Blogs May 19, 2009 at 5:16 pm


Hopefully the city will tell the NIMBYs to fuck off and allow the buildings to go forward.
We need this
First, neighborhood planning, even just zoning map changes, can't legitimately be limited just to properties under one ownership, and that's what the two maps look like. Changing zoning for only one property owner, and not his neighbors, is Spot Zoning and it's unlawful.

The area being considered for rezoning needs to be expanded, and I would suggest taking it westward towards the freeway. That area west of 12th Ave NE is already multi-family and might well warrant higher density also.

Also, the building code limits wood frame ("stick frame") construction to five floors, but those five floors can sit atop a multi-story concrete base, and thus yield an 85-foot tall building. Yes, it's difficult to make such a compound structure attractive, but it can be built.

One thing for sure, the current 40-foot height limit is too short -- it's only 3 feet taller than the limit for a single-family housee!
Why, if the discussion revolves around heights, are the illustrations all top-down ones? Did the "other side" make available some mock ups showing how 160 feet would look from the side view in relation to the rest of the neighborhood?
I agree with some other commenters who pointed out that 40 story tall buildings might also make more sense, considering the proximity to green space.

That's Roosevelt High School in the middle.

Nice and green.

But ... 16 stories is at least a reduction in the tear-down mentality of going from 2 story to 3 story to 6 story to 8 story to 12 story to 16 story.

Do it, get it over with, enjoy the views!
whoa, i didnt know there was a roosevelt light rail station....
*mind blown*
I thought there was just going to be one at the university?

or did i read that wrong?

Welcome to Co-op City, West Coast edition.…

Hint: Nobody ever follows traffic mitigation recommendations. They either say "oh, we added features to make traffic come out of the garage slowly" (never true) or give up because they'd have to pay somebody off to get their proposal through.

Just say "you can have your height if you put parking at 0.6 stalls per unit" or something. Then you'll see what kind of developers and neighborhood support you have. I'm going to guess the developer will balk at "lack of amenities" and the neighbors will find another reason to cover up their real reasons for disapproving (not wanting more neighbors).
@8 The problem is actually that developers are required to build parking.…
See H.

But yeah that would be a fair compromise. Allow density near stations, but restrict parking and/or require it to be sold separately from the unit. You could even encourage buildings to offer zipcars as part of the dues or rent.
*snaps to Clown Fish on Co-op City* Another comparison might be Crystal City just outside of Washington DC. Are advocates for giant towers in other neighborhoods the same people bitching about condos in Capitol Hill?…
So, you're actually going to trust the slum lord to build something not shitty? Hmm, tell me how that works out for you.
Is distinguishing teal from seafoam one of the skills taught in architecture school?
Yes make it urban. We're the biggest USA city for 800 miles in any direction, and you want 6 stories 12 minutes on the train line -- four stops from downtown? WTF?? Should be 40 stories not just 16. AT that height you start getting two bars and restaurants per block, you actually get pedestrians, you actually get, you know, a CITY not a suburb.

More people = more people riding the train every day = more people walking around the neigborhood = more cafes, bars, restaurants, shops, street life, activity, life, pedestrians, etc. etc. etc. not boring single family home owner nimby's who just want to drive to Costco for everything anyway.

Funny the same people who bitch about 4 story apartment buildings are probably going to be the first ones to point out "oh my gawwwwd no one is using the light rail cuz no one lives near it!!"
@13: height doesn't mean density and it certainly doesn't mean amenities. Generally, as Dominic pointed out, tall buildings mean expensive, which means retail is expensive, which means only giant retail chains can come in, which means...shitty. Also expensive units mean people who want views and nothing more. If they can afford an expensive apartment they can afford a taxi or a driver to go elsewhere for their amenities. Look at downtown Miami. Its a shithole. But there are plenty of tall residential buildings.

I think 6 stories is tall enough. 6 stories is still easily 6x denser then the current area and I don't understand why we would want more people than that? Plus, six stories is about the max for pedestrian focus and scale. You don't want to block out the sun, especially when we only get it a few times a year.

On another note, I encourage any current roosevelt residents to get HEAVILY involved in this project. Please don't just write it off. If the community gets people out to the meetings, writes letters, and responsibly pressures the developer for what they want I promise it will come out much, much better than if they just blow it off as some capitalist scheme to ruin the neighborhood. Development is not bad, it just takes a lot of hard work and a lot of people to make it come out right.
"I don't understand why we would want more people than that? "

Of course you wouldn't.
Actually according to code, 75 feet is all you can get to with wood. More than 75 feet tosses you into a high rise with serious elevator and sprinkler system requirements. But really, we should be banning wood buildings altogether as they really only have a shelf life of 30-40 years before they need to be re-built due to all the water damage they incur in this environment. Go to any European city and you rarely find residential buildings over this 6 story limit any ways.
I just found this post about a condo unit in a building with no parking 500 sq/ft . Evidently someone actually expects to sell it.

We need to shitcan that bullshit law requiring developers to build in parking.
It's nice to see so much support for Hugh and his cronies. Why don't all of those in favor of the Sisley plan meet at the fruit stand on Saturday at 9:00 AM and disperse into the neighborhood explaining to the locals what a wonderful world it will be?
@7, @10: Co-op City? Crystal City? What the FAIL?

This is about densifying the area around a transit station, which Co-Op City doesn't have (unless you count 95 as transit). Crystal City has a Metro station, but the development was purpose-built since it's next to some gigantic defense building that employs thousands. The Octagon? Hexagon? I forget.

Even 160' is nothing like the two examples you cite. Cut your stupid, please.
Density bitches!

Only if someone had the balls to do this in the Rainier Valley.

The 160 foot height is a bluff, there is no way the community will accept that, and Sisley knows it. But if he offers an 85 foot option he will get what he wants. The community will think they made a compromise. Pretty crafty fucker, if you ask me.

@16: "of course you wouldn't"

You're a jackass. I'm all for density. Ff Seattle densified to 6x our current amount we would be at 42,000 people per square mile. New York is 27,000. So why exactly do we need to shoot for even DENSER than that?

I just don't think that building residential units 13+ floors into the sky is really about a more livable city. They cost more, take up more energy, and they are way more expensive. And all the bullshit about swapping height for amenities never works out anyway. So I'd say six stories is plenty.
@22 Believe it or not, NYC is a pretty big place. Population density's vary from area to area. Manhattan has a density of about 72,000 per square mile. Other areas of the city look no different that the Rainier Valley, and have a much lower pop. density. So no, 42,000 isn't too bad.

So you either are a person who has never visited the city, or an asshole that manipulates information to support his vacuous argument.

You sir, are the JACKASS.
@13 is right.

Your problem is you've been here too long and you haven't seen cities change over time except on a daily basis.

Greater Vancouver used to look a lot different before light rail led to towers near stations - didn't impact the parks and by building tall buildings near the stations this permitted functional "downtowns" around them, and preserved lower cost lower-density residential housing in the areas further away.

Just accept density and stop trying to be all NIMBY like Osama bin Laden and the rest of the Cheney-backed al-Qaeda wants.
* 65 Foot (or less) buildings,
* practical Bicycle Parking/Storage, and
* truly accessible Green Roofs -slash- Rooftop Gardens, with grass and veggie plots, available to the tenants.

That's my vote.

$1,925 for 900 sq. ft? Laughable. We're not Paris or London. Forget it!
@25 "Towers near stations -- didn't impact the parks"
-- You are absolutely correct. But that was ensured by the Van. City Council who required the developers to build or maintain greenspace around their buildings, (or contribute to it elsewhere).

Vancouver former-City Councilman Gordon Price gave a very interesting, very well-done presentation to Seattle in 2004-2005 explaining all of this and more, and sharing Vancouver's building code successes and obstacles.

One critical one was: Transit should go in loops.

Nickels, the media, Councilmembers, developers and a host of interesting groups were there. Well worth seeing him talk about city planning, intelligent man. Intelligent plans.
Circa at Green lake

1 Model SA 1 1 505sq ft $995
2 Model 1A 1 1 591sq ft $1,195
3 Model 1C 1 1 589sq ft $1,385
4 Model 1B 1 1 747sq ft $1,465
5 Model 2A 2 2 938sq ft $1,995
No wonder they are 60% vacant.
The bike and storage facilities appear to be extra.

"We're not Paris or London"...and I like to think we don't want to be either.
Circa at Green lake

1 Model SA 1 1 505sq ft $995
2 Model 1A 1 1 591sq ft $1,195
3 Model 1C 1 1 589sq ft $1,385
4 Model 1B 1 1 747sq ft $1,465
5 Model 2A 2 2 938sq ft $1,995
No wonder they are 60% vacant.
The bike and storage facilities appear to be extra.

"We're not Paris or London"...and I like to think we don't want to be either.
I'm all for density but 160' in that neighborhood is a bit too much change too fast.

65-85' is reasonable. Perhaps a mix with some wood-frame buildings (5 floors over retail) and some steel-frame (7 floors over retail) would be best. You'd get density, but it wouldn't all be high-rise expensive, and the development would seem less uniform. It's OK with me if the shorter wood buildings have to be replaced in 30-50 years--that's enough for the developer to profit based on the capital costs on the investment, but also means that some of the buildings will be replaced over time, which will further decrease the uniformity of the neighborhood. It also means that if the neighborhood supports 160' buildings a generation from now there's some aged stock nearing replacement time at just when it'll be needed.

I hope that 160' is just a negotiating tactic, because as is the mid-range proposal seems about right.

I live four blocks from this development and I've been attending all the community and DPD meetings that led up to the EIS scoping period.

Density is great and the neighbourhood needs more of it. It's not realistic to expect the city to maintain SF5000 zoning all around the new light rail station. But there are four big problems with the proposed NC160 zoning.

1. It's not compatible with the city's long-range development plan that all stakeholders signed off on.
2. It's over 2x the height of the next highest building in the entire Roosevelt area.
3. It will block all of the southern-exposure sunlight to the directly adjacent high school, including classrooms and playfields. They're kids ... they need sunlight.
4. The neighbourhood won't support the traffic patterns that come from adding another 600 units of housing right there. The big problem is 15th Ave NE between NE 50th and NE 65th. It's one lane each way, backs up horribly at congested hours, and there is no room for any expansion due to the bridge over Ravenna Park being impossible to replace/widen. And before you say 'transit', remember this is a neighbourhood that already has excellent transit - it has a walkability score of 90+, just as high as capitol hill or anywhere.

NC160 is a non starter. It just doesn't fit with the neighbourhood's natural development.
There is another piece to this that has not been mentioned here. Said landlord Hugh Sisely has 50 properties in the area. All of his properties in this area they are considering for development are in shambles. Some have finally, after years AND YEARS of complaints, been shut down by the city. The city is very well aware of this landlord. He houses about 20 people per house and those people have been told by him that THEY MUST TELL ANYONE INQUIRING THAT THEY ARE A GUEST. Why? Because the city does not allow more than 8 unrelated people in a house. There are so many drug busts and dealings going at his 'guest' rentals. There was a drug shooting one week ago. I believe this has been a long term plan by slum lord to give the city a choice-- let me build more rentals (since all the units would be rentals and nothing owner occupied) or I will leave everything in current conditions,.All you folks bitching about NIMBY''s -- have you looked at the plan? Who owns this houses being rezoned? The asshole slum lord gets all the goodies for degrading the neighborhood the last 20 years. The plan is not a comprehensive study -- it is specifically for Sisely's properties (Except for the two additional blocks the city asked to be studied). Who is paying for the EIS study? The developer and Sisely of course. Come on city -- have some balls for once. Act like a respectable city and do some real enforcement if the plan falls apart for the developers.

Please wait...

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