An Update from LUOA


Dear LUOA Members and Friends,

It’s been some time since I’ve written to you, but we have been busy.  I want to bring you up to speed on what’s happening and what we think is its significance.

The Environmental Impact Statement(EIS) Study that was planned for early 2009 has been delayed until late 2009 or 2010.   A South Lake Union Urban Design Framework Study (SLU UDF), which LUOA has been requesting has been initiated.    The purpose of the SLU UDF is to define how SLU might best accept future growth while maintaining and improving its community features.  It has three elements.  First, a group of design professionals, led by the City and with considerable, pro bono professional architectural and urban planning help, have held 6 half-day workshops on key elements of the future growth of our community.  Second, a Community Advisory Group has review the results from a community perspective.  That Community Advisory Group is made up of 2 to 3 members from SLUFAN, Cascade Community Council, Lake Union Opportunity Alliance, selected major property owners, representatives of the low-income housing, arts, and human services communities.  The work of these two groups should be completed in September.   For the third step the City, supported by those who have worked on this, will then take this to the Community.  I expect this to happen in October or November.

My assessment is that we’ve made some significant progress in defining view corridors toward the lake and toward the Space Needle, selected streets for great Green Street treatment, selected areas for emphasis on residential and families friendly areas and what that means, where the civic and recreational ‘hearts’ of the neighborhood are, general consensus for only minimal changes in the Cascade Neighborhood, and some general consensus on appropriate treatments for the pedestrian environment (podium height, setback requirements, etc).  I think it’s also positive for the various community groups and interest to be working together and finding some common interests.

In addition, in conjunction with the Seattle Office of Housing and the Low Income Housing Consortium, we are updating the 2004 Housing Plan for SLU.  We’re also developing interesting strategies to encourage the future addition of more affordable housing in SLU in line with the Seattle Comprehensive Plan.

But we have some really sticky issues yet to be resolved.  These include the overall topology of the neighborhood, will there continue to be a step down to the lake and how much extra development capacity to add to the neighborhood (how high the buildings might be).  I am still optimistic we’ll bring some attractive ideas to the community this fall for review and it will be much better than the previous EIS Alternatives.

The LUOA board continues to follow developments in the community.  Of particular interest is a Vulcan/UW proposal for a Phase III development on the block bounded by Mercer and Republican and by 8th Avenue and Dexter.  Vulcan and UW are proposing a 125’ high project in an area currently zoned S/M 65’ with a special provision for biotech to add 20’ to 85’ in height.  We are concerned this is out of context with its surroundings on all sides and would be out of character with the neighborhood with walls 125’ high on all property lines.  In addition, this could set a bad precedent and is the wrong way to do community planning, one block at a time.

If you have questions, comments, or issues please let us know at contact@luoa.org or call any of the LUOA board members.

Thank you for your support

John Pehrson, President

LUOA Board

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