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November 26, 2018

Flexible design will allow Bellevue complex to convert housing to retail

Journal Staff Reporter

Photo by Lawrence Monis/trueONE Group [enlarge]
The upper stories of phase two (on the left) project over a utility easement. The L-shape avoids another easement at the corner. The ground floor is set back to meet the required sidewalk width, but space is added above.

Simpson Housing opened phase two of Metro 112 Apartments at 288 111th Ave. N.E. in downtown Bellevue in July.

Seattle-based Tiscareno Associates designed the six-story building, with 55 apartments, two live-work units and 16 below-grade parking stalls.

The mix is open-one-bedroom, one-bedroom, one-bedroom-plus-den, and two-bedroom units. They range from 722 to 1,093 square feet, and rents go from $1,725 to $3,000.

The first phase of Metro 112 is at 317 112th Ave. N.E., and residents of both buildings share the rooftop terrace, fitness center and entertainment suite in the first phase.

Simpson Housing completed the 299-unit phase one in 2010. Retail space in the building sat vacant for several years, so in 2013, Tiscareno designed the conversion of about 20,000 square feet to 18 apartments and 3,500 square feet of amenities, according to Michelle Kinsch, a Tiscareno associate principal.

Phase two is designed to be flexible. Two ground floor live-work units can be converted to retail if there's demand for it, Kinsch said.

The city of Bellevue wanted retail to activate the sidewalk and improve the pedestrian environment, she said. But there are no shops and restaurants yet on the block to draw people, despite the nearby City Hall and a new Marriott hotel. “In the future, the market could change and make retail really feasible in that location,” she said.

The live-work floor is designed to accommodate additional weight for retail. The interior walls do not support the floor above, so they could be moved or removed to create a larger space. The exterior wall could be moved closer to the sidewalk for greater visibility.

“It's really just a storefront window system that is pretty straightforward to disassemble” and move, Kinsch said. The concrete slab that overhangs the patio would become the ceiling.

Bathrooms in the live-work units are designed to meet “public” standards, and there is an accessible route from the sidewalk so a tenant could legally operate a business there.

The phase two site is 12,665 square feet, but easements made 4,000 of that unbuildable. Tiscareno said it found unique ways to address the constraints of the small and odd-shaped site, resulting in a “quirky yet sophisticated” project.

About 10 feet of buildable space was lost on the east side, about 15 feet on the north side and 6 feet on west side to utility and sidewalk easements. There's also a big utility easement at the northwest corner.

“It was really hemmed in,” said Kinsch.

The design has a “shifting boxes” concept, with the upper floors cantilevered over ground-level easements. An inside corner at street level accommodates electrical transformers, and clever landscape architecture by Brumbaugh & Associates directs the eye to more interesting views without blocking access to the equipment, Tiscareno said.

The project team also includes W.G. Clark Construction (general contractor), David Evans and Associates (civil), Enayat Schneider Smith Engineering (structural), and Mandy Callaway Interiors.

Denver, Colorado-based Simpson Housing primarily focuses on multifamily property management and development. Residential properties it owns and operates locally include The Neptune in Seattle, Benson Downs in Renton, Boulder Creek in Sammamish, The Lodge At Redmond Ridge in Redmond and The Timbers at Issaquah Ridge in Issaquah.


Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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