Replacing the Projects with Towers


Dominic, I'm surprised you conclude that this is "an excellent decision". Are you not on the Displacement Coalition's mailing list? Have you not read their analysis? It's extremely thorough, concluding it's far from a good idea.
Lose-Lose, I count on the Displacement Coalition to trash anything and everything that comes within their sites. By their standard, no public agency has ever done anything right. If they had their way, poor folks would continue to live in 65-year-old falling-down apartments.
@ 1) I tried to reach John Fox but haven't heard back. Does the Displacement Coalition have an analysis for the plan released yesterday? If you've got it, please send it over: Thanks!
i wish i was doing the planning & architecture for this. curse you, collins woerman!

john fox is a fool. yesler is a hole where the city's most vibrant mixed-income neighborhood should be.
John Fox is my kind of fool.

P.S. Link to the plan if you will, Mr. H.
@ 5) I don't think there's a link yet.
#6 thanks tho!
That's an awful plan. They're rebuilding Robert Taylor Homes, by the sound of it.

Ditch the parks, ditch the funky street layout, ditch the towers. Start by reconnecting the street grid to the surrounding city, then build a mix of row houses and medium-height apartment blocks (six to eight stories max, and not very many of them). Cram them in there! This isn't rocket science. How to build vibrant mixed-use urban neighborhoods is a settled science, and has been for over 100 years. Glamor architecture and theory plays no role, however.
Why is John Fox taken seriously by anyone in this town? He's an ego driven media whore who will do nothing but bitch and moan no matter how good any plan may be. When is the last time he actually DID anything? The whole basis of his existence is to STOP progress. He's either too dumb or too pious to realize that he does far more harm than good when it comes to increasing the supply of affordable housing in this town. It will be a great day for those who honestly care about housing the less fortunate in Seattle when John Fox is finally recognized for the fool that he is.
Fnarf @ 8) I wholeheartedly agree with you about connecting to the street grid, which I'd assume they're planning considering they have ambitions for retail. But I think it makes sense to include a park, as long as it's not a "towers in the park" design. And while there may be a tower or two, I'd guess most of the buildings will be mid-rise--around eight stories--which are perfect for neighborhood building.
So just as New York, Chicago, Baltimore and just about every other major city in the US has started to back away from the disastrous policy of building high-rise public housing deathtraps, Seattle is going to double down on the plan?

Uh, good luck with that.

(As usual on these issues, Fnarf is 100% correct. Now we just need Will In Seattle to show up claiming that the problem with this idea is that the towers aren't 80 stories tall in order to make the thread complete.)
Yesler Terrace "feels like the projects" only to people who have never visited any real projects. I think even eight stories is five too many.

Fnarf for mayor.
If I could I would invest in this development and live there! It will not even be ready to begin construction until 2011 however and not finished completely for 20 years.
There will be ample oportunity to weigh-in on design features over the next couple years.
John Fox is a fool.
@11: the poor folks won't be in the towers - that's for the gentry.
20 stories - now we're talking!
Fnarf, you're out of your depth on this one. There are very sound ways to achieve the type of density SHA is proposing without resorting to some sort of Le Corbusier nightmare that you seem to fear. You have 28 freaking acres that is a nine iron from the heart of the CBD. Responsible urban planning (the type that creates the vibrant urban neighborhoods you cite) would call for densities perhaps double what can be found today in Belltown. Yet even at the high end estimate of 5,000 units, SHA is proposing only 180 units per acre. That's roughly half of what could be built on a typical NC3-65 zoned parcel (the commercial zoning along Broadway). We need to push for more density, not less. We need to push for a mix of all income ranges, not just all luxury condos or all subsidized flats.
I'm not sure how I feel about this yet -- it seems like long-time residents will end up getting displaced, as has happened with several other of these mixed income projects (ex. High Point). But I do know that if there is increased living capacity, there had BETTER be a plan for increased parking capacity. I work for a nonprofit in a building right in the center of Yesler Terrace, in a building on the corner of 9th and Spruce. The parking situation is absolutely ridiculous here. We have about 20 parking spots in two parking lots that we share with two other nonprofits in our same building (maybe 40 spots total), but 50+ staff members in our organization alone. (Now, don't get me wrong, I actually support less people driving, and actually ride the bus myself, as do several of my co-workers. But some folks need to drive as part of their job.) While there is street parking, it is two-hour, and usually crammed with resident vehicles (as it should be, I believe). And so my co-workers who drive - most of whom have to -- end up going out to move their cars regularly, or risk getting a ticket. And we continually have to deal with Harborview staff, residents, and other random folks parking in our lot, blocking spots to run in somewhere for a few minutes, all kinds of things. Any development plan to change the neighborhood needs to figure out some solution that is more equitable and fair for everyone, the folks who live in this area, and the folks who work in this area as well. My co-workers who drive and don't have regular spots would be perfectly willing to pay for the privilege to park here in Yesler Terrace if the capacity was available to do so. But our -- and residents' -- lack of options makes this whole situation more adversarial than it needs to be.
What's there is townhouses, not tenements. I'm not in love with the layout, but there's nothing wrong with postage-stamp lawns/gardens, as anyone in Brooklyn will tell you.
Ever hear of Cabrini Greens? A hell hole of drugs and filth. Do we ever fucking learn? I live in subsidized housing with 30 units and it can be a very, very difficult thing to get rid of drug dealers. They ruin property, steal, move in in groups of criminals who have no respect for anyone or anything. We had stabbings in front on a regular occassion. The police acted like they couldn't care less. We suffered many sleepless nights.
@16: You schooled Fnarf!

Fnarf, there's nothing to fear about in-city density with a beautiful view park. (They better put it on the southwest edge!) Belltown would be so lucky to have such a nice (AND truly public and mixed-rec use) park. Le Corbusier nightmares can be avoided with good design. Let's wait to see the design before freaking out.
Yesler Terrace was the last place my family lived before we moved down to Fresno. And you think these are ghettos.
But I remember having a great time growing up here. My dad was active in the community and there were always kids running around to play with. The townhouse I lived in has a pathway running between two townhouse strips where the kids had free reign. The parents could watch us from the windows so we knew we were safe.
However sentimental I feel for my childhood playground, the area has needed a redevelopment badly. And while people from larger cities may scoff at the idea of calling Yesler Terrace a ghetto, but telling people that's where you live is just like telling people you are low income. And when you see generations of families living in the area, it becomes hard to imagine ever leaving and becoming something more.
When I came back to Seattle for college I was amazed to discover my dorm at Seattle U was only 4 blocks from my childhood home. It made me laugh to think that all my work brought me back so close to home, but so very far away from the ghetto.
Are the low income units in the proposed development going to cost the same as the existing units? Could the current tenants feasibly remain in the neighborhood?
"Let's wait to see the design before freaking out. "

Personally, I'd like to see something like the place the people lived in on "Good Times". They always seemed so happy, and they had a refrigerator!
These are good comments here (even the angry uninformed ones) and yes, there are challenges to creating the density suggested (to PAY for the redevelopment because our national government has gotten out of building low-income housing) and to bring this under-used land in line with a growing, maturing urban space (finally!). However, SHA has to figure out how to stay solvent, provide housing, expand its mission to help improve affordability in this city for those of us who keep it running (30-80% AMI) AND particiate in the forward thinking that is required to move beyond the mistakes of the previous HOPE VI redevelopments. John Fox hasn't built an apartment building lately, SAGE doesn't solve the problem by hitting developers with cash grabbing concessions, and SHA can't continue to ignore the realities of the needs of ALL people under 80% AMI. Off-site development (12th Avenue, 14th Ave.) should be allowed and accepted, Yesler lost 20 acres when I-5 destroyed housing in the 1950's! Housing should be suppoerted with a Levy like parks, but many of "us" don't want "low-income" in our neighborhood, and many low-income people don't want "other classes" in their areas...we are all a little NIMBY regardless of class or income level. Time to grow-up Seattle; mid-rise and high-rise is not only for the rich or well-off...we the poor can grow-up too.
I would like to back Fnarf up a bit here (and, as an urban planning graduate student, I don't believe I'm "out of my depth") and support the "keep it simple approach" of connected streets and built-out blocks of low to mid-rise buildings. Interaction between street and buildings drops off after about three stories, to say nothing of the sunlight that taller buildings block, and the last thing Seattle needs is more ego-trip, out-of-scale development. How does it look from the sidewalk? That's what we should care about.