Community Post

Goodwill Project Update

The saga of the Goodwill site redevelopment continues.  Yesterday the city council’s land-use committee inched the project forward by denying the appeal to the rezone that we talked about a couple of weeks ago.  Today I spoke with both Bill Bradburd, a longtime opponent, and project developer Darryl Vange to get their separate takes on where things now stand.  

Bill was surprisingly upbeat given that his appeal was denied.  He said that the odds of the council supporting his appeal were pretty low given that it would have killed the project right there in committee.  But a couple of other things happened at the meeting that made him more optimistic:

  • It appears that the council will tie the rezone to a separate decision about vacating the city streets on the property and handing them over to the developers.   Unlike the quasi-judicial rezoning process, approval for the street vacation is a political act and allows for councilmembers to take more community concerns into account as part of their decision.  Bill thinks that council members are open to the concerns that he and other community members have about the project, and that they could place additional requirements on the development as a condition of the street vacation.  Darryl Vange said that he didn’t view that as anything new, and that his team had been expecting the two issues to be tied together from the beginning.
  • The developers are asking for a 10 year window for the project to be built before the rezone would expire. That’s important since the current economic calamity could push the project’s start date out past the usual 2-year limit. Bill’s impression was that the council was balking at the 10 year number and would apply the usual 2 year limit to the rezone.  Darryl had a different take, thinking that they may come out with a number between 2 and 10 years.  He would have to see the specifics before knowing whether it would be compatible with the long timeframe of the development.

Next steps: The land-use committee will take up the issue again next Friday, and will likely pass it along for approval by the full council at a meeting later in February.

So let’s say that the full city council approves the order.   Would that be the end of the process?  Possibly not:  project opponents will still have the right to take an appeal up to Superior court and try to convince a judge that the rezone was improperly approved.  Neither side wanted to comment on how likely that outcome could be.



0 thoughts on “Goodwill Project Update

  1. To be clear about what “two years” means: Ordinarily, according to the Land Use Code, contract rezones expire in two years ONLY IF, AT THAT TIME THE DEVELOPER HAS NOT RECEIVED A MASTER USE PERMIT OR IS NOT IN THE PROCESS OF OBTAINING A MASTER USE PERMIT (the overall permit that is necessary to allow development on the site). And, even if the Master Use Permit has expired in two years because the developer has failed to take action, the City Council can still renew the contract rezone for an additional two years upon a showing that more time is appropriate.

    In this case, the Hearing Examiner has chosen to substitute, for the ordinary time period, an extraordinary time limit of ten years. If the City Council allows that to stand, the site could be tied up until 2020 and beyond with the contract rezone even if no development is done. And, the City Council will have given away the discretion that the law gives them, to require a reasonable justification for an extension if the developer fails to move forward in a reasonable time. — Bill Zosel

  2. A bunch of NIMBY’s as usual whining. Let’s face it– the development will be good for the larger CD area. Progress happens. I’m tired of living with 1970’s retail solutions in a 21st century city.

  3. To say that people are NIMBYs implies that they would support a similar development somewhere else in the city. What I have heard repeatedly, however, is that not only is this development out of scale and character for this particular site, and for the zoning that has been planned for this site after many years of work (in plans such as Livable South Downtown), but that it is also out of step with the city as a whole. If an auto-oriented “super-regional” (by industry classifications) mall tenanted largely by formula retail is really representative of a “21st century city” then the future is indeed bleak. A genuinely 21st century retail and housing development on this site is much needed, and if this proposal could just die the death it deserves we might really be able to move toward one.

  4. A 21st century solution actually would have services and shops spread out in our neighborhoods. Concentrating it all in one spot will draw shopping dollars and development dollars away from CD commercial ares that need development – 23rd/Union, 23rd/Jackson, !2th Ave, Madison, Jackson Street, etc.

    Its naive to call opposition to this proposed project “NIMBY”. Our issues are centered around
    – appropriate land use – per our Comprehensive Plan and Municipal Code,
    – proper, adequate and just public benefits from a project that requires 20% of the land to come from the City – per Street Vacation policies,
    – the ‘health’ of our neighborhoods – including traffic, air quality, walkability, excessive signage, and most importantly, preservation of neighborhood character and neighborhood businesses, as density increases

    I know some folks can’t wait for the mall to save the extra 8 or 9 miles to the Target store so we can by cheap toilet paper or other “everyday” things. But really, if you need to go there every day, someone sure didn’t make a wise housing choice. Perhaps a move to a part of the City that already looks the way you want and has the services you want is an option. Northgate has a lot of housing going in right now that may suit you.

    A shopping mall that you drive to is so 1980.

  5. So what’ makes 23rd and Union or 23rd and Jackson anymore appropriate for development than the Goodwill space? Also, I’m loving you’re definition of appropriate land use. Go ahead and let the government tell you how to use land. I’m glad you know how to think for yourself. Just put yourself on autopilot. The government will definitely guide you to all the best answers.

    Also, while I’m on the subject– can you stop quoting your surrogates issues (you’re clearly quoting a website) and expand on the statement of “proper, adequate and just public benefits”? How do the services proposed in this development not deliver on “proper”, “adequate” or “just”. Again, please break down point by point. I’d love to see that. Proper– they’re needed. Just– they’re not bad, so I’d define as just. Adequate– they’ll be adequate. But please show me if I’m wrong.

    As for needing the services “every day”. I can’t afford to go to Target . It’s too far away. And unfortunately, the ramshackle, crappy retail options around here don’t meet my needs. Seriously, just because you’re happy with the status quo doesn’t mean everyone else should be.

    The cruel irony is that you just don’t get it– you say “A shopping mall that you drive to is so 1980”. I couldn’t agree more. I WANT to be able to BIKE or WALK to retail that offers quality goods at affordable prices. This mall would offer that and then some.

    In closing, I think your argument is weak, but that’s to be expected from someone who simply readily accepts and then quotes the arguments of others. You’ve defined a vision for services and shops that are decentralized. Great. Why can’t this be part of a decentralized model? Where is your proof this will prevent future retail development in those areas you’ve noted? I can go on, but people like you lack the ability to reason. I feel sorry for you, because you’ll never be heard– you’ll only be a voice amongst the crowds who shout in unison and think, wrongly, that you’re collective actions must make your thinking right. So sad.

  6. A couple of ideas:
    1. The idea that this is a shopping mall that people have to drive to is absurd. No one can make you drive there. Why would I drive if I can walk?
    2. This idea of concentrating stuff together being bad? You do live in a city. There are plenty of placed to go if you want things scattered around. Besides, we are indeed seeing development of commercial/retail spaces happening across the CD on a smaller scale. Storefronts appearing on Yesler, the Twilight Exit coming, etc. We need both.
    3. Blackandtan – The idea that smart land use is somehow people not thinking for themselves is unsupportable and ridiculous. Just like having a one block single family home zone in downtown Seattle, putting up one 40 story high rise office building in a single family neighborhood is also ridiculous. Ending you note with a comment like “so sad” is just that, sad.
    4. Jackson Place Resident – You argue that people should move to a place where it looks like they want, rather than desire for the place that they are to have more of what they need. You do realize what Seattle looks like without people building what they need – it’s a forest. The idea that no place should ever change leaves us with not many options for where to live.
    5. And Yes not wanting anything different to happen in your neighborhood is the definition of NIMBY-ism. You argue against density but for walkability? Where are you walking to – a nice 1 mile walk for a cup of coffee? Less driving=better air quality. Preservation? Of the parking lot and abandoned buildings not adjacent to housing in a commercial/industrial area that is the Goodwill lot? And as far as stealing local business – I’ll give you $100 for every person that decides to buy toilet paper from Target because it’s there rather than dim sum in the ID.

  7. Actually it’s HUGE and just off the freeway. It’s not about the people nearby walking (although getting there will be an interesting game of car dodging). It’s a regionally sized mall that will draw people coming in from I5.

    For the record, I am not opposed to a Target somewhere near a transit station for example. I persoanlly prefer Fred Meyer. But — it’s all speculative as I do not think anyone has seen actual agreements with who the tenants will be, just that it will be built for a number of very large stores.

    Yeah — a suburban style mall with some housing slapped on top — housing that is not guaranteed which the owner is not willing to build himself by the way — is really SO 1960s. I use to shop at such places (had offices not houses, but still) all over the Los Angeles area. It works better, if we want transit and walking related neighborhoods to focus energy on getting some small and medium concerns on our neighborhood ‘main streets’, and to get some of the larger businesses near the light rail stations, where a large part of the people drawn in beyond those who can walk to it can get there on rail. Lowe’s is staying near McClellen and I am overjoyed.

    I watched the council committee meeting. For a three person committee, I think all council members were present. Many had not bothered to even read the background materials. What I got out of it is that, on the one hand there is a lot of talk nnd promises by a developer who has a known track record (not good or bad, just known) of what they like to build, and an opportunity for someone, who has invested their time for a number of years, to highlight to council what role they can take to shape the development that should occur under the Comprehensive Plan and current Neighborhood Planning efforts. Most of us sit on the sidelines and say ‘Gee a Target store nearby would be nice’ and don’t work to get the economic development we want to see on our neighborhood streets, and don’t bother to even attend one or two meetings a month to work on community efforts to create the place we want to live in.

    It’s a process. It lies with city council to set the conditions that development fits. Now members are very concerned about things such as: the housing must be built, the project needs to relate to Jackson street, looking at the plan in relation to the South Downtown planning which will set out basis for development of that parcel, not letting this land sit in its current state for ten more years, etc. That would not have even happened had not a private citizen taken it to the mat by advocating and articulating a firm position.

  8. Try googling Comprehensive Plan Seattle and Neighborhood Plan Seattle and Growth Management Act Washington. And, then actually read these documents and understand them. These are laws that the citizens have worked on and understand.

    Don’t like what’s in them? Work on changing them. The Comprehensive Plan has a citizen amendment process and many of the proposals get added every year. The whole thing is due to be updated in 2011. The Neighborhood Plans are entering an update cycle right now. If you want to understand what is happening in your neighborhood and why, it’s supposed to flow from the planning process.

    Else I guess anyone builds whatever the hell they want anywhere they want. Which is how it seems sometimes….

  9. 23rd/Union and 23rd/Jackson and the other locations I mentioned are already zoned as commercial centers within our “Urban Village”. The are meant to be walkable shopping districts to serve us and have been zoned that way. Yet all are underdeveloped to our needs – as you rightly point out. The Dearborn project will add about 610,000 sq ft of retail – more than 130% of ALL of the retail space found in the whole of International District.

    SMC 23.34.72.E states that “The preservation and improvement of existing commercial areas shall be preferred to the creation of new business districts.” This is part of the relevant land use code that the City has defined for assessing rezone requests such as the Dearborn project.

    If the Dearborn mall goes in, how likely is it that these “ramshackle, crappy retail options around here” in the CD will develop? Economic evidence is that it is unlikely. Don’t we want more than Payday check cashing and Army recruiting (23rd/Jackson), or to further complete development of the vacant sites at 23rd/Union, or fill the still empty store fronts at the Madison Safeway?

    If you want to walk to the Dearborn site, that’s great. But the project has so much retail it needs almost 19,000 people to shop there every day. The vast majority of the customers will arrive by automobile (the developer projects 700 people per day will walk there). The municipal code indicates that Neighborhood Commercial (NC) is for pedestrian-oriented shopping areas, Commercial (C) for automobile-oriented shopping areas. NC zones do not require parking for commercial uses – in order to encourage walking service to the surrounding neighborhood. This project has 2200 parking places and serves, per the developer, an area from the ship canal to the south of the city, and as far away as Mercer Island. Not exactly “neighborhood” shopping – its meant to compete with Northgate, Renton Landing, South Center, etc – the developer is a mall developer. However the zoning the developer has requested is a NC zoning rather than a C zoning.

    SMC 23.34.008.B states “The most appropriate zone designation shall be that for which the provisions for designation of the zone type and the locational criteria for the specific zone match the characteristics of the area to be rezoned better than any other zone designation.” The C zone is specifically named for a shopping mall. The criteria for NC and C can be found in 23.34.078 and 23.34.080 respectively. By their definitions the developer is creating a C usage in an NC zone. This, some of feel, is twisting the intent of the land use code.

    You ask about “proper, adequate and just public benefits”. Take a look at the the City’s Street Vacation policy,
    Resolution 30702:
    It is all about contributing a net substantive public benefit – in addition to paying for impact mitigation and the fair market value of the land. To date, per SDOT who assesses this, it is not adequate.

    All of us want to see the Goodwill site developed – some of us would prefer it be something less than a massive automobile-centric mall. It seems fair that the project conform to the land use code as well.

  10. Regarding RC’s comment “You argue that people should move to a place where it looks like they want, rather than desire for the place that they are to have more of what they need. You do realize what Seattle looks like without people building what they need – it’s a forest. The idea that no place should ever change leaves us with not many options for where to live.”

    What I am arguing for is trying to preserve the small business and multi-ethnic character of the area. Look at Northgate and South Center – they have become sprawling shopping districts. What concerns many of us is what will happen around the Dearborn project. All evidence points to more formula-retail sprawl. We would rather have growth that is more sensitive to the character of the area.

    Preemptively, before there are posts about the sad shape that Goodwill chooses to leave their property in…. It’s a damn shame that Goodwill can’t be a better neighbor and help keep their area from looking like blight. If that were someone’s house, it would be red tagged.