The managers of the University Village shopping center are seeking permission from the city to build a 915-stall parking garage and three new interior buildings on their site in Ravenna.

Designs for the proposed project went before the Design Review Board Dec. 19 for early design guidance.

With designs of the interior buildings by Shugart Wasse Wickwire remaining vague — but promising to remain “in keeping with the architectural character” of the existing buildings, principal architect George Wickwire said — the meat of University Village’s proposal centered around the parking garage, a seven- to eight-story structure that would open onto 25th Avenue Northeast at the shopping center’s northwestern corner.

Wickwire and Kris Snider of landscape architecture firm Hewitt said the garage would meet University Village’s future parking needs while using strategically placed flora to blend the structure into the neighborhood.

Critics among Ravenna’s residents did not oppose the project, but questioned whether it would fit in with the character of the neighborhood, or if 25th Avenue Northeast could remain safe and uncongested with constant entrances and exits from the garage onto the street.

“There should ... not be parking garage entrances crossing the sidewalk,” wrote Andres Salomon in a comment submitted to the Design Review Board. “25th Ave NE already has tons of collisions. Speeds are already too high, and multi-car crashes due to speed are common. Having drivers make uncontrolled turns off of 25th Ave NE at high speeds will further endanger sidewalk users.”

Sarah Swanberg, who attended the early design guidance meeting as a representative of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, said she worried the large garage would serve to close off the shopping center from the rest of the neighborhood.

“Our main concern is about how this feels for the community,” Sarah Swanberg of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association said. “Neither of the (north or south garages) face the community like the one on 25th. We want people to be able to walk to these places … putting some sort of retail there would mean a lot.”

Board chair and landscape architect Ivana Begley agreed.

“I think people want to see some retail here,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a lot.”

The board voted unanimously to move the project forward in the design process.

The Early Design Guidance meeting was the first for the proposed project. University Village will next meet with the Design Review Board at an unspecified future date to consider public comment on the project.

University Village vice president Susie Plummer told City Living Seattle the project has no set timeline for construction at this time.