West Seattle Blog… | “A place you’d be proud to come”: possibilities unveiled, community suggestions expressed, for West Seattle Junction parking lots


By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog Editor

An “incubator” hub for small businesses.

Affordable housing – including apartments for growing families and the elderly.

Community gathering spaces, indoors and outdoors.

And yes, parking (underground).

These are some of the possibilities in the redevelopment concepts of the Seattle West Junction Association-managed parking lots, as discussed at an online community meeting this evening.

The meeting was moderated by Seattle West Junction Association executive director Lora radford, and star guests from Housing community roots, who made an unsuccessful offer of $ 14 million to purchase the lots, and Ankrom Moisan, the architectural firm CRH commissioned to outline the possibilities. The lots are located at 42nd / Oregon, 44th / Oregon, 44th / Alaska and 44th between Edmunds and Alaska.

Here’s how the meeting went:

THE STORY: Radford said the history of parking lots dates back to the 1950s when the area’s status as a hub was recognized and three lots were created. When a fire station was moved years later, it became the fourth batch. Companies have been unofficially asked to contribute to operating and maintenance costs. Then in 1987, the Business improvement area was officially created, one of the now 10 in the city, the second oldest, all created for different reasons – in this case, “to pay for parking lots”. Other activities, from summer Sidewalk sale To Summer festival to flower baskets, followed, to create “a big, beautiful and vibrant downtown” for West Seattle. Then came 2016, when the King County Assessor’s Office noticed that the “highest and best use” by zoning was for development, and the property tax bill (paid by the WSJA as part of its tenancy terms) began to steadily increase and exponentially. Regarding the old status of lots as free, Radford reminded attendees that “it was never free” – merchants covered the cost. As we reported along the way, over the course of a few years they worked out the pricing plan for using bundles and implemented it earlier this year. “Because they’re in the middle of an urban village, we really started to see if what was so good in the 1950s… did it really make sense that these lots would stay here without development? … We decided, what it would look like if there was the possibility to build on these lots… (something) that would serve the community for many generations. Discussion with Community Roots Housing ensued. The city Housing office was “intrigued by the possibility of putting affordable housing in the urban village of West Seattle Junction”. An assessment followed; an offer has been made to the owner of the lots, Trust properties (who was not part of tonight’s meeting). And then CRH hired Ankrom Moisan to offer a vision of what could be possible; Community Roots Housing funded the renderings they presented.

HOUSING COMMUNITY ROOTS: Jeremy Wilkening began with a presentation of his organization, a 40-year-old, city-chartered public development authority (formerly known as Capitol Hill Housing). CRH joins forces with city organizations. A participant asked what “affordable housing” would mean for this project: “We use a low-income tax credit that limits to 60% of the average average income in the area – about $ 60,000 for a family in the region. four people. … We consider that “workforce housing”, people who can no longer afford to live in the neighborhoods of our city. A participant asked what combination of 1, 2 or 3 bedroom apartments they were considering. Too early to tell, Wilkening replied. “We have a few ideas but we want to hear what the neighborhood would like to see. He added that the city’s housing tax – a major source of funding – “favors smaller units,” although they have tried to scale to larger ones. City funding cannot be used to fund public parking, he added in response to another question, but they are “very worried” how to fund “real public parking” – for customers. professionals – in projects. “We don’t have an answer to that, but we want to resolve this issue with the community, because we understand that this is an important part of it.” Radford mentioned a 2018 survey which showed that 29% of Junction shoppers / diners drove to get there on their own. (In the chat box, a trader, Bruce davis of True value of the junction, said that did not apply to his business, which he said has 90% customers. . She examines them frequently and has learned, “The answer is no.

Akeyla Jimerson of CRH showed some of their projects – the Liberty Bank building, 50 units in the central district on what was the site of the “first black-owned bank in the Pacific Northwest”, also comprising three retail spaces with black-owned businesses as tenants, Station house, 110 units on the Sound Transit lot on Capitol Hill, opened in March of last year, and includes a community hall open to the public. The HUB white center (rendered above) – not yet built – is a planned project for the county site which currently holds the Food Bank of the White Center; 80 apartments and spaces for local associations are planned.

ANKROM MOISAN: Jason Roberts of the architectural firm pointed out: “Nothing here is very fixed” – it’s an idea of ​​what could be done with the sites. He first noted the zoning of the sites – No. 1 in 42nd / Oregon could go up to 95 ′, the other three could go up to 75 ′. (Their ideas do NOT go to the maximum height allowed.) All of them have connections with lanes, he also noted. Power lines running along the alley mean there should be a setback. And the new development on these sites is not required to have parking. He said they were “interested in creating outdoor spaces adjacent to the sidewalk.” “We imagine that people can walk around these buildings and take a little break. They would also create mid-block connections (which The Junction already has, especially between Edmunds and Alaska). Other elements could include an “incubator space” at Site 2, perhaps an open kitchen for food businesses, and residential community features such as rooftop terraces and community rooms.

Here is the overall site map:

With Site 1 the larger site, they would have more family accommodation – 2 and 3 bedrooms – plus commercial space, a roof terrace, and it would be “efficient” to create an underground car park – maybe even 2 levels. . A playground for the youngest is also envisaged.

Site 2 could have community meeting spaces, a roof terrace, a mix of apartment sizes, parking is also possible there. The “incubator” space to feed small businesses (restaurants, retail outlets, with a much lower lease “and services to help businesses succeed) could be here.

Roberts also got a first “concept” render for Site 2 – looking at its potential west side along 44th South Oregon – showing the “incubator” space wrapping around the yard. The northern part of the building could be smaller, on the scale of Oregon apartments to the north. “We really want to work with the scale” of existing buildings, he said.

Site 3, retail space in front of the bus station, affordable seniors apartments, a common area, some outdoor public areas – a smaller site so underground parking is less likely,

Same with site 4 – parking is less likely. It would be set back to preserve the existing trees. Some units would be on the ground floor.

Height would be limited for affordable construction – concrete at ground level, topped with timber. They wouldn’t be built as high as the zoning allows, because of that. Eight floors would be the highest.

Wilkening again stressed that “these are concepts”, not always created at this early stage of a potential development process, but “this process is a bit unique” as they have to engage with the owner and therefore have to become a little more concrete. on concepts… starting with “our ideas” but ready to hear “your ideas”.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS / QUESTIONS: These were addressed as the meeting went on, but then during a dedicated Q&A / commentary. period began, they included:

-Expand the parking lot instead of just concentrating it in one building
-Have you thought about the impact of the future light rail? (Answer: Yes)
-Would they be MFTE (Multifamily Tax Exemption Program, which limits rents) units? No, the rents they would charge would be lower than MFTE rents and last longer (MFTE currently expires after 12 years, and these would be affordable “for at least 70 years”).
-What is the timeline for this potential construction? They don’t know which one would be first, but they wouldn’t expect to start construction until 2024, so the sites would remain parking lots “until we are ready to develop them”.
-With the increase in foot traffic, will there be more crosswalks? They would certainly meet SDOT to assess the streetscape.
-How would this affect the value of surrounding properties, if affordable housing were developed on these sites? Studies show no impact, Wilkening said.
-Could the alleys be pedestrian streets? One of the challenges would be to ensure that this does not hamper business services.

In response to a specific request for comments on “what would you like to see … think of it as your legacy”
– Affordable housing, green spaces, more trees, livability
-More covered outdoor options
– Need a hospital

AND AFTER: The site owners would have to accept CRH’s offer before this can go ahead. The WSJA said the owners (a consortium of shareholders) are expected to consider it at a meeting later this month. In the meantime, CRH promises to create a feedback “portal” in the near future. “If we can move forward with this, we’re going to be sure to get it right,” Radford promised. “A place where you would be proud to come”, added the CEO of CRH Chris People.

MEETING VIDEO: We’ll add it to this story as soon as the WSJA sends a message that it’s downloaded and available.

About Rodney Fletcher

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