The Squire Park Community Council meeting on Saturday featured a presentation about the status of the big new development on the Goodwill property at Rainier and Dearborn. The presenter was Darryl Vange of Ravenhurst Development, one of companies involved in the project, who was chalking up his 126th community meeting on the topic.
The short answer on the status is that the project is stalled at the city level for the rezoning of the property from industrial to retail/residential mixed-use. In May the rezone was recommended by the city’s Director of Planning & Development, and that was appealed by project opponents. An appeal hearing was originally scheduled for June, but got pushed out to September 22nd because the appellants weren’t prepared to present their challenge at that time. If the appeals are denied in September, the next step would be city council approval of the rezone in the first or second quarter of 2009. According to Mr. Vange, this pushes the earliest start of construction out to late 2010, with an opening in late 2012.
It’s a huge project, with an estimated cost of $350 million. In fact, they’ve already spent $6 million on just the planning process. Once complete, it will contain a mix of big-box and smaller retail stores, 550 apartments, and 2200 underground parking spaces. Here’s the specific breakout:
- A 170,000 sq. foot Target store
- One other big box store, possibly Lowe’s (they’d close the Rainier location), or another retailer like J.C. Penny’s
- A 50,000 sq. foot grocery store
- 4 25,000 sq. foot retail stores, about the size and type of Best Buy, etc
- 30-40 small retail spaces for restaurants, etc
- 80-100 very-low-income apartments for seniors, priced for those with incomes around $14,000 per year
- 100-120 low-income apartments priced for people earning around $27,000 per year
- 350 market rate apartments (described as being at the lower end of market rate)
The development site is about 11 acres, mostly owned by Goodwill (for perspective, developers claim it would spread over 70 acres if built to normal suburban standards). Goodwill will turn the property over to the developers in exchange for a new building on the site to house their retail and job-training operations. Evidently their existing buildings are in a very poor state of repair, and this project is a way for Goodwill to continue their mission at that site without having to raise private funds to build new facilities themselves.
One of my original concerns was the car-centric nature of the development, starting with the 2,200 parking stalls. To contrast that, Mr. Vange says that a comparable development in the suburbs would have about 3,300 spaces. He also says that the project is designed to support other modes of travel too, with 300 spots to park bikes (both above and below ground), 12-22 foot wide sidewalks and traffic signal changes to support pedestrians, and access to several major bus lines and a possible Jackson St. streetcar in the future.
The project’s impact on traffic has been studied as part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). For the busiest intersection at Rainier & Dearborn, the average delay during peak hours would go up about 17%, increasing the wait by 7 seconds. All other intersections would see smaller impacts than that. The project will also pay for a variety of traffic improvements, including an additional lane southbound on Rainier between Jackson & Dearborn.
The other issue is the type of retail. The large spots will definitely be national chains, but what about the smaller stores? Is there any commitment to supporting locally owned businesses? According to Mr. Vange, the answer is yes. They’ve pledged to subsidize the leases for small businesses up to $100,000 per year, bringing the overall rate down to about $27 per square foot per year for about 10 businesses. For comparison, that’s about the same as the rate for commercial space around 23rd & Jackson.
I came out of the presentation feeling more positive about the project than I had before. I end up shopping at Target once a month or so for some basic things, and it would be nice to do it here in the neighborhood instead of driving to Northgate or West Seattle. A good grocery store would also be a benefit to the area, and it would be hard to turn down 200 units of affordable housing. And while the sheer number of parking spaces still gives me pause, I’m guessing that the cost of gas in 2012 and beyond will keep those from being 100% utilized.
Mr. Vange’s parting words to the Squire Park group were to encourage people to speak out if they support the project. He says the city council always hears from opponents of projects, but rarely from the supporters.
Both supporters and opponents will have their next chance to speak out on Monday, September 22nd.
As someone who spends upwards of $200 a month at Lowes, there is no way I would negotiate a trip down to Dearborn if they move. Guess I will write a letter.
Actually, how many of those retailers are truly committed? Every time I see one of these presentations, it’s all for instances..
Evidently they’re motivated by the potential loss of their existing lease. They’ve got somewhere around 10 years left on their lease, but that property is going to jump in value once the light rail system opens. The city and the property owner (not Lowe’s) will be aiming for a high-density residential development to take advantage of the station across the street. Darryl Vange threw out numbers that the land could jump from a current value of $10 per sq. foot up to $300 per sq. foot.
around the light rail. That model is really flawed. Houses and restaurants only type thing does not a healthy dense community create. Agree that Lowes type operations would probably be out of the running, but I believe the city is struggling with the economic development around the light rail and seeing long term businesses selling up. We need lots of commercial around the light rail. They have have to take steps to mitigate the hyper inflation in land values?
That’s one of the main reasons to build light rail – it attracts dense development around the stations instead of sprawling developments out in the suburbs. And I’m sure it will be mixed use, with plenty of retail on the first floor.
Of course all of this is dependent on what the economy looks like in 5 or 10 years, which at this point is a total crap shoot.
This will ultimately be a great development for Rainier Valley and the CD. Jobs (especially for teens, who now have little to do besides graffiti, burglary, and gangs) and low prices close to home are just two of the benefits.
126 meetings! Yet the “appellants” who couldn’t get their act together in time will still undoubtedly claim that the developer “didn’t listen” and “didn’t take the community’s input”. I think the developer has listened and has made significant changes, but ultimately won’t be able satisfy opponents without becoming a social services agency or cancelling the project completely.
Opponents should be careful what they wish for, lest this property get broken up and developed piecemeal in a fashion that they have no chance to influence, like South Lake Union. The property value will only continue to go up, and development of Rainier and Dearborn Street is long overdue.
South Lake Union used to be fun. Now it’s an overpriced sterile wasteland.
We could have had Central Park if anyone would have voted for it!
Think of all the wasted resources that go into 126 meetings, the gas spent driving to those meeting’s. I drive to frgiin Bellevue when I want to shop at Target, think of all the wasted gas…
This is only a good thing for the area. I commend Brian for pointing out the obvious…JOBS…for teens and underemployed adults in the area, it is a fantastic opportunity!
Geared to income housing and access to affordable goods in a pleasant environment within walking/biking distance, short drive/bus ride….what’s not to like?!!
Stop opposing something that will improve the quality of life for the people that live here. End the entropy!
South Lake Union is only sterile right now. All city buildings age, and all city buildings become the interesting, fun places we like. But we can’t waste our resources protecting one and two story buildings – that just creates sterile suburbs that *cannot* age into interesting places.
If I really want to shop at Target, I take the bus to Northgate. Most of the things there, though, can be had for a little more money at smaller shops in the city. It’s not worth it to drive that far (or waste that much time) to go to a big box when I can just walk down the street.
You can’t drive an extra ten blocks to the new location? The difference between McClellan and Dearborn isn’t much. Are you thinking of the Lowe’s up on Aurora? That’s not the one that’s moving.
Absolutely. And if we pass Sound Transit 2 this year, we’ll get a light rail station on I-90 at Rainier – walking distance from this development. In another twenty years we’ll redevelop the space in between into something people will want to walk in – and use that infill to attract folks who would otherwise drive sprawl farther out.
I didn’t realize before that Goodwill was getting a makeover in this deal. I would shop there more often if it weren’t for the poor air quality in that building. The parking lot is a wreck, and it’s not pedestrian-friendly at all! That space is definitely underutilized and undermaintained for such a major intersection, and would be a boon to residents of Beacon Hill, the CD, & the ID. We need more businesses for the everyday.
Short drive no traffic or 15 minute bus ride down MLK versus the mess that is Rainier/Jackson. You bet that’s disincentive. Based on the amount of traffic in that area, I assume there is plenty of other potential shoppers. It’s just not an area I tend to go to.
I understand. It’s pretty far to walk, bus, or stick around in traffic. Build ST2 and there’ll be light rail there, at least… :)
This is really what y’all want to see at this intersection? Really? after all the south downtown planning work, with gas prices headed for the stratosphere and vehicle trips declining at their fastest rate in over 60 years, you really want to put in a 2300+ space parking garage?
Keep in mind that NONE of the housing in this project is anything close to guaranteed. And none of the retailers have signed anything, so there are zero guarantees of what will really go in. Even Target could easily change their minds.
Brian – what makes you think you can “influence” this project? It’s still an enormous shopping mall with a huge parking garage and a few housing units thrown in “for good measure” – and still tremendously out of scale with its surroundings. It’s 2/3 the size of Northgate, with lousy transit connections, and Vange’s 300 bike spaces are primarily located in the bowels of the parking garage. Yeah, that’s alternate-transportation-friendly planning.
Finally – and again – south downtown planning process was envisioned to figure out how we want development to go in the larger area for the next decades. A contract rezone here would be out of scale and not fit in with the longer-term plan, and unlike 23rd/Union I don’t see nearly enough public benefit to be interested in supporting such a thing. My sense is Council won’t either, especially when DOT’s own street-use people are saying the street vacations required for this project offer insufficient public benefit.