September 26, 2002

Lower Queen Anne goes Uptown

  • Condos and apartments filter into the neighborhood
    ConcordNW Development

    Uptown Queen Anne
    Photo courtesy of ConcordNW Development
    Uptown Queen Anne is gradually transforming to a more residential community.

    In the next few months, nearly 100 new homes will become available in Uptown Queen Anne, the area more commonly known as Lower Queen Anne. It’s a neighborhood slowly gaining recognition on its own merit, and not just as the bottom of the hill.

    As more condominiums and apartments are introduced, long-term residents will enter an area that has traditionally been more retail oriented. With the shift from a semi-industrial area to a true residential community, the efforts of developers and homeowners will keep the neighborhood true to its unique style and character.

    The potential impact of high-density housing can have incredible repercussions. In Belltown, for example, the construction of several new high rises ultimately created a new residential neighborhood where none existed. In Fremont, development has significantly altered the neighborhood character and feel.

    In Uptown Queen Anne, there is no need, desire or land available for overwhelming developments or major transformations. Instead the area has, and is, undergoing a controlled metamorphosis.

    There’s a difference between creating a new community, and quietly complementing an existing one. The convergence of high-density, multi-family homes in an established neighborhood takes some care.

    Queen Anne has always been a prestigious address and a highly desirable neighborhood. It offers an interesting mix of retail boutiques, restaurants, theaters, and of course, easy access to The Seattle Center, Key Arena and downtown Seattle. The introduction of additional homes will increase foot traffic and bring more services to the community.

    IV West
    Rendering by Ron Paul Baum
    With a brick façade and side entrance, the 50-home IV West will complement the existing neighborhood character.

    Respect from developers — together with available property, zoning restrictions and the strength of the local neighborhood alliance — are some guarantee that these new buildings will be consistent with the existing and desired neighborhood style. Together, the developments will influence the look, quality and lifestyle of the Uptown neighborhood.

    Available land parcels and city restrictions will help keep the neighborhood intimate. Unlike other neighborhoods, land in Uptown Queen Anne is parceled into small units that infrequently go on the market. With only select parcels available to develop, “big” developments on Queen Anne can only be 50 to 75 homes, not several hundred units. In addition, zoning in Queen Anne limits building heights much more so than neighborhoods such as Belltown, ensuring that structures are much less imposing.

    Uptown Queen Anne’s convenient location and existing character make the gradual transition to a residential neighborhood a natural one. When the land at 534 Fourth Ave. W. was purchased, 50 homes were planned in a development to be called IV West. This particular plot of land has been representative of the area’s evolution from a semi-industrial area to the new residential focus. The land previously held the Rogers Candy Factory, then a storage unit facility. Now the site of condominiums, this land will help guide the area’s redevelopment to a residential community.

    Originally, IV West was designed as a five-story building with a high roofline and impressive entryway. A historic brick façade outside could hold stylish modern interiors of stainless steel appliances, wood cabinets, and bamboo, slate and tile floors.

    Homes on the horizon in Uptown Queen Anne
    Within about 10 blocks on Lower Queen Anne, a number of new homes will soon be available. Some of the developments under construction or recently open include:

    A 51-home development will sit atop a new Safeway store. Reservations are now being taken for the condominiums and an official sales office is expected to open this fall.

    511 West Mercer
    Scheduled for construction to be complete and the building to open this fall, this development will bring 18 new homes to Uptown Queen Anne.

    IV West
    Fifty new condominiums will be available for move-in by December.

    With 34 relatively new condominiums, this development is already open and partially occupied.

    Ten condominium homes are in the midst of construction.

    Barclay Court
    Opened in early 2002, this 28-condominium development is nearly sold out.

    In addition to these permanent homes, a number of new apartments are becoming available in developments such as Athena, Metro on First, and Uptown Apartments. Together with a new park slated to be developed by the Uptown Alliance, all of these homes will complete a true residential neighborhood.
    The Uptown Alliance has received several million dollars from a pro-park levy and is currently working to find parcels to purchase for the park. The plan is to identify and purchase a property by the end of 2002.

    The design met the city development guidelines, but also needed review by the Uptown Neighborhood Alliance, a group formed three years ago to act as stewards for the neighborhood plan.

    The alliance suggested flattening the roofline, adding ornate cornices, moving the building entrance from the middle to the corner of the block, and using more brick throughout the structure.

    Essentially, the alliance proposed design revisions that would allow IV West to be more seamlessly integrated in the neighborhood. Whereas a central entryway calls attention to itself, a side entrance makes less of a statement and has better aligned the building with neighboring properties. The alliance was vital in offering this perspective and helping shape the development.

    Developers must be sensitive to how developments will be received, and how new buildings will affect the community. Additional residents will increase pedestrian traffic, and raise the demand for consumer services in the area. New residents will undoubtedly have a vested interest in the historic neighborhood and how its future is shaping.

    The actual physical structures also need to complement the historic and community aspect of the neighborhood. Otherwise, with the number of developments rising, introducing alternative designs or styles could be potentially detrimental to this established neighborhood.

    “When I became a condominium owner 10 years ago, I grew more interested in the future of the neighborhood,” said Jean Sundborg, president of the Uptown Alliance. “The alliance’s suggestions don’t have official clout, but we hope the dialogue with developers will help preserve, respect and honor the historic character as Uptown becomes more densely developed.”

    Judging from the IV West development, the alliance is making tremendous in-roads. The iron-and-brick gated community, and extensive courtyard, of IV West will look right at home in Uptown Queen Anne. Together with several other new developments, the homes in IV West will build on the existing Uptown character and contribute its growing neighborhood community.

    Allen Bauman is president of ConcordNW Development. Bauman has been in the Seattle multi-family business for over 15 years, participating in the development of over 500 multi-family units in Belltown and Queen Anne.

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