By Aubrey Cohen
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
November 16, 2006
It wouldn't be the biggest new condominium high-rise in downtown Seattle, but the proposed Icon Tower would stand out. The 30-story tower would sit on a 10,665-square-foot island at the point of the Denny Triangle, where it meets Belltown and South Lake Union. Plans show a triangular building topped by what lead designer Dan Foltz calls a "halo element" — a white metal spiral that's a nod to the nearby
"It will be an iconic tower on the city skyline," Paul Menzies, chief executive of California developer Levin Menzies & Associates, told the Downtown Design Board Tuesday. "We also want the building to be playful and fun." The developer plans to start construction on the building, which would contain 224 units ranging between 568 and 1397 square feet, in late spring or early summer.
At earlier meetings, members of the design board and the Belltown Community Council objected to aspects of the tower, including its streetscape, its height at nearly 440 feet and its seven floors of aboveground parking.
In response, the designers trimmed the building to 290 feet — largely by expanding underground parking to 10 floors, leaving just two above ground — and added more storefronts and street-side areas with trees, shrubs and benches.
Belltown's land-use committee representative backed the building Tuesday. The design board also endorsed the project, including the developer's request for several deviations from city development standards.
"This is a fantastic project," said Kelly Mann, the local residential representative on the design board.
Dana Behar, the board's local business representative, said he was skeptical about fitting a tower on such a small, odd space and did not like the initial design, but he loved the result.
"It's extraordinary, especially on such a difficult site," he said.
Ronald Turner, who represented the Belltown land-use committee, lauded the added green space along the street.
"We're fighting inch by inch and square foot by square foot for more open space," he said.
The tower would be two blocks from Denny Park, which members of a local organization are working to refurbish. Kate Mortenson, co-chairwoman of Friends of Denny Park, said Tuesday that new projects such as the Icon Tower fuel the need for a better park.
"We would like to see the community in the future be as rich as it is dense," she said. "And rich is achieved by having vibrant outdoor gathering spaces that meet their fullest potential."
Turner also praised the lower height and added storefronts, whose facades would mix black- and rust-colored steel, textured concrete, wood and glass. Even with the added storefronts, the developers needed board approval to have two blank walls larger than city development standards generally require on Sixth Avenue and Wall Street. The walls would include the building's two garage doors.
Other departures from city development rules would allow less common recreation space than required and projecting bay and bowed windows.
The sides of the tower include concrete frames, full-story windows and glass panels in celery green, two blue shades, white and taupe. A stripe, which Foltz called a "fin," would rise from the corner of the building at Denny Way and Sixth Avenue, folding over at the top.
The fin could be blue, eggplant or white. Menzies preferred blue.
"It's a little bit of joy on a rainy day," he said.
P-I reporter Aubrey Cohen can be reached at 206-448-8362 or firstname.lastname@example.org.