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SEATTLE-More multifamily housing is being proposed for the University District neighborhood. Local attorney Tom Ferguson, owner the historic seven-story Wilsonian Apartments on University Way since 1975, is planning a new building immediately north of the 1920′s-era building. Ferguson’s architect for the project, Roger Newell AIA, has applied for a master use permit for a seven-story mixed-use building. The 22,000-sf development site, 4700 University Way, currently holds the Wilsonian ballroom, constructed at the same time as the apartment building, and several one-story retail buildings. As currently proposed, those structures would be torn down and replaced with 125 below-grade parking spaces, 9,000 sf of first-floor retail, 16,300 sf of office on the second floor and 125 apartment units on the top five floors, of which 20% would affordable. Ferguson and Newell’s project manager Neal Thompson tell GlobeSt.com the project has made it through the design review process and now needs to navigate the historic landmarks commission on its way to a master-use permit. The commission is reviewing whether the ballroom should be nominated for landmark status. Thompson says a historian has provided the commission a detailed history of the building; the commission is expected to review its status in August.”There are people who are sympathetic for keeping it, but it‘s not economically viable,” says Ferguson. “I would expect (the commission) to tell us to try and salvage architecturally significant components of the building and provide them additional written history or photos or something that can become part of the historical record.”Ferguson says the block is underutilized given the increased housing density the city wants to create in the U-District. The ballroom was “useless” for several years before he and his wife remodeled it in 1995 and now is used mostly for wedding receptions. He also occasionally rents it out for an under-market $0.04 per sf per day for people who teach dance lessons. “Our first design efforts attempted to save it and when that failed for engineering reasons we tried to design something similar that could replace it, but that wasn’t financially feasible,” says Ferguson, who also owns the Rivendell, a smaller, newer, more upscale apartment building located behind the Wilsonian on 15th Avenue. “If the city wants additional density, I don’t see any alternative. The property is underutilized and we need more people living on the Ave.”As for how the new building would look, Ferguson says the building will incorporate brick and limestone and complement the gothic architecture that characterizes the district. The entrance courtyard would be similar to the Wilsonian and would have a two-story lobby. “That’s likely where some of the old leaded glass and crown moldings from the ballroom will end up being used,” says Ferguson.Down the street, at Northeast 42nd Street and University Way, Seattle-based Unico Properties is preparing its own mixed-use development. The company has control of a 16,500-sf parking lot for which it is planning a $15-million, six-story structure with three floors of apartments (48 units) over three floors of office (15,000 sf) and retail space (10,000 sf).

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