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July 19, 2021

Hewitt carves elevated greenways in its 26-story U District gas tower design

Real Estate Editor

Rendering by Hewitt [enlarge]
This perspective look east down 45th at the proposed OneU tower, as if the viewer is on the corner of Roosevelt.

Today is the first design review, in a likely virtual presentation, for the possible redevelopment of the Shell station at 1013 N.E. 45th St. in the University District. The property last traded in 2009 for $830,000 to Sun Pacific Energy of Kennewick, and isn't publicly listed for sale.

Prospective buyer OneLin Capital is currently planning two apartment projects in the U District; this one is being designed by Hewitt. The basic plan for the corner, at 11th Avenue Northeast, is a 26-story tower with 360 to 420 units.

OneLin calls the mixed-use building OneU. It would also include about 10,600 square feet of offices and 2,000 square feet of retail/commercial space. Up to 30 underground parking stalls are possible; the bike parking could number up to 316 tenant stalls.

U District Station, which opens in October, is only two blocks east of the site. One complication with the corner, unsurprisingly, is that it's on the state Department of Ecology's list of polluted sites — meaning the buyer or seller would have to remediate it before construction could begin. It totals about half an acre.

In Hewitt's preferred design, the east and west facades would feature prominent inset terraces at different levels of the building. Hewitt calls them social greenways. They read like carve-out diagonal notches. These open, exposed seating areas and stairs would each connect three different levels of the building revealed within. The east notch would connect floors seven through nine; and the west notch would connect floors 16 through 18.

The notches, or greenways, would also help demarcate the residential program within OneU. The plan envisions efficiency and co-living spaces on the lower floors, with market-rate units on the upper floors — though with some overlap. Viewed from above, the building's footprint would have an H-shape, with channels on its north and south facades.

Whatever the final number of apartments, the co-living units would likely appeal to students. Hewitt projects around 900 beds — the standard metric for student housing — for OneU. (For instance, a 900-square-foot unit could have three bedrooms.) The project will employ the city's multifamily tax exemption program, or MFTE), in addition to complying with Mandatory Housing Affordability requirements.

The building would be about 265 feet tall, as compared to the zoning maximum of 320 feet. The north side, along 45th, would include a roughly 3,200-square-foot public plaza. There could also be a cross-block pedestrian mews, also with stairs, on the building's south side.

The lobby would go on the building's northeast corner, with the retail bays facing 45th. Parking would be accessed from the alley to the west.

OneLin's second possible site, close nearby at 4522 Roosevelt Way N.E., is the University Mazda property. There, in a plan dubbed OneX, SkB Architects and MZA are designing two 23-story mixed-use towers that could have up to 622 units. (Though one tower might end up as offices instead.) Its first design review will be on July 26, next Monday.


Brian Miller can be reached by email at brian.miller@djc.com or by phone at (206) 219-6517.

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