Jun 20, 2007

Feedback about 23rd & Union Development Proposal

Jean Tinnea, from the Central Neighborhood Association, writes:

There will be a meeting with Jim Mueller for the 'hood at Central Cinema 6pm Tuesday June 19th. Jim is the developer planning to develop the former Colman Building site. The current zoning is 4 stories. All past development tries have failed. There are several reasons and one is that they didn't 'pencil out' (be able to pay for itself) at 4 stories. The project must pencil out in order to get financing and to carry itself once built.

As a Board member of the Central District Development Association (CADA) that builds and preserves affordable housing, I can say it gets more and more difficult to get financing and get a project to pencil out. It is darn near impossible to get funding for affordable housing projects. (Thanks, W.) Meanwhile, due to the rising cost of land and building materials, it is also more challenging, certainly more expensive, to develop in general.

As a 28-year homeowner, property and business owner in the Union St corridor, I personally resisted all previous efforts to upzone the 23rd & Union corner. Development and economic rejuvenation happened all around us but not on Union east of 14th. (That project at 14th is just beginning.)

Although I haven't yet seen the design for the Colman site, the current developer, Jim Mueller, has a vision, good ideas, is approachable, WANTS to work with the community and followed the Neighborhood Plan in his previous developments in S Lake Union.

I am ready to support a contract upzone to 6 stories. In return, I'd like to see some affordable housing, affordable retail and/or public space, and thoughtful integration into the surrounding 'hood, say step zoning where the new structure steps down from 65 feet on 23rd to 40 feet on 22nd. I know that some will resist to the end, and I suggest that the rest of us think of what we would like in exchange for an upzone and, at last, some rejuvenation of the Union Street corridor.

Jean Tinnea

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