the Northgate Activist
In the Planning Stages
Northgate Urban Center Park Development: This project will convert the Park and Ride lot on 5th Avenue NE and NE 112th Street into a 3.73 acre park. A Project Advisory Team (PAT) has formed and began meeting regularly in February 2008 to provide community feedback to the Seattle Parks Department. The first public meeting was February 20, 2008. For information, contact Kim Baldwin @ 206-615-0810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northgate Area Rezone Proposal would upzone many properties along or adjacent to Northgate Way in order to create greater density in the Northgate Urban Core. The upzone might also encourage developers to maximize the potential for their properties, adding housing above retail locations. It would directly benefit 3 large parcels owned by Mullaly, Kauri and Wallace. A Draft EIS is being prepared and is due out in December 2008. Background documents are available on the DPD's Northgate website. A meeting will be held in November 2008 to gather public input about a "framework" to encourage developers to provide mitigation for their projects. Please see the calendar for details.
Save Waldo Woods: Waldo Woods is the Maple Leaf Community's name for the old Waldo Hospital site at 8511 Fifteenth Avenue NE. It is just east of the soon-to-be-lidded Maple Leaf Reservoir and has been occupied for many years by the Campfire organization. Campfire sold the property to a developer who would like to cut down many of the trees on the property and build a very dense set of buildings. The neighborhood has organized around trying to save as many trees as possible and lessen the overall impact of the proposed development on the land and on the surrounding neighborhood. The project details can be viewed on the Seattle Department of Planning & Development Website (Project 3006480). For further information, please see the Save Waldo website or contact David Miller via email.
Upper Maple Leaf Park and the Maple Leaf Reservoir Covering Project. Seattle Public Utilities will be burying the Maple Leaf Reservoir on Roosevelt Way NE, north of NE 82nd Street. Construction will begin in 2009 and is expected to take up to two years. The contact for this project is: Stephanie Murphy, Reservoir Program Manager, Seattle Public Utilities, at 206-386-9778 or via email: email@example.com. Burying the reservoir will create 11 new acres of land that citizens in Maple Leaf would like to see turned into greenspace. A design charette was held in November 2008 with landscape architecture students from the University of Washington to generate ideas about how the community might like to see this land developed. Funding for park development is included in the Parks Levy that voters approved in November 2008. The Maple Leaf Community Council contact for Upper Maple Leaf Park is Donna Hartmann-Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Seattle Parks Department contact for the reservoir program is Dewey Potter, Communications Manager, Seattle Parks & Recreation at 206-684-7241 or via email at email@example.com.
North Link Light Rail: Sound Transit is planning to build light rail to Northgate and beyond and just passed an important bond issue in November 2008 that will finally make this a reality by 2020. While currently building the intial segment from near the airport to downtown, they have been busy planning for the North extension. A Draft Supplemental EIS to their 2003 EIS for Northgate was released through a public comment period. Sound Transit put funding for this North Link on a 2007 ballot issue that failed, probably due to the ballot's inclusion of a large number of road projects. This ballot would also have included funding to study extending the line beyond Northgate, which would have been a huge boon to the neighborhood. The levy that passed included these funds, to study an extension of the line all the way to Everett. History: Sound Transit and the City of Seattle's Strategic Planning Office undertook a three year process to help plan the stations around proposed light rail routes. The efforts of the Station Area Planning team have been summarized on their website.
Metro Transit's South lot plans: King County's Transportation Department bought the westernmost 3.9 acres of the South lot of Northgate Mall and turned it into a 500-stall temporary park and ride lot in June 2002. The deal was made in September 2001, after Security Properties' option on the lot expired. Plans for the property under their control include a vastly enlarged transit hub, with various schema of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) included. Activists will want to keep close tabs on this one, especially once all the construction activity on the South lot draws to a close.
I-5 - 5th Ave. NE to NE 92nd Street Noise Wall: This project is providing large concrete noise barriers to sections of I-5 in the Northgate area. Stage 1 was to design and install noise barriers on the west side of I-5; the barriers have been constructed and will be installed in mid-November 2008. Stage 2 does the same for the east side of I-5 and is in the design and construction planning phase. For upcoming meetings, please see this site's calendar.
Wallace Properties Mixed Use Project for 507 NE Northgate Way (DPD Project #3002984): This large project consists of 161 apartments above two floors (54,000 square feet) of retail abutting 5th Avenue NE. This project is currently under construction, with occupancy expected in 2009. A second phase was initially proposed and could be impacted by the Northgate Area Proposed Rezone, above. So, stay tuned. The author of this site is supportive of this type of mixed use development, especially on "anchor" corners of the neighborhood; let's hope it's successful in its execution and business model during these difficult economic times. View Wallace's website.
Lorig Associates Development of the Mall's South Lot - 301 NE 103rd Street (DPD Project #2401519): Lorig Associates has been working with the community and the city to creatively put a mixed use development on the South Lot, while carving out a parcel that the city could use to create a Thornton Creek Channel project. This project is currently under construction. Note: a separate Master Use Project number has been assigned to the contract rezone for the land itself; the number is #2503971. View Lorig's website. The sales center and model units are already open.
History of the South Lot: In the Fall of 2000, Simon Property Group put the South lot on the market for $25 million. Security Properties Inc., a local developer, had worked with the community and government officials regarding their initial interest in buying and developing the property. They had expressed a willingness to consider siting the new Northgate library and a portion of a daylighted Thornton Creek on the South lot, along with approximately 1,000 units of housing, a hotel, and street-level retail. However, negotiations with creek activists stalled while Security Properties' option to buy the lot expired. Then, King County bought the westernmost 3.9 acres of the lot for transit parking and future transit center expansion. That deal closed in March 2002, with 500 new parking stalls opened in the summer of 2002. The Mayor then proposed building a drainage pond on the easternmost section of the lot, which was not well received by the community. A stalemate was broken by the introduction of legislation that created a framework for looking at projects in the Northgate core. It was within this framework that the Lorig project has been able to gain community acceptance and to move forward.
Neighbhorhood Planning Still in EffectNorthgate-specific Design Guidelines: City Council approved the Northgate Design Guidelines in November 2003, which citizens and the government officials created together starting in Spring 2001. New projects in the Northgate area that go before a design review panel need to adhere to this set of neighborhood-specific rules. The guidelines help shape the character of new developments by addressing how well they blend in with adjacent buildings and whether they promote a pedestrian-friendly urban core. The guidelines were very much a negotiated project, with efforts by the Mayor's team and King County (Metro) to dilute their effectiveness with regard to superblocks. For this reason, activists must ensure these guidelines are backed by strong zoning regulations and are not relied upon exclusively.
Coordinated Transportion Investment Plan (CTIP): The CTIP final report was released on September 29, 2007.This planning document prioritizes a wishlist of transportation improvements in the Northgate area according to a weighted formula of various criteria. Public comments were sought in Fall 2005 for the scoping phase of its Environmental Impact Statement to assess impacts on the area's quality of life. Funding is not a part of this project. Projects include, but are not limited to, signal improvements, sidewalks, traffic circles, lane realignments. The planning document may be useful when large developers are asked to mitigate for the traffic impacts of their projects. For info., contact Tony Mazzella, SDOT Project Manager, @ (206) 684-0811 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pedestrian Issue on College Way N. at North Seattle Community College: The intersections of both NE 97th Street and NE 100th Street with College Way N. are both "blind" due to the hill on College Way. This makes it very scary and dangerous for pedestrians crossing College Way, especially those with physical impairments or parents and their young children going to the college's daycare. A faculty member at the College has taken up the cause of trying to get the Seattle Department of Transportation to improve these intersections for pedestrian safety. He has conveyed his concerns to the CTIP program, above. For further information, please contact J.C. Clapp at (206) 528-4531 or via email.
Projects Competed or Shelved
Northgate Civic Center: The new library, community center and park at 5th Avenue NE and NE 105th Street (the site of the old Bon Tire store) opened to the public on July 15, 2006. When first conceived, each project was being separately planned, financed and managed; and, co-locating these amenities was not even considered. An enormous push from the neighborhood resulted in the City Council and Executive Branch responding to neighborhood desires to see all three projects located together. The Civic Center is already a huge asset to the community.
Northgate 20-year Work Plan: The 1993 Northgate Comprehensive Plan predated the citywide neighborhood planning effort and the city's own Comprehensive Plan; hence, the city has brought that plan's work recommendations into the same format (a "matrix") as other neighborhoods' plans. Activists have been disappointed to see that developers have not been held to the 1993 Plan. The 20-year work plan sets out priorities that will guide city departments' efforts in our neighborhood. The work plan has been adopted by a City Council resolution.
Maple Leaf P-Patch: The Maple Leaf Community Garden is a beautiful addition to the neighborhood, with regular volunteer work parties still happening regularly. This project was started by The Maple Leaf Community Council, which got the City to buy a 15,977 square foot lot on the south side of NE 103rd Street (between 5th and 8th Avenues NE). For information, contact Barbara Maxwell @ (206) 524-1502 or via email.
Lake City Multi-modal Project: This joint venture of King County, the City of Seattle, and the Washington State Department of Transportation sought to improve traffic flow, bus zones and sidewalks on Lake City Way. The project is complete and has improved the pedestrian experience for those walking on the west side of Lake City Way in the project zone.
5th Avenue NE Street Improvements project: This project was originally called the Fifth Avenue NE Streetscape Design Project and focused only on the part of the streetscape that the city could control: the public right of way. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has completed Phase 1 of this project, which includes improvements from NE Northgate Way to NE 105th Street. SDOT Capital Project Coordinator, Sandra Woods, (206) 684-5298, email@example.com.
History: at the Northgate Workshops in 2000, citizens identified creating a pedestrian-friendly "Main Street" along 5th Avenue NE as a major priority. The original project, sponsored by the Seattle Planning Commission, involved property owners, residents, business owners/employees and public. The final streetscape design was presented at a 12/13/01 community meeting. Resolution #30596 to implement the plan was adopted by the City Council on 8/11/2003. It has since gotten "rolled in" to the Northgate Civic Center project, which is occuring in the same location and timeframe.
Pro-Parks 2000 Levy: This ballot measure was approved in November 2000. This measure provides $223 million for park acquisition, development and maintenance city-wide. Northgate will receive money to help leverage funding to buy the Metro Park and Ride lot at 112th Street. NE and 5th Ave. NE to develop it into a park. The actuality of a park on this site depends upon Metro getting assistance in relocating the parking spaces that would be lost. Metro claims they have money for expansion spaces (see the item about the South lot, above), but not replacement slots. The PRO-Parks measure also budgets money to acquire parcels identified by the Open Space program in the Thornton Creek Watershed.
Northgate Mall Expansion - 301 NE Northgate Way (DPD Project #2402787): Simon Property Group, the owner of Northgate Mall, built several retail buildings, mainly on the freeway side of the current mall. This project is apparently complete, although one planned building, the only one along 5th Avenue NE, on the site of the old Malmo Garden Center seems to have been dropped from the project, or perhaps delayed. That site is being used for staging for the South lot construction. Simon has also constructed an 800-stall parking garage to the south of the Penney's store. To view the list of permits associated with this address, go to the DPD webpage for 301 NE Northgate Way. Will the Mall ever consider putting retail (and, better, housing) on the east side of their property along 5th Avenue NE?
Mixed Use Project at 7500 Roosevelt Way NE (DPD Project #2407656): A four story building, with retail on the ground level, administrative offices on the second floor, and 30 units of apartments above, has been proposed for this very visible property across from Safeway. Seventy units of parking are proposed within the structure. The project will need to undergo Design Review. This project appears stalled.
The Seattle Monorail: The Monorail is dead. Long live Link Light Rail.
Updated February 1, 2009
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