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Old July 6th, 2011, 09:40 PM   #1
mSeattle
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SEATTLE ~ Planning Commission: Time to Move Forward on Zoning, Parking and Heights

Planning Commission: Time to Move Forward on Zoning, Parking and Heights

http://publicola.com/2011/07/05/plan...g-and-heights/

July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm Erica C. Barnett (Publicola)

In a letter to Diane Sugimura, director of the city’s Department of Planning and Development, the city’s Planning Commission echoed letters from Mayor Mike McGinn and city council member Tim Burgess asking DPD to consider increasing density around the proposed Roosevelt light rail station. (The new zoning, as currently proposed, would only create around 350 new housing units above what would currently be allowed). The commission “applauded” McGinn’s and Burgess’s letters and called for a new “Transit Communities policy” that would:

• Concentrate housing and jobs within a five to ten minute walk or bike ride to frequent, reliable transit service [as opposed to the quarter- or half-mile radius planners currently use when zoning for housing and jobs near transit centers).

• Locate the vast majority of new households and jobs in Seattle in transit communities rather than more auto-dependent single-family areas.

• Concentrate city investment in new services, infrastructure open space, parks, plazas, street lights, libraries, and community centers in transit communities.

• Consider the level of transit service in an area when considering rezones. (This rule, if in place during the Roosevelt rezone process, would probably have resulted in more density near the station).

• Reevaluate single-family zoning in transit communities, considering higher density or intensity where it seems appropriate

• Rethink single-family zoning requirements near schools. “In order for families with children to live in vibrant transit rich neighborhoods we must recalibrate our 1960’s suburban context when thinking about the relationship of schools and neighborhoods and investigate modern examples of schools within mixed-use, higher density developments.”

• Consider “significantly taller” buildings in places like Capitol Hill and South Lake Union. “The Commission is intrigued by the concept of an iconic tower being explored in the Capitol Hill Urban Design Framework.”

• Encourage policies that allow things like community plazas, mixed-use development, and fiber-optic lines at rail stations, building stations with more than just a single purpose.

• Eliminate minimum parking requirements in areas with frequent transit service and establishing parking maximums.

The Planning Commission doesn’t have any real authority—its role is to advise the mayor and city council on planning policy, but, unfortunately, they aren’t obliged to listen. Still, the commission’s letter lends moral weight to McGinn’s and Burgess’s call for rethinking city policies that limit densities where they make the most sense—around transit stations.
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Old July 7th, 2011, 12:25 AM   #2
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Thanks for sharing.

My favorite point:

• Consider “significantly taller” buildings in places like Capitol Hill and South Lake Union. “The Commission is intrigued by the concept of an iconic tower being explored in the Capitol Hill Urban Design Framework.”

I vote yes, yes and more yes to that!
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Old July 7th, 2011, 03:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LCIII View Post
Thanks for sharing.

My favorite point:

• Consider “significantly taller” buildings in places like Capitol Hill and South Lake Union. “The Commission is intrigued by the concept of an iconic tower being explored in the Capitol Hill Urban Design Framework.”

I vote yes, yes and more yes to that!
A lot of people (including myself) who emailed and commented on the Capitol Hill UDF, expressed interest in upzoning Site A for a 200-300ft tower. It would be a perfect spot for a hotel in my opinion. My uneducated guess is that it will be strongly considered and evaluated (the upzone, not the hotel part).
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Old July 7th, 2011, 04:09 AM   #4
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The iconic tower is a cool idea, but I would still support just raising height limits in much more of the neighborhood instead of only one little spot.
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Old July 7th, 2011, 09:09 PM   #5
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Agreed. It would serve neighborhoods better by increasing height limits anywhere in these areas than just one little spot.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 12:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LCIII View Post
Thanks for sharing.

My favorite point:

• Consider “significantly taller” buildings in places like Capitol Hill and South Lake Union. “The Commission is intrigued by the concept of an iconic tower being explored in the Capitol Hill Urban Design Framework.”

I vote yes, yes and more yes to that!
They should also consider taller buildings in the "Belltown dip", as I call it--that area around Bell Street which, if seen from the waterfront, looks like a gap in a mouthful of teeth. According to zoning maps, that section is zoned for, oh, something like 80 foot-tall residential for some reason. Meanwhile, there are, like, 200 foot-tall buildings on either side. I don't really understand that. It seems out of place and a waste of space.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 01:40 AM   #7
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Is it due to need for deeper foundation and prox. to BN railroad? I would be happy for just taller buildings (500'-600') in the existing cluster and increase height in the dip by 10'-15' or so.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 03:03 AM   #8
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Not BN, because that exits around Pike & Virginia. The old 99 tunnel is a constraint of a sort, but based on what little I know, it only limits the sorts of foundation supports that can extend into the ROW and the loads put on the tunnel, which doesn't preclude a tower.

I think the 85' zoning is an unfortunate desire to keep stuff short for the sake of being short. I'd love for this/my neighborhood to go 500', and mix that with what's there now.

Of course, once you hit 5th, there's the twin 440' proposal at the old Cadillac site lining up with the dip.
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Old July 10th, 2011, 12:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Is it due to need for deeper foundation and prox. to BN railroad? I would be happy for just taller buildings (500'-600') in the existing cluster and increase height in the dip by 10'-15' or so.
I don't know what the reason is. Doesn't the train go west of there, along Myrtle Edwards Park and through Interbay? I know I've ridden it before. If so, the train shouldn't affect that area.
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Old July 10th, 2011, 12:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhays View Post
Not BN, because that exits around Pike & Virginia. The old 99 tunnel is a constraint of a sort, but based on what little I know, it only limits the sorts of foundation supports that can extend into the ROW and the loads put on the tunnel, which doesn't preclude a tower.

I think the 85' zoning is an unfortunate desire to keep stuff short for the sake of being short. I'd love for this/my neighborhood to go 500', and mix that with what's there now.

Of course, once you hit 5th, there's the twin 440' proposal at the old Cadillac site lining up with the dip.
I know, that's what I'm thinking--that is just an effort to keep things short for the sake of keeping them short. But that seems arbitrary to me, and out of place, given that they don't apply the same rule immediately north, east, or south. It makes me want to hound Diane Sigimura on that point.

Unless there's some constraint placed on building foundations for needle towers because of the Battery Street Tunnel, I imagine one day the lightbulb will hit them over the head and they're re-zone that odd portion of land as well to fit in more coherently with the general downtown zoning scheme. Maybe when the earth's population hits 80 billion or something.
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Old July 10th, 2011, 09:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgwah View Post
The iconic tower is a cool idea, but I would still support just raising height limits in much more of the neighborhood instead of only one little spot.
I'm normally all about mid-rise for affordability reasons, but I love the idea of an iconic tower on Capitol Hill. The neighborhood already has a bunch of affordable mid-rise and doesn't have much luxury anything; adding a (likely luxury-oriented) tower would diversify the housing options. Whereas a broader rezone in such an already dense neighborhood wouldn't accomplish as much (in part because it's already as dense as it would likely get west of Broadway).

I'm not saying a rezone is a terrible idea, I'd just rather push for rezoning in say, Beacon Hill than Capitol Hill.
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Old July 12th, 2011, 12:17 AM   #12
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Why "either/or" and not "both"?
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Old July 12th, 2011, 07:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Why "either/or" and not "both"?
A 500' iconic tower with an upzone to 250' elsewhere in the neighborhood would work for me.
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Old July 12th, 2011, 06:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
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A 500' iconic tower with an upzone to 250' elsewhere in the neighborhood would work for me.
Yes! Amen!
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Old July 12th, 2011, 06:27 PM   #15
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I have to agree with SteveM. Let's rezone other areas that need density first. Rezoning Capitol Hill now will result in a loss of a lot of the neighborhoods affordable mid-rises.

I also don't agree that there's no luxury housing - pretty much everything in the "Harvard-Belmont Historic District" has to be considered luxurious, including the recently finished Harvard and Highland condos. There's plenty of other luxury housing on Federal Way, near Interlaken etc. Unless you meant condos per se, than I agree that there's not much, although a lot of the buildings have a couple units here and there that are financially out of the reach for most people in the city.
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Old July 12th, 2011, 06:46 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meku View Post
I also don't agree that there's no luxury housing - pretty much everything in the "Harvard-Belmont Historic District" has to be considered luxurious, including the recently finished Harvard and Highland condos. There's plenty of other luxury housing on Federal Way, near Interlaken etc. Unless you meant condos per se, than I agree that there's not much, although a lot of the buildings have a couple units here and there that are financially out of the reach for most people in the city.
Yeah, that's a good point; I meant that there weren't high-end condos, but I totally forgot about the Harvard-Belmont district, which definitely has high-end multi-family housing. I think some of the condos at the north end of Bellevue Ave E are probably high-end, too. That said, some high-end high-rise multi-family in the Broadway-John core would be a huge win for the neighborhood, assuming there's demand.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 10:42 PM   #17
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kind of related: http://publicola.com/2011/07/08/mcgi...t-regulations/

Allowing ground-floor apartments in areas where ground-floor retail would ordinarily be required. “Why are we asking people to build something that isn’t needed?” McGinn said. “Instead, you can make it all housing [and you] won’t be wasting moony on space that isn’t needed.”

mhays will be happy! Publicola is also incapable of using spell check, apparently.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 11:16 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgwah View Post
kind of related: http://publicola.com/2011/07/08/mcgi...t-regulations/

Allowing ground-floor apartments in areas where ground-floor retail would ordinarily be required. “Why are we asking people to build something that isn’t needed?” McGinn said. “Instead, you can make it all housing [and you] won’t be wasting moony on space that isn’t needed.”

mhays will be happy! Publicola is also incapable of using spell check, apparently.
Hear hear!

More rowhouses and more townhouse units in apartment buildings (condos and rentals alike)!

Has it just been: 'your apartment of X size should have X number of retail stalls' or does the city have a master plan for retail locations? Would be a good compliment to the 'urban village' designations to have 'retail corridors' within those urban villages. Like mhays has been saying: cluster the retail together. More feet in a given area, more customers, more business.
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Old July 15th, 2011, 12:42 AM   #19
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It's more about percentage of the frontage along the street. That's why we get a lot of very shallow retail.

Yes bgwah, I am happy it's coming up!
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Old July 16th, 2011, 01:52 AM   #20
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I'm happy about that too. It will do great for neighborhoods by having limited retail area.
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