Still Getting Dressed But The Party’s Over

She was born in spring, but I was born too late
Blame it on a simple twist of fate*

At the corner of Terry and Stewart, the 37-story Aspira is destined to be the last of the bubble-era downtown high-rise residential projects to come on line, right on the heels of Escala.  It’s been a good run, and a major accomplishment for the City of Seattle to bring in so much new housing to the downtown area.  But dang, it’s gotta hurt being so late to the party.

Aspira will deliver 231 apartments, 6000 sf retail, and 355 parking stalls, with 5 levels above, and two levels below-grade (some of the stalls replace the pre-existing surface parking for the church next door).  Designed by LMN, the project will meet BuiltGreen standards.  No hiding the fact that it’s just a glass tower, but I like how it’s not afraid to be boxy, and how the punched-in balconies reinforce the checkerboard. 

Terry Street is a designated Green Street, and it is hoped that it will eventually provide a pedestrian-friendly connection all the way to Lake Union.  The photo below shows how Aspira meets Terry, with retail at the base topped by five levels of parking.  Presumably those randomly arranged boxes will hold planted material that will soften the parking deck facade.

Some of the more recent downtown high-rise completions include 1521 2nd Ave, 5th and Madison, Mosler Lofts, Gallery, The Four Seasons, The Olivian, Olive8, and The Parc.  Numerous others have been killed or delayed.  Possibilities for next up high-rise projects include the Pine Street Group’s 240-foot twin tower at 6th and Lenora, and HAL’s 400-foot tower at 2116 4th Ave, but nothing firm has been announced.  The DJC recently reported that the Lexas plans to break ground on their 1200 Stewart project in spring or summer 2010. 

In any case, there will no doubt be a major dip in the flow of new downtown housing coming on-line over the next few years.  So in all liklihood, any hit that Aspira takes over it’s timing in the near term will be temporary. 

The interesting thing to watch will be to what extent all the new housing works as a catalyst to transform downtown.   And in particular, will all the high-end housing help pave the way for more moderately priced housing projects downtown, or is it a given that market forces will always keep housing prices high in the downtown of an economically successful major city?



5 Responses to “Still Getting Dressed But The Party’s Over”

  1. AJ

    Best part of Aspira is that it’s built to the block without an assumption that it’s the only building that’s going to be there. That is, the E/NE face is blank and the residential portion setback.

    I don’t think they’re done building tall stuff west of 5, but I do think the growth spurt may cause some to bristle and agitate at DPD meetings until they settle down and get used to these.

    Aspira and 1918 8th really make an impact, standing out over the Pike Pine corridor.

  2. Renee

    Nice Dylan quote, Dan.

  3. Zed

    I really like some of the modern architecture that has sprung up in the Denny Triangle. Aspira and Olive8 are 2 of my favorites. I believe that new buildings should be modern and not some strange hybrid of historical forms like Escala. I’m really happy to see downtown expanding and getting more dense, I hope the downturn doesn’t last too long.

  4. Zed

    Speaking of modern, any word on 601 4th Avenue?

  5. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    Sightline’s on top of your question again, Dan: But is it Affordable?

    I’m curious what everyone thinks of the tradeoff of really tiny units with lots of shared space like in the proposed Workforce Housing at 975 John St in SLU. I know of several apartment complexes (including UW’s family housing at Blakeley Village) that have a single “community center” that can be reserved. Would more shared space make dorm-style living attractive to adults? If the design is good and there are appropriate usage rules or technology to promote co-usage I might try it.

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