Posts Tagged ‘South Lake Union’

Livability means a pedestrian scale

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Frequently in my posts and in opinion pieces I suggest we should organize our thinking about growth as a city into three distinct domains: affordability, livability and sustainability.

I am continuing to think through these domains and defining them in more detail. But when I think of livability the first thing that comes to my mind is pedestrian scale. . . . at 12th and Thomas

If Seattle did one thing to support livability as we work toward accommodating more growth, it would be prioritizing pedestrian travel. The pedestrian would be at the top of the hierarchy followed in descending order by bicycles, scooters, transit, freight, shared vehicles and at the very, very bottom single passenger cars.

Two examples come to mind of what I mean by pedestrian scale and they are at extreme ends of the continuum. The National Mall in Washington D.C. stands out as an example of being out of scale with pedestrian travel. Although it was designed before the rise of the automobile it represents the kind of Brobdingnagian scale that lends itself to cars rather than people. It’s just too damn big.A quiet oasis . . .

At the other end is 12th and Thomas, shown above and at left. A look at these pictures might lead you to think that this is in someone’s back yard or perhaps a park. But the fact that this little oasis is part of a sidewalk near a busy street can teach us something.

Building Seattle as if we had to walk everywhere will make our city more livable. It doesn’t just have to be more sidewalks and gutters.

Instead, humanizing our walkscape means less pavement and more landscaping, less impervious surface and more unpaved amenities. The oasis at 12th and Thomas won’t save the world but you really can’t appreciate it driving by in a car.

In case you blinked and missed it

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

September has been a busy month for Seattle land use. Here’s your primer on what’s going down and what’s going up.

South Lake Union looks up: The Department of Planning and Development released three up-zoning alternatives for South Lake Union. These are being studied in advance of the rezone there.

Inside the beehive

In one, residential towers could reach to 30 and 40 stories in most of the neighborhood. In another, most blocks would be up-zoned to 240 feet for both commercial and residential buildings. That’s about the height of 2200 Westlake.

In a third vision, commercial height increases would be minimal, with residential towers allowed to be 160 feet and 240 feet outside the Cascade blocks.

Most blocks in South Lake Union are now zoned at 65 to 85 feet.

Private improvements for Magnuson: Full council gave the nod to private renovation and leasing of two buildings at the Warren G. Magnuson Park at Sand Point.

Building 11 will get $8.5 million for environmental cleanup, seismic upgrades and fire protection. Building 11 LLC would pay $235,000 in annual rent to the city under a 30-year lease.

Arena Sports will invest more than $5.5 million in Hangar 27 for improvements and seismic upgrades. Arena Sports will pay $225,000 in annual rent under a 20-year lease.

Fort Lawton gets Green Light: A plan to turn the formal army reserve center into housing is headed to federal officials for approval. Council said OK to the semi-finalized proposal to build up to 79 single-family houses, 150 apartments and townhouses, and two new neighborhood parks on the 31-acre site.

The project could cost between $60 million and $80 million and is heavy on low-income housing, including three duplexes for Habitat for Humanity and 85 other low-income units.

McMansions reigned in: Full council is scheduled to vote Oct. 6 on design changes for single family zones aimed at curbing McMansions. Heights, lot coverage and garages would all see changes.

Looking ahead: Council’s transportation committee could voice its support for a streetcar network Monday morning, Mayor Greg Nickels gives his budget address Monday at 2 p.m. and a hearing on making the downtown developer bonus citywide is scheduled for Oct. 7 at 5:30 p.m.

Council will also vote on comp plan amendments, set the budget, likely rule on citywide incentive zoning and more well before the star is up on the old Bon Marche building.

Maybe you can rest your eyes in January. . .

SLU coffee shop wants giant Allen statue

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
Image from the campaign's Web site
South Lake Union’s copiously irreverent Kapow! Coffee is collecting signatures to erect a 300-foot statue in mock tribute to SLU uber developer and Microsoft founder Paul Allen.

As reported in the Seattle Times today, the coffee shop that also brought us those naughty T-shirts that mock the unfortunate acronym for the South Lake Union Trolley has now launched a petition drive to “Build the Giant Paul.”

They’re also holding a design contest for the statue, which they propose should stand in South Lake Union’s Cascade Park.

This news comes just days after the unveiling of Fremont’s new J.P. Patches statue. Fremont is also home to a Lenin statue, and of course, the Fremont Troll. Capitol Hill has a tribute to Jimi Hendrix on Broadway, Alki has its Lady Liberty, Leif Erikson stands over the marina at Ballard’s Golden Gardens and Seattle’s name source stands at the crossroads of Belltown and Lower Queen Anne.

Back to the future of South Lake Union

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

It seems like much of the city’s time is spent working on the future of South Lake Union.

No comment.

From trolleys and targeted up-zones to street redesigns and a new park (dedication shown at right) and trail, proposals for the hood once known as Cascade have kept city officials busy as bees in a hive for the past few years.

But what exactly should come next?

The Seattle City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee will hold a special meeting at noon Thursday to discuss the long-term vision for South Lake Union.

While they’re at it, they’ll bring out the crystal ball on Uptown, too.

The meeting will be held in Council Chambers on the Second Floor of City Hall at 600 Fourth Ave.

Presenters include John Coney and Steven Paget- in charge of the “visioning” process, Craig Hanway of the Queen Anne Community Council, John Savo of the South Lake Union Friends and Neighbors Community Council, Sharon Lee of the Low Income Housing Institute and Michael McGinn, director of the Seattle Great City Initiative.

A neighborhood-wide up-zone for South Lake Union is in the works and could come before council later this year.

Should city take donations for SLU study?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

South Lake UnionPlans to up-zone South Lake Union to allow taller buildings could move forward with a little help from some outside cash.

The Seattle City Council on Monday approved a bill that lets the city accept up to $300,000 in donations to help pay a consultant to conduct a study and environmental impact statement required for the area rezone. That money could come from public or private sources, according to the bill.

Department of Planning and Development Deputy Director Alan Justad said the city’s action is intended to let the community know that it is accepting outside funding.

“This has been public that we’re looking for money to get this done,” he said.

In 2004, South Lake Union was designated as an urban center to recognize expected growth there. But much of the area is still zoned for lower-density development.

The prospect of getting as a tenant helped Vulcan Inc. get an early two-block up-zone last December.

Council is expected to vote on a neighborhood up-zone next year.