The city board charged with safeguarding the character of historic Pioneer Square on Wednesday unanimously approved the decidedly untraditional design of a proposed 25-story apartment tower just north of CenturyLink Field.

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The city board charged with safeguarding the character of historic Pioneer Square on Wednesday unanimously approved the decidedly untraditional design of a proposed 25-story apartment tower just north of CenturyLink Field.

The glass-and-steel tower would be divided into stacked, two-to-four-story “boxes” positioned at different angles, with some overhanging or pulling back from others. The building is part of a bigger development called Stadium Place, in what used to be CenturyLink Field’s north parking lot.

When the developer, a joint venture of Daniels Real Estate and R.D. Merrill, unveiled the design for its South Tower in December, some online commenters likened the building to the menacing Borg ship from Star Trek.

But most members of the Pioneer Square Preservation Board had nothing but praise for the project Wednesday. “This is a fabulous segue between the old and the new in Pioneer Square,” Mark Astor said.

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Sara-Jane Bellanca, who lives in a condo across Occidental Avenue South from the Stadium Place site, was the only member of the public to speak — and she, too, was complimentary. “I think it’s absolutely spectacular,” she said.

Erin Doherty, the board’s vice chairwoman, said she had struggled with the design’s compatibility with Pioneer Square. But she, too, voted to approve it.

The tower, designed by ZGF Architects, would be a prominent part of the view north from CenturyLink Field toward the downtown skyline, a panorama featured regularly during TV broadcasts of Seahawks games.

At 240 feet, the 333-apartment South Tower would be a little shorter than the stadium, about 500 feet away.

It’s part of the first phase of Stadium Place, which broke ground last fall. This phase is bounded by Occidental Avenue South, South King Street, Second Avenue South and the southern half of the stadium parking lot.

Already under construction are a more-traditional, 10-story West Tower of loft-style apartments, and a full-block base, or podium, for both towers with more apartments, space for shops and restaurants, and a parking garage.

A 20-story condo tower is planned later, as are an office tower and hotel on the other side of Second Avenue South.

Alan Cornell of Daniels Real Estate said the podium and West Tower should be completed in summer 2013, the South Tower a year later. All the South Tower needs now is building permits, he said.

When the South Tower’s design was unveiled last winter, Kevin Daniels of Daniels Real Estate said it would provide a transition between the circa-2000 stadium and Pioneer Square. Several board members echoed that Wednesday.

“It seems like we’re marrying what is the Stadium District and Pioneer Square,” Tija Petrovich said.

Pioneer Square’s advocates long have maintained the neighborhood needs middle-income housing to thrive. Stadium Place, in the works for years, would provide the first big slug of new residents.

That’s important, Bellanca said after the board’s vote. “We are not a neighborhood until we have enough residents to make our voices heard when we speak,” she said.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or epryne@seattletimes.com