City seeking input on Uptown rezoning options with public meeting on August 4th

The City of Seattle is seeking input from residents on three potential rezone options for Uptown, ranging from doing nothing to allowing mid-rise (5-7 story) buildings to allowing buildings up to 16 stories in some parts of Uptown. As we’ve reported in the past, the Uptown Urban Design Framework (UDF) is the central document that guides the future of Uptown. It includes input from neighbors and community organizations like the Uptown Alliance.

Now, the city has published a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that evaluates a range of building heights, developed in collaboration with the community. It’s a hefty document, weighing in at 458 pages in its pdf format.

The EIS states upfront that the priorities for Uptown are as follows:

• Affordable housing

• A multimodal transportation system

•Community amenities (community center, new schools, open space)

• An arts and culture hub

• A strong retail core

• A welcoming urban gateway to Seattle Center

The Uptown UDF recommendations include developing rezone legislation, which could change building heights and development standards. The EIS outlines three alternatives which have been identified for study:

1) “No Action” which maintains current zoning and building heights for the dozens of parcels in the neighborhood that are expected to be redeveloped, but does not include new neighborhood-specific design and development standards to guide that growth.

2) “Mid-rise” with 5-7 story buildings that would include mandatory housing affordability requirements, along with new Uptown design standards.

3) “High-rise” featuring taller, thinner, more widely spaced 16-story buildings in areas of the Uptown Urban Center, also including mandatory contributions to housing affordability and the neighborhood design standards.

The map below shows the rezone area. Where there are 3 numbers separated by dashes, the first is the “no action” option, the middle is the “mid-rise” option, the last is the “high-rise” option:

Uptown EIS Rezone

If you want a say in the future of Uptown and potential rezoning that could either maintain the status quo or grow upward, now’s your time to get feedback to the city. Part of the City’s decision will be based on community comments and input on the three options.

The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) and Seattle Center are hosting an open house and public hearing on August 4th at the Seattle Center Armory Lofts 3 & 4, from 5pm to 8pm. At this meeting, the public will have an opportunity to learn more about the alternatives, ask questions, and provide public comment.

In addition to the three options above, the following will also be on the August 4th agenda: the upcoming Seattle Center and Uptown Strategic Parking Study, the emerging Uptown Arts & Cultural District, citywide housing affordability policies, and proposed transit improvements.

Written public comment can be submitted until September 1 by writing to jim.holmes@seattle.gov.

The City expects to complete the final EIS of the preferred alternative in November. Per the City: “Additional public comments will be gathered at that time before any proposed zoning changes are sent to the Seattle City Council.”

Avoid 99 and spend Saturday walking an Uptown Jane’s Walk

This Saturday, May 7th is the annual Jane’s Walk event, taking place in neighborhoods across Seattle. Named after Jane Jacobs (1916-2006), these walks celebrate urban communities. Jane was an urbanist and activist who championed a community-based approach to city building – and what better way to explore the community than by foot?

Jane’s Walks are free, citizen-led walking tours inspired by Jane Jacobs. The goal of the free walks is to not only explore a neighborhood, but to also share stories about the community, the city, and meet neighbors.

This weekend’s Jane’s Walk features Uptown (aka Lower Queen Anne to some). Local residents Katherine Idziorek, co-President of the Uptown Alliance and Debi Frausto, former Chair of Friends of Lower Kinnear Park and current Uptown Arts and Culture District focal point, will lead the walk.

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Walk Route

A) Lower Kinnear Park: Meet at the entrance to Lower Kinnear Park (at the end of W Roy Street) – learn about recent park renovations and improvements

B) Counterbalance Park: Uptown’s urban stage

C) The Labyrinth: Walk the labyrinth at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

D) UpGarden P-Patch:Visit a community P-Patch garden on the roof of the Mercer Parking garage!

E) EXPO Apartments: Learn how the community worked together with developers to shape the EXPO Apartment building.

F) KEXP: Visit 90.3 KEXP’s new home at Seattle Center!

G) Queen Anne & Mercer apartments: Learn how the community worked with developers to help a new project fit into the neighborhood.

H) Uptown Parklet: Visit Uptown’s tiniest park, a park”let” at SIFF Cinema Uptown

I) South Korean Consulate: See the future site of the South Korean Consulate

J) Nielsen’s Pastries: Pop in for a coffee or authentic Danish kringle at Nielsen’s Pastries

K) Selig Office Building: See the construction of a new half-block office project

L) Thomas Street Pedestrian Bridge: Walk from Uptown over busy Elliott Avenue to enjoy beautiful Sound views and a connection to Seattle’s waterfront parks

Stop by the W Roy Street entrance to Lower Kinnear Park to join the walk at noon on Saturday. Katie will be wearing her red KEXP t-shirt, and the walk will take about an hour. Happy walking!

Uptown Alliance meets Thursday: Updated agenda with Sound Transit, Uptown Urban Framework, and more

Uptown Alliance logoThe Uptown Alliance is kicking off the year with its first meeting of 2016. In addition to officer elections, the agenda includes presentations on the Uptown Urban Design Framework and parking study, the Roy St shelter, and an update on Uptown parks. All are welcome to attend the meeting at 7pm, Thursday, January 14, 2015 in the Community Room at the EXPO Apartments (100 Republican St).

Here’s the full agenda:

7:00 – 7:10   Welcome and introductions

7:05 – 7:50   Sound Transit 3 presentation

7:10 – 7:20   Uptown Urban Design Framework & parking study

7:20 – 7:30   157 Roy shelter update

7:30 – 7:40   Queen Anne Land Use Review Committee (LURC) update

7:40 – 7:50   Uptown Parks Activation update

7:50 – 8:00   Transportation committee update

8:00 – 8:30   Election of Uptown Alliance officers for 2016

8:30 – 9:00  Topics of concern, approve November meeting minutes

Uptown Planning Open House is Thursday at McCaw Hall

Uptown FrameworkThis Thursday, October 8th, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is hosting an open house and scoping meeting for the Uptown Urban Center. The meeting will run from 5:30pm to 8pm at McCaw Hall (Allen Foundation for the Arts Room)

Planning for the Uptown Urban Design Framework has been underway with community stakeholders, DPD, and the Seattle Center. The Framework provides a vision for the development of Uptown, and includes the following issues:

  • Establishing Uptown as an Arts and Culture District
  • Increasing housing diversity (housing type and affordability)
  • Development of a multi-modal transportation system that includes high capacity transit, bike, and pedestrian facilities
  • Addressing a complex parking situation
  • Zoning for open spaces, affordable housing, and cultural spaces
  • Advocating for a school and community center

The meeting also signals the kickoff of two actions in the Urban Design Framework:

1) DPD environmental impact statement to evaluate building height increases

2) Seattle Center and Uptown Strategic Parking study

If you’re interested in any of the above issues or the two actions being kicked off on Thursday, attend the meeting at McCaw Hall. All interested residents and business owners are welcome to attend.

Uptown Alliance meets today, Expedia campus and Roy St shelter on the agenda

Uptown Alliance new logoThe Uptown Alliance meets today, Thursday, September 10th at 7pm in the EXPO Apartments Community Room (100 Republican St). After a couple months off for summer, the Uptown Alliance is back and has a full agenda this Thursday, including presentations on the Expedia campus, Uptown Urban Design Framework, and the homeless shelter at 157 Roy St.
Here’s the agenda:
  • 7:00 – 7:10  Welcome and introductions (Rick Hooper)
  • 7:10 – 7:30  Expedia Uptown campus plans (Lynn Claudon, Natalie Quick)
  • 7:30 – 8:15  Uptown Urban Design Framework update (Jim Holmes, Lyle Bicknell, Debi Frausto)
  • 8:15 – 8:25  Counterbalance Park activation update (Matt Adkins)
  • 8:25 – 8:30  Transportation Committee update (Michael Davis, Nick Kullman)
  • 8:30 – 8:40  157 Roy shelter update (Rick Hooper)
  • 8:40 – 9:00  Topics of concern, approve July meeting minutes
The meeting is open to all. If you have comments, feedback, or topics of concern for upcoming meetings, mark your calendar for this Thursday.

Roy Street homeless shelter now official

157 Roy St ViewWe reported on the then-un-announced homeless shelter that’s going to be located at the corner of Roy St and Warren Ave N (157 Roy St) last Thursday. Now, the city has issued an official press release, which is provided below. The Human Services Department and DESC staff are holding a community meeting to discuss the shelter July 28th at 6pm in the Seattle Center Armory Loft Room #2.

If you have questions or comments on the shelter, plan on attending the meeting. If you can’t make the meeting or have immediate questions, you can call the Seattle Human Services Department at 206-386-1001 or contact the Office of the Mayor.

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City Announces Overnight Emergency Shelter in Uptown

Seattle, WA – The City of Seattle will convert the City Light owned building located at 157 Roy Street into an emergency shelter to help serve individuals living unsheltered on Seattle streets.  The shelter will open this fall in two phases. The first phase is for 50 beds and the second phase is for an additional 50 beds after substantial alterations required by the building code are complete.

“Emergency shelter opens the door to human services and a safe place to sleep for a person experiencing a crisis of homelessness,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “The Roy Street property is currently vacant at a time when 3,000 people are sleeping on our streets. Working with DESC, we are fulfilling our commitment for additional shelter beds, a central recommendation from my Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness.”

In April 2015, Mayor Murray announced that he planned to partner with the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) to fund operations of a new 100 bed shelter in a City of Seattle-owned property.   At that time a total of $350,000 was identified as the ongoing operating cost to fund the shelter.  Since then, the Human Services Department and Finance and Administrative Services Department identified the Roy Street location as a City-owned property that is appropriate for temporary housing. The City of Seattle will use Human Services Department general funds to cover the cost of operating the shelter in 2015.  This shelter will be managed by the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC).

“The Downtown Emergency Service Center is proud to partner with the City of Seattle to enhance the safety of our most vulnerable residents,” said Daniel Malone, Downtown Emergency Service Center Executive Director.  “I appreciate Mayor Ed Murray’s leadership addressing the region’s homelessness crisis.”

“The Human Services Department is pleased to partner with Downtown Emergency Service Center, an experienced homelessness service provider to operate the overnight shelter for medically fragile seniors at this new shelter,” said Catherine Lester, Seattle Human Services Department Director.  “This partnership with DESC will also facilitate the pilot of a portfolio of services for shelter residents with the goal of getting them on the path to permanent housing within the federal goal of 20 days.”

The shelter is for adult men who are over 60 years of age or are disabled.  The shelter will operate from 10 pm to 6 am.  The men will be screened and referred from the downtown DESC location to prevent queuing lines outside the shelter.

Daytime access to the shelter will be limited to janitorial services and shelter staff.

To ensure the safety of the shelter stayers, three awake and alert shelter staff will be on duty during shelter sleeping hours to keep diligent watch for fires, obstructions to exits, and any other hazards during the time that people are sleeping.  Food preparation at the site will be limited to reheating of food in microwaves. The on-site commercial washer and dryers for shelter linens will be operated by shelter staff only.

This announcement aligns with the Homeless Investment Analysis, which highlighted the need to work with service providers in a new, collaborative manner to ensure Seattle’s unsheltered homeless residents can quickly access shelter, be matched with a housing resource, and receive assistance in finding permanent, affordable housing.  Today’s announcement is also in response to the recommendation by the Mayor’s Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness to consider the use of City-owned facilities and shelters. This task force was created in October 2014 to develop recommendations addressing the growing number of people experiencing homelessness in Seattle.

Human Services Department and DESC staff will hold a community meeting to discuss the shelter on July 28th at 6:00 pm in the Seattle Center Armory Loft Room #2  (305 Harrison Street).  View a campus map.

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