Contact Us

Roof Gardens In Rainy Seattle?

Roof Gardens  In Rainy Seattle?
Well, why not? We don't use umbrellas when we walk in the drizzle, so are we really going to let a little downpour prevent us from cooking a steak on one of the cool rooftop gardens popping up in new projects all over town? Developers bet not.
Tom Parsons and Holland project manager Chris Bischoff on the roof of one of their new projects in downtown Seattle.
We were so impressed by the roof garden of newly opened Coppins Well on First Hill that Holland Partner Group's Tom Parsons offered to show us a few more. (Here he is with project manager Chris Bischoff on the almost-completed roof of a Holland project on Dexter.) The 4' x 8' postage stamp deck found on many projects —which Tom dismisses as space "where you can potentially store a dead plant"—is out of fashion. But apartment sizes are getting smaller, and Holland's market research suggests that the No. 1 thing tenants want is rooftop access. That's why Holland's three new buildings on Dexter Avenue will all have large rooftop gardens, sectioned off to give top floor residents their own private spaces and everyone else a large area to wander a few hundred feet above street level.

The ambitious roof garden plan for 801 Dexter in downtown Seattle.
A rendering of the ambitious three-level roof deck of 801 Dexter, which has public and private terraces—and a whole level just for dogs. (Let the territory war begin.) The big benefit to roof gardens (besides unfettered sun access on the four days it shines each year): not having to go down to street level to let Fido do his business at midnight. Adds Tom: "And you don't even have to take off your slippers."
Holland Partner Group's Tom Parsons and Allison Shephard in their Dexter Avenue office.
The components of a good roof deck? BBQ grills, Bocce ball courts, comfy chairs around a fireplace, Wi-Fi, and a view of the skyline or Space Needle (or Mount Rainier, or Lake Union, or Puget Sound...). Tom and Development associate Allison Shephard presented us this visual of what you see from the roof of 717 Dexter. (That thing in the corner may look like our flash, but let's just say it's our way of marking right where the building will be.)
Harbor Urban director of design and construction Martha Barkman
Is that a young Martha Stewart? Nope, it's Harbor Urban director of design and construction Martha Barkman, who posed for us on the roof deck of Columbia City's newly opened GreenHouse Apartments, one of several new Harbor Urban multifamily projects. Martha tells us all GreenHouse tenants get a 3' X 3' square foot space to grow their own rooftop creations. Bonus: it gets tenants socializing as they discuss flora and fauna, she says. Gardeners like it because there's no way coyotes can get their crops (hopefully). If someone doesn't want their patch, they can give it to another tenant.
Wood Partners development VP Steve Orser on the roof of Jasper by Alta in Wedgwood.
Here's Wood Partners development VP Steve Orser on the roof of Jasper by Alta, Wood's Wedgwood project that opened over the summer. Jasper is one of the new wave of apartments that seem built for people who got used to the condo lifestyle before the economy tanked. Unit size may be getting smaller (though this is not the case at Jasper), but apartments are getting taller: the new standard ceiling size is between eight and nine feet. (So now there's no reason for an NBA team to stay away.)