News Mar 2, 2016 at 4:00 am

But for Seattle to Grow—and Address Its Housing Crisis—Bigger Buildings Must Go Somewhere

NOT INTO A NEW BUILDING: Pioneer Square residents Greg Aden, York Wong, Jessica Lucio, Paula Wong, and Cindy Aden (left to right) didn’t like plans for a new 11-story building on the site of this parking garage. So the new building has been blocked and the parking garage remains. Alex Garland


For the record, Scale is not a "special requirement" in Pioneer Square; It is the General Purpose of Title 23 of the Seattle Municipal Code.
Cindy Aden, who lives next door to the garage

Holy conflict of interest, batman! I wonder how the building would have impacted her view.

Historic districts are such a clusterf*ck. The idea isn't entirely terrible, but in practice they're mostly an opportunity to exacerbate the housing shortage for people who benefit from that shortage.
Growth does not have to be pounded into the heart of Seattle's historical birthplace. Any city worth its salt has at least one district like this. Why should Seattle be required to watch its iconic historical neighborhood thoughtlessly gutted only to line developers pockets?
Please take a look at the future of Lake City. I'm not kidding. It's a good bus line (hopefully about to get better) and it has an established culture of immigrant and small businesses, multi-family housing, affordable apartments, shopping amenities and several wonderful restaurants. Why don't the urbanists, city planners and developers cast their eye in a different direction for once? Look north!
@4 If this was about protecting a historic building, I'd love to debate whether we keep it or replace it. But you know we're talking about a parking garage, right?

"Why don't the urbanists, city planners and developers cast their eye in a different direction for once? Look north!" Because the hub of our transit and job networks are downtown. We should be putting people as close as possible to jobs to reduce transporting them around.
Fuck it. Turn the garage into a homeless shelter. See how they like them apples.
In areas close to water, buildings should scale down close to the waterfront grow taller away from the water. That's the pattern in the heart of downtown Seattle, and it works wonderfully well. Unfortunately, the recent rezone in the Pioneer Square District put taller buildings near the water. Maybe it's time to fix that.
Using their logic, the Smith Tower would never have been allowed.
Wow, this piece could have been written by the right-wing Building Industry Association of Washington. In case you missed it, Pioneer Square is both a National Historic District and a local preservation district. These designations mean something. The proposal was not consistent in scale or design. The fact is, not every neighborhood must share in the tall building movement. There are plenty of available properties in surrounding neighborhoods that can handle growth and looser height regulations. Unfortunately for this developer, they may not have the unobstructed views of Elliot Bay that this project would have afforded its 1% residents.
@9 - "There are plenty of available properties in surrounding neighborhoods that can handle growth and looser height regulations."

Where would those be? I'm sure you and the rest of these wealthy faux-progressive Pioneer Square residents willing to increase sprawl and carbon-intensive modes of transportation for hundreds of potential residents will be very vocal in your support for upzones on First Hill, Capitol Hill and Queen Anne.

@7 - Downtown has an active, pedestrian-friendly waterfront that is one of the city's major tourism draws. This project fronts an eight-lane state highway. It's not blocking the views of anyone but its immediate neighbors, who happen to be the types of people with enough money and free time on their hands to launch selfish legal battles.

The Viaduct we tore down in 2012, as promised by Governor Gergoire, was far more risky and more historic than this parking garage.

NIMBY is as NIMBY does.
Is this written by a journalist? Or a person interviewing for a job as a lobbyist for the building industry? Or maybe for her next gig as the executive director of a non-profit "environmental" group? Seriously.
A couple of things:

david jw - The vast majority of the views from the building in question are of 1st Ave, Jackson Street, and Post Alley. The very few water views from the building also include the very industrial shipping yard. Anyone who is acquainted with the area knows that spot isn't about the views.

Seattle in Alaska - A rule of thumb to live by is to know what you're talking about before you speak. There is a homeless shelter on the very same block at 1st Ave and Main. There is another homeless shelter on 2nd Ave S and Main as well as a needle exchange clinic on 3rd Ave. No one who lives in PS is shrinking from homeless shelters as the city has dumped the homeless there for decades.

Hutch - As far as views go see response to david jw. But I've got to ask about that eight lane state highway. If the city is paying all this money to take down the viaduct thus connecting neighborhoods to the waterfront, why is the city then letting developers wall off the waterfront to those exact same neighborhoods?

Will in Seattle - Cool NIMBY story bro. Now tell us, how many homeless shelters, needle exchange clinics, and 12 story 200 unit buildings you live next to. And why doesn't a developer have to follow the same rules in a historic neighborhood that everyone else has to follow?
@5 - You know nobody is trying to save the garage, right? It will no doubt become housing, but hopefully in a way that is more compatible with the historic district. Please also realize Lake City is an actual neighborhood within Seattle city limits. Shocking to those who live closer to downtown, I know. It can actually be faster to get downtown from Lake City Way on bus than from from Fremont. At any rate, not everybody can live afford to live on Capitol Hill or in Pioneer Square, or whatever other neighborhood they desire. My family certainly can't. But for you or anyone to ignore the potential of Lake City is extremely short-sighted, especially considering the land belonging to Bill Pierre car dealerships will be redeveloped.
@4, @7, @9, @15 have nailed it. This needs to go back to the drawing board and fit in better with the neighborhood. HALA is a timid baby step toward solving Seattle's housing crisis, but it's always worth repeating that cities that are serious about this require much more than HALA's 5-7%
requirement. It will take at least 25% to even start to get the job done.
@14 the word "wall" has many meanings, both formal and colloquial, but "residential building inside a set-back lot that blocks neither sidewalks nor streets nor any other public right-of-ways" is not generally one of them.

If you want people to believe that this is not actually about preserving the views and property values of existing homeowners, maybe try to avoid transparent bad-faith conflations like that.
Yo Doctor Memory why don't you take a walk with me through the area to see what the views and noise levels are actually like, because you sound like a developer troll who knows nothing of the neighborhood, and this block in particular. The views aren't of the Sculpture Garden dearest. They are industrial.

When we're done with our PS stroll, you can then explain to me why people who've invested in PS when the city and the citizen's of other Seattle neighborhoods left it for dead should have no say in their property values while they took in your city's societal ills and absolutely no services in return. I'll wait pumpkin for a reply.
Idiot, I work in PS. And I note that you carefully avoided the question: in what way does a building that blocks off no rights of way "wall off" anyone from anything other than a view they mistakenly thought they owned?
Also: take your unearned condescension and kindly pound it up your ass followed by a meter of sand. You just preserved a parking garage in a city with a housing crisis; you have nothing to be proud of. You are literally and precisely the problem, "pumpkin".
You protest too much Doctor Memory. It's rather amusing. So who do you work for in PS that you're so invested in a 12 story 200 unit building that was deemed not to fit the historic neighborhood's character? Because you've completely given up "it's about the views" talking point. Nor did you address why people who've invested in the area when the city and others wouldn't shouldn't care about their property values. And since you admittedly don't live in PS isn't rather presumptuous of you to tell people who do that they're the problem for asking developers to build within the historic neighborhood's character. There are 5 other residential buildings in various stages of development that aren't getting the push back from neighbors or local businesses. I'd say the real problem here is you and developers not building to code. So take your pedantic wall argument and kindly pound it up your ass followed by a meter of sand.
Where is the group looking out for the people? Why don’t they have power to create the things we need? These preservationist bullies are destroying everything for everyone. Instead of preventing an 11 story building there should be a requirement to build 50 or 100 stories or higher with plenty of parking. I thought downtown was where tall buildings were supposed to be. What is wrong with you people? Look at the facts!

These things we are preserving are not worth preserving. Because we have no space any space becomes too expensive. We need space; we need more housing and office space that means building tall. Why is that not a requirement?

Low-rise has driven so many good people out of our city. When I look around all I see is overpriced short ugly buildings. New architecture can be beautiful and 1000 times more useful. And the more we make the less it will cost. As soon as the city figures that out maybe we will have population of not just rich people and bring back the balance, the creativity, the diversity that Seattle was famous for. The other reason so many people moved here. That is much more rewarding than whatever these people are trying to preserve. I’ll chose people over a building any day.

Someone should look into the backgrounds of these preservationist, are they making a fortune on overpriced housing? Are they being paid to drive up housing costs? Are they just that blind to facts? Or are they just that greedy? Preservationists are preventing us from having the things we need.
Due to the unsuitability of most of the building materials and techniques of PS buildings to a seismic zone, I think it is unlikely you'll ever be able to build anything that 'fits'. Adding faux historic buildings into the space of actual historic buildings degrades the neighborhood integrity.
Once again this proves you can't blame tech workers for insane housing prices. The fact that people are denying others a place to live because the building doesn't suit their tastes is fucking disgusting.
There's seventy-THOUSAND empty federal buildings in this Union . . . --- (N)
Coltrane, Another rule of thumb is don't be a douche-nozzle. To hear you describe it there are so many homeless shelters the city should think about closing a few since we have too much capacity. OR we could get people out of tents and closer to the services they use. Stating that "No one who lives in PS is shrinking from homeless shelters" in complete llama shit.
"But for Seattle to Grow—and Address Its Housing Crisis" loses me right out of the box – so the premise of the article is that the very thing creating the “crisis” must keep occurring? Why must Seattle grow? Addiction is an ugly thing.
Great job saving a parking garage so more of your low income neighbors can be displaced you heartless sh*tbags.
Wow. Dear arrogant white folks: blocking housing based upon your precious "aesthetics"? Ugh. You are the problem.
Great. Make everything look like So. Lake Union, then complain about how "Seattle has lost its soul".

Dumb fucks.
So reduce it to 7 stories. Problem solved.

Except for that whole "it won't pencil out" part.

Please wait...

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