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Monday, April 2, 2012

City Grants El Centro's Petition to Beef Up Property Height

Posted by on Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 2:46 PM

After two years of neighborhood in-fighting, city lobbying, and torturously long debate, today the Seattle City Council granted El Centro de la Raza's petition to build a 65-foot mixed use building on its Beacon Hill property—right next to the Beacon Hill light rail station. The development will include 115 units of affordable housing, a cultural performance center, and office and commercial space, according to the civil rights organization's executive director, Estella Ortega.

"We've seen the [building] designs, they look very neat!" enthused council member Richard Conlin. All eight present council members (Rasmussen was absent) voted to approve the change today, prompting eruptive applause in the Council Chambers.

"This decision comes just in time for us in celebrating our 40th anniversary," Ortega explained. "We're meeting with architects next week."

Neighbors famously fought the change in 2010 by arguing that giving El Centro an extra 25 feet of building height (the former limit was 40 feet) would result in a "loss of breathable space" as well as "other aesthetic impacts."


Comments (20) RSS

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Gurldoggie 1
This is great news. That empty lot has been both an eyesore and the City's greatest missed opportunity for years. Beacon Hill is going through a major renaissance, and this could be a key piece if done right. Who is actually developing the site, do you know?
Posted by Gurldoggie on April 2, 2012 at 2:51 PM · Report this
WTF is a "cultural performance space"?

Is that fancy-wordplay for "stage"?
Posted by fetish on April 2, 2012 at 2:53 PM · Report this

This is people can move their businesses away from down town.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on April 2, 2012 at 3:01 PM · Report this
1. breathing space good.
2. building height is only marginally related to breathing space.
3. for nicer development, work to increase (a) the distance between building fa ades, (b) the sidewalk width, and (c) the amenitization of the space between the buildings. A 80 story building rising straight up next to a 5 foot wide sidewalk is ugly; so is a 4 story or 6 story building rising straight up. Just getting 5 more eet of setback though, pushing open the public space, that's what makes it all more livable. that's how density coexists with livability. just filling up building envelopes everywhere with the IKEA (TM) BILLY MODEL MIXED USE BUILDING MODULES that all look the same, is a good way to make seattle more ugly.

After you establish a bigger setback, then you turn to sculpting the space in the setbacks and the corners and making little fountains or curvy paths (like the sidewalks in waikiki) or cut off corners to have a radial swoop in the building or a little curved driveway that provides some space that is neither "Street" nor "building" not "hello, I am a squashed 3 foot wide sidewalk that now has a 115 unit building next to me". The beautiful side of things just does not happen if all you argue about is building height. Pay more attention to the spaces BETWEEN the buildings.
Posted by enfant de l'enfant on April 2, 2012 at 3:04 PM · Report this
Good. Now maybe they'll approve the new Brooks HQ next to the dump in Wallingford.
Posted by c on April 2, 2012 at 3:38 PM · Report this
If Cienna had read the council action in its entirety, I believe she would find this is not just a rezone of El Centro's lot but rather a comprehensive update of zoning all around the Beacon Hill light rail station.

I was at the public hearing on this a few weeks ago, and all but one of the people testifying were FOR the neighborhood-wide rezones. Please don't characterize all Beacon Hillers as NIMBYS or obstructionist. Yes, it's too bad that City processes are so arcane that one appeal hung it up for so long, but you can fault the City for that, not the neighborhood.

Posted by Citizen R on April 2, 2012 at 4:18 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 7
They just got the lighting in for the parking lot that is due to open where the new culturally vibrant walkable world-class affordable housing is scheduled to go.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on April 2, 2012 at 4:25 PM · Report this
Let us follow the advice of @4, because gargantuan streets, airport-runway sidewalks, arbitrary plazas and other setbacks are exactly what make Century City, Los Angeles and Albany, NY the kind of "breathable" urban paradises we should emulate!

No, siree! Skinny sidewalks and 4-to-6-story buildings directly abutting them can never make for pleasant, attractive, airy, desirable urban environments!

What this city where it rains most of the year desperately needs is open space devoid even of tree cover, and for everything to be as far as humanly possible from everything else!!
Posted by d.p. on April 2, 2012 at 4:45 PM · Report this
@7. I know. It is rather disheartening to see a PARKING LOT being developed in the Centro de la Raza area. Ugh. But hopefully this rezone will bring us one step closer to some true development on Beacon Hill.
Posted by LikeItIs on April 2, 2012 at 4:58 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 10
Well, all indications point to it being a culturally vibrant walkable world-class affordable parking lot, if that's any consolation.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on April 2, 2012 at 5:05 PM · Report this
do you faggots really believe that those apartments will be affordable....
Posted by mosntoros on April 2, 2012 at 5:54 PM · Report this

Well, consider The Station at Othello.

Do you consider:

Studio 1.0 408 - 523 $753 - $1,040
1 bed 1.0 577 - 662 $871 - $1,376
2 beds 1.0 759 $1,198 - $1,806

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on April 2, 2012 at 6:18 PM · Report this
wait they can pay a whole thousand dollars to live in a 400 sq foot studio!? wow those single mothers of color are soo lucky! That being said the new development on McClellan behind QFC was in talks with Othello developers about architecture and on site ammanetiies so you can be sure that those appartments rates will be similar. Frankly Im glad that the city of seattle and developers is putting all these new ammentiies into the south end now especially as it steadily becomes more affluent (ie White...)

My prediction is 20 years from now Beacon Hill, Columbia city, MLK will all be upper middle class neighborhoods.
Posted by mosntoros on April 2, 2012 at 6:33 PM · Report this
As a beacon Hill resident I would like to see the designs....
Posted by mosntoros on April 2, 2012 at 6:37 PM · Report this
Greg 15
Sounds good to me. More foot traffic in that neighborhood, more eyes on the street at night, it's right next to the train station, and it does something with that empty lot (finally!). I'm sure the owners of the Red Apple, the Delite Bakery, and the Chinese grocery are also looking forward to this.
Posted by Greg on April 2, 2012 at 10:12 PM · Report this
Hooray! Yeah I live on Beacon and there are a few Pat Murakami clones who screech at any kind of development and loss of parking. That fast majority of Beaconians want urban density and amenities. That Centro building will replace the new parking lot no one has ever used.
Posted by cocktailer on April 4, 2012 at 1:31 PM · Report this
We can't wait for the Oak, also! Hooray again.
Posted by cocktailer on April 4, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
Greg 18
Now if only Sound Transit could find buyers for the two lots to the south of the station. Chain-link fence and gravel is not exactly transit-oriented development.
Posted by Greg on April 4, 2012 at 9:39 PM · Report this
@6 is correct--this isn't only about El Centro, it's the entire station overlay area. The majority if the community is happy with the 65' upzone and looking forward to responsible development. There are a few people who still wish we were getting 85', a few who wanted to leave things at 40', and some who hoped to extend the area of the upzone down the hill a ways. I guess you can call it in-fighting when neighbors attend dozens of meetings to hash out a compromise.

The appeal was part of a blatant attempt to stall development at all three of the ST stations undergoing Neighborhood Plan Updates--NOT a reflection of Beacon Hill community sentiment.

I'm disappointed there are parking lots right now, but I'm confident they're temporary.

@18 Some of the lots are privately owned by a family that isn't responding to offers.
Posted by MJ on April 5, 2012 at 2:29 PM · Report this
Yay for the defeat of a bunch of crypto-racist NIMBY fuckwads! Still, if it always talks two whole years just to get a useful project approved, housing in Seattle will never be affordable in aggregate.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on April 5, 2012 at 10:32 PM · Report this

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