City Does the City Have the Guts (and the Money) to Protect Pike-Pine?
posted by October 15 at 17:27 PMon
About 30 people milled around a room at Seattle Central Community College last night, cocking their heads to read color-coded maps of the Pike-Pine neighborhood. On one of the maps, yellow represented buildings that are susceptible to redevelopment.
The group had come to discuss ways to protect Pike-Pine’s older buildings, low-income renters, and arts organizations threatened by new development. Since 1990, Pike-Pine’s population increased 21.3 percent—mostly residents of new buildings—and 12 more buildings are in the works
“I think what many of us want to do here is retain the character of the neighborhood,” said City Council Member Tom Rasmussen. He commissioned a report, which was released in September, that makes several recommendations. Primarily, the strategies revolve around incentives for property owners to preserve the old buildings and their historic uses, such as payment for not redeveloping old buildings, bonuses for leaving facades intact, and limiting the footprint of new buildings. He expects to introduce legislation next year.
But several neighbors doubted whether incentives were enough to protect the neighborhood. Chip Wall, director of the Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council said the proposals lacked “teeth.”
“A lot of incentives are great, but they are not enough to preserve the buildings without land-marking each one of them,” said Betsy Hunter, director of property development for the low-income housing provider Capitol Hill Housing. The neighborhood has 278 buildings over 85 years old.
But Rasmussen wants to avoid landmark preservation as a strategy, even though it is listed as the last of the 10 recommendations in the report. “There could be so much push back from property owners,” he said after the meeting, that “it may not be worth it.” Instead he is trying to find a compromise that satisfies property owners, residents, and arts organizations.
Dennis Meier, a urban designer for the city’s Department of Planning and Development, says landmark nomination “would take a number of years to do, and substantial resources to do it.” But, he says, “there isn’t anything preventing it.”