Jun 23, 2007

Transcript of 23rd/Union Meeting

(reproduced with the permission of its author, Nick Pottier, Central Neighborhood Association. Couple of edits by Andrew)

For those who didn't make it, some quick notes taken during the meeting. I just typed these up during the meeting, so forgive any typos or errors. No proof reading either. Don't sue me! :)

Jim Mueller presented the project and their plans therein. There were various plans available for viewing before the meeting with various sketches, I don't know if these are available online just yet.

- he's been working with community leaders to find something that will fit in with the neighborhood
- architects are Mithun architects
- the building designs are concepts to get a feel for how the space will be changed, they are not final or detailed
- JC Mueller core values: integrity, intelligence, homework Triple bottom line: environment, community, economics, all sustainable
- previous site was Coleman building, demolished by Nisqually quake
- white tanks on the site are to clean up from old dry cleaning pollution, takes 6-8 months
- they took into account position of site between residential and commercial areas

- Objectives:
- Community Revitalization
- Urban Design
- Economics - (requires taller building to pay off)
- Neighborhood Economics - bring new residents and retail
- Sustainability - Build responsibly

- Project Features
- Approx 90 units
- 85-90 parking stalls
- ~4500 square feet of street level retail (preference for local/regional)
- Encourage pedestrian activities

Option 1:
- 40 foot tall
- retail only on street level

Option 2:
- 65 feet (six stories)
- street level is both residential and retail
- town houses on 22nd

Option 3: (preferred and proposed)
- 65 feet (six stories)
- Entry on 23rd
- 22nd has town homes
- Retail on Union and 23rd on street level

- height is needed to make project feasible
- proportion of space is what makes you comfortable in a space.. Walmart parking lot is too spread out, with taller structures a larger setback will make it feel OK
- very much wants to make pedestrians comfortable and create a comfortable space
- example: alley 24 across from REI, which is 75 feet

Design review board meeting:
- Wednesday, June 27, 2007
- 6:30 PM
- Miller Community Center
- 330 19th Ave E


Q and A:

Q: Are you pursuing any other zoning changes in the area?
A: Yes, maybe.

Q: Parking will be exiting onto 23rd? Is that going to be a traffic issue?
A: Something we are still studying and trying to work through, city will certainly be involved.

Q: Can you make your number if you step back the first few floors?
A: We have stepped them back a bit at 40 feet, which will make it feel less tall from the street.

Q: What are the pros and cons of people living on 22nd?
A: Should be almost all positive. New residents will be good for the area, and shadow is cast on Union street, not 22nd.

Q: Will there be retail/visitor parking?
A: Yes, some, accessed off 23rd.

Q: Tell us more about sustainable building. How green?
A: Will be studied but still in planning and depends on what we can achieve economically. City has incentives for this as well. Building locally in town is a big step towards being green.

Q: How many parking levels underground?
A: Two. They are expensive.

Q: Describe housing.
A: Market rate, 'affordable'. Not low income.

Q: Lot of real estate on 23rd & Union. What do you think about a pedestrian mall?
A: Some are great, some fail completely. Don't know about this.

Q: West Harbor area has a lot of great ideas. Please study that.
A: We are definitely going to focus on bicycles and flex cars.

Q: You guys should have a secure bicycle area and a bike workshop area.
A: Ya I like that.

Q: Setback is great, maybe vary the roof line to have it appear more different.
A: Architect is listening, I'm sure he'll note it.

Q: Will they be rental units or for sale?
A: Don't know yet.

Q: Construction time frame?
A: Will start construction in about a year. Will take about 14-16 months to build.

Q: How big are the sidewalks?
A: Min requirement is 12 feet, we'll have to actually widen it a bit.

Q: Tell us more about the contract rezone process.
A: Project gets approved at a height. It does not allow us to resell the site with that rezone, its only approved for that particular project. Meeting on the 27th will be official kickoff.

Q: Is there any fear that this project might be killed because of rising interest rates etc?
A: Seattle still has a strong economy and the CD is close to downtown so will remain in demand.

Q: Why don't you sell it to people with no cars? And therefore no parking to save money?
A: The market objects to that, though I like the idea. Lenders would not go along with that however, not economically feasible.

Q: How are you reaching out to the african american community?
A: Apparently not very well, because none are in attendance. Help!

Q: How was this information spread?
A: Mostly through websites, apparently didn't reach all the audience.

Q: How do you make the retail look more diverse and small to attract the smaller retailers?
A: The problem is actually cost. Its hard to find small retailers who can afford the rent of a new space. We will try to make it as affordable as possible.

Q: Is the space going to be retail or small office space?
A: No, it will be retail.

Q: Tell us more about the green elements of this project.
A: We are still determining that. More as we start nailing things down. We will do what is effective and makes sense economically.

Q: Do you have a square footage cost?
A: Rents in areas like this in 2009ish will be $2.25 sq/ft for residential. That's the minimum needed to get financing. Condos about $5.50 sq/ft. Big costs are construction and parking.

Q: Would be great to see the context of the site and its height with other buildings around.
A: No slides for that, but our other boards had it.

Q: Houses on 22nd will be in shade in the winter.
A: Yes, there will be some, can't avoid it.

Q: Have you thought about the impact of street parking? Zone parking?
A: We will have parking, so it won't be us causing the problem.
(others chimed in that we've tried to do zoning before, but haven't goten residential support)

A: Plan for a street car coming through 23rd & Union?

Q: For sale or for rent?
A: Don't know yet.

Q: Unit mix?
A: 80% 1 bedroom and studio, 20% 2 bedroom.

Q: Any sketches of the actual final design and finish?
A: This will be part of the review process. Lots of factors. 1) cost 2) durability 3) maintainability We'll be picking a skin that fits those criteria and which will hopefully fit in with the neighborhood. Start of that discussion on the 27th.

Q: Have you looked at mechanical parking, is it cheaper?
A: Yes, I've looked at it and used it in China. In general its more expensive except for special cases. Getting cheaper but not yet there.

Q: You said you don't prefer national chains. How serious are you?
A: Its my preference. No promises, but I have a strong personal preference towards biz owners being in the stores.

Q: Are there environmental issues that might block the project?
A: No, contamination from dry cleaning was it.

Q: There is a bus stop on 23rd, will that move?
A: We'll have to deal with that, might move.

Q: Will you have a sustainability consultant on the project?
A: Our architects kind of specialize in that.

Q: Is green and sustainable going to be the 'brand' of this project?
A: Yes, but I also want to do something with music since this area has a strong history of that.

Q: Is there any shared/community space to this project? Courtyard?
A: I don't know yet, we are still designing the retail level. Most buildings like this have a common area for residents. Maybe make that more community based. It's possible.

Q: Would be nice to see something less boxy.
A: Design is changing constantly. There will be updated designs on the 27th for you to look at.

Q: Can you talk about the materials? Looks like glass & metal.
A: Still too early.

Q: There are lots of small children on 22nd. Please don't put the parking entrance there. How do I help make that happen?
A: Show up to the meetings, preferred option is definitely not to have parking entrance there. Cars belong on 23rd and Union.

Q: Won't entrance on 23rd cause people to double back on 22nd to turn left?
A: Yes, that's a concern. City planning is thinking about that and its something we are tracking.

Q: 23rd is an arterial, no parking. You are going to add load to the parking, how will it be handled?
A: Trying to create a pedestrian area, hopefully people will walk. We'll have some parking but in the end we are in a city, thats just the reality of the situation.

Q: Could they ever require a change to traffic on 22nd? (couldn't hear details)
A: Yes, maybe.

Q: Most of us want you here, but we have concerns about parking and traffic etc..
A: This is a great place to live without a car, close to downtown etc.. More discussion on pedestrian access.

Q: Will you be selling parking separately from the units?
A: Possibly. (additional comments about people then parking on the street)

Q: Will there be bike parking and what about the impacts of the bicycle master plan?
A: Yes, there will be bike parking and I'm a big fan of the bicycle master plan.

Q: How about some covered bike parking?
A: Ya, that's what I have in mind.

Q: No option for parking entrance on Union.
A: Parking entrance would ruin retail space.

Q: Will people put up with traffic on Union when sitting at a cafe on it?
A: Yes if done correctly.

Q: Who will be responding to emails and such?
A: Denise and I monitor comments and questions. As does our PR firm. (Nyhus)

That's it.


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