A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods

 

Public hearing on rezoning part of Greenwood to encourage affordable housing

February 11th, 2013 by Doree

Greenwood residents are invited to a March 14 public hearing on rezoning part of downtown Greenwood, which is part of the Greenwood/Phinney Ridge Residential Urban Village. The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) proposes amending the Official Land Use Map to rezone land and apply incentive provisions to encourage affordable housing.

Last summer, the City Council had proposed a more extensive rezone of the land around Fred Meyer, called Greenwood Town Center, but has changed the proposal based on testimony from a July public hearing and more analysis by DPD staff.

The new proposal will NOT apply a pedestrian zone designation to the block facing the south side of NW 85th Street, between 1st and 3rd Avenues NW, which is zoned Neighborhood Commercial 2 with a 40-foot height limit (NC2 40).

But it does increase the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) permitted in mixed-use structures of both residential and non-residential uses on those lots from 3.25 to 4.0, without changing the existing 40-foot height limit. That is designed to encourage affordable housing on those lots.

Greenwood-Town-Center-rezone-proposal

You can find background on the rezone area on DPD’s website, complete with maps of each proposed rezone area.

The City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee will hold a public hearing on proposed rezones on Thursday, March 14, in City Council Chambers, Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue, Floor 2, starting at 9:30 a.m. If you want to testify, a sign-up sheet will be available outside Council Chambers at 9 a.m.

Questions about the public hearing can be directed to Sara Nelson in Councilmember Conlin’s office at 206-684-8805, or sara.nelson@seattle.gov. Written comments can be sent to: Councilmember Richard Conlin, Legislative Department, 600 Fourth Avenue, Floor 2, PO Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025, or by email to richard.conlin@seattle.gov. Written comments should be received by 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 14.

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School of Rock unable to move into Crown Hill building, looking again for space in Greenwood-Phinney

July 26th, 2011 by Doree

The School of Rock had been looking to move from Lake City to Greenwood or Phinney Ridge earlier this year, when it finally leased a building on NW 85th Street in Crown Hill. But, after four months of working with the Department of Planning and Development, it turns out that the building isn’t zoned for a school or institution, so School of Rock is now looking again for a new space, in either Ballard or Greenwood-Phinney.

From General Manager Kristoffer Kierulff’s email to our sister site My Ballard:

We signed the lease for the space on 85th and 11th around April. For the past 4 months we have been working the DPD to obtain the appropriate permits to do our construction on the space. It’s been a tedious process to say the least, but ultimately we have discovered that the zoning of the building (Residential/Commercial) does not allow for a “School/Institution” to be in that particular building without a much longer review and permitting process. A process which we have found to be too costly and risky. We are committed to finding a new home in the Greenwood/Phinney/Ballard neighborhoods, and will continue to search for an ideal locale. If any of your readers know of any good homes for us, we’re all ears!

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City updates multi-family code to allow for more variety in housing

December 15th, 2010 by Doree

After months of discussion with residents, on Monday the Seattle City Council unanimously adopted a comprehensive update to how townhomes, apartments, row houses, and cottages are developed in the city’s low-rise multifamily zones. The idea is to spur more variety in multi-family housing, provide incentives for green building, and improve open space use and landscaping.

“Over the past decade, many townhouses popped up and multiplied in ways that caused unfortunate impacts to the surrounding communities,” Councilmember Sally J. Clark said in a press release. “We saw too few other housing styles and what we did see wasn’t welcomed by neighbors in most cases. I think these new rules will lead developers to build housing that fits better in our neighborhoods and creates a better home in which to live.”

The code creates a new Streamlined Design Review (SDR) process that will allow for closer scrutiny of project design for townhouses with three or more units (but not for row houses, cottages or apartments).

The new low-rise multifamily code also reduces the number of zones from five to three; requires at least 20 percent of street facing façades to be windows and doors; building materials must be varied; townhouse parking garages must be designed to fit large cars; parking will be underground or at the back of the lot; allows shared open space and larger usable common areas; waives parking requirements for projects in growth areas and within a quarter-mile of frequent transit service; and uses a flexible standard of measuring floor space, “floor area ratio,” rather than setback and lot coverage requirements.

The city says multi-family zones make up about 9 percent of the developable land in Seattle.

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City proposes rezoning Greenwood Town Center to neighborhood commercial

November 3rd, 2010 by Doree

The city’s Department of Planning and Development finally released its report on a proposal to rezone three areas in downtown Greenwood. The proposed zoning changes would have affected the Fred Meyer site on 85th Street, as well as surrounding residential streets. However, DPD’s report, released on Tuesday, proposes only moving forward with the rezone on the Fred Meyer site.

More than 100 neighbors gathered at an open house on June 29 to voice their opinions on the proposal, which included whether some surrounding residential streets should also be rezoned to allow for higher building limits.

The original idea was to rezone a 100-foot-deep swath across the street from Fred Meyer on NW 85th Street, NW 87th Street, and 3rd Avenue NW to allow for multi-family housing to provide a “step down” between the major development that Fred Meyer had proposed and the surrounding single-family neighborhood. Fred Meyer has since changed its mind about replacing the current store with a retail-residential development, and will instead do a down-to-the-studs remodel of the existing store, as well as the Greenwood Market building.

The comments at that June 29 meeting, and in an online survey, were overwhelming negative regarding the residential rezones. According to DPD’s report, more than 65 percent did not support rezoning Subarea 2 from Single-Family 5000 to allow for low-rise options.

And 61 percent did not support rezoning Subarea 3 from Neighborhood Commercial 40 to allow for heights of up to 65 feet.

The report says the city will “maintain future consideration” for rezoning those areas. For now, DPD proposes the City Council rezone Subarea 1 from car-oriented Commerical 1 with a 40-foot height limit to more pedestrian-oriented Neighborhood Commercial with a 65-foot height limit and a pedestrian zone overlay.

From the report:

This rezone represents an opportunity for a higher density, mixed‐use development including townhouses, condos, affordable apartments (required through incentive zoning with the height increase), that would be well‐supported in this area. DPD recommends increasing the height limit to 65 feet in order to encourage reuse of the site with housing while preserving the potential for retail tenants with high floor‐to‐ceiling heights to serve the neighborhood. Tall ground floors are usually a key driver for creating good retail space. Tenants, especially grocers, and developers typically need more than 40 feet of building height in order to
incorporate housing into a mixed use development. A height limit of 65 feet would maintain flexibility for a range of options in future redevelopment, while impacts from height, bulk and scale of a project can be mitigated through the design review process.

DPD will now work on an environmental determination to prepare legislation to rezone Subarea 1. After that there will be a three-week comment and appeal period before going to the City Council for a public hearing.

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Neighbors speak loudly on Greenwood Town Center rezone proposal

June 29th, 2010 by Doree

There’s nothing like a discussion on neighborhood rezoning to bring out the passionate crowds. About 100 people came to an open house presented by the city’s Department of Planning and Development at Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church on Tuesday night.

The topic was the proposed rezoning of the Greenwood Town Center site (Fred Meyer and Greenwood Market on NW 85th Street), as well as surrounding residential areas. Several months ago, the Greater Greenwood Design Development and Advisory Group (GGDDAG), which includes some members of the Greenwood Community Council, proposed rezoning a 100-foot-deep swath across the street on NW 85th Street, NW 87th Street, and 3rd Avenue NW to allow for multi-family units. The idea was to provide a “step down” between the major development that Fred Meyer has proposed and the surrounding single-family neighborhood.

After hearing from angry neighbors, the council backed off on the part of the proposal that upzoned the residential areas, but the city decided to go ahead and get neighborhood input on the entire proposal.

The proposal is divided into three subareas.Virtually everyone seems to agree on rezoning Subarea #1, which includes the site currently occupied by Fred Meyer and Greenwood Market and their parking lots, from C1-40 (commercial that promotes 40-foot high “big-box” stores and large parking lots) to NC-65 (neighborhood commercial that is pedestrian and transit friendly and encourages mixed-use developments up to 65 feet tall.)

Proponents say rezoning Subarea #1 will protect the neighborhood in case the Fred Meyer development doesn’t go through (their current design for a mixed-use development adheres to the general neighborhood commercial guidelines).

The controversy comes with Subarea #2 and Subarea #3. Subarea #2 would rezone a 100-foot deep parcel along NW 87th Street from 1st Avenue NW to 3rd Avenue NW, and along 3rd Avenue NW from NW 88th Street to NW 85th Street from Single-Family 5000 to Lowrise 3. That would affect dozens of single family homes.

Subarea #3, which includes the old “Checkers” building on the corner of NW 85th Street and 3rd Avenue NW, and the area south of NW 85th Street between Palatine Avenue North and just west of 3rd Avenue NW, would be rezoned from NC2 P-40 (neighborhood commercial, pedestrian overlay with a 40-foot height limit) to NC2 P-65 (increasing the height limit to 65 feet).

“What you’re doing here tonight is very difficult,” City Councilmember Sally Clark told the crowd at the beginning of the meeting. She said talking to neighbors about zoning is hard, especially as a neighborhood grows and changes. The idea is that someday when you leave that neighborhood, “what do you leave behind as a map?”

Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark (right) talks to concerned neighbors.

DPD Senior Urban Planner Andrea Petzel started off the meeting by emphasizing that each of the three subareas is being treated as separate entities.

“Each of these subareas is being considered separately. It is not a package deal,” she said.

Two people from the GCC or with knowledge of the proposals were stationed at each Subarea station to answer questions. People wandered around the room, writing comments (mostly negative) on sticky notes and placing them on the appropriate drawing.

Leslie Moynihan’s house on the southwest corner of 3rd Avenue NW and NW 87th Street was featured in a photo on DPD’s presentation board because it will be inside the rezone area.

“We bought a home on an arterial street and we understand the implications of that,” she said. But she says the wide street acts as a natural buffer and there’s no need for a step-down area, especially since it would be just feet away from a single-family home. “Moving the buffer into the middle of a single-family block doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Neighbor Brian Hart agreed. “I think the street is a much more natural buffer than the eight feet to my neighbor’s house.”

Hart’s house on NW 86th Street and 3rd Avenue NW would be just outside the buffer area, meaning his house could be just feet away from a taller multi-family building. He and other neighbors think there’s plenty of empty multi-family space in the neighborhood, and we should fill that up before changing the zoning that could add even more. “Ask me in 10 years. Maybe it will be really different,” Hart said. “Now I don’t think that it’s necessary.”

Janet Dockery lives on NW 87th Street inside Subarea #2 and went door-to-door informing neighbors of the proposal and about the meeting.

“I like my neighborhood and I like the single-family homes,” Dockery said. “I like the character of the neighborhood…and I sure don’t want to live next to one of those things,” she said of taller, multi-family buildings.

She says any stepping down in height should be done inside Subarea #1, with higher buildings in the middle of the Fred Meyer site and lower ones along the edges.

“People say they like their neighborhood. It’s affordable single-family houses and they understand there’s going to be some density in the middle,” she said. “But moving it into the single-family block is really upsetting to some people.”

Neighbor Matt Heilgeist agreed. “It seems everything is a foregone conclusion these days, like it’s going to happen no matter what. And most of my neighbors feel the same way,” said Heilgeist, whose house on NW 87th Street would be just outside the rezone area.

There’s still time to make your voice heard on the proposal. The DPD is collecting feedback through July 15. You can take an online survey (only one per IP address). DPD will then develop a draft of rezone recommendations and will present those to the GCC in August. DPD will finalize those recommendations in September. If DPD does recommend any rezoning, it will then begin a SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) review, along with an email comment and appeal period in October. Rezoning Subarea #2 would have to go to the City Council as part of a Comprehensive Plan Change to the Future Land Use Map in late 2010 or early 2011, followed by a city council public hearing sometime next spring.

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Town Center rezone proposal meeting Tuesday

June 28th, 2010 by Doree

Don’t forget that Tuesday night is the meeting on a proposal to rezone certain areas of the Greenwood Town Center. The city’s Department of Planning and Development meeting is from 6-8 p.m. at Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church at 7500 Greenwood Ave. N. For a refresher on just what it’s all about, see our June 8th story.

The rezone proposal would:

  • change the shopping center zoning from commercial to neighborhood commercial
  • the height limit in the shopping center from 40′ to 65′
  • change the zoning on 3rd and 87th from single family to low-rise multifamily
  • change the height limit on 85th from 40′ to 65′

Meeting Agenda:

6:00 – 6:30 p.m. — Meet and Greet

6:30 – 6:45 p.m. — Overview Presentation

6:45 – 8:00 p.m. — Open House/Public Comment

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Learn more about rezone proposal for Greenwood Town Center

June 8th, 2010 by Doree

The city’s Department of Planning and Development is holding a public meeting on June 29 to discuss the proposed rezoning of the Greenwood Town Center site in the heart of Greenwood. The Town Center includes Fred Meyer, Greenwood Market, Bartell Drugs, Top Ten Toys, Blockbuster, and the new Sedges retail/residential building.

The proposal also includes upzoning some surrounding areas, including about 100 feet deep on the south side of NW 85th Street, west side of NW 3rd Avenue and north side of NW 87th Street.

Trevor Stanley, president of the Greenwood Community Council, says the rezoning proposal came about through community meetings over the last several years. When Fred Meyer proposed to knock down its current store and replace it with a larger, mixed-use project, the GCC and another group, the Greater Greenwood Design & Development Advisory Group (GG.DDAG) found that current zoning in that area was inconsistent and could lead to the wrong kind of projects.

Fred Meyer’s current zoning is C-1 (commercial zoning that encourages large parking lots). The proposal is to change it to NC3-65 (Neighborhood Commercial with a 65-foot height limit), which would encourage taller buildings and a larger footprint, instead of a sea of asphalt parking.

(Fred Meyer’s plan is to demolish its existing store and replace it with a much larger store, along with about 250 apartments and other retail space, plus a large parking garage. The city approved Fred Meyer’s basic design last September.)

Under the proposal, the area just west of 3rd Ave. NW and north of NW 87th Street would be changed to L-3 (Lowrise), which would allow town homes with a height limit of 35 feet. Stanley says this is the same height limit as a single-family home, but the allowable lot coverage would be greater, although buildings could not come right up to the property line.

“It could be good because it could stimulate development along that area, which has had a lot of problems attracting anybody to come in there,” Stanley said. “To date, that area has sat in a sort of derelict state. We want nice stuff there, but it has to be profitable or it won’t be developable.”

The rezone proposal also would change the zoning on the south side of NW 85th Street to NC2P-65, which allows buildings 65 feet tall, but limits the footprints of those buildings.

Stanley says he understands the concerns of homeowners south of NW 85th St. who worry about a tall development being built right next door. But he says since the single family homes there are built partially up the hill, the 65 feet height limit is not as daunting as initially thought.

“Yes, that’s a big building, that’s absolutely right, but there’s another 15 feet of grade up to the top of that hill, plus there’s an alley in between. So you can’t say it’s 65 feet above your house. But, it would be tall,” he said. “It’s just trying to encourage the right thing. And the right thing is…subjective. It needs to be dealt with, it’s just a matter of how we deal with it.”

The now vacant lot of the corner of NW 85th Street and 1st Ave. NW that used to be a Pizza Hut years ago, would be included in the NC2P-65 zoning. We reported last summer that a new restaurant would be going in there, but that apparently fell through. Last week, a trailer with the sign “Hot Bean Espresso” was parked there. (PhinneyWood has been unable to find any business license or building permits with that name. If you have any information, please share it below in comments.)

 

Several months ago, the Greenwood Community Council applied to the Seattle Parks Department’s Opportunity Fund to purchase the site for a park, using money from the 2008 Parks Levy. Stanley said acquiring that site would cost about $1.5 million. While the property owner told Stanley he might be interested in selling that site, he hoped to sell it along with the two adjacent lots (currently an empty lot and an old house) as one big package.

Stanley says an urban park next to the Greenwood Town Center would be a perfect fit. “It’s going to increase the quality of life in general for the Town Center to have a nice little green space,” he said. “It kind of activates that space. And it’s horribly ugly the way it is right now. We want to be proactive to help encourage the right stuff, or else we’re going to get the Hot Bean Espresso stand.”

The DPD zoning meeting is from 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, June 29, in the Fellowship Hall of the Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church, at 7500 Greenwood Ave. N.

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Greenwood Council to discuss rezone

July 17th, 2009 by Doree

The Greenwood Community Council will discuss the possibility of rezoning the Greenwood Town Center area (Fred Meyer, Greenwood Market, Bartell Drugs, Blockbuster and Top Ten Toys) at its next meeting on Tuesday. The meeting is from 7-9 p.m. at the Greenwood Library. The public is invited, especially those who live within and adjacent to the proposed rezone area.

This month’s agenda includes a presentation of the Greater Greenwood Design & Development Advocacy Group (GGDDAG) rezone proposal in the Greenwood Town Center. We will have a presentation & discussion about the rezone only. An overview of rezone will be presented but the focus will be on single family housing within and immediately adjacent to the proposed rezone. This is identified as the “first path” below. Though there is some overlap, we will not be discussing amendments or taking comments on the current development proposal. Following the presentation the Council will call for a vote whether to support the rezone.

GGDDAG wants the city to rezone the area from Commercial to Neighborhood Commercial, which is more in keeping with Greenwood-Phinney’s designation as an Urban Village. While Fred Meyer currently has a proposed development that would essentially use the elements of Neighborhood Commercial zoning, GGDDAG wants the proper zoning in place just in case.

Click here for detailed information on the rezone proposal, and here for the council’s recommendations for modifications to Fred Meyer’s proposal.

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