Early Design Guidance #2 Summary

Early Design Guidance: Round 2, happened Wednesday evening, October 26th.  The outcome: We’ll all be returning for a third round.  Overall, the Design Review Board said they were pleased the developer had made some changes in the right direction, but the Board unanimously agreed that it wasn’t enough yet.  A big thank you to the East Design Review Board members for upholding standards of excellence in design for this important project coming to our neighborhood! 

SMV EDG2

The Board seemed comfortable with the Madison frontage of the project, yet remained concerned about a number of aspects that affect the sides facing Dewey and Republican.  Specifically they asked the developer to address further the scale and bulk, the loss of the tree canopy and its replacement, the exposed garage, and questions about access (via Madison exclusively, or split onto Dewey also).

The Board got creative and offered some ideas of their own, too:  like housing on the Dewey frontage, rather than the two-story garage. 

If you missed the meeting you can read our summary of the Board comments that follow to get an idea of what happened.

Recap of Board comments & recommendations

Height, bulk & scale

  • Massing along Madison is ok.
  • Massing along Dewey is too much & does not respond appropriately to the residential part of the neighborhood.
  • Madison elevation has fair modulation, other side does not.
  • Board commented that there should be trade-offs (e.g. setback vs. height/bulk) and commented that 15’ setbacks are not needed with a smaller building.

 Residential frontage (Dewey)

  • Board had a strong (negative) response to the above ground parking garage on Dewey and tall walls.
  • The building frontage on Dewey should have more appropriate use, for example residential instead of parking. This needs more investigation.
  • Use should mirror use.

Parking garage access

  • Board is ambivalent about split access vs. single access. Board is ok with single access on Madison if it makes more sense.

Neighborhood impacts

  • Board had concerns about light spillage from the exposed garage and the street scape on Dewey.

Trees

  • Some board members expressed confusion about the changing status of exceptional trees and wondered if a circular argument was used to explain the status change (trees are no longer exceptional because they will not survive the development).
  • Board would like investigation into what can be done to preserve some of the existing trees.

Madison streetscape

  • Board would like to see a more generous sidewalk.
  • The vestibule is not a gathering space. It’s an entry and should be re-imagined as a proper vestibule.

Thank you for your support.  Please stay tuned for more about the next stages.  Visit our website, our face book group and page, and sign up for our email updates if you haven’t yet.

 We look forward to Saving – and growing – Madison Valley together.

You're Invited!

Save Madison Valley is throwing a party – a fundraiser – and we hope you’ll come! Bring a friend and join your fellow community members for an afternoon of food, drinks, and fun – and a chance to catch up on news about the development planned for the City People’s site.

We’re gathering Saturday October 1st, 3:00-6:30 pm, rain or shine, at the corner of E. Thomas St. and 31st Ave. E. in the horse’s corral.

At 4:30 Peter Steinbrueck, nationally recognized architect, design strategist, and community planner will talk about the development and be available to answer questions.

Save Madison Valley commissioned The Tilghman Group to provide an independent analysis of the developer’s traffic report. We will be sharing the results of that analysis. Come hear about the real impact the increase in traffic will have on our community.

Everyone is welcome. We are asking for a suggested donation of $10 to $100 per person. Cash or checks made out to Save Madison Valley, a non-profit organization.

This event has been generously underwritten so all proceeds go to support SMV’s advocacy efforts. Cash or checks only on the day of the event, please. If you prefer to use a credit card, you can do so before the 1st on our website by clicking donate.

Many thanks to neighbors Virginia Wyman, Dee Wyman, and Ann Wyman for planning and hosting this event.

 

Madison Valley has been my home for almost 40 years

Guest post by Yvonne

I moved to Madison Valley 38 years ago. I was young and single, and my neighbors were mostly older people who were raising their children. My neighbors became my family and they looked out for me.  My two sons grew up here, and now my granddaughter visits often. 

As the older people passed away, the make-up of the neighborhood began to change.  Even as new people have moved in, there’s still a neighborly and kind feel to our street. One thing that hasn't changed is we continue to look out for each other.  We still feel like family.

Yvonne

Madison Valley is a great place to live. I always felt that our street was the best kept secret of the neighborhood. It's quiet and I often feel a sense of peace and calm. I worry that the noise and congestion from an oversized development will negatively impact the reasons many of us moved here. 

Over the years I've enjoyed shopping at City People's.  I also used to be a regular at Hair by Boyce, when he was in the neighborhood.  Now I enjoy two of the newer additions, Pagliacci and Simply Soulful.

Madison Valley is a Treasure

Guest post by Shannon & Floyd

In search for the perfect place to raise our children, my husband and I found Madison Valley - a neighborhood filled with important intersections for us.  Madison Valley is where city and nature, people of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds, and old and new Seattle come together. 

12963545_10153534648143059_6607200450966919049_n.jpg

Our young children can ride their bikes and play basketball on our fairly protected street and we can walk to several lovely, quaint restaurants for a meal or to the arboretum for a play date.  In the over 5 years we have lived in Madison Valley, our lives have been enriched by the unique character of our neighborhood and the diversity of our neighbors.  Our children are exposed to the gifts a city brings through this diversity while getting to play in their backyard surrounded by trees and green space.  Madison Valley is a real treasure and we cannot imagine living anywhere else.   

Early Design Guidance Summary

Summary

The July 13th Early Design Guidance (Design Review) meeting at Seattle University was attended by all six of the East District Design Review board members, along with the City Planner, Magda Hogness.  Charles Strazzara, the architect hired by Geza De Gall, the local representative of Michigan based, Velmeir Corporation and designer of the project, presented to the board and public for the first 20 minutes.

The large crowd of over 100 people listened as Mr. Strazzara highlighted aspects of the project that he said would bring a “vibrant retail experience along with a mixed use residential” to Madison Valley.  Mr. Strazzara held up the arborist and geotech reports, and the traffic study, none of which were public at the time of the meeting.  He said the arborist found no trees meeting the criteria of “exceptional.”  The geotech report supports removing the entire hillside under the property down to E. Dewey Pl as a way for the building to stabilize the area.

Next, Mr. Strazzara gave a brief overview of the three building options.  Option one has an interior courtyard, necessitating pushing the building’s mass and volume to the edges of the property lines and making for “a big wall on Dewey, with a maximum height of 70 feet.”

The second option places the courtyard on Madison, making this a retail/pedestrian plaza.  This option would have the retail entrance below the sidewalk on Madison.  However, the mass and large wall issues, especially on the east (Dewey) and south (Republican) sides remain a challenge with this option.

Finally, option three, the one “preferred” by the developer, “pulls the majority of the building mass towards Madison, steps back the retail entrance 9 feet and provides a setback near the corner nearest the pea patch.”  Also, it provides a “10 foot setback on Dewey, 15 feet on Republican, and would have a recessed ‘back wall’ terraced to the upper floors, with a 46.6 foot wall facing Dewey.”

Mr. Strazzara said that the third option’s height calculations do not require zoning exceptions.  He said parking in this option would be “subterranean.”  Importantly, in this most recent version of option 3, the proposed parking garage entrance for tenants would be on Dewey, while the garage entrance for retail customers, freight loading and trash services would be on Madison.

Mr. Strazzara then moved to “design direction.” This would include using superior materials such as “brick, wood, steel and glass” on building exteriors.  Half of the 75 units would have balconies; the retail floor would be 16 feet high, rather than the 10 feet for the residential and parking garage floors.  The retail supermarket would have windows high up on the east wall.  There would be landscaped rooftops.  A staircase requiring approximately seven landings is planned from the northeast corner of the building down to Dewey Place.

Next, the Review Board members asked clarifying questions of the architect.  One question was what is the relationship of the third level roof terrace to Dewey.  Mr. Strazzara said that from Dewey there would be “36 feet of concrete, then the next three floors would be wood frame.”  The podium [retail] level allows for “mature landscaping (trees) directly above the podium level, with grass vegetation above that.”  The third level is planned to be an “activity level, with space for private rooftop terrace amenities, not a communal space.”  Also, the design calls for “keeping people away from the edge.”

The board’s next question was about the grade directly below the northeast corner where E. Mercer is undeveloped.  Mr. Strazzara said the “highest portion of the building façade is on the south east side of the hill climb assist, not on the right-of-way.”

The next question was to explain how and where services such as trash and retail loading would be.  Mr. Strazzara responded: “There would be a shared curb cut on Madison,” (where the current one is for the City Peoples’ parking lot) but Velmeir may ask for a “departure to extend the curb cut.”  Just inside the garage entrance would be trash services (bins and compactors), with the loading zone for trucks past this along the northern edge inside the garage entrance.  The loading bays would not accommodate large semi-rigs.  The proposal calls for “great signage” near the supermarket entrance.

Another board question was asking for an explanation of how the architect’s rendering showing full-size trees would be accomplished.  The architect said that there would be both deciduous and conifer type trees, breaking up the façade on Dewey with different tree types, likely primarily a columnar type.  For the blank wall on Dewey, the architect is “looking at ‘green’ walls, possibly ivy.”  For the parking garage structure he is proposing “5’x5’ cutouts” and a “decorative grid.”

Next, the board wanted to understand whether any of the plan options do not have “above ground screened parking on Dewey.”  In response, Mr. Strazzara said that while the “neighborhood guidelines promote subterranean parking, the proposed option is considered 70% subterranean.”  He went on to say that the garage structure is “predicated by the retail and residential space having something to support it.”  Also, 122 parking spaces are the code requirements; the project proposes 156 spaces as “we don’t want overflow parking on the street and the grocer has parking requirements.”

When asked by the board if the preferred option has “any departures,” Mr. Strazzara said that it does not contain any departures.

The board asked about the garage entrance on Dewey and what mitigation would be proposed.  The architect said that the “ramp would be at the west [?? should be south] end of Dewey.”  Another board concern was the visibility impact of concrete.  Mr. Strazzara was not sure what materials would be used.  He thought, some sort of “recessed wall, possibly stone baskets or poured concrete.”  Mr. Strazzara said:  “I like exposed concrete if it’s detailed correctly; it gets richer-looking over time.”  He continued: “At the grocery level there would be some sort of board; the Madison façade would be a type of long board, like the Ballard Commons, a high cost material.”  Also: “brick facing in keeping with Madison Lofts, and steel and glass for the retail storefront.”

Following the board clarifying questions were 20 minutes for public comments.  A number of Save Madison Valley (SMV) members presented grave concerns with the proposed plans.  These are detailed in the full SMV presentation.

Public Comments

The first person had a preference for option 2 as it could provide a “central community gathering space, and that the proposed building is an opportunity to change the area from a pass-through corridor to a destination neighborhood.”  Also: “a bus stop in front of the building would improve the experience.”  The next person thanked the architect for “proactive community involvement.”  A Madison Lofts resident preferred option 2, wanted more setback on the Madison side, possibly terraces with trellis material.  This person also had concerns about the backlit signage for the retailer, the height of the storefront windows, the loading dock, and the HVAC equipment on the roof.

A local merchant who is also an area resident was concerned about construction noise, traffic, the width of the garage entrance, as well as how deliveries and garbage would be handled.  Another person liked the proposed design, but wants a combination of options 2 and 3 because “the community needs a gathering space.”

A resident spoke up that the existing trees should remain, does not like “70 foot walls,” and does not want the hill climb staircase as it would: “cause parking on the residential street.”  Also, requests resident entrance on Madison.

A member of SMV spoke about a report by an urban ecologist on the site.  This report states that: “14,500 square feet of urban tree canopy would be destroyed.”  The report also notes that “snags [standing dead trees used for wildlife] and possible exceptional trees as well as a possible exceptional grove of trees” was not noted in the developer’s arborist report.  Further, the ecologist’s report said none of the trees on the site would survive the development.  The replacement value of these trees is estimated at $206,000.

The next comments were in support of option 3.  This person also supports “maximizing the F-A-R [Floor Area Ratio] to keep units affordable.”  Also, this person said the parking “seems appropriate,” and that “small units attract people who want to be car-free.”  He went on to say that he does not think: “Dewey would be impacted as much.”

Another 28-year Madison Valley resident said he thinks: “the project is way out of scale for the neighborhood, is concerned for the loss of the canopy, and suggests building within City People’s boundaries.”  Another long-time resident expressed similar sentiments, feeling the “building is too big for this area and that people would drive to PCC as a destination.”

Another Madison Lofts resident favored options 2 and 3, and said that height would not be a problem.  Someone else who lives nearby would bike to PCC, likes the architect “not using hardy panel on the street side, feels the transition on the single-family side “needs work,” and likes the “effort on transition from Madison and Dewey, wanting to see those connected.”

A person identifying as an “affordable housing advocate” thinks the height and scale are appropriate and the studios and one-bedroom units are needed.  Also, that the building “addresses the tree canopy issue, and would stabilize the slope and storm water retention.”

Written Comments

The board received written comments which were summarized:

  • Site is already a bottleneck – this would not help – cites guidelines
  • Several letters that the note taker was not able to get down
  • Lack of support for loading dock
  • Dewey would need to be upgraded to support traffic
  • Tree canopy concern
  • Pedestrian hazard on Dewey entrance
  • Would like to see building utilize Seattle green building standards
  • Support for retail space
  • Option 2 has big impact on residents below

Deliberation

Following public comments, the board spent about 20 minutes deliberating.  An outline summary of those deliberations follows:

  • Height/bulk/scale
  • Unique to this area – three options are ok for Madison but need more sensitivity to Dewey – south Dewey façade needs more work (unanimous). Work should continue on Madison side
  • Appreciate a more thorough height calculation discussion – need to know how this was done and could it be improved
  • DCI is looking at this
  • Doesn’t happen till zoning review
  • Concern about relationship to steep slope
  • Massing is consequence of site – one tax parcel – aggregation results in bigger footprint
  • Blank walls are a big concern
  • Tree canopy needs further study (see below)
  • Access for loading services
  • Having both entrances seems logical
  • Would like to see more info about planning for trash / services
  • Gathering / community center
  • Courtyard – PCC in Columbia City has indoor / outdoor seating; feels like a destination where you can shop and eat… advocates working with PCC directly
  • Gathering place is desirable for neighborhood
  • Tree canopy
  • Would like greater understanding of urban forest
  • Board would be reviewing arborist report next week, including exceptional tree / grove issue, plus snags
  • Board wants to see more details with landscaping plans 
  • Some concern about columnar row of trees – planting within setback. Feels like urban landscape gesture. 
  • Transition to single family 
  • Expressing as if it is possible – but it’s four stories on Dewey on top of parking… does not think that it’s an appropriate transition
  • Two stories of parking makes it less of a transition
  • Some solution for impact lies with alternate parking solutions
  • Troubled by blank walls – although there’s landscaping, would require multiple years to grow. Also need to look at Madison Lofts as neighbors
  • Topography - Not most sensitive response 
  • Architect has provided generous setbacks – appreciated 
  • Blank parking wall on Dewey concerning – feels suburban and inappropriate

Board's Conclusion

  • Option 1 least successful – wall on all sides, least respectful. Appreciated option 2, but affects single family residents. Likes hybrid, but needs to respect both sides of street
  • Height along Madison appropriate. Community stuff can be programed within building… interested in a massing option that would be more respectful of Dewey…
  • Option 3 most appropriate, but needs to come back for another meeting
  • Architect should continue to talk to community about preferred options; probably an amalgam of 2 and 3. Much more concerned about south side, parking options, trees. Needs to come back to board
  • Unanimous – project needs to come back. Key = massing off Dewey.
  • “Turning your back on neighborhood to south,” making screen; may not be best way to address single family. Paneling and row of trees not enough; this “doesn’t feel like building with life in it.”
  • Planner, Magda Hogness / DCI would notify parties of record

Following the meeting, a representative of the Department of Construction and Inspections visited the development site and issued a Correction Notice to Meng Strazzara (the architect) regarding the trees and applicable land use code. Click here to download the Correction Notice.

An Open Letter : Responsible Development in Madison Valley

Save Madison Valley was one of many voices at the July 13th Early Design Guidance meeting for the City People’s property.  We expressed concerns that mirrored many others’ in the greater community regarding the current plans to develop this property.  We also said that rather than simply opposing development, we hope to support and encourage responsible development.  But what does this mean?  Before offering an alternative, let’s review some of the facts.

City People’s sits on a unique site.  A large portion of the land is a steep slope overlooking single-family homes on two of its three sides.  The developer, with the aim to build the property out to its maximum capacity, is planning to remove the entire hillside, creating a building that is four stories on one side and six stories on the other.  In the process, this would wipe out the grove of trees--some over a hundred years old--which cover the hillside and serves as a buffer between commercial and residential property. Responsible development would not do this. 

Another consequence of this massive structure is a 156-car parking garage.  This is larger than the city’s building requirements – at a time when Madison Valley is about to be connected to the first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).  Building an over-sized garage contradicts the move toward greater public transportation and is not responsible development.  And anyone who has driven through Madison Valley during rush hour knows it simply just doesn’t make sense. 

Because of all this—the context, the slope, the urban tree canopy, the congestion on Madison-- many in the community envision a smaller, less massive building.  This would be responsive to our community’s concerns and fit the neighborhood.  

A universal comment from people on every side of this conversation is that we all love City People’s and wish we didn’t have to say good-bye to them.  The fact is, we don’t.  The owners of the land City People’s sits on decided to sell.  That is their right.  However, the business owner and the forty some people who are the face of City People’s, feel differently.  They don’t want to leave us either.

So, these are some of the important concerns: a massive building that removes valuable green space, gets rid of one of the city’s last urban nurseries, adds immeasurably to already over-congested traffic, and reduces the livability and walkability of our thriving community.

What would be an alternative that makes sense to us?  We understand that PCC is committed to being in our area and has signed on to be the anchor tenant for the proposed development.  We think this could be a great fit.  What we would ask is that PCC considers a unique, more compact store tailored to this urban area and unique lot.  How about a 10-12,000 square foot grocery rather than a 25,000 square foot supermarket? 

This would leave enough floor space for another retailer – City People’s!  Yes, by reducing PCC’s footprint it would leave room for a new City People’s to stay.  Both retailers would be smaller.  This alternative would allow for the nursery to be on the rear of the site where it abuts single-family homes, while PCC would front Madison.  City People’s is an ideal commercial neighbor to single-family homes.  It is a business that thrives during the day, and is quiet and dark at night.  And PCC benefits from, and adds to, the already thriving business corridor along Madison. 

Some have asked for a development that incorporates public outdoor space for the community to gather.  PCC and City People’s patrons, as well as the greater community, would benefit.  This seems like a winning proposition for all – and a responsive and generous addition to the development of this land.

The Valley prides itself on having many family friendly qualities like schools, green spaces, bike lanes, and pedestrian-friendly zones.  Having more residential units available to families would enhance these qualities.  While the developer has made a nice gesture in response to public feedback and added more two-bedroom units, the current plan is still prohibitive for families because of the size and cost of the units.  Adding some affordable, family-sized apartments would bring in more families.

All of these alternatives result in another benefit.  Reducing the size of the building and increasing family-sized residences allows for the greatest possible reduction of the parking garage. On over 300 feet of the south side of the building as it is currently proposed, the garage is exposed, and there is an entrance on Dewey Place, a narrow residential street.  Responsible development would place the entire garage underground and remove the parking entrance from Dewey.  With BRT coming to our area, and by reducing the building’s parking spaces, we would be further supporting public transportation, reducing congestion and pollution, and helping to keep the roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Geza DeGall:  As the developer on this project, will Velmeir be responsive to Madison Valley’s desires for our community?  Can you balance profit with the appreciation of a community by creating a development that fits our neighborhood rather than offends it?

Cate Hardy:  Will you, as CEO of PCC, along with your Board of Trustees, heed the call of our community and take the steps to be a good neighbor by agreeing to a smaller grocery store with reduced parking?  Will you demonstrate those long-standing cooperative principals of being responsive to the community and good stewards of the environment?  Can this become a new model “urban” grocery for you?

Harley Broe, Judith Gille, Dianne Casper, and Carol Anderson:  As the owners of the property, if Mr. DeGall passes on this opportunity, can you take this lovely plot of land where you have supported a business that has given back to the community in untold ways for years, and sell it to another developer?  Better yet, a lot of people in the Valley are very serious about wanting City People’s to remain.  Some have talked of wanting to purchase the property.  One option among many is for the community to raise the money, much like the public did recently to purchase the radio station KPLU.  It looks like there may be enough community support to house two cooperatives here: a PCC grocery co-op and a City People’s nursery co-op-- along with family-friendly residences.  This would be a tremendous neighborhood asset, adding to the heart of our community and creating a truly desirable destination.

In sum, Save Madison Valley respectfully requests that those wanting to propose change in our community do so responsibly.  We urge that any development in our neighborhood takes into consideration more than just maximizing your profits, but also respects the values of this vibrant community, one that we want you to be a part of and a good neighbor to. 

Our Presentation to the Design Review Board

Here is the presentation Save Madison Valley made to the Seattle East Design Review Board in case you weren't able to join.

Click here to download the PDF.

Save Madison Valley also commissioned a report by Matthew Patterson, MSES/MPA detailing his analysis of the ecosystem on the development site. This report was submitted to the Design Review Board.

Click here to download the Ecosystem Report.

Design Review Board Asks Velmeir for Changes

Tonight Velmeir and Meng Strazzara presented their development proposal for the City People's site to the Design Review Board. Save Madison Valley gave a coordinated presentation of how the proposed Velmeir building was inconsistent with many of the City's Design Guidelines, and numerous people spoke up for and against the proposal as it was presented.

After listening to the architect and the community, the Board members discussed the proposed development with each other and found it to be lacking. The Board suggested several changes that it would like to see in the next proposal.

What does this mean? The proposed Velmeir development will need to go through a second Design Review Meeting giving the Board and the community another opportunity to weigh in.

Thanks to everyone who donated time, money, and energy. The journey is far from over and we will need the support of the community as we continue to advocate for development that brings a positive addition to the neighborhood.

Stay tuned for more information!

An Open Letter to PCC

We look forward to welcoming you to the Madison Valley community.

Many of us in the greater community appreciate that we can shop at PCC and know we will get food that has been produced in a manner that supports sustainable agriculture, local farmers, fair labor standards, and practices environmental stewardship.  These values, and a commitment to building community, are in your mission statement and are a part of your reputation.  As a co-operative, PCC is known for putting community before profit.

We want to tell you about the building that is presently being proposed to house your new store in Madison Valley.

  • the height, bulk and scale of the building dramatically overwhelms the site (a mid-block triangle on a steep slope, two sides abutting single-family homes)
  • a mature urban tree canopy and green space will be removed
  • a two-story parking garage will be exposed on one-side, sending fumes, light, and noise onto single-family homes 23 feet away
  • a large blank wall will stand 15 feet from single-family homes on one and one-half sides
  • a hillside will be removed and replaced by a garage
  • on the side facing the Valley this 4-story building will actually measure 6 stories
  • a 158-car garage will open onto Madison Street, which is two lanes at that point and heavily congested at peak traffic times already
  • no affordable housing is being offered
  • no family housing is included (predominantly studio, and 1-bedroom apartments)

This building is misplaced because of its scale and scope, its impact on the area, and it is disrespectful of the community.  It works only in so far as an attempt is being made to squeeze every possible dollar out of the property on the backs of the surrounding neighbors and the larger Madison Valley community.

This does not sound like the kind of project that PCC would choose to be associated with.  You are now in the position where you appear to be supporting (even driving) the building of an “anti-green” building that the vast majority of the community thinks will change the character of the neighborhood in significant and negative ways – all outlined above.

We understand that you are not in charge of this project.  However, sketches, flyers, and banners have announced the coming of “the PCC building.”  In the eyes of much of the greater community this project is about bringing PCC to Madison Valley.

PCC_banner
PCC_flyer

We would ask that you exercise your voice and considerable power to help make this project one that PCC can be proud of.  Just as you have established the need for PCC to have a larger sidewalk in front of the entrance, or large windows to bring light into your store, we hope you will see the benefit to advocating for a more responsible building that is in line with the values that you as a cooperative have until now demonstrated in your business. 

Specifically, we would like to see:

*a smaller grocery, 10-15,000 square feet, in the space (something between your smallest stores, such as View Ridge, and your larger, suburban supermarkets, such as in Issaquah or Redmond)

*the minimal number of parking spaces allotted

*affordable housing for families (e.g., 3-bedroom units), which would also minimize the impact of cars on the already over-burdened Madison Street

*the green space and tree canopy preserved and the natural topography respected

Finally, we would like to extend an open invitation to any and all members of the Board and to the CEO to please come and view this site.   We would welcome a chance to show you around and walk with you.  It is a lovely part of Madison Valley and we would like to help you become an integral part of this thriving community.

Respectfully,

Save Madison Valley

Peter Steinbrueck and Save Madison Valley Set the Stage for Design Review

Thanks to everyone who attended the Save Madison Valley Community Meeting on June 18th. Peter Steinbrueck gave a wonderful overview of the Design Review Process and explanation of why community involvement is necessary. As he put it - we know our community better than any review board or out-of-state developer. The Design Review Board wants and needs our input!

A summary of the many questions, comments, and concerns from the audience is below.

For those who would like to write to government officials about this development, we have provided contact details and example letters on our website http://www.savemadisonvalley.org/development/

 

Community Comments and Concerns

 

The Building

  • It is much too large with no buffer or transition between it and single family housing or the pedestrian scale.
  • There are significant geotechnical concerns including storm water management, an underground spring, and the water table level.
  • The entrance to the destination retailer is lower than street level. Was this done to increase the height of the building? What is the impact on the pedestrian zone?

Parking Garage

  • It is not below ground on Dewey.
  • It includes significantly more parking than required by the City.
  • If garage traffic is backed up, people will park on the street and walk to the retailer(s).

Environment

  • The development might not have an environment impact statement even though significant green space, including a mature tree canopy, will be removed with no plan to replace it with a comparable green space.
  • Can the environmental decision be challenged, if the development is determined to be a nonsignificant environmental impact?

Traffic

  • Heavy traffic is already an issue. Additional traffic resulting from a destination retailer will cause further backups on Madison, Lake WA Blvd, MLK, and residential side streets.
  • There are concerns about the traffic impact on pedestrian safety & walkability as well as emergency services (fire engines, ambulances, police).

Destination Supermarket

  • What impact will late closing hours (11pm or midnight) have on the neighborhood?

Other Comments

  • Residents will come and go at all hours resulting in traffic and noise in an exposed garage.
  • Future HALA upzoning is a concern.
  • There is concern about the staircase from Madison to Dewey turning the valley into a parking lot for people going to Madison/retailer/residents and people visiting residents.
  • Design Review is the appropriate process for civic engagement.

If you have any further comments you would like to share with Save Madison Valley, please feel free to send us an email at info@savemadisonvalley.org. Thank you for your continued support.

Help us keep Madison Valley livable for everyone

Save Madison Valley is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit that is working to keep Madison Valley a livable, safe and vibrant neighborhood for all. We have made this wonderful neighborhood our home and want to keep it a diverse, welcoming and green community that supports responsible growth. 

In an earlier email we announced that we have hired a renowned architect to advise us as well as a local land use attorney. While we are doing much of the leg work ourselves, we do have ongoing financial expenses as we prepare for the Design Review Meeting on July 27th. To help us offset some of these expenses, we are reaching out to the community to ask for support.

Donate 

Save Madison Valley appreciates a donation of any amount. No donation is too small!  

  • $150 would fund an hour of work from our architect to review the proposed development
  • $60 would pay the rent for an hour at the FAME Community Center

Save Madison Valley has registered with Benevity Causes for corporate matching. If your company offers corporate giving & matching programs through Benevity, your donation can be doubled!

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Purchase a t-shirt or sign

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As a grassroots group of neighbors, Save Madison Valley is powered by community members. We welcome expertise in geotech, urban land use, architecture, design review and arboriculture. We could also use volunteers to do research, pass out flyers, author opinion pieces and much more. If you would like to volunteer your time and efforts, please send an email to info@savemadisonvalley.org, or simply respond to this email, and let us know how you can help.

Thank you for your continued support.  Let’s save Madison Valley together!

Things I Love About Madison Valley

Guest post by Melissa

I’m standing outside my backdoor looking North West at the towering Poplar trees gently swaying in the cool May winds. The blackberry bramble blankets the hillside slope. Just last month, on my daily neighborhood walk, the ornamental cherry blossoms sprinkled petals that paved the sidewalk pink. 

It’s so green here!

The Mad P community pea patch grows bigger everyday; tall artichoke bushes, rows of romaine, and dozens of herbs and veggies. Raspberry bushes line the outside of the fence, along with exploding roses and the hops wind around the gate. Neighbors are tending to the garden with their children. 

There are numerous Robins, Chickadees, Blue Jays, Yellow Warblers and Hummingbirds singing and fluttering about. Squirrels bound from the Cherry Trees. Spring is definitely in the air. 

Where else can you walk a few blocks from your home and visit miniature horses, Vivio & Shazam! It’s a thrill to stroll around the neighborhood seeing so many gardens growing, flowers blooming and people who care about nurturing their homes.

It’s the undeveloped natural beauty of Madison Valley that makes this neighborhood so appealing. I love living here.

mc_sun.jpg

Everyone Brings Change to Madison Valley

Guest post by Py

I bought my Madison Valley house in 1977. It had been abandoned for four years and was an unlivable, derelict structure sliding off its dirt foundation. But my partner, an architect, saw its promise.

We approached the design of our total remodel of the house by setting some principles, one of which was “fitting in with the neighborhood” and preserving its charm.

We kept the “bones,” but otherwise stripped the house down to the studs and beams. Now the only things visible of the original house (built in 1900) are the beams in the basement. (We used materials from the old house inside the walls and under the siding.)

In terms of appearance, we looked at two factors: visuals and scale. The size of the house, in footprint and height, remains essentially the same as it was in 1937. If you compare photos from 1937, 1957, and 1997, it’s clearly the same house. With some interior design effects, we were able to add an upper floor without changing the overall height or shape of the structure. On the interior and at the back facing the alley, we gave ourselves more freedom.

In terms of concrete (literally) improvements that affect the whole block, we jacked up the house and replaced the dirt foundation with poured concrete. Outdoor, I launched an all-out war on ivy, which was a haven for rats from the Arboretum. Removing the ivy also resulted in a bonus — a beautiful old retaining wall, built sometime between 1937 and 1957, hidden behind the ivy.

Although traffic and parking were not such significant issues back then, we created off-street parking for our two cars.

And, perhaps most important, we were welcomed by neighbors who were happy to see someone come in and revitalize what had been an abandoned and neglected structure.

In the nearly 40 years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen many people come and go, bringing with them remodels and new construction, as well as smaller improvements. All of these people brought changes of various magnitudes and, both concrete and intangible. Each, in her or his own way, contributes to the vitality of our neighborhood.

Similarly the more dramatic developments along Madison have changed the neighborhood — in good and bad ways. I’d like to describe three of the changes I’ve seen.

Belle Epicurean

Before I came to the neighborhood, the site of Belle Epicurean was a little gas station. At the time I arrived, it was a small bicycle shop, called “Velocipede.” It warmed my heart to watch two guys build a little business into an enterprise that they later had to move to larger quarters on Capitol Hill. The building has changed purposes a number of times in the last few decades, but kept largely to the size and scale of the original building. For a while it was a video store and I remember my neighbor and his sons walking up the stairs on the weekends to rent movies. Now it’s Belle Epicurean, a quiet, charming spot for good food.

Café Flora

Café Flora is a good example of a business that demolished one building and built anew. If memory serves me, the restaurant replaced a laundromat that was so unsavory-looking I couldn’t imagine even walking in the door, much less trying to get something cleaned there. And now—talk about charming and fitting in! Now we have one of the most inviting buildings in the neighborhood, housing a thriving business. Unfortunately, though, the café — and the proliferation of small businesses along the street — also brought significant parking problems, mitigated somewhat by the parking zone established by the city.

Bailey-Boushay

Plans to build a hospice for AIDS patients raised serious opposition from the community — especially from surrounding businesses. However, the architects designed a building that looks like it belongs here. Its scale, building materials, and the way it sits on the lot makes it seem as if it’s always been there. Visitors enter the parking lot (tucked away out of site) from the side street instead of clogging traffic on Madison. It didn’t take long for opposition to fade and I think most of us see Bailey-Boushay as a positive change to Madison Valley.

Change: Positive and Negative

I write this to help us appreciate the growth of our community and to counter those who dismiss opposition to the building of a large multi-purpose building in place of City People’s Garden Store. It isn’t a “not-in- my backyard” opposition.

The structure is significantly, to say the least, out of scale. While there are multi-story buildings on the north side of Madison, the difficulty of building on the steep slope has discouraged builders from putting large structures on the south side. Buildings on the north side encroach little, if any, on the green area above the arboretum. On the other hand, the building proposed for the south side wipes out a green area that stretches more than a block and abuts the city’s green zone that includes the pea patch. 

And then there’s the effect on traffic and parking! The businesses on Madison don’t have as big an impact on traffic compared to what we can expect from the new building. In addition to traffic generated by the businesses planned for the proposed building, there are 75 apartments planned. There are buildings with apartments already in place on Madison, but the number of apartments doesn’t even approach the number planned for the new building.

Entrance to the included parking lot for the building is on Madison (the only location that’s at all feasible). We can expect parking for the residents to take up a significant portion of the parking lot, leaving a smaller number of spots for businesses. Even so, we can expect parking to spill over into the residential streets. PCC would bring a high-volume customer arrival and departure nearly around the clock and would have a great negative impact on traffic that is already difficult. In short, the opposition of Save Madison Valley to this proposal is not a fear of change in and of itself. It stems from a sober analysis of the negative impact of the project on our community. You can find more information about Save Madison Valley at savemadisonvalley.org.

First Views of the Development

The City has just posted the first public document describing the development slated to replace City People's.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL REPORT

Here are some initial views of the building:

 Building looking East from above Madison

Building looking East from above Madison

 Building looking North from above Dewey & Republican

Building looking North from above Dewey & Republican

 Building looking South from above Madison

Building looking South from above Madison

 Shadow study (4pm equinox)

Shadow study (4pm equinox)

 Building height: 47 feet tall at Madison; 46.5 feet tall at Dewey; Exposed Garage

Building height: 47 feet tall at Madison; 46.5 feet tall at Dewey; Exposed Garage

Join us to view the design of the City People's re-development project

Save Madison Valley encourages you to attend the upcoming tour and Madison Valley Community Council meeting on Tuesday May 17th at 6:15 pm. This is your first opportunity to see the plans for the City People’s property re-development.

6:15 PM Tour the development site with Save Madison Valley

7:00 PM Madison Valley Community Council Meeting*


Save Madison Valley is pleased to announce that after reaching out to the developer and architect of the City People’s development, we had an initial meeting with representatives from both. During this meeting SMV shared some of the community’s concerns. SMV also reiterated that we are not against development; rather we are for development that is a positive addition to the community.

The architect expressed a desire to receive input from the community throughout the process and agreed to keep the lines of communication open. This was hopefully the first of several meetings, with a second one coming soon.

Let's save Madison Valley together!
 

* Save Madison Valley is not affiliated with the Madison Valley Community Council. We encourage you to attend the MVCC meeting; however this is not a Save Madison Valley hosted event.

Save Madison Valley partners with former city councilmember Peter Steinbrueck

So much has happened with Save Madison Valley since our community meeting regarding the City People's site on April 9th!
 

What's going on with Save Madison Valley?

  • Partnering with architect, urban strategist, and former City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck
  • Working with attorneys David Mann of Gendler & Mann and Jeff Liang of Ling & Liang PLLC
  • Registering Save Madison Valley as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with officers and a board
  • Reaching out and meeting the developer
  • Building our website
  • Reaching out to volunteers with expertise in urban planning and architecture
  • Attending meetings: Land Use Regulation Committee (LURC), Madison Valley Merchants Association, Madison Valley Community Council
  • Leafleting and communicating with Madison Valley residents
  • Talking to local business owners in Madison Valley and Madison Park
  • Reading the meeting minutes of the Seattle Department of Inspections and Construction and the letters submitted by concerned residents of Madison Valley
  • Preparing letters to the Department of Planning & Development, City Light, and the Department of Transportation
  • Volunteering at the April 30th Madison Valley Spring Clean

How you can help!