Design Review Approves Plan for 2 Apartment Buildings on Old Teatro ZinZanni Site

By Joe Veyera

The next act for the former site of Teatro ZinZanni is one step closer to reality, after development plans received approval from the West Design Review Board in a recommendation meeting on Wednesday night.

The project at 225 Roy St. includes one eight-story and one seven-story building with 269 apartments, just over 9,000 square feet of retail space at street-level, and underground parking for approximately 180 vehicles. Earlier plans had called for two eight-story structures, but neighbors along Roy Street had expressed concern about what that building height would mean for natural light in their apartments.

Developer Maria Barrientos said public feedback had, “a really strong influence,” on the design, with more than 20 meetings and presentations to various community groups over the last year and a half.

To that end, public comment Wednesday was almost unanimously in favor of the plan, with Uptown Alliance co-president Rick Hooper calling the process a “great model” for how a community can engage with developers.

“This site could have been a mundane project in the hands of somebody else,” said one attendee.

The proposal is also one of the first to account for building height increases allowed under a neighborhood rezone passed by the city council in October. The site is included in a small area north of Seattle Center that saw maximum heights more than double from 40 to 85 feet.

Board member Homero Nishiwaki acknowledged that as one of the challenges the project faced.

“It’s a very big project,” he said. “It’s not just big, it’s also very prominent, and it deals with a transitional period where a new code, a new height is being implemented.”

Nishiwaki — the lone holdover on the board from the project’s early design guidance meeting in April — said he felt many of the recommendations made at that time were incorporated into the updated design.

Among the elements to earn the board’s praise was the public plaza planned directly off Mercer Street (though its included in a separate permit) — something landscape architect Kris Snider of Hewitt said “put a stamp on this project,” as a commitment to the community — along with the high quality of materials proposed throughout the site as well.

Ultimately, the board gave its okay for the plans with a trio of conditions, one regarding the “gasket” that separates the massing volumes for the building along Third Avenue, and a second for material consistency throughout the project.

The third condition was the removal of a glass and steel weather protection canopy between the two buildings, which the board felt made the interior courtyard seem more like a private space than a public area.

“This is a public thoroughfare,” said board member Stephen Porter of the walkway down the middle of the site, connecting Mercer and Roy.

The board also approved a pair of zoning departures, one to allow for a continuous vertical façade along Roy Street — instead of an upper-level set-back — and a second allowing for a steeper driveway slope for the underground parking entrance.

The latter request drew questions from the board about its necessity, and what the alternative would be if the departure were denied.

Barrientos explained the entrance accounts for traffic entering and exiting the Mercer Street Garage, and that planned retail space at the corner of Third Avenue North and Mercer would be affected.

“We can’t keep the retail on Mercer at the grade it’s at without doing this,” she said.

That rationale was enough to earn the board’s approval by a 3-1 vote.

The plan now awaits the final published decision from the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections, after which a master use permit will be issued.

For more information on the development, and a full list of project documents, visit and enter project number 3025946. 

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