Two more tall towers join parade along Denny Way
Developers are proposing a slew of new residential towers over 400 feet high on the busy Denny Way corridor, seizing on the City Council’s rezone of South Lake Union to allow for greater height and density.
Seattle Times business reporter
South Lake Union’s Denny Way corridor is growing up.
Developers are proposing a slew of new residential towers over 400 feet high on the busy corridor between Aurora Avenue North and Interstate 5, two years after the Seattle City Council rezoned South Lake Union to allow for greater height and density. The city’s apartment boom shows no signs of losing steam.
The latest proposal — two 42-story residential towers with 420 units each on opposite sides of a block — comes from H5 Capital in Beverly Hills, Calif. It proposes to demolish the one-story building occupied by The 13 Coins restaurant and erect the towers on both sides of an eight-story building in the middle of the block whose occupants include The Seattle Times.
Known as 121 Boren Ave. N., the project is on a block bounded by Denny Way, Boren Avenue North, John Street and Terry Avenue North. The proposal will get its first public hearing Oct. 7 before the city’s design-review board.
The Seattle Times Co. sold the two buildings to H5 Capital in 2011 for $36 million. The paper is about four years into a 10-year lease in the structure, said Times spokeswoman Jill Mackie.
Officials for H5 Capital didn’t respond to requests for comment Thursday, nor did representatives of 13 Coins.
The new development would provide 350 parking spaces for each tower, which means not every unit would come with a stall.
Matt Griffin, who developed Via6 in Denny Triangle, said his experience there shows him that downtown residents, if they own cars, use the parking stalls to store their cars for occasional use.
“They know they can’t move in the traffic either,” Griffin said.
The Denny corridor would sprout a bumper crop of tall towers if developers all move ahead with their plans:
On the same block, Mack Urban has proposed a 40-story residential building at the northwest corner. The project, known for now as 1001 John Street or 124 Terry Avenue, is on land purchased in December for $11.5 million.
Just across Boren, British Columbia-based Onni Group is pursuing permits for four high-rise residential towers on the two city blocks it owns: two 41-story towers at 1120 Denny Way, where the corridor meets Fairview Avenue North; and 29- and 36-story towers on the block to the north of that, the site of the landmarked Seattle Times Co. building, city records show.
While the four towers combined would contain 1,910 units, their parking garages would have capacity for more than 2,580 vehicles, according to city records. Some of those parking spaces are committed to H5’s tenants in the building across the street.
To the west, Holland Partner Group has applied for a permit for a 40-story apartment tower with 461 units at 970 Denny Way, city records show. The developer, which bought two parcels for $20.1 million in March, plans to include parking for 374 cars — and 188 bikes.
Ducky’s Office Furniture had a showroom on the southern parcel, but has moved it south to Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood.
Down the hill at Westlake Avenue North, Vulcan has big plans for its block that now is home to South Lake Union Discovery Center and a playfield. The Seattle developer has applied for a 41-story residential tower at the southeast corner of Ninth Avenue North and John Street and an 18-story office tower at the northwest corner of Westlake Avenue North and Denny Way, plans filed with the city show. The project also will have about 28,000 square feet of retail.
Vulcan will get feedback on its plan at a design-review board meeting Wednesday. The developer is asking the city to give up a public alley, partly so Vulcan can build an 848-stall parking garage underground.
Developers of these projects are seeking height and density bonuses in exchange for contributing funds to city priorities, such as affordable housing, child care and farmland preservation. Those were the carrots the City Council offered in hopes of leveraging the neighborhood’s skyrocketing growth.
“Despite all the talk about the incentives not being used, a lot of the newer tower projects are using them to get additional height,” said Jake McKinstry, a principal at Spectrum Development Solutions, which has developed affordable housing in Seattle.
Only two towers are allowed per block in South Lake Union compared with four in downtown, and the towers must maintain a 60-foot separation, city planners say. Those rules are designed to preserve views and keep corridors from turning into shadowy canyons.
That means the three towers proposed by H5 Capital and Mack Urban for a single block are unlikely to all be built.
Developer Griffin, who led the development of downtown’s Pacific Place mall, says those tower-spacing rules may be counterproductive.
“In my mind, it ends up spreading out the downtown, and I believe that density is our friend,” Griffin said. “We need more people per block to make the retail and restaurants healthy.”
If the city is trying to protect people’s views from being blocked by a new tower, it’s “the case of we cater to the people who got here first as opposed to being open to people who want to come in the future,” Griffin said.
This article, originally published August 27, was updated Aug. 28 to include a tower proposed by Mack Urban at John Street and Terry Avenue North.