A parking lot in the International District is slated to sprout up into 200-plus condos in the next few years. Koda, a condo tower designed by local firm KMD Architects and developed by Taiwan-based Da-Li Development, has started design review.
The goal is to break ground in the Spring of 2018, have the project completed in 2020.
“We have an opportunity to further anchor Japantown and its contribution within the International District,” Yang Lee, a director with KMD Architects, said in a statement. “We are paying homage to a historic past while participating in the renaissance taking place in the International District.”
Specifically, the location at Fifth Avenue and Main Street is in Japantown. “It’s important to note that the International District is not just Chinatown, as commonly thought but in fact collection of historically significant communities... Architecture and placemaking can reinforce this spirit of place,” added Yang.
Koda is one of the few new condo buildings planned to pop up around downtown, along with Nexus in the Denny Triangle and a 30-story project just announced for Trinity Parish’s First Hill property.
Before they break ground, the project needs to go through a special design review process for the International District, which Jones said is “a great thing.”
“There’s sensitivity to historic preservation of the district,” he acknowledged.
The site of the condo is currently a surface-level parking lot, one of three at the intersection. It’s “one of the few areas where zoning available land and opportunity co-exist,” said Jones.
While designs are still open to input, the team has some idea of what the building will look like, and released renderings today showing a glass-dominated tower with retail below. A few points along the way, the building narrows to allow for outdoor space.
Jones clarified that the design is still “subject to change”—he said they’re “down to floorplan design and we have a couple of alternative ideas for the massing of the building.”
The team is anticipating that HALA-recommended rezones to exchange mandatory housing affordability for extra height will pass, so the building plan currently calls for 18 stories—otherwise, it’d be 16.
Jones tells us they’re not sure whether they’re taking adding affordable housing to the project paying an in-lieu fee to contribute to affordable housing elsewhere.
“We want to explore the options both ways,” said Jones. “There’s a potential that our homes are attainable priced for market, that they might even qualify [as affordable]. But I don’t have that algorithm yet so it’s hard to tell.”
Jones told us that prices for the units will start in the low-300,000s, and the building will range from studios to two-bedrooms. It’s possible that those that want a bigger place will be able to combine more than one unit.
“We don’t have anything left at Nexus under a million dollars,” said Jones, who notes that condo inventory is “pretty anemic” in these price points in general. He said more than 100 homes in the project will be priced below Seattle’s median home value.
This is by design: The homes, Jones said, have “everything you need and nothing you don’t, because reaching the price point is so imperative.”
Because the site is within walking distance of employment centers and close to light rail, the streetcar, ferries, and buses, parking will be optional—the building will have 77 stalls total. (Limiting parking space can also save a ton of money when building a residential development.)
“I don’t think that many of our buyers are going to be depending on an automobile,” said Jones, adding that without the expense of a car homeownership might be more attainable.
As for the name: “Koda means friend or ally in [Sioux], and it’s also a flowering tree in the Pacific Rim and Asia,” explained Jones. “So we thought that it had some nice parallels to the history of Seattle given that this was Native land and also given its future, which is as a global city.”
RSIR and KMD Architects are hosting an open house and design preview this weekend at Hirabayashi Place, which is next door to the site, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 22 and Sunday, July 23.
“It is important to note that we still acknowledge this is an open process,” said Jones.