Monday, November 24, 2014

EXCITING NEWS! The Seattle City Council is set to approve funding for a Legislative Rezone of 35th Ave NE!

UPDATE: As expected, the City Council officially passed the budget. We will provide details on the 35th Ave NE Legislative Rezone when more in known sometime in 2015.  PLEASE MAKE SURE TO TELL YOUR NEIGHBORS AND KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR NEWS SO THAT EVERYONE CAN BE HEARD.

The City Council is set to vote on a budget for 2015 later today. In the budget package, Council has included budget for the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to implement a Legislative Rezone for the 35th Ave NE Business District, between NE 65th Street to NE 95th Street, following the 35th Ave Committee's request.  A "Legislative Rezone" is a corridor or area-wide analysis and rezoning process conducted by the City.  The funding ($67,610 in 2015 and 2016) to be approved for DPD's includes budget to review and analyze our final zoning recommendations (the final formal report is to be issued soon!), conduct additional public outreach to the community, and develop legislation to approve any rezones.

After both the Wedgwood Community Council and Ravenna-Bryant Community Association endorsed the 35th Ave Committee's final plan (the final formal report is to be issued soon!), the 35th Ave Committee met with many councilmembers and request some modest funding to DPD to review our zoning recommendations and implement a formal legislative rezone.  Councilmembers Mike O'Brien, Sally Clark, and Jean Godden were gracious enough to sign on to a "Green Sheet" (e.g., budget request) on behalf of DPD for this work.  This Green Sheet was taken up by the Budget Committee on November 5th for discussion.

Click Image for Link to Nov. 5th Budget Committee Meeting Video.
(We couldn't turn off "autoplay" on embeded video.)
At the November 5th Budget Committee meeting (link to video above), Per Johnson, the Chair of the 35th Ave Committee, provided public testimony to provide some context for the Council regarding the Green Sheet starting at minute 4:04.  Tony Provine, current president of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, also spoke on behalf of the Green Sheet starting at minute 9:50 in the video below. (Note: there are 2 speakers in between Per and Tony with some relatively explicit language.) The City Council then held an interesting conversation about the merits of our Green Sheet starting at minute 17:50 and ending at 26:10.  Part of their conversation gets at the process the City has set up for their formal neighborhood planning processes and typical legislative zoning for other neighborhoods.  Part of the conversation also gets to questions, concerns, posturing by councilmembers as the City is adjusting to new District elections. Without this specific budget request and Council's approval, there is no opportunity for neighborhoods and communities such as ours for any formal legislative rezone assistance from the City given our status within the City's Comprehensive Plan.

IMPORTANT: We, the 35th Ave Committee, have tried to be clear throughout this grassroots planning process that we have been seeking community concensus, not unanamity.  Certainly there are those who disagree with the zoning recommendations developed through the public workshops and our planning process, no matter how modest the changes are. This is inevitable. As the City analyzes our zoning recommendations and listens to the community, they may reach slightly different conclusions on the zoning needs for the business district.  These differences are also expected.  We trust that the City's planners, along with our great community input and continued involvement by the 35th Ave Committee, Wedgwood Community Council, and Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, will achieve the conditions desired for the business district and our community in the future.  

The 35th Ave Committee is very, very appreciative to the city council for taking up this budget request and approving it.  A special thanks goes out to Councilmember Mike O'Brien for formally proposing the Green Sheet (our budget request) as the chair of the City's Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Commitee, and to Councilmembers Sally Clark and Jean Godden for co-signing the Green Sheet.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Revised Streetscape Guidelines, Supplemental Design Guidelines, & Zoning Recommendations

UPDATE: A BIG THANKS to both the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association and Wedgwood Community Council for endorsing the revised 35th Ave Plan as described below. Please stay tuned as we'll post the next steps for this plan as they become clearer.

On July 31st, the 35th Ave Committee held its 3rd public workshop and unveiled the draft streetscape guidelines, supplemental design guidelines, and zoning recommendations. The participants at the public workshop were given the ability to float around and look at specific parts of the proposal and discuss the proposal with their neighbors, the consultant team, and the 35th Ave Committee. Participants were then asked to provide their feedback.

Following the public workshop, the proposal was then posted online for those in the community who couldn't attend the public workshop. The 35th Ave Committee held a public comment period from August 1-15 so that the community could provide their feedback.

Based on the feedback received from the 3rd public workshop, the public comments, and the data gathered from the previous workshops, the 35th Ave Committee made revisions to the supplemental design guidelines and zoning recommendations.  No revisions were made to the streetscape design guidelines.

In writing the last post and reading through the public comments one thing became clear though, writing about planning concepts and designs that are interrelated as a nonplanner for other nonplanners. Therefore, instead of posting standalone documents for the streetscape design guidelines, supplemental design guidelines, and zoning recommendation, we have prepared the following presentation to help explain the revisions and give context to the overall project.

The presentation below has been added for convenience, however, it does not include animation that may make it easier understand the revisions. CLICK HERE to see the whole presentation with its intended animation.

Over the upcoming week, we will be presenting the revised streetscape guidelines, supplemental design guidelines, and zoning recommendations to the boards of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association and the Wedgwood Community Councils. Anyone is welcome to come and listen in.
  • Ravanna-Bryant Community Association Board Meeting: Tuesday, September 9th, 7-9PM at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center.
  • Wedgwood Community Council Trustees Meeting: Monday, September 15th, 7:30-9PM at the Wedgwood Presbyterian Church Fireside Room.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Review Our Zoning Recommendations & Streetscape Design Guidelines

UPDATE 3: Public comments were accepted through Friday, August 15th. Therefore, mentions of the public comment period within the post below have been crossed out.  The streetscape design guidelines and zoning recommendations described below will now be revised based on the feedback received, which includes:
UPDATE 2: A FAQ (frequently asked questions) has been put together to dispel some misinformation about this proactive grassroots planning project, which you can read here. Alternatively, click on FAQ tab above.
UPDATE 1: To make it easier for review, below is an itemized list of documents to both illustrate and understand the proposed streetscape design and zoning recommendations.
  • Zoning Cheat Sheet (PDF, 1MB) - A summary of what the City's zoning codes mean to help understand the current and proposed zoning.
  • Supplemental Design Guidelines (PDF, 1MB) - Guidelines intended to help shape the design of future development beyond what the city-wide design guidelines.
  • Streetscape Design & Zoning Recommendations (PDF, 5.5MB) - Illustrations depicting our proposed streetscape design guidelines and changes to current zoning. Sheets 1-2 summarize our streetscape guidelines between the major commercial areas (e.g., connectors) and at the commercial areas (e.g., nodes). Sheets 3-6 summarize the proposed zoning changes at the commercial "nodes."  Please note that the current zoning is shown in the top right for comparison and brief descriptions of the changes are provided along the right edge.

Last night, 70 people attended the 3rd and final public workshop where the 35th Ave Committee unveiled the streetscape guidelines and zoning recommendations developed based on the community feedback from the previous two public workshops.  After a presentation summarizing the zoning recommendations and streetscape plan, participants visited workstations where they could review the zoning recommendations at each node (NE 65th St, NE 75th St, NE 85th St, and NE 95th St) or streetscape plans to ask questions and provide feedback.  Excellent feedback (for and against) was received which is still being processed. As noted above, feedback is encouraged from those who couldn't attend last night's public workshop through Friday, August 15th. Comments can be sent to  The Questions or Comments box to the right of this post can also be used.

Each person who attended the public workshop was provided this handout (PDF, 1.3MB) which included the workshop agenda, an evaluation, and a summary of the zoning recommendations.  An illustrated summary of our proposed streetscape plan zoning recommendations is provided here (PDF, 5.5MB).

Click Image to View Our
Proposed Supplemental Design
Guidelines (PDF, 1MB)
Also included on Page 4 of the handout and within the presentation above (starting on Slide 42) are Supplemental Design Guidelines developed to accompany the City's recently updated Citywide Design Guidelines. These supplemental design guidelines will be provided to the Department of Planning & Development and the City's Design Review Board.  These supplemental design guidelines will likely not be codified by City Council, but they are intended to be instructive to future developers about what types of design features our community supports in exchange for the increased height and zoning.

Click Image to View Our
Zoning Recommendations &
Streetscape Design
Guidelines (PDF 5.5MB) 
The streetscape features recommended are intended to provide interest and invitation to pedestrians while creating a greater level of safety for those walking to and along 35th Ave NE.  The streetscape design features will ultimately be prepared in the format required by the Seattle Department of Transportation's Right-of-Way Improvements Manual so that future developers are aware of the sidewalk typology, treatments, and features requested by the community.

Our streetscape design proposal didn't focus on the travel and parking lanes due to a potential separated bike facility along 35th Ave NE as approved in the City's Bicycle Master Plan. This decision was made as any separate bike facility constructed in the future would necessitate its own significant design completed by the City.  Nevertheless, our plan makes a few specific recommendations to improve the intersection of 35th Ave NE and NE 75th Street while also making it safer to cross 35th Ave NE throughout the corridor.  This recommendation is illustrated on Slide 41 in the presentation but can also be summarized as follows:
  • Relocate the Metro bus stop at the SE corner of the 35th/75th intersection to the NE corner of the intersection, in front of the "I Heart Bento" building.  This would also require eliminating a load zone in front of the building.  
  • Install pocket left turn lanes for north and south bound traffic, as was done a few years back on NE 75th at that intersection for east and west bound traffic.  
  • Eliminate the peak hour parking restrictions throughout the 35th Ave NE business district corridor which will turn 35th Ave NE into a 2 lane road with permanent parking versus a multi-lane road with temporary parking as it is now.  This would allow more crosswalks and potentially curb bulbs or other intersection improvements to reduce the crossing distance and improve pedestrian safety.  
Our zoning recommendations were focused at the four most prominent "nodes" along the 35th Ave business district: NE 65th St, NE 75th St, NE 85th St, and NE 95th St.  The proposed height increases and zoning changes were developed based on the feedback received during the Public Workshop 2.  These preferences are illustrated in the presentation.  The recommendations are summarized on the attached illustrations.  Most of the recommended zoning changes are height increases, although some are zoning changes.

Monday, July 7, 2014

What We Learned from Our Second Public Workshop

On June 11th, we hosted our 2nd of 3 public workshops to gather information from the community to develop streetscape guidelines and zoning recommendations.  Over 80 people attended the public workshop, which began with a brief presentation and overview of the planning process to date and followed by break-out sessions looking at zoning and streetscape options at the key "nodes" along the business district.

The presentation summarized the result of the 1st public workshop and provided background on how zoning and streetscape design alternatives were developed.  To help illustrate the potential extent of zoning changes, the consultant developed box illustrations of potential buildings if the business district was fully developed under different alternatives.

35th Ave Plan Public Workshop #2 from Wedgwood Community Council

After the presentation, 4 tables had been set up with posters illustrating potential streetscape design features and zoning alternatives.  Everyone was given a score sheet to fill out at each table where they were able to ask the consultants questions and provide feedback (see completed score sheets).  The consultants and members of the 35th Ave Committee were on hand to take notes.
The feedback from this 2nd public workshop will be used to refine the proposed zoning recommendations and streetscape guidelines which will be presented at the final July 31st public workshop at Messiah Lutheran Church from 7-9PM.  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Getting the Word Out

Every participant at each public workshop
was asked to place a pin on the map where
they lived. See where people came from.
UPDATE: On July 31st, 69 people attended the 3rd and final public workshop.  This means that 225 people attended and participated in at least 1 of the 3 public workshops.  After the public workshop, the proposed zoning recommendations and streetscape plan were posted on this website and a public feedback period opened for 2 weeks (August 1st-15th). A letter was also mailed to every landowner who's property would be affected by the proposed zoning recommendations.

As we approach our final public workshop on July 31st, we thought it would be a good idea to describe the public outreach and engagement that the 35th Ave Committee has undertaken to get the word out about this community-driven planning effort. Spreading the word is important to us so as many people, perspectives, and voices as possible are heard. There is only so much that we can do to get the word out, though. Ultimately, we need your help. We need you to tell your friends, family, and neighbors since word of mouth is the best form of outreach.

As we've written about before, this all grew out of the Wedgwood Vision Plan which occurred in 2010.  The vision plan showed that the community was dissatisfied with the 35th Ave NE business district and encouraged the community to undertake a neighborhood plan.

What Public Outreach/Engagement Have We Completed?
  • During January-February 2012 we hosted 2 public meetings to describe the planning process and invite people to join the 35th Ave Committee. One meeting was held in the Wedgwood and the other meeting was held in Ravenna-Bryant.  Together, 67 people attended these two meetings.
  • After these two meetings, the 35th Ave Committee partnered with the American Planning Association - Washington Chapter's, Community Planning Assistance Team to host 7 "coffee talks." These coffee talks covered a range of basic and introductory planning principals so that we as a community could become more educated on what is needed to make the business district more successful for both businesses and the community.  Together, 66 people attended these coffee talks.
  • We've hosted 2 neighborhood walks down 35th Ave NE to talk about the business district and streetscape.  
  • In 2013, we conducted a community survey of those that use the 35th Ave Business District.  The survey was largely completed online through a web-interface that was up for 6 weeks.  The Wedgwood Community Council, Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, and Ravenna Blog were all gracious enough to help advertise the survey.  Additionally, we had paper copies of the survey available at several businesses along the business district.  And finally, several members of the 35th Ave Committee took turns interviewing business district users at key intersections along the district to complete surveys.  In the end, 1,038 people completed the survey, 124 of which were submitted via paper copies.
  • In December 2013, we were awarded our grant from the City's Department of Neighborhoods to hire a consultant and assist us with the final steps of our planning process.  
  • In April 2014, we mailed a postcard to every resident within a 5 block radius of 35th Ave NE, between NE 65th St and NE 95th St, and every land owner along 35th Ave NE between these same cross streets.  The postcard provided a link to this website and had dates and locations for all three public workshops.  
  • We've posted flyers/posters at businesses along the business district and put up A-boards before every public workshop.  
  • The Wedgwood Community Council, Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, and Wedgwood View were all gracious enough to post the dates about all 3 public workshops on their websites.  Each public workshop has also been posted on the neighborhood social media website,  
  • In March-April 2014, we visited every business along the 35th Ave NE, between NE 95th St and NE 65th St.  We notified each business of our planning process and schedule, provided them a merchant survey for them to fill out, and invited them to a 'happy hour' event at the Wedgwood Ale House we called "Business & Beer."  We received 20 completed merchant surveys from businesses, which represents approximately 24% of the businesses within the district.  
  • A total of 156 people attended our first 2 public workshops (75 people for public workshop 1 and 81 people for public workshop 2).  136 attendees were unique at 20 of which attended both public workshops.  
  • In July, we mailed out a 2nd postcard to everyone who lives within 5 blocks of 35th Ave NE.
We've been trying to get the word out for over 2 years about this planning effort.  While we've made great progress, we could use your help.  Tell your neighbors, friends, and family about this planning process. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Results Are In. Respondents Want Retail Areas on 35th Ave NE Designated as Pedestrian Zones.

(19) & (20) are proposed Pedestrian Zones
along 35th Ave NE.
As we wrote about earlier, the City of Seattle is considering designating retail areas within existing commercial areas as "Pedestrian Zones."  Earlier this year, 902 respondents completed a survey hosted by the City to collect data on whether or not these areas should be designated as Pedestrian Zones. Of those that responded to the citywide survey for 61 different potential pedestrian zones, 14% of the responses were for the Wedgwood-North area and 6% of the responses were for the Wedgwood-South area.  When these respondents were asked, "Should this ("Wedgwood - North" and "Wedgwood - South") area be designated as pedestrian zone," the results were:

Wedgwood - North 
Yes = 70%
No = 9%
Unsure = 20%

Wedgwood - South 
Yes = 69%
No = 17%
Unsure = 15%

This designation would include adopting rules that would only apply to those parcels within the Pedestrian Zone which would be enforced as those properties redevelop. The City has posted draft rules, intended to create a safer and more inviting pedestrian retail environment within the Pedestrian Zones, which include:

  • Require buildings to have pedestrian-oriented businesses (e.g., shops and restaurants on the ground floor)
  • Enhance pedestrian safety with rules on parking and driveway placement
  • Waive some parking requirements to encourage businesses to move into the area
The City is also considering rules that would:
  • Require overhead weather protection for new buildings
  • Limit businesses with drive-in lanes on the edges of  pedestrian zones.
  • Establish a minimum size for new development in areas designated as "Urban Centers, "Urban Villages" or "Station Overlay Districts" (Note: 35th Ave NE is not designated as such.)
No decision has been made by the City as the survey and its results are still only part of the public engagement process.  Over next couple of months, the City will be finalizing its analysis and recommendations.  But if the majority of those who responded to the Wedgwood - North and Wedgwood - South areas have anything to say, they may be designated in the future.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

We Surveyed the Businesses and Here's What They Said!

Our data suggests that most people who use the 35th Ave NE business district don't consider it their primary business district and when they do visit the businesses it's for short and specific trips. While our data also suggests that 92% of those surveyed would like more retail than there currently is along 35th Ave NE, we also learned from our very first Coffee Talk that businesses, including retail, need shoppers in order to survive.  So in March and April of 2014, we reached out to the businesses by visited every business and asking them to complete a short merchant survey and invited them to an event we hosted for them at the Wedgwood Ale House, which we called "Business and Beer."  The intent of this was to listen to our businesses, learn what their needs were, and inform them of our 35th Ave NE planning effort.

Of the 83 businesses we've previously inventoried along our business district, we collected 20 completed surveys which represents about 24% of the business district.  Unfortunately, the survey monkey tool that we've used in the past has changed their export formats so they're less reader-friendly on websites.  But, here is the data collected (XLS download) and a summary of of the results (PDF). (Disclosure: We have removed the name of each business that responded from the survey results for their privacy.)

Here's what we learned!
  • The average length of time businesses have been along 35th Ave NE is 18.3 years!
  • Business seems to be generally okay, with a slight improvement over the past 2 years. 
  • 60% of businesses who responded leased their spaces while 40% own.
  • Leases are generally 3-5 years.
  • On average, 72% of customers are from the neighborhood while 42.8% of customers are from outside the neighborhood.
  • Most customers appear to be white (81.7%) and between the ages of 30-65+.  
  • Business have described the uniqueness of the 35th Ave NE business district with such words as: "friendly community," "hidden," "charming," "quiet," "Mayberry," "neighborhood," "suburban," "restaurant-poor," "spread out," "homey," "lots of families," "close-knit," and more.
  • Business described the greatest strengths of the business district as: "a good mix of businesses," "everything is close and people are very friendly," "a large amount of independent businesses," "local vendors, friendly people," "prevalence of small locally owned business," and more.  
  • Business described the weaknesses of the business district as: "a lack of a chamber of commerce," "would like more open/green space," "need more updated restaurants in the area, catering to younger crowds," "parking," "no larger space to accommodate other businesses," "spread out patches of businesses," "restaurant 'poor', daytime only business district, just 1 street (no depth)," and more.
  • In general, businesses would like to see improved pedestrian safety, improved promotions and advertising, and improved storefront appearances/window displays/signage.  
  • According to businesses, the changes needed to improve the business district include: "updated facades, new zoning regulations, a bit more variety," "defend 35th against the cycle track...," "better parking and better signage," "better businesses, pretty outdated," and more.
  • Things that are preventing changes that could improve the business district include: "zoning and funding," "the City," "getting organized as a business community with agreed upon goals," "not enough land," and more.
  • According to the businesses surveyed, the biggest needs for our business district include: "integration, coherence," "parking...," "always more customers and encourage them to shop in the business district," "drive new customers...," "more businesses," "higher density," "attracting new customers/patients," "more foot traffic," and more.
  • The business types most desired by the businesses who responded include: "family oriented retail," "restaurants, deli," "a hardware store...," "restaurants," "all kinds, but especially more retail," "more retail! - restaurants and coffee shops," "small restaurants," and more.
Many of these responses echo what we learned during our first Coffee Talk (The Conditions Needed for Neighborhood Businesses).  There also appears to be a lot of overlap between those improvements desired by the businesses, as reflected in the merchant survey results, and the users/shoppers of the business district, as reflected in our 35th Ave NE Business District Survey.  Both businesses and shoppers would like to see improved retail and restaurants; protecting the prevalence of small, locally owned businesses; and improved pedestrian safety.  Businesses and shoppers also appear to be concerned with maintaining or improving convenient and available parking.

These survey results and the contact information provided were shared with those businesses who responded to help them organize among themselves if they so chose. We have also shared with them information on the Seattle's Office of Economic Development's Only in Seattle Initiative, which is intended to assist business district like the 35th Ave NE business district.  

Friday, May 23, 2014

What We Learned From You at Our First Public Workshop

On April 22nd, we held our first public workshop to about 80 people where our consultant team (Makers & SvR) led a short presentation on the planning and data gathering that's already occurred, the goals of our planning effort, and the existing conditions of the 35th Ave Business District.  After which, community members spent the rest of the meeting in 8 small groups working together to discuss land use, building types, and streetscape features along the business district.

The group exercises included marking up a map of the business district with comments on the business district and then reviewing photographs and ranking different building sizes, types, and designs as well as different streetscape design features.  After about 45 minutes of group time, each group presented a summary of the group exercises to the rest of the participants.  Comments, questions, and conversation grew out of these presentations while the consultants took notes.  Here's what we learned.

Click on the image for larger PDF of results.

Using these results and the data collected from the 35th Ave Survey Results, the consultant team will develop zoning and streetscape design alternatives for the 35th Ave Business District to present at the upcoming Public Workshop 2, on Wednesday, June 11th, 7-9PM, at Messiah Lutheran Church.  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

"Life Along the Corridor" - Guest Post

The following post is a summary of the first public workshop posted on the Wedgwood Community Council's website and written by Valarie Bunn, lauded NE Seattle historian, who attended the public workshop.

The arterial 35th Ave NE is the main business and commercial corridor of the Ravenna, Bryant, View Ridge and Wedgwood neighborhoods, including the areas from NE 65th to 95th Streets. There are zoned “commercial areas” at the intersections of NE 65th, 70th, 75th, 85th and 95th Streets. For a pedestrian walking along the 35th Ave NE corridor, there are some places to eat and shop, and places to access businesses and services such as churches and the library. There are other stretches of the corridor which don’t have much to offer. Some of the commercial “nodes” are underdeveloped or have aging buildings which may be targeted for redevelopment. When trudging along 35th Ave NE as a pedestrian, how well-designed is the streetscape? Is it safe, convenient and functional? Are there clusters of businesses and services which are accessible on foot?

The Future of 35th Ave NE
The Future of 35th Ave NE project kicked off on April 22, 2014, with an introduction to land use, building character, and streetscape design.  Then community work groups gathered around tables to identify key issues. This project is grant-funded and is led by consultants from MAKERS Architecture and Urban Design, and SvR Design which includes landscape architects.  These same consultants worked with Wedgwoodians on the Vision Plan completed in 2010.  The current 35th Ave NE project builds upon the principles established in the Vision Plan. The evaluation questions of the current project include asking how the form and function of the pedestrian streetscape on 35th Ave NE will help create a safe and vibrant business district. What the 35th Ave NE project is not, is a “City” program which would address the roadway itself and traffic issues. What the project scope is intended to do, is create documentation for concerns for safe-crossing to businesses and services and the kinds of commercial options endorsed by neighborhood residents. With that documentation we can then interact with the City on issues of streetscape design, commercial zoning and the design of business buildings.

A More Vibrant Commercial District
In survey results which are posted on the project page, 92% of respondents wanted increased commercial services along the 35th Ave NE corridor. This may require some redevelopment in present “empty spaces” and in older, low-rise buildings. Businesses need to be clustered together for viability, rather than strung out in isolated spots. Pedestrian safety and comfort have direct impacts on local business districts. In a recent project in the University District, businesses enjoyed a 6.18% increase in sales within the first four years after the street improvements. Vacancies of commercial storefronts decreased there, and one business owner said that better street lighting had increased sales by creating a safe nighttime shopping experience for his store.

Getting Ahead of Development
We know that some businesses along 35th Ave NE are in old buildings, and the property owners are beginning to turn over control to the “next generation” of their family. We are likely to see some of the present buildings replaced by new ones. To have a say in what will be built, we must get ahead of the projects by providing a framework of what is wanted by neighborhood residents, supported by zoning regulations and needed improvements to streetscape.

One of the biggest “wake-up calls” in Wedgwood neighborhood history was the construction of what is now the Jasper Apartments at 8606 35th Ave NE, completed in 2012. By the time it was learned that a new four-story building was to go in, it was very difficult to have any input with the developers because they had already drawn up plans and applied for permits. It costs money for developers to do all the architectural plans and they resisted changes to the building requested by neighbors, because it would cost more money for re-drawing. One of the purposes of the present 35th Ave NE project is to document streetscape and building-type plans to be presented to and consistently requested from developers, so that future commercial buildings along 35th Ave NE would meet the needs of residents.

Join In, Let Your Voice be Heard
The Future of 35th Ave NE project has been endorsed by the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association and the Wedgwood Community Council. Anyone who lives in the area or uses the 35th Ave NE commercial corridor is invited to participate in the project. It’s not too late for you to join in on the process and let your voice be heard for improvements along the 35th Ave NE corridor. The next public workshop will be on Wednesday, June 11, from 7 to 9 PM at Messiah Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, 7050 35th Ave NE. This workshop will address streetscape design and zoning: effective tools to balance competing interests along the linear and fragmented business district of 35th Ave NE. We need your voice! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Save The Dates: Public Workshops Scheduled on the Future of 35th Ave NE

We have scheduled 3 PUBLIC WORKSHOPS for our consultant team to listen and learn from the community about what they hope 35th Ave NE looks like in the future.  Each public workshop will be held in the Fellowship Hall at Messiah Lutheran Church at 7050 35th Ave NE (across the street from Starbucks).

The information captured at these public workshops, along with the data received through the Wedgwood Vision Plan and Survey and 35th Ave NE Business District Survey, will be used to develop streetscape design guidelines and zoning recommendations to help shape the future of 35th Ave NE as the inevitable change occurs.  This planning process is occurring thanks to a grant received by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

Please help us spread the word by telling your friends, family and neighbors!

Add these public workshops to your calendar, here: HTML, ICAL, XML

Saturday, March 22, 2014

We've Selected A Consultant! Introducing Makers & SvR.

You may recall that the 35th Ave Committee was awarded a Small & Simple grant by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods to hire a planning and urban design consultant to assist us with developing streetscape guidelines and zoning recommendations. You may also recall that we released a request for qualifications (RFQ) to solicit responses from qualified consultants.

We were privileged to have had 3 very qualified consultants respond to our RFQ for our review. Ultimately, we selected a consultant team of Makers Architecture & Urban Design and SvR Design. You can review the consultant team's response to our RFQ by clicking on the image at right. Both firms, Makers and SvR, are exceptionally well regarded and have a lot of experience working on similar projects. Makers worked with the Wedgwood Community Council on developing their Vision Plan in 2010.

Since making our selection, we have met with the consultant team and met with the City with the consultant team to refine scope and expectations. We are currently working to schedule three upcoming community workshops in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Are Pedestrian Retail Areas Coming to 35th Ave NE?

The City's Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has begun a Pedestrian Retail Areas evaluation to identify suitable retail areas which warrant greater pedestrian-friendly design requirements.  As part of the evaluation, they've mapped existing and potential pedestrian retail areas to define the study area and developed preliminary recommendations for parts of the 35th Ave NE Business District, which include: Wedgwood North and Wedgwood South.  The preliminary recommendations for both of these areas is to designate them as a "pedestrian area."

Along with the mapping and designation of pedestrian retail areas, the City is looking at additional design requirements for these areas to encourage and enhance pedestrian uses, including:
  • Require wider sidewalks, 
  • Require overhead weather protection, 
  • Limit driveways from crossing sidewalks, 
  • Restrict parking facilities from the front or sides of parcels,
  • Require a minimum floor area ration (FAR) for new development.
It's important to note that this process is a City-driven planning process that's separate to the streetscape design process that the 35th Ave Committee is just beginning.  However, there appears to be a lot of shared goals between both of these planning processes.  It's also important to note that the City is just beginning its public outreach and engagement for this planning process and is soliciting input.  TAKE THE CITY'S PEDESTRIAN RETAIL AREA SURVEY HERE (it's really quick!).

The City's plan is to finalize their recommendations after receiving feedback on their preliminary recommendations between April - July 2014.

For more information, check out the City's Pedestrian Retail Areas website.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Polygon Northwest Unveils Early Design for the Children's Home Society Revelopement on NE 65th Street

The Polygon Homes Northwest team has unveiled their early design review package for the "Bryant Heights" redevelopment of the Children's Home Society of Washington site, located north of Assumption on NE 65th Street.  You can download their design review package here.

The Polygon NW design team presenting at the
 Jan. 13, 2014 the Early Design Guidance Meeting. 
There are three zoning designations on the former CHSW property: NC1-30, LR2, and SF-5000.  Due to the commercial zoning on the south side of the site, along NE 65th Street, the developer has to undergo a public design review process for that portion of the redevelopment. They held their first design review meetings for this part of the property last night, at the University Heights building.  The City will complete their own internal "streamlined" design review for multifamily housing proposed in the middle section of the site, which is zone LR2.  The northern limits of the site, which is zoned single family, does not require a design review.

Preferred "massing" with three buildings along NE 65th ST.
Last night, however, was the early design review meeting for the project before the Northeast Design Review Board and about 35 members of the public who attended.  The team presented three "massings" of the commercial site although focused on their preferred design: three buildings along NE 65th Street with an interior 18-20 foot courtyard, commercial spaces at the corners, live-work units in between, and a setback frontage to activate the NE 65th Street pedestrian environment.  In general, the members of the public appeared pleased with the design concept and the thoughtful consideration that the design team conveyed.  However, there were some comments from the Northeast Design Review Board and public about preservation of existing trees (the design is configured around preserving a couple exceptional trees in the center of the site), balancing public space along the frontage versus the interior courtyard, considering future bike facilities on the NE 65th Street and 32nd Ave NE, architectural design style, parking, and other items.
Concept sketch of the preferred massing from the
southwest (Bryant Cafe at left).

The Ravenna Bryant Community Association has been coordinating with the Polygon Homes Northwest team.  For future information on the project and additional design review meetings, please make sure to follow the RBCA's website.  The Ravenna Blog also attended the early design review meeting last night and had a live blog of the meeting, which you can read here.

35th Ave Committee Releases a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) To Hire a Planning & Urban Design Consultant

We shared the news earlier that we were lucky enough to be awarded a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant from the City's Department of Neighborhoods (DoN) to develop a streetscape plan and zoning recommendations in 2014.  Over the past few months, we have met with both the Seattle Dept. of Transportation (SDOT) and Dept. of Planning and Development to refine the project scope and schedule as well as finalize contracting with the DoN.  Now, we're ready to hire a consultant!

We have released an RFQ to solicit responses from interested and qualified consultants to help the 35th Ave Committee complete this exciting new step for the 35th Ave NE business district.  The RFQ can be accessed from the "RFQ" tab at the top of our website.  The deadline for responding to the RFQ is Valentines Day, February 14th.  After that point, we intend to have selected a consultant by February 21st.

Friday, January 10, 2014

SDOT Proposes a Cycle Track on 35th Ave NE

UPDATE: Last week, the City and those along Westlake Ave North who sued to stop the Bike Master Plan update reached an agreement. As such, the Bike Master Plan will continue to move forward under Council for review and adoption.

Over the past couple of years, SDOT has undertaken an update to the City's Bicycle Master Plan (BMP). The BMP is a document with a 20 year planning horizon and is intended to guide policy and budget direction.  The City had a huge public engagement process to gather input prior to issuing the Draft BMP in mid-2013. The Draft BMP included a variety of bike facilities, including neighborhood greenways and cycle tracks. Cycle tracks are bike lanes that are separated from vehicle traffic.

35th Ave NE (from NE 65th St to NE 125th St) was identified for a cycle track in the Draft BMP, as was a NE 65th Street.  The Seattle Bike Blog does a nice job of describing the original draft HERE.  Once the Draft BMP was issued and the extent of bike facilities was identified, there were concerns raised by some business owners and residents near NE 65th Street. SDOT has since revised the Draft BMP, including the configuration of bike facilitates on NE 65th Street.  However, it has not pleased everyone.

Recently, we were made aware of a flyer (PDF) passed out to businesses along 35th Ave NE by a person/group identifying himself as the "35th Ave NE Committee."  This flyer explains that a cycle track is proposed on 35th Ave NE, describes what this person believes would happen to 35th Ave NE should a cycle track be developed, and advocates for the business owner to contact the City to voice their concerns.  The flyer was handed out by one of the people responsible for organizing the opposition along NE 65th Street.

The 35th Ave Committee has not taken a position on the cycle track on 35th Ave NE.  We are not advocating for or against it, but have been aware of SDOT's plan.  PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS LETTER IS NOT FROM OUR COMMITTEE AND DOES NOT REPRESENT OUR COMMITTEES GOALS OR OBJECTIVES.  

Earlier this week, a lawsuit was filed against the City by a group of business owners on Westlake to delay the adoption of the updated BMP.  At this point, it's unclear when/if the BMP would be updated given this recent legal wrinkle.