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.