupy the second floor along California and the alley. Vehicular entry to the garage and building loading/service will also be located on the alley.

In elevation along California the podium will be comprised of ground floor retail and Live/Work units at the second floor. This will be architecturally differentiated from the upper five levels of residential program by expressing a more commercial language at the base of the building. The residential lobby and access to the Live/Work units will be located along a proposed mid-block pedestrian walkway on the project’s north property line. In order to daylight the walkway the majority of the project will be pulled back 10’ from the north property line. The mid-block walkway will provide access from California east to 42nd Ave. SW and continue the linkage started by the Mural project to the east.

The preferred massing option will provide a signature corner element to mark and animate the mid-block crossing. Both North and South elevations will pull off the property lines to minimize blank walls as much as possible and provide corner glazing for the units.

As required by the city, developers have three “massing schemes” they will present at the May 24 meeting, and O’dea said they internally prefer Massing Scheme 3 (the design at story top).

The packet shows Weber Thomson is planning to step back from California Ave S.W. at the upper floors in all of their designs, a technique that could make the 85 foot building seem less imposing as the Junction gets wider and taller.

The “pros” for Scheme C, according to Weber Thompson, include angled corners to clearly mark the entrance to the mid-block pedestrian route and “break up the façade on California,” minimal blank walls and larger window areas on the north and south facing walls, “good reduction in massing and scale towards lower density development to the southeast,” the mid-block walkway itself, and more sidewalk setback for outdoor seating at the northwest corner.

The one “con” listed: “More complicated massing creates a more expensive building.”

More details and a chance to speak publically can all be had at the early design guidance meeting on Thursday, May 24, 6:30 p.m., at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in Delridge.

For additional details on the project and developers, please check out the Herald's prior coverage.

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