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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Queen anne’s Future Cosmopolis?

Posted by on July 25 at 17:40 PM

Last night was the long-awaited public meeting on Queen Anne Hill where architects unveiled their new plan for the transformation of the Metropolitan Market on Queen Anne Ave. into a block-long QFC and housing development titled “Queen Anne Place.”


The tension in the room was more than palpable — it was audible. An estimated 150 people of all ages filled the seats in the oven-like Bethany Church and when a community council member announced that QFC donated bottled water for the meeting, many audience members actually heckled, “BOO!” The Cox family, which owns and is developing the property, was brave enough to show up and a property manager made sure to mention after the family’s brief introduction, “The Coxes are not `property developers,’ they inherited the property.”

There’s nothing like an architect’s 30-minute description of massing studies to bore an audience into a submissive lull, however. After seeing the new plans for the project, many people took the time to thank the building owners for working with the public instead of just building an ugly but sellable monstrosity. This is the second time the “inheritors-not-developers” have come before the Queen Anne public and audience and community council members alike commented that the new plan looked much better than the one presented in January.

In response to vociferously expressed community concerns about the removal of apartments and a pedestrian-friendly environment, the architects reconfigured the four-story building from retail only with second-story parking to having only retail on the first floor and 55 housing units on the other three floors.

As Scott Smith, of Queen Anne Neighbors for Responsible Growth, said, “We presented six points specifically, this plan addresses two, borderline three, of them.” QANRG is upset with the basic plan of the development: replacing the local Metro Market with a QFC.

The main issues community members take with design of the project all stem from its size. This QFC is going to be 43,200 square feet and most of the comments made at the meeting regarded the Queen Anne Ave faΓ§ade of the building — break it up! But not disjointed! — and the traffic/noise/pollution created by the QFC delivery trucks.

In response to this, the architects reduced the size of the QFC and made room for three small retail units on the ground floor. The 360 ft. long side of the building facing Queen Anne Ave is going to be broken up with modulation and entrances into the upper story apartments. Architect Lee Page said the building would look like it was owned by three different owners, though still allow for continuity. Here’s a picture of the second-story apartments that gives you the jist of the modulation:


To see more pictures of the proposed project, or to marvel at the bitter fighting between Slog commenters, check out last week’s post.

Next up: the design gets reviewed by the city. As Monday’s meeting proved, every single step of the way on this project is going to be arduous.

CommentsRSS icon

I'm a former QA resident, and I still care greatly about my favorite hill. I used to shop at the MM in preference to Safeway so I understand some of the concerns at least. All that said, were any of the comments at the meeting favorable to the new design? It's hard for me to visualize how it would it in -- One mass would be tough to take, but is there enough setback, enough "break" in the side of the building, to give some air to the Ave?

The new plans sound pretty good to me, but I still hate QFC.

What's wrong with you people. MetMar rocks. QFC? Might as well just go ahead and make it a Winco instead. Bleh.

This is obviously a grand conspiracy organized by Trader Joe's.

My ideal scenario: that shithole Safeway loses all its business, decides to move out instead of renovating and improving, perhaps that property is developed similarly as well, and a new and improved Met Market ends up in that space (check out the one near Sand Point for an example of what a new and improved Met Market might look like).

I am wondering how long it will be before QFC takes power over stone way, where it bought the old safeway. first they ate the old Food Giant on 45th,(like "wallingford really replaces that fab sign) then a chunk of broadway, now queen anne...did they think we wouldn't notice?

Did anyone else notice that the Metropolitan Market is a big fat yuppiehole? It doesn't even have a better selection of natural/organic/vegetarian foods than QFC. Just take a QFC, raise the prices of everything by 20%, scatter some $100 blocks of cheese and some shit from the Pottery Barn around, and you have the Metropolitan Market. I'm not a fan of the trend of all foodstuffs in Seattle originating from the Kroger Corporation, but give me a break. Once I tried to count on my fingers all the non-whites in a Metropolitan Market but I got tired of making fists for so long.

This development is just another sign that Queen Anne is slowly becoming an actual part of the city instead of Bellevue West.

The part I'm not getting is how the neighbors think they can or should decide who the tenant is. I mean, I understand if they don't like QFC they can scare them away with NIMBY tactics. But how do you say "no, we want this other company there instead?" I don't get how that is supposed to work. What if I want Central Market to open a branch there instead; can I demand that?

Queen Anne is showing the type of attitude toward the development in their neighborhood that I would have expected Capitol Hill to take. Not just with this project, but with the proposed new fire station. I have no problem at all with a neighborhood saying they want to keep the independent market that's already there rather than accept a corporate grocery that can be found anywhere. Sure, QA is full if yuppies, but if yuppies can make developers - I'm sorry, inheritors of land they have no choice but to develop - think about the content of their development instead of assuming that everyone wants a corporate big box store shoved down their throats, then I'm cheering for the yuppies.

With the caveat that we are just seeing a top-down elevation view, I'm actually rather impressed that the developer has actually changed this project in response to community comment - it is noticably different from the previous iteration, which is an unusual outcome in the Design Review process .

It seems like this is a voluntary change on the part of the developer to address some of the criticism the project has generated - whether the City will hold him to this (or some other) compromise plan rather than what he is legally allowed to build may or may result in a different outcome .

Now if he could just get a different anchor tenant (I'd say Trader Joe's if Metropolitan Market doesn't want/can't afford it...)

Neighbors certainly have the right to organize for what they want--or don't want, as is usually the case on Queen Anne. But they should be careful what they wish for.

Not too many years back, Metropolitan Market tried to build a similar development. A great hue and cry went up all over the hill. "Apartments! Cars! Not Right For Queen Anne!" they cried. The Metropolitan Market folks decided they couldn't make a new development pencil out that would make the villagers happy and so they went away. They actually are the same company that owns the Central Market on north Aurora and other stores.

They haven't made much money at the store in a while. Grocery stores that size have a tough time competing unless they specialize like Trader Joe's.

Enter the evil Kroger corporation with their deep pockets and strong desire to go toe to toe with Safeway in the Northwest. Personally, I am no fan of Kroger, but a QFC in what looks like a reasonably nice development is not exactly urban blight.

So--if the neighbors are successful in driving QFC away after they drove Met Market away--who is going to want to develop that spot? The hassle might not be worth it. The owners should then shutter the store and put a chain link fence around the parking lot until the neighbors want to talk about what is realistic to build there.

I'll wait for the new Whole Foods in Interbay, thanks.

Wah, wah, wah. It's a supermarket, people. You already have Safeway. and the Met Market?...whatever. It's a supermarket -- where you get food from. Yeah, such a travesty.

You suddenly hate QFC? Yup, typical Seattle "What, what?...No, no!"

Your best strategy is to just keep shopping at Safeway like you already do (unless your advantage card gets you $6 a pound off of king crab legs, probably), or, hey, support your local store and shop at Ken's, or shop at Trader Joe's. Or, if you're really that hurt, drive up to Sand Point and shop at the Met Market there.

QFC, a "big box". Ha, ha, that's awesomely funny. Pardon me while I pop down the road to Starbux or maybe Tullys -- I'll sit by the fire there for a time. Ha, ha.

Oh, and build a fire station somewhere else, too. But you better fucking hustle up the hill if my tabby can't climb down the tree.

Waaah! Waah! I want Queen Anne to stay bland and as much like the suburbs as possible. I want to live in a city but don't want density. Waaah! Waaaah!

I live on Queen Ann and I must say I love it because it feels like a small town unto its self but only 5 min from down town. I HATE living in the City but I have to for jobs and School. I don't think a QFC is going to kill it but I wish they would take over the frickin Safeway instead. Safeway is over priced and not even that nice. I say leave the MM and get rid of the Safeway. besides Queen Anne could use some more apartment living.

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