Design Review meeting for Compass Center

Monday night is the Early Design Review (EDR) meeting for the Compass Center building for 1753 NW 56th St. According to the meeting notice, “The proposal is for a seven story, 57,000 sq. ft. building containing 80 low income housing units, offices and meeting spaces (Compass Center). Parking for 14 vehicles will be within the structure.”

The EDR is the first opportunity for designers to offer their ideas for the site and vicinity to the Design Review Board. The photo above is one rendering from tonight’s presentation (.pdf) that Weinstein A|U will give to the board. The Board will offer their opinions and there will be opportunity for public comment. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Ballard High School library.

This is the same lot where this eyesore was torn down last year. Compass Center hopes to break ground on this new project later this year.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

86 thoughts to “Design Review meeting for Compass Center”

  1. You beat me to it. Regardless of the major push to relinquish us from cars, this will end up screwing up all of the local streets for parking. Typical. They did the same thing when they rezoned Capitol Hill. It's a major mistake.

  2. Banks won't finance projects (or are overtly hesitant/difficult towards) without parking. Their fear, is that if they have to take the property back the property will be functionally deficient to get full market value.

  3. I see nothing wrong with discouraging building users from bringing cars.

    We want this building to be around for awile don't we?

    You guys want to design this building for 1950. Think outside the box a little.

  4. It is low income housing. If the occupants have enough money for a car, they have to much money to qualify for low income housing.

  5. Let's tell all the neighbors to 'think outside the box a little'. sheeesh.
    Even the Jetson's needed parking crabby.
    So these electric cars of the future, gonna fold up into matchbox cars?
    More stupid social engineering, great. I'll be at this meeting.
    I absolutely welcome the added low income housing, we need more of it.
    But this is rediculous, stunning really.

  6. I'm glad somebody eventually decided to set the bar for low income at a vehicle, what an ass. Do food stamp recipients all walk? Nope. Do welfare recipients all walk? Nope. Is having a vehicle a right? Nope, but it should still be allowed, even for the poor. (gasp)

  7. I’m trying to figure out why a building having an adequate number of parking spaces would somehow shorten it’s useful lifespan.

    Designing a building for 1950 doesn’t make any sense, but designing it for 2010 does and like it or not we drive cars.

  8. If they provided parking and the tenants owned a car they would have more prospects for decent employment and a better chance to escape the system.

  9. Awesome, I can't wait b/c hopefully all the people camping out in the abandoned house down the street just 2 lots E will be able to move to the compass center. There are at least 4 people living there now.

  10. Don't be ridiculous, there are cars out there for a couple hundred bucks and cars are often given away. For a lot of jobs, especially low end jobs, they won't hire you without a car. A lot of poor people have cars. Not very nice cars, but they have cars and will have to park them somewhere.

  11. If you really want to “think outside the box” about parking and vehicle usage, you'd also realize that when people have a place to park their car it is often an encouragement NOT to drive it. If you must move your car or get a ticket, very often the person will drive to work so they don't have to worry about the ticket. I've seen it firsthand when I lived on Capitol Hill. I'd walk or take the bus since my car was in the garage while my roommate would drive because the sign out front said his car had to move by 9am.
    I'm all for more use of mass transit, but making driving and parking suck is the wrong way to achieve it.

  12. Pay or not there is less and less parking in downtown Ballard. Yeah, 14 parking spaces for 80 unit seems light and will make a bad situation worse. Not everyone is going to take the bus even if a lot do. Not to mention they still are having a really hard time selling the condos they already built. I wonder what parking will be like after those finally sell and fill up?

  13. I looked at the drawings and wonder: Where are the shopping carts?

    With 80 residences and only 14 parking spots (designated for staff) I expect people will walk to and from the store. There should be a handful of Safeway and QFC carts in front, and maybe a Bartell's cart or two as well.

  14. I THINK SPG was saying that his roomie would get a ticket if he left his car on the street at home, and took the bus instead. So driving to work would avoid that particular ticket.

    But I could be wrong. Taking cold medicine todya.

  15. I can't make it to this meeting tonight, but I'd love to know the take-aways. I agree about the parking situation. Living on this block, parking is already at a premium, we don't need more cars on the street, let alone the eyesore these cars would be. Will someone be posting an update here?

  16. Great, as if there aren't enough scumbags running around, now we have to have low income housing. Gonna love watching crime go up and property value go down.

  17. Funny, if this fugly monstrosity was being built for people paying for their own housing, half of Ballard would be having a s*** fit about it. I guess bums get more respect.

  18. I must be the only Ballard Blog reader that is happy someone is doing something USEFULL to help the homeless.

    All you people know how do is BITCH AND COMPLAIN AND MOAN. If all of you put as much effort into solving the problem of homelessness as you do bitching well then….

    you'd have nothing to bitch about.

  19. I believe the Aloha Inn on Aurora is low income housing, or a place to help people get a new start. They don't have TOO much parking, not enough for all the rooms, and the lot isn't ever full. Maybe they are just taking note from other places and see cars aren't a big issue.

  20. actually, homelessness can be ended, as it has been in numerous countries that are less rich than America. Even though it costs more to maintain our homeless population as homeless users of emergency medical care that it would to house them, what keeps our homeless situation in place is the fiercely held belief that homeless people deserve to be homeless and that it's a violation of cherished individual rights to house homeless Americans.

  21. I'm guessing that the 14 parking spaces are NOT for the tenants at all, but for the office space in the building (if you read the description about meeting space and whatever else).
    So who knows, perhaps this makes some of you happy and some of you not. If residents do have cars I'm guessing they will have to be parked on the street and those people who work at the facility (i.e. compass staff) get those dedicated spaces.
    If this is the case, 56th is going to get awfully crowded.

  22. “actually, homelessness can be ended, as it has been in numerous countries that are less rich than America”

    Really Outerballard?????
    Wow. I'm stunned by just how uninformed this comment is Outer Ballard.

    It's a shameful thing to be so cavalier about something so clearly untrue. Can you name just one country less rich than America where homelessness has been eradicated?? Seriously…..take your ridiculous comment down or come up with one.

  23. Hey it looks like they'll be making all the adjacent buildings clear as well. Nice. Now I'll be able to keep an eye on you deviants.

    On a lighter note, why so f-ing angry about the homeless? I don't actually think I've ever met someone who was REALLY fired up at the hobos, much less wanted to kill them off. Is there a profile I should be imagining? Succesful people don't have the time for this sort of nonsense …

  24. The people Compass will be housing are very low income and I doubt many of them will have cars to park, so screwing up parking in the neighborhood shouldn't be an issue.

  25. Low income housing resident does not equal homeless. Never has, never will.

    Does anyone see the positive news here?

    Original plan was for a homeless women's shelter with some 60 beds. Then a male & female homeless shelter. Now it is planning to be a income housing. Which makes me believe they thought they couldn't keep it full as a women's only shelter or homeless shelter.

  26. Been to Sweden, saw bums.

    Been to Singapore , saw bums.

    Iceland? More people live in North Seattle than the whole country.

    Keep trying.

  27. Hi Farmer Ted,
    The three countries I mentioned have housing as an entitlement much as Medicare or Social Security in our country. Sure there are homeless but it is strictly a by choice situation – much different than here. In Iceland/Sweden it is part of there socialistic economic structure; in Singapore they are a country that places a high value on cleanliness.

  28. I am a freelance journalist who is currently working on a documentary about homelessness in Seattle; specifically the Ballard/Green Lake area. I am very interested in what you think about the homeless and the street camping population. Please contact me at to voice your opinions and concerns.

  29. France, Sweden, Holland… many European countries have dealt with homelessness far, far more successfully than we have. Don't ask me to go live there if i like it so much, because although I like some things about those countries and believe the US could learn a thing or two from other countries, I like the US best and am a proud American.
    While the US has been investing in military might, and while we closed our mental health institutions without better solutions in place, Europe has been investing in infrastructure and greater supports for it's people. Last night I had a social worker friend over for dinner, (I've not been directly working for social service orgs for some time now), and she sees homeless people daily and how our society and weak policies perpetuate our flawed system. She sometimes passes judgement on the homeless, (and imo some sureley have earned harsh judgement) and considers herself more conservative than most, but also feels clear need to help those in need. Homelessness is obviously a complex problem, with populations including those who are alchoholic, drug users, mentally ill, unable or unwilling to ask for help when it's available. But it's not an insoluble problem or one that American ingenuity and pride couldn't neatly tackle if we had the resolute will.

  30. Can anyone who attended, or who's familiar with the Compass Center project, comment on how this building and it's units compare to other projects in the area? The absence of parking spaces seems to make it comparable to low-income housing in downtown, but seems different from other properties outside the downtown area.

  31. The Compass Housing Alliance (new name) manages a number of housing facilities and has done so for many years. They have a good track record of managing facilities of this kind.

    This building will house up to 80 homeless men and women. Someone asked the question about couples, families, and children and the answer was only single people will be housed in the studio apartments which are quite small. On average each apartment is only about 275 sq. ft.

    Parking is intended only for the staff working there. Homeless people generally do not own cars so they didn't anticipate that parking would be a problem.

    Access to the building will be controlled and support services will be available to the residents.

    This was a preliminary design review and the architects have still to work out a lot of the detailed design once the overall structure gets the go ahead.

    There was discussion of a green roof and trees and other plantings in front of the building. Examples of other buildings designed by this architect are quite pleasing.

  32. There are a handful bums in Sweden but they don't have a homeless problem in any rational sense of the word problem. Same in many countries.

    If your criteria for there being no homeless problem is that there are no mentally ill people who absolutely refuse to come insde then you are right there is no place. On the otherhand if you can count them on your fingers in a big city then I'd say no homeless problem.

  33. I'd like to agree with outerballard. I've lived for extended periods of time in many European countries, and by-and-large homelessness is a very different kettle of worms across the pond. Social services really are available, and most people don't get to the point where they lose everything because of a different standard of human rights. We have a different interpretation in the US and it's a fair argument that it makes us less, rather than more, free.

    When you're spare-changed in Belgium or the Netherlands for example, you know that the people asking you have real choices. One mustn't feel miserable all day that they gave up a chance to help someone. The biggest gripe I would have is the exploitation of children (Romas with drugged children begging) that situation could be improved. But again, it's a different set of issues.

    Don't forget that in Iceland, Norway, Sweden (places where a majority of the 'homeless' are really traveling Roma selling blinky toys, moving on after 3 months) the winter takes care of the 'problem'. People are often forced to seek help, even those who are homeless for reasons of substance abuse, mental disorders, and the like. If not, they freeze. Happens every winter. Not everyone can be helped, but to let people truly have no where to turn is pretty horrible.

    That said, I happened by a gentleman with a shopping cart and a collection of 40's urinating all over that fence on my way home. I get that when you live outside you need to do all your business there as well, but I hope we can do/expect better than that in Ballard.

  34. You have to look at the question of whether you are trying to reduce car trips or cars in total. Parking rules can have the unintended consequence of encouraging people to drive their cars. This isn't universal, but I know that in my case when I knew that my car was securely parked and didn't NEED to be moved, I was perfectly happy to leave it and walk. My roommate had to get up on Saturday or risk the ticket, so why not keep going and take care of the errands via car.
    Obviously parking isn't the total equation, but it can be part of it. Too many people are pushing the idea that making car ownership such a pain in the ass is the only way to increase the use of mass transit. While owning a car in Manhattan is expensive and inconvenient, the reason most people don't own a car there is that the transit and walkability is so good that you don't need one. We're not there yet in Ballard so we should be realistic about what's going to happen with all the cars that we do have and where we're going to park them.

  35. Although the bums are usually homeless, not all the homeless are bums. I believe this building is intended to house and counsel homeless in the hopes of keeping them from becoming bums.

  36. We are the richest country in the world. How we choose to spend the money is the problem. Since we spend more on the military than the rest of the world combined we don't have much left over to do the things that most other countries do like house the homeless.

  37. What's really pathetic is drinking coffee from 7-11. Zing!

    If you're homeless you'll have to wind up taking a dump somewhere other than the bathroom you don't own. Therefore, if you house the homeless in a facility with bathrooms you'll be less likely to run into one pooping outside. If you add in counseling to that facility you're more likely to get that homeless person out of being homeless and back on their feet. If you have enough of these facilities you can then separate out the bums from the homeless and deal with the bums as a law enforcement issue without persecuting the homeless. You get to walk to 7-11 without seeing poopers while the homeless have a safety net that helps them back on their feet.

  38. Cate, I think that pokerguy doesn't like the bums and can't differentiate between them and the homeless. Hopefully it won't take a gambling addiction and the associated heavy losses for him to learn firsthand what it means to be out there with nothing.

  39. You need to differentiate them. The homeless are a large and diverse group ranging from the hard working underemployed to the mentally ill to the criminal drug addicts. Like any diverse group you should expect a diverse range of reaction, even from the same person. I can't stand the drunken bums pissing all over the place and stealing, but I have a lot of sympathy for the people who wind up losing their homes for other reasons.
    I hope you realize that while a lot of people are essentially good people with bad luck and deserve and need our help while some of the other people out there aren't really deserving of sympathy as much as a good kick in the ass.

  40. that is if you can get the homeless to comply with the rules at the facility. if they don't want to, they will continue to dump at the 7-11. i'm wondering how many of our locals are going to want to play by the rules.

  41. A few hundred bucks? Reminds me of when I was a teenager and thought all I had to do was save a few hundred and I'd have a car. My dad brought me down to earth real quick when he mentioned all the other costs and responsibilities associated with owning a car. Like insurance, gas, repairs, flat tires, emissions testing, speeding/parking tickets, etc. The glamour of owning a car wore off pretty quick, didn't start driving until I was 19.

  42. Sad. I've just about had it with Ballard and its open door policy for the homeless. This project may be the final straw that forces me to move. I've seen this neighborhood go from a sleepy to hip but I can't stay to see it become trash. I fear that's what this development will do, trash Ballard. As a friend recently commented, “Ballard is the Mecca for Seattle's homeless”, I fear this is all too true.

  43. Amen 96

    These “people” have no respect for themselves or their lives so why would they have any respect for the community or people who live here. This basically amounts to a homeless dorm. Can't wait to walk my kids past on a nice summer day and see all the bums hanging around outside drinking High Gravity logger and smoking cheap cigarettes. All on the dime of the people who actually work for a living. It's pathetic. Instead of getting rid of the homeless scum they are building a place for them to reside, horrible. Going to be awesome having 80 of them roaming around with nothing but time on their hands.

  44. I think you might have something else to say if you lived on a lovely and peaceful street that was then taken over by drunks and crazies that scream profanities down the street in the middle of the night, abandoned buildings where people feel it's perfectly okay to dump furniture and tires out front or let their dogs poop on the lawn without picking it up, spin donuts in the empty lot creating bacteria-rich and oh-so-lovely designs in the grass, and use the street as a waste receptacle for fast food wrappers, beer cans, whatever. Yeah, it's a nice thing to have, but why can't the homeless shelter/low-income housing/halfway house be in the industrial area instead of the neighborhood?

  45. “You need to differentiate them. The homeless are a large and diverse group ranging from the hard working underemployed to the mentally ill to the criminal drug addicts.” This is true. There is not a homogeneous group of people known as the “homeless.” Hey, many never had homes to begin with.

    But here's the thing OuterBallard; spare your military industrial crap for another blog. “If we only built more homeless shelters and less bombs the world would be wonderful!” Listen, I have real sympathy for those who are down on their luck and need a hand up, but that don't describe the scumbags I see in front of the Ballard Library most days swilling crappy malt liquor and leering at my kid. And we all know this; sorry if it doesn't sync with your worldview that these are kindly oppressed misunderstood souls

    “What keeps our homeless situation in place is the fiercely held belief that homeless people deserve to be homeless” Really?? It's that simple, huh? We're just all meanies. Keep something in mind the next time you lift a finger to offer us your deluded simplistic pap; we are in a historic budget crisis in this state and country. Epic friggin proportions, right?

    Every dollar spent on that guy I always see who looks 65 but is probably 45 hanging out all day, the one who is NOT mentally ill or a “victim” of our heartless countries shortcomings, the one swilling that brew at 2 in the afternoon along Market street who has no intention of going “straight” in his life no matter how many social programs we fund, the one who will be shacking up later this year in a brand new facility……every cent we spend on this worthless loser is one not spent on: disabled kids programming, healthful school lunches, more cops, better teachers……you know the drill. So stop with the tired underclass warfare lies, ok?

  46. Yep, been there too. Except I bought the $400 car and learned how to keep it running enough to get me to work and home. Saved up and when the car bit the dust for good I had enough to buy a better one. I'm sure a lot of poor people are rolling around in beaters and keeping them going with or without the other paying the other expenses.

  47. I get the impression that “our locals” (who aren't from here BTW) aren't the intended tenants of this facility. The vagrants messing up Ballard seem for the most part to be there by choice and aren't that interested in getting clean or following anyone's rules. I would hope that this facility does a good job in getting homeless people looking to get back on their feet the help they need instead of being a crash pad for the vagrants.

  48. Dear 'Just Disgusted,' you are responding to something other than what was written in my posts. What I wrote has nothing whatsoever to do with “oppressed misunderstood souls” or “underclass warfare.” I hope you have a good day.

  49. The number of parking spaces being proposed in comparison to the number of units, plus whatever social service agencies occupy the building, is ridiculous. How many homeless people are currently using their cars as housing? Will they give up their cars in exchange for one of these apartments? Doubtful. And what about people visiting the social service agencies? Will they all arrive on foot or via bus? I think not. Ditto the staff for the residence itself as well as those who work for the social service agencies. If only a handful of parking spaces are provided, then all staff and residents should be required to take the bus or walk everywhere. I don’t believe any other residential facility of this size could get away with providing so few parking spaces. The parking situation in Ballard is ridiculous and will only become worse if this type of development is allowed. As for the bums in Ballard. I am disturbed to see drunks hanging out at the nice park across from the library, where little kids play in the water fountains and skaters enjoy the bowl. When I walked past the site of this proposed development yesterday, it was already home to the homeless as a group of men were sitting around drinking. Ah, party time!

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