Two meetings scheduled for proposed development

Tonight is the second Design Review meeting for the proposed development at 6559 15th Ave NW. A SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) Environmental Determination meeting is scheduled for January 11th.

Currently there is a large, mostly empty lot, but developers hope to build a 4-story building on the property.

The proposal calls for five live/work units and 101 residential units on the upper floors. The plans indicate that parking for 67 vehicles will be provided in a parking garage within the building.

The Design Review meeting is tonight, January 3rd at 6:30 p.m. at the Ballard High School library. You can view tonight’s presentation slides here (.pdf.) The SEPA meeting is January 11th at the same time and location as tonight’s meeting. Both meetings will be open for public comment.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

62 thoughts to “Two meetings scheduled for proposed development”

  1. Oh joy. Another row of storefronts that will remain empty with several boring unadorned stories on top. Something new for Ballard.

  2. where’s all the complainers that find it inconceivable that 101 residential units and 5 live/work units can only have 67 parking spaces?

    where will the average ballardite park their 2.3 cars???

  3. I’m again having a hard time with no setback from a busy street. It’s not fun to have an apt with 60 decible traffic outside the window. Flip the plan.

  4. seriously?

    that would not help the streetscape one bit. why not just put a big parking lot in front of it then?

    what you need are BETTER WINDOWS.

  5. Dig the lot a deeper and put plus .25 landscaping on the 15th Ave Side. Maybe the entrance lobby and 1 live-work unit or commercial unit, which I noticed was not included in the plan. Perhaps they intend the live-work units to be commercial.

  6. Why does it have to be right up against the street? Seems like a small courtyard-like setback would be nice and not detract from the business spaces at all. I am thinking of something like that building north of Greenlake that contains World Wrapps, Zeeks, Ben and Jerry’s, etc.

  7. If you don’t put enough parking spaces people aren’t “magically” going to sell their cars to take the bus.

    Especially since there’s only the 15/18 in front of that building, no easy I-5 access and we’re also getting the shaft for exits when they tear down the viaduct and replace it with a tunnel.

    Oh wait isn’t there supposed to be a monorail here?

    Oh wait isn’t there supposed to be rapid ride here?

    Oh what do you mean we don’t have any money for public transit? Perhaps you could at least scrape together enough money for another level of parking then.

  8. “101 residential units ..parking for 67 vehicles”

    This is more insanity. The average condo has something like 1.6 cars per unit, plus whatever parking goes for the businesses.

    Developers are gleefully running to the bank by making the public streets take the overflow.

    Anti-car nuts are also happy — they like th low parking-to-condo rate because they think if traffic gets bad enough, grandma will start biking to sunday school in the rain, sleet or snow

  9. The parking issue is a big concern. 67 spots, with many of them being “compact” ones, is not nearly enough. They are getting special reductions on the number required because of the proximity to bus lines and other loopholes.

    Another concern is that the entrance to parking is off of 67th, forcing traffic onto a side street and most likely increasing traffic in an otherwise quiet residential area that is full of kids twice a day going to and from school (Ballard High and Salmon Bay Elementary).

    The “live/work” units would most likely be more work than live. There is no closet or laundry facility in them like there are for the rest of the units.

    The real concern I’d have if I lived behind this project is that they are asking for a setback variance so that they can have a four story building as close as (I believe) 11 feet from the back property line. That is definitely not something I’d want looming in my backyard.

    To be fair, many of the units are very small, even studios, so much less likely to have a couple of drivers living in them. Also, there did seem to be a decent set back from the street with trees and benches as a pedestrian walkway. Of course, there’s nothing to link up to on either side, so it would be kind of an island, but I could imagine a bunch of high school kids hanging out there.

  10. My home-owning neighbor has five cars and zero driveway. I’m less concerned about apartment dwellers living in high density housing and parking on side streets than I am about single family home owners who hose their neighbors with their car farms.

  11. I’m working during the public comments. Where can I log my comments to the city? I agree with these writers’ concerns about inadequate setbacks and inadequate parking. The #15 is the only bus for these people, so that only helps if they want to go to Seattle Center or Downtown.

  12. Disregard the comment about benches and kids hanging out, I might have been thinking of another design plan I saw. Looks to be OK, but nothing special.

  13. The setback “variance” (also known as a departure) was not granted by the design review board, and the project as revised complies with the setback.

    A lot of misinformation out there in the neighborhood about this project. It will be a good addition to the neighborhood, obviously much better than the crack houses that currently stand there.

    Also, in terms of traffic into the neighborhood, what about the Jiffy Lube right across the street? That generates much greater traffic than will a small-ish apartment building.

  14. Even if they had 300 parking spots you still have a problem because all those cars get driven on our already crowded roads. Traffic is slow enough as it is, things like this just make it worse.

  15. Good to know about the setback, though if it was my house this was backing up to I don’t know that I’d suddenly be happy with an extra few feet of space.

    I agree that overall it will be a positive addition to the area, I don’t have a problem with it as a whole. As someone who lives in the area, the skimping on the parking is my biggest concern. 67 (variance for extra compact ones) spots for a 101 residential+commercial building will absolutely force more cars into the neighborhood behind it. I’m worried about it setting a precedence for future projects to have even less parking.

    I haven’t paid attention, but I doubt that 67+ cars come and go from the Jiffy Lube in an entire day, and especially not mostly in the mornings/evenings as people are going to/returning from work and kids are walking to/from school. Also, this will not be replacing what ever traffic the Jiffy Lube generates, only adding to it so I don’t really see why that’s even relevant.

  16. They can piss and moan about parking. Unless they put in 88 underground parking spaces. Then they’ll just piddle and whimper about parking.

  17. They need to elevate it above the traffic noise. Build it 88 stories tall, but put in nothing until the 84th floor, like the Space Needle.

  18. If you set it back they won’t come. Customers that is. You need to be at the street to be visible to the cars driving by.
    Setbacks are for mini malls where everything is set back from the street. In cities you need to be on the street and welcoming if you want to have successful retail. and 88 underground parking spaces. You definitely need 88 underground parking spaces.

  19. Another level of parking would mean that they could have 88 underground parking spaces, but more and better transit would be more better.

  20. We’d best stop making babies then. They might grow up and start driving before we can put 88 parking spaces under every building.

  21. You can log your comments right here for all the good it will do you.
    I don’t know if you’ve ever taken a bus, but they have this really cool thing where they give you a little piece of paper called a transfer (it’s kinda like a hall pass) that lets you get off your bus and onto another bus without having to pay again.

  22. This kind of density must have more underground parking. I am tired of not being able to park in front of my own home at night.

  23. I disagree. We need density close in for housing, but we absolutely must place their vehicles realistically on the property itself. 67 parking spaces is 100 too few.

  24. Outrageous! Where are the RV parking spots?! They need 101 parking spots for people with RV’s. Oh and what about people with boats? Best throw in 88 parking spots for Bayliners too.

    That’s what having an apartment in the city is all about, right?

  25. ‘Tis your sacred inviolate right given to thee by God upon the purchase, or entering into a signed lease, to park thine automobile directly in front of ones domicile. This right is never to be infringed upon by neighbors, guests, or reality.
    -The Book of Parking, chapter 88 verse 88.

  26. You really have to get a load of this place on the inside. It has one looooooong hallway running north-south for the whole length of it. It’s got a 224′ long hallway. Two. Hundred. Twenty. Four. Feet.

    There’s 32 units per floor, or 16 doors on either side of the hallway. So you stand at one end of the hallway, and you gaze off into the distance as door after door after door after door recedes into infinity. But not infinity; it’s only looks like an endless abyss of doors. In fact, it’s a mere 224′ of doors.

    Behind each door is a 450 square foot shoebox. So you just sort of have to imagine an apartment building filled 101 with 16 by 30 foot studios arranged sort of prison wing fashion, all with their doors facing inward to a single 224′ long, 6′ wide hallway.

    It’s like something out of a J-horror film. The Ring or Dark Water or whatever. With maybe a nail salon on the ground floor to class it up.

  27. This is TOO BIG! But after attending all design review meetings, it does not look like anything is going to stop the developer from building it.

    One piece of advice for neighbors living on the 16th street: get CYPRESS LEILANDII trees and plant them along the east border of your property now! Seriously, look it up. They are beautiful dense trees growing 3 feet a year. By the time this monstrosity gets built, you’ll have a natural wall separating you from it.

  28. We attended this meeting and I’m not entirely clear what the real purpose of it was other than to placate the neighbors and make them feel like they had a say when they don’t really, at least not about the things they’d like to. I’ll be interested to hear what, if anything, people said is taken into account in the final design plans.

    Whether we like it or not, design reviews are not code reviews. The developer is building to code. We don’t get to request it be made smaller, shorter, with less units, or a different style of architecture. That part is done, so if you want to have a say in things, you now need to focus on the what the SEPA (environmental review) meeting will cover.

  29. Well said. If all the whiners here want something more attractive or different looking, they can become developers and/or architects and do their own projects. Then they can sit back and deal with all the people who gripe over stuff they can’t control.

    This building is entirely code compliant, save for three minor zoning code departures which were largely accepted by the community and the Design Review Board.

  30. And your alternative design for an apartment building on a 300′ long by 87′ wide (minus a 15′ setback) site would be……???

  31. The alternative is fewer units, with more square footage. And a floor plan that does not rely on a soul-destroying endless hallway. Something that does not look like the Cabrini-Green Projects.

    Of course, the prerequisite that it be a 300′ long, 87′ foot wide monolith stuffed with the maximum number of units is dictated solely by profit anyway. Multiple buildings is an option too, but multiple buildings merely creates more livability, not more profit.

    There’s nothing wrong with offering cheap housing for low-income residents, but when you have a homogeneous building with nothing but warehoused people, it creates a slum. A mixture of larger floor plans with multiple income levels creates a community instead of a cesspit of drugs and despair.

    But the developers don’t have to live next to this future slum, and if you try to tell people like that to choose quality over profit they look at you like you’re crazy because money is everything to them.

  32. Perhaps we need to mandate that in order for this to be built, the developer or architect must live in it for at least one year in a unit chosen completely at random (so they don’t just tack on a penthouse on top).

  33. Developers and architects don’t get to make all the decisions.

    The law says the community has a say and that these boards are requited to listen. You can call it “whining” but “whining” is part of the process. It’s supposed to be part of the process and the intent of the law is to make design changes, if it is deemed advisable, in direct response to “whining” from citizens. It is simply false to say this is something we “can’t control”.

    We don’t get to dictate our whims — nobody gets that — but we have a small amount of control through community input. Not to mention the fact that when all is said and done, the mayor and the city council have to answer to us at the voting booth.

    See, this is a democracy, not a plutocracy. People decide everything. Money has no say.

    If you want to keep whining about the fact that the law says the community has a say, well, you can run for office. Developers who can’t stand dealing with community input are free to put their money into developments out in the middle of nowhere far from the city, where is no design board, no zoning and no community.

    They knew exactly what the rules were before they bought that land.

  34. “They knew exactly what the rules were before they bought that land.” Yes, they did, and they are abiding by them. There are a few relatively minor exceptions (downgrading 5 parking spots to compact from medium for instance) but, whether we like it or not, it’s legal.

    We can’t control at this point how long the hallway is, the types of people who will want to live in a “soul-destroying” environment, or how many units there are, and frankly, that’s the way it should be. The developer bought the land knowing the rules (code) with a plan to generate desired income on his investment(Gasp! How dare he!), and for us to be able to change them at this point would not be fair and would scare any developer away from any project. If you don’t like the zoning or codes, I suggest you get involved in that process to change them.

    For me, any type of apartment living would be “soul-destroying” because I’ve always lived in single family dwellings and love it. I highly doubt these will be slums any time soon, for the amount of rent people will be paying (I don’t have numbers in front of me but I saw them at one point and they weren’t cheap), slum loving people wouldn’t be able to afford living there. It’s not my ideal living situation, but that’s not to say it’s not perfect for others. Also, the developer is not known for building slums, he’s from Ballard and has a good reputation in the trade.

    I’m not a fan of the building, I would like something shorter and more diverse instead of one giant building, but that’s not our call. How would you like it if you bought your house with plans to legally add a two car garage+ shop and change the paint color, only to have the neighborhood get together and decide they want a one car garage with a cedar shingle roof, rain garden and green and red instead of yellow and white?

  35. Some neighborhoods do have rules about what color you can paint your garage or what you can put on your roof. It’s the buyer’s job to know what they’re buying before they sign on the dotted line.

    Nobody sprung some new rule on these developers. They knew what the design board process was was before they bought. They voted with their dollars and decided that they think Seattle is a good place to do business, the community input process and all.

    I don’t know what their excuse is for designing a building with an endless hallway of tiny, homogeneous studios. It looks like greed, walks like greed, talks like greed. Maybe it’s greed?

    But one of the beauties of the process is that when the design goes off the rails, there is an opportunity for people to speak up and point out what’s wrong.

  36. Sounds about right. The public can comment, but the Board doesn’t have to heed the comments. However, the alternative would be a bit of chaos; arbitrary rulings with developers not knowing what to expect and or how to predict the investment and cost.

  37. And are you the architect that was at the meeting last night who was talking about how long hallways would psychologically damage the tenants, and would eventually lead to “those people” living there?

  38. That’s what pretty much ALL business owners are like, and people in general. It’s not just “evil developers.” That’s the purpose of having a profit making business. He’s not running a charity, or attempting to build a sweat shop. Hence laws and regulations for everyone. People want to get the most out of whatever they invest into something, be it their car, home, relationships or career.

    Why is this condemned as such an evil concept? It’s pretty core to our American culture, and that really anyone has the option to do that is one of the things that makes this country so great.

  39. Jesus, every time you post on MyBallard some guy starts stalking you and trying to find out your real life identity. Next thing you know they’re going to show up on your doorstep. It’s creepy.

    So far you’ve tried to attack the right of people to have opinions about this building, and that crashed and burned. Now you’re trying to attack the person making the argument. Fail again.

    Suggestion: why not address the substance of the criticism and quit with the distractions and red herrings. Nobody cares who I am.

  40. First of all, I’m not a guy.

    Secondly, many of the statements you made above mirror those of the woman I mention (almost verbatim), who went on to make coded racist statements, like that this building would turn into a “slum” (also your word above) and that it would attract “those people”. If that wasn’t you, I apologize for trying to tie you to her; but if it was you, I’m quite comfortable calling you out for it.

    Thirdly, I have absolutely no problem with people having their own opinions. Everyone is a critic, after all. I’m not attacking the “right” of people to have them, as you claim, but rather I am attacking the opinions themselves. More correctly, I object to the public thinking they can design privately-owned buildings by committee. If every neighbor’s ideas were incorporated into the design, you’d end up with an overly expensive, inefficient building with cutesy little Craftsman details and trellises, and hidden by a forest of shrubs and trees, and would simply never get built. If you don’t like how buildings are being designed in your neighborhood, work with the City Council to amend the zoning codes.

    The public comment portion of Design Review Board meetings is akin to online polls. The comments received are not an accurate representation of the community as a whole, they only reflect the opinions of those who choose to participate. A couple dozen people showed up at the meeting with complaints. What of the hundreds of other neighbors in the area? Do they all feel the same way? Maybe they are all in support of the proposed design or simply don’t care. Getting a building permit is not done by election, so saying that if these people don’t voice themselves, their vote won’t count, is not a valid argument. Design Review is *not* a democracy, as you seem to claim. And by the way, who’s to say that the people at the meeting even live in area?

    One last note: Yes, developers know exactly what they are facing when they purchase and develop properties (with respect to Design Review, etc), but the people living adjacent to this property, assuming they did their due diligence when buying their own properties, should also have known full well that there was the potential for a 45′ tall multi-family structure behind their house and within 15′ of their property line. Buyer beware.

  41. unfortunatley the city has their own idea and won’t let ANYONE put anything over that number of parking spaces.  It sucks, but just think of what this will bring to our community…

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