Community Post

12th Ave Development Meeting

Here’s a forwarded message from Bill Zosel of the 12th Avenue Neighborhood Planning group. They’ve got an important meeting next Tuesday about the future of the area around 12th Avenue.

If you live around 12th or are interested in having more useful development along that street, you might want to plan on attending.

When: Tuesday, December 11, 2007, 5:30 P.M.
Where: Seattle Univ. Facils. Admin. Bldg., E. Cherry St. at 13th Ave. (1218 E. Cherry St.)
What: Meeting of all interested in 12th Ave. area neighborhood — You will be asked to take part in making a decision about the future of the 12th Avenue Plan.

The 12th Avenue Plan which consists of 50+ pages is not in electronic form. But, if you are interested in reading it contact steve.sheppard at Steve is the Dept. of Neighborhoods person who has been staffing the 12th Avenue Plan in the past.

In July many attended a meeting convened by the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) regarding the disposition of two lots owned by the City under the 12th Avenue Plan — a planning effort begun by neighborhood stakeholders in the early 1990’s. The two lots in question are at 12th and Jefferson, and 12th and James Ct. These are the last two 12th Avenue Plan lots remaining in City ownership. The others have been sold in order to support the implementation of the 12th Avenue Plan.

The 1992 12th Avenue Plan states “The Squire Park community has been beset with land use and transportation problems. Expansion of local institutions, most notably Seattle University and Providence Medical Center, has threatened to infringe on the residential neighborhood. Increased traffic congestion has reduced the quality of the environment, … . Local commercial services and recreational facilities have not kept pace with the neighborhood’ s needs. … (B)ecause the area is wedged between institutional neighbors and includes several blocks of large commercial/industri al activities, it has been difficult for the community to establish a cohesive identity with a recognizable design
character. In spite of these difficulties, the area has the potential to both support a vital residential neighborhood and meet the needs of a dynamic university and a major medical center.” In response to those perceived problems,the key elements of the 1992 12th Avenue Plan involved a land swap between Seattle U. and the City. The University got the land that now is the soccer field and tennis courts between 13th —14th Avenue — Jefferson and Cherry.The City got three sites containing eight individual parcels on Barclay Ct. and James Ct. as well as several larger sites on 12th and Columbia, 13th and Columbia, and 12th and Jefferson.

(The City received $180,000 in addition to the land from S.U.)
The Plan called for the City to sell the parcels it got to developers who would build housing and/or retail space. The proceeds from the sale of these parcels was put in a special fund to pay for capital improvements to make the 12th Avenue area more attractive to residents, businesses, and non-vehicle traffic.

In 1992 it was contemplated that the sale of the property would generate about $1.8 million for capital improvements in the 12th Avenue area. Some of the projects identified in the Plan were street and sidewalk improvements to 12th Avenue, traffic circles on 13th through 19th Avenues, and curb bulbs on 14th Avenue. Much, but not all, of that work has been completed. The major improvement to 12th Avenue — a planted median to make the street a “boulevard” more attractive to residential development on the street — was not pursued because of opposition from the Fire Department. A more costly element, undergrounding the 12th Avenue utility poles, or moving the wires to 13th, has not been implemented. Not all of the curb bulbs suggested for 14th Avenue
have been put in place, and several have not been landscaped.

Those attending the July, 2007 meeting voiced a consensus agreeing to a strategy to sell the two remaining City-owned sites (12th/Jefferson and 12th/James Ct.) to the Office of Housing and to the Parks Department, respectively, for no money.

The work envisaged by the Plan remains unfinished. With the money received from the sale of the property. many street and sidewalk improvements have been made. However many of the problems which the City committed to help solve in 1992 await further City action. The 1992 plan noted that, with over ten thousand employees in nearby university and medical center jobs, 12th Avenue should be able to support more neighborhood- serving commercial space. Since 1992, the number of jobs at S.U., Swedish, Providence, and King County have grown, as has the resident population. However, just as in 1992, neighborhood- serving development is retarded by the fact that large pieces of vacant property are held by institutions. These large vacant sites contribute to blight. King County has repeatedly stated that it will develop the surface parking lot next to the Youth Services site with neighborhood – serving mixed use buildings. Seattle University has purchased the Qwest site on 14th between Columbia and Cherry, as well as the Plasteel site on 12th and Marion. The Catholic Archdiocese and Pioneer Human Services both own large unused pieces of land on 12th Avenue that collect litter and detract from the viability of a neighborhood business district. Following the July 2007 meeting, legislation was passed to transfer the 12th and Jefferson lot to the Office of Housing which now has the duties formerly assigned to DON to encourage and coordinate further action by 12th Avenue property owners such as King County, Pioneer Human Services, the Catholic Archdiocese, and Seattle University.

The Parks Department is prepared to move forward on planning to develop the 12th and James Ct. lot as a park/community gathering place. In addition, at the last meeting the Parks Department put forth the possibility of purchasing additional open space serving the neighborhood, at a place not yet identified. Money to purchase park/open space property has been set aside in the Pro Parks Opportunity Fund. In addition, money to purchase land for a park/open space for our neighborhood was granted by King County.
At the meeting on December 11, DON will let us know how much money the City has received for 12th Avenue development from property sales as well as tell us how much has been spent on the capital improvements already in place.

The Parks Department needs direction from the neighborhood. The money that the City might have received from the sale of the 12th and James Ct. lot will, in effect, go towards the “purchase” of that lot for a park. On the other hand, the money that is set aside in the Pro Parks Levy Opportunity Fund for purchase of park land, as well as the King County money (both total slightly more than $1M) can be directed to purchase of other land for a park. The Office of Housing also proposed giving away the 12th and Jefferson property to a developer who would agree to produce new homes for rent or purchase at less than market rate to those who are othewise unable to rent or purchase homes. At the July meeting, this proposal, which would amount to an abandonment of the goals of the 12th Avenue Plan, was opposed by most attending. The Office of Housing was asked to continue the work that the City Council assigned to the owner of the property — then DON, now the Office of Housing — to use the City’s property ownership in a strategic way in working with other owners of large pieces of property in the neighborhood.

Strategies for completing the 12th Avenue Plan will be discussed at the December 11. meeting.

Finally, Seattle University, and developer who is proposing to build a new mixed-use project at 12th and Cherry, will present that project. Since this project will take place on an institution campus it is not subject to the design review process. Thus, this is one of the few opportunities for neighborhood residents to view the project and make comments.

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