On Saturday, October 1, about 60 concerned citizens of Madison Valley braved the first chill of autumn to listen to architect Peter Steinbrueck outline a strategy for his participation in the design review of the City Peoples Garden store site. The information and fund-raising event was sponsored by the group Save Madison Valley (SMV) and generously hosted by the Wyman sisters in Virginia’s horse corral.
Peter is the perfect consultant. He is an extremely friendly fellow who grew up in the neighborhood and has a clear-eyed, practical approach to the design review process. His tenure as a City Councilmember has given him an insider’s understanding of Seattle’s government. He has been hired as a paid consultant to the SMV group for about 6 months.
Peter reviewed the current status of the proposed project and outlined concerns of the community. These concerns have remained unchanged since the announcement of the project this past spring.
Peter emphasized that any effort to stop a building project altogether is a fruitless pursuit. Even if this company would pull out, another will develop the highly desirable property. His point was that it is in the best interest of the community to work together with the developer and come to a mutually acceptable design.
Some concerns with the current design are as follows:
SMV believes the overall scale of the building is out of sync with the surrounding architecture and adjacent single-family neighborhood. The proposed building will take up the entire footprint of the property although its overall bulk is 80% of what is allowable by the current zoning.
The parking garage’s south-facing outside wall is felt to be an affront to the neighbors on Dewey Place. This is a concern for the people who live behind the building. The architect has stepped back the setback in the new proposal, wrapped the cement in softer materials and will provide extensive landscaping. However, the wall would still seem imposing. The problem lies in the fact that the cement structure is the foundation for the building and will provide parking for customers of the grocery store and the apartment residents. But parking is essential. Without it, residents would obtain RPZ passes and park along the neighborhood streets further congesting the area. The reality is that people have cars.
The current proposed entrance to the resident parking area is on Dewey Place. The adjacent neighbors are opposed to this plan as an unfair traffic burden.
SMV members especially lament the potential loss of existing tree canopy and greenery on the hillside. Before this building proposal, the Dewey Place hillside was completely ignored by the community—it is a tangle of undesirable weedy plants and trees. Its predominately deciduous plants make it particularly unsightly in winter. The sidewalk is completely overgrown, muddy and impassable, yet this situation is reversible. With effort, the hillside could be cleared of the undesirables and replanted, but maintenance would be essential.
Additionally, the SMV group would like to see a mix of affordable apartments offered, some effort at “green building,” i.e. LEED architecture, and a nice streetscape on the north side.
Peter pointed out, as before, that this building proposal is in compliance with the current zoning for E Madison. It will probably be approved at some point.
An issue of perhaps greater consequence is the new HALA upzoning effort by the current city administration. Madison Valley—and all neighborhoods in Seattle—are at risk of even bigger and taller structures as our congested city searches for more housing and business viability.
The efforts of the SMV group to to encourage participation in the design review process are to be commended. Citizen participation in the neighborhood enables us to direct the life of our community. Hopefully, the momentum initiated by the City Peoples’ site will carry forward and residents will continue to participate in community and city planning.
The next design review for the proposal is:
October 26, 6:30 PM at Seattle University
824 12th Ave
Admissions & Alumni Comm Bldg- Student Center 160
Read more information on the design review process for this site.
To comment on this project, please send your comments on proposed land use actions in writing to the Public Resource Center either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (preferred method), by fax to (206) 233-7901, or by mail to:
Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections
ATTN: Public Resource Center or Assigned Planner
700 Fifth Ave, Ste 2000
P.O. Box 34019
Seattle, WA 98124-4019
Please include the project, project address, and your mailing address with your comment. We will post all comments, in their entirety, in our electronic library.
Planner: Magda Hogness
Project Number: 3020338
For more information regarding Save Madison Valley visit savemadisonvalley.org for details and suggestions for your input in this process.