Jun 28, 2007

Presented at 23rd/Union Design Review Hearing

From: Andrew Taylor
To: Jim Mueller
I have long been concerned about the very jarring transitions between adjacent zones in Urban Villages: I fought (without success) for Diane Sugimura's idea that the rear of Deano's property be upzoned to NC2-40 (rather than NC3-65) to ease the transition ( 65' -> 40' -> 30'),

Jim's proposal would put NC3-65' immediately across 22nd Ave from NC2-30'. One way to preserve the views of the sky from the upper floors of the adjacent NC2-30 building would be to upzone only part of the proposal to 65'. That loses rather a lot of units. I suggest a stepped approach (see attachment) to preserve the sight lines (i.e keep ~ the views seen if it were 40'). The stepped roof areas could be used for attractive roof gardens.

If there's an opportunity, I'd like to describe the idea during Wednesday's meeting.

I stopped by tonight to take a picture of 22nd. I was struck by the lovely big trees, and suggest we do our best to preserve them.

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Hi Andrew and neighbors,

There is a lot of support for your idea of graduated heights from Joanna Cullen, Dean Taylor, me and others in the 'hood. Please do present it tonight. Bill and I will be at the CADA Board meeting and will miss the Early Design meeting.

There are also requests for some affordable units in exchange for support for the contract rezone. We need workforce housing in the 'hood for firefighters, nurses, teachers and such people essential to our community. It's the right thing to do. There is the 10-year property tax abatement program that would offset some of the developer's pain.

You may print this out as documentation of my support.

Jean Tinnea
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Thanks for your ideas, and thank you for the support and great feedback at our meeting last week!

We have wrestled with this mightily for the last six months, and have stepped the building at the 22nd Ave. side as much as we can. We did a poor job of communicating this at the meeting last week, and will have some better materials to show you tonight.

Our approach to design is to look at who the neighbors are on each side of the property and to make our projects as friendly as possible to them.

In the case of the 22nd avenue side of the East Union proposal, this translated into stepping the building on the SW side, and using the SW side of the property as a mews for townhouses rather than taking the building to the edge. We then incorporated townhouses along 22nd Avenue to make our project a part of the single family street rather than turn our backs on the neighbors.

These moves put our parking all underground, which is expensive, but we determined that this was the right thing to do. There is just barely enough room in the project economics to do this.

The only cost tradeoff we can make if we take away top floor rentable units is to save money in the parking garage by excavating less deep -i.e. putting it on the ground floor - a Hobson's Choice if there ever was one!

The accepted approach to getting projects through design review is to bring in a design that is cheap and let the neighbors argue the developer into the project he wanted to build in the first place. We take the opposite approach and try to present something that we think is best. The downside for us is that we have nothing to "trade"...

I am sure we will have a positive and communicative discussion tonight, and our team looks forward to continuing to work with you.

And lastly, we love mature street trees and our intent is to keep them!

Best,
--Jim, (James C Mueller)
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Brief Report on Design Review Hearing

Very good turnout of neighbors (and other builders, architects?). Good, clear presentation by architects and Jim Mueller.

About 12 neighbors spoke. Many spoke in opposition of any upzone. I briefly presented my proposal and gave board members a copy of the flyer.

I stayed for the Design Review Board's deliberations. They _seemed_ to be generally in favor of the upzone (the community representative member less so).

I'll request an electronic copy of the Board report and post it here.

I think that strong letters from you, the immediate neighbors, would be of great value in the rezone process.
See: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/publications/cam/cam228.pdf

Contract rezones require approval from the Seattle City Council in conjunction with a "Property Use and Development Agreement," which provides specific limits on the uses of the property under the new zoning.

Much concern about traffic issues on 22nd. Neighbors seemingly mollified by parking entrance on 23rd (though the Board sort of opposed that) despite the obvious need for northbound traffic to circle back via 22nd. Some neighbors concerned by traffic on Union and wanted crosswalk on Union at 22nd: I doubt that S-DOT will go for that.

Some discussion of need for developer to "give back to community" in exchange for upzone. Suggestion of offsite affordable housing.

I recorded the Board's deliberations on my camera, if anybody is interested.

Andrew


1 comment:

dave said...

Thanks so much for the detailed report, Andrew! I like your proposed stepping back of the building.