"Deactivation" of streetside at N34th St & Fremont Ave

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    Seattle’s urban planner types keep talking about “activating” the urban streetscape by creating street-level building presences that draw in or interact with pedestrians. The expansion of sidewalk cafe seating areas is a good example of this, as are cases where shops set up displays/samples of their goods outside for passersby to browse.

    Sadly, when it comes to code and actions by the city, it pretty much “de-activates” streetscapes, for example by requiring all new buildings in certain areas to have ground-level commercial space, which more often than not (in Ballard at least), sits vacant and gives the impression of a blighted area.

    I saw another sad example of this recently (purely due to the private sector this time), with the new signs indicating that the former Peet’s Coffee location at the corner of Fremont and N34th St will now be Occupied by Starbucks (capitalization intentional). Coupled with the closure of the former energetic, windows-open-to-the-sidewalk Costas Opa restaurant across the street and its replacement by a sterile, sealed-off Chase banking environment, this intersection has changed from a “ride-to” to a “ride-through” for me.



    I agree wholeheartedly! Another example, though not nearby, is the new building adjacent to the historic brewery in Georgetown. What were they thinking? A huge blank concrete wall (a few small windows) right up to the sidewalk. The merchants there must be incensed. It wasn’t even made to look in any way interesting or to fit into the other historical architecture. Looks like a light industrial building from Tukwila.



    I urge you all to give your comments about this and other urban design issues to:


    and to

    aly.pennucci@seattle.gov (Pedestrian zones which require this kind of development which then sits vacant).

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