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South Lake Union – Before, and Which After?

April 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Land Use, NBBJ

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slu alternativesLast week we ran a story regarding the public meeting on March 28th which focused on the City of Seattle’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the South Lake Union Height Alternatives, outlining four Alternatives, or plans, for the future development of South Lake Union (planning for the next 25 years and beyond).  The Draft EIS was compiled by the City’s Department of Planning and Development.  We stayed for 35 minutes of the public commentary and during that time, most of the speakers advocated Alternative One, which offers the greatest height and density zoning.

You can hit this link, select the Draft EIS plan, then go to Section 3.10, Aesthethics, and see how all the Alternatives stack up visually. Draw your own conclusions as to what you think would be best for South Lake Union.  Our attachment here only focuses on the Alternative 1 scenario, but it presents some compelling visions as to the full potential of SLU.  slu alt 1 graphics print

How the Alternatives differ:

Alternative 1 – outlines the greatest potential for height and density increases for commercial and residential development

Alternative 2 – mid-point between Alternatives 1 and 3, it contains lesser height and density increases for commercial and residential development

Alternative 3 – provides the least potential for height and density increases, and only cover residential  development

Alternative 4—“no action”, retaining existing zoning, and no height increase incentives

Finally, two things that all the Alternatives will share: it was stated during the March 28th meeting that there will be no changes to current shoreline designations, and that views to designated South Lake Union viewpoints would not be obstructed.

If you would like to read more about any of these Alternatives, please go to the full Draft EIS on this link.  It’s 659 pages long, but the document is also broken out by sections.   The DOPD engaged a number of consultants to help prepare the Draft EIS, and the Alternatives renderings shown here and in the Draft EIS were done by NBBJ, which worked on aesthetics, light/glare, shadows and viewshed for this project.

Finally, if you have comments or opinions, good or bad, about which Alternative to select– or about anything else covered in the Draft EIS, send an email to jim.holmes@seattle.gov no later than Monday, April 11. After that, the DOPD will commence work on a Final EIS, which should be finished this summer.  We’ll let you know when that report is released.

Map: USGS, 1897– from the Draft EIS

South Lake Union – What the People Said

March 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Land Use

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People had a LOT to say at a March 28th meeting sponsored by the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development.  Held at Unity Church in South Lake Union, around 200 attendees learned about, and provided, inital feedback on SLU’s future– as currently outlined on 659 pages.

slu roadSouth Lake Union was first designated as an Urban Center in 2004, and since then the City has been working on a 25-year plan to fully utilize the area’s potential. Its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the South Lake Union Height Alternatives addresses plans to:

  • Develop a more diverse and attractive community with a mix of housing types and land uses, plus defined building types and heights.
  • Use height and density increases to meet other goals such as increased affordable housing and open space, plus public benefits through incentive zoning.
  • Enhance street-level pedestrian quality with public view corridors and retail activities.
  • Provide a full transportation system including street networks, transit and non-motorized travel. 
  • Maintain utility systems (electrical, water, sewer and storm drains).
  • Ensure adequate zoned development capacity for long-term growth.

slu militaryDisplay boards highlighted the four Alternatives, or plans, as outlined in the Draft EIS. Attendees discussed the Alternatives with DOPD staff members and consultants.   A presentation by the City followed, explaining how the Draft EIS will work as a tool for the City and its residents to assess the pros and cons of each Alternative.  You can find the plan on this link.  We stayed for the first 35 minutes of commentary (two minutes per person).  Most of those speakers seemed to have read the Draft EIS from cover to cover.

The first stated that 50% of new city populations develop in Urban Centers, and South Lake Union is the most expandable (Seattle) area to accommodate that.

slu streetcarA rep from the construction sector was very enthusiastic about the possibilities of South Lake Union development.  He commented that it’s very flat, very buildable– a real opportunity to build for the future, with a focus on its growing industries such as UofW Research, Fred Hutchinson, and amazon.com.  A restaurant owner later stated that strong residential growth keeps small businesses thriving, too.

Another speaker was dismayed to detect negativity in the Draft EIS, which she felt didn’t expand on the qualities that South Lake Union has and could have. She was also adamant that she and her Gen Y peers would not live in “a city full of Pete Seeger’s Little Boxes on the Hillside” (actually written by Malvina Reynolds).

draft eis 2Most of the speakers, including a surprising number of residents, supported Alternative 1, which carries the greatest height and density levels.  They were tempered by concerns that the Draft EIS made little or no mention of public transportation and services other than police and fire (worries about those, too).  They said it didn’t seem to address families with children, and there was no mention of plans for schools.

Although Alternative 1 was a clear choice among those we heard, others wanted to ensure the City would strive to retain a strong cross-section of residents. We paraphrase one speaker who said she’d “rather have a good mix of 27,000 instead of an 18,000 mix of millionaires.”

Since Alternative 1 was so popular, we’ll provide more details on it in a few days.  To comment on the Draft EIS, send an email to jim.holmes@seattle.gov by Monday, April 11th, the last day for public input. After that, they’ll begin work on a Final EIS for summer release.  We’ll let you know when.

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South Lake Union Changes: Good? Bad? Your Call

March 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Land Use

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What do the words “height”, “density”, “commercial” and “residential” all have in common?  They’re all a major part of the plans to reshape the South Lake Union neighborhood.  Changes of all kinds are coming to this area–  and you can hear all about it on Monday evening.

Draft EIS note: "Source: South Lake Union Urban Center Neighborhood Plan, 2007"

Draft EIS note: "Source: South Lake Union Urban Center Neighborhood Plan, 2007"

First, let’s look at the definition of the South Lake Union Urban Center as determined by the City:  SLU covers nearly 340 acres and is located in the center of the City of Seattle.  Geographical boundaries are the Lake Union Shoreline to the north, Denny Way to the south, Interstate 5 to the east and Aurora Avenue to the west.  Adjoining neighborhoods place SLU north of Downtown, with Capitol Hill to the east and Uptown to the west.  The City went deeper into its SLU definition by identifying six “neighborhoods”, referred to as Dexter, Denny Park, Waterfront, Westlake, Fairview and Cascade.  The map to the right roughly outlines these areas.

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the South Lake Union Height Alternatives was written by the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development.  You can find the plan on this link.  Review it in the sections they have outlined instead of all at once… the full Draft EIS is 659 pages long.  It’s a pretty dense report, as you can imagine, so if you’d rather cut to the chase, here’s some highlights.  The Draft EIS addresses:

  • A more diverse and attractive community by providing a mix of housing types and  land uses, plus defined building types and heights.
  • Using height and density increases to help meet other neighborhood goals such as increased affordable housing and open space, plus other public benefits through incentive zoning.
  • Enhancing street-level pedestrian quality with public view corridors and retail activities .
  • Accommodating growth while maintaining a transportation system of street networks, transit and non-motorized travel. 
  • Maintaining utility systems including electrical, water, sewer and storm drain systems.
  • Ensuring adequate zoned development capacity for long-term growth.

draft eis 2There is no master plan for South Lake Union – yet.  Monday’s meeting will cover four initial ideas called Alternatives.  They’re defined as follows:

Alternative 1 – outlines the greatest potential for height and density increases for commercial and residential development

Alternative 2 – mid-point between Alternatives 1 and 3, it contains lesser height and density increases for commercial and residential development

Alternative 3 – provides the least potential for height and density increases, and only deals with  residential  development

Alternative 4—“no action”, retaining existing zoning, and no height increase incentives

We pulled an attachment out of the Draft EIS which better outlines how the Alternatives stack up the various areas of planning.  You can open it here:  slu draft eis alternatives

draft eis 3To learn more about the City’s plans for South Lake Union, come to a public meeting exploring the Draft EIS on Monday, March 28th, at Unity Church, 200 Eighth Avenue N in downtown Seattle.  The meeting will start around 5:30 p.m.  with an Open House, where City staff and the consultants will be available for questions. The public comment portion of the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.  Can’t make it?  Don’t worry.  We’ll be there, and we’ll follow up with a report on the evening’s events.

Another date to keep in mind is April 11th.  This will be the last day you’ll be able to provide comments to the City.  From there, they’ll review all the input and start work on the Final South Lake Union EIS.

We’ll keep in touch as the South Lake Union plans progress.

SLU Urban Design Framework Complete – Come Celebrate!

February 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Land Use, Lifestyle

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The South Lake Union Urban Design Framework (UDF) is completed and you’re invited to join the party!  Sponsored by the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development, it’ll be held on Tuesday evening, February 8th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Cascade People’s Center, located at 309 Pontius Ave N (cross is Thomas Street and two blocks west of Eastlake Ave E) in South Lake Union.

slu roadThe UDF is a collaboration among South Lake Union’s neighbors, City staff and design professionals.  Their goal is to establish a shared design vision and implementation strategy for the future of the SLU neighborhood.  Recommendations range from specific actions, such as creating a new community center at Denny Park; to broader strategies using building form and land use controls to create and maintain an active and inviting lakefront.

Key elements of the UDF include recommendations to create community gateways signifying entrance into distinct neighborhoods; developing neighborhood ‘hearts’ to serve as focal points of the neighborhood for people to gather and interact; and, to develop a network of great streets including green streets and festival streets.

rsz_park_cover_(640x480)Finally, the UDF will complement the City’s soon-to-be released Draft Environmental Impact Statement studying potential increases in height and density in the neighborhood.  Together, these documents will guide zoning code changes, design guidelines, infrastructure investments, streetscape planning, and a variety of other programs and policies shaping the public realm of South Lake Union.

The UDF is available online.  You’ll find it on the DPD website by clicking onto this link. It’s a 40 page .pdf file so it may take awhile to download.  And don’t forget to join the UDF Completion Celebration on Tuesday, February 8th at Cascade People’s Center from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.!

South Lake Union Park Grand Opening April 30th

April 1, 2008 by  
Filed under South Lake Union

Phase 1 of the new park will be open to the public at the end of the month. Sponsors are promising a free salmon bake, live music, boat rides and more. The opening will allow you to walk across the new pedestrian bridge to the 1.6 acres of green space along with the terraced steps overlooking the lake. To learn more, visit the Seattle Parks Foundation and we’ll hope to see you there!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFbT3E8UQN4&hl=en]

Amazon.com: 11 Buildings Totaling up to 1.6 Million Sq. Ft. of New Office and Street-Level Retail Space in SLU

January 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Enso, Rollin Street, Veer Lofts

This is great news for those who already have, or plan to purchase a new home in the South Lake Union neighborhood.

SLU Map for Amazon.com

Be sure to check out the following condos if you’re thinking about buying.

SLU Condos Enso 135 luxury condominiums that are part of our 2201 Westlake mixed-use project on the corner of Westlake Avenue N. and Denny Way, scheduled to open in spring 2009
Veer Lofts 99 artistic lofts featuring open, flexible floorplans on 9th Avenue and Harrison Street, scheduled to open in summer-2008
Rollin Street 208 SoHo-style flats on the northeast corner of Denny Way and Westlake Avenue N., expected to open in spring 2009