Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn offered transparency and a willingness to listen Tuesday night before a full house at the Queen Anne Community Center where among the crowd were those less-than thrilled at the prospect of the Metropolitan Market’s ensuing redevelopment.
One neighbor named Steve stood and read a hand-written, page-long complaint about the grocery store’s redevelopment plan, led by Joe Geivett of Emerald Bay Equity. Steve said the plan would allow for trucks to be rerouted into the alleyway behind the property. The one-acre lot spans a block on Queen Anne Avenue North between West Crockett and West Howe streets. The market’s footprint will expand to 20,000 square feet with 200 parking spaces below ground and 125 apartments up top. Ancillary retail may also be attached to the property. Geivett is also leading the Seven Hills development across the street, a 57-unit apartment building with ground-floor retail. He also built the Sweetbriar building where KeyBank and Menchie’s reside.
McGinn admitted he’d just learned of the project on the way over to the town-hall meeting and deferred to Diane Sugimura, director of the Department of Planning and Development. She said she signed off on the project, which had met development guidelines.
Then neighbor Genevieve Cole, a mother of three who lives near the market, spoke out at the back of the community center saying to McMinn, “You call yourself an environmentalist but there is nothing environmental about [the redevelopment project].” Her statement was met with applause.
McGinn countered that he had been the president of the Greenwood neighborhood council for years and was aware of similar challenges, such as the Fred Meyer expansion on Northwest 85th Street that is forcing the closure of a much beloved Greenwood Market.
“If someone meets the zoning and the rules, they’re entitled to continue,” he said, adding that finding common ground among residents and development in Seattle’s urban neighborhoods is a challenge.
“That’s a cop out,” Cole said later of McGinn’s answer. “I think it was worthwhile and brave of the mayor to put himself out there and I hope he continues to do so. My instincts about him are that he is still connected. His whole thrust is to get people to ride bikes more. He’s still sort of an everyman. But it does frustrate me that his default position was what it was.”
McGinn fielded several more questions about the lack of funding for parks and education. He said one plan to generate revenue, amid the $40 million budget shortfall he is anticipating, is to “harness” the property tax revenue that would come from development at Seattle’s waterfront. Another proven revenue source has been the hike in parking meter rates. McGinn has had to make cuts across all city departments since he took office and wanted neighborhood feedback and innovative suggestions on how to keep programs open and thriving—the point of the meetings he has been hosting in various Seattle neighborhoods.
Representatives from multiple city departments set up informational tables around the center. Rainier Beach band, Seven Diels, made up of middle-schooler siblings Mia, Damien and Darius, warmed up the crowd with a song about equality. The band will be playing a show in February at the Hard Rock Café at 116 Pike St.