Observations, anecdotes and takeaways from last night’s Capitol Hill Housing annual meeting and forum — The Future of 12th Ave:
- Who was there: Besides Cap Hill’s usual suspects, there was a mix of developers, architects, city employees, plus a few business owners and residents. Around 150 packed into the Northwest Film Forum’s main theater for the meeting. I also counted at least three media types, myself included. The Stranger and the Daily Journal of Commerce also sent reps.
- The panel:
Michael Killoren, Director; Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs
Liz Dunn, Pike/Pine Property Owner and Developer, Director; The National Trust for Historic Preservation Green Lab
Elizabeth Linke, Property Owner; Northwest Film Forum and 1621 12th Ave. Buildings
Kate Stineback, Housing & Community Developer; 12th Avenue Initiative, Capitol Hill Housing
Michael Kerns, Associate Vice President for Facilities; Seattle University
Tenaya Wright, President; Squire Park Community Council
- My quick, totally shallow assessment of each contribution: Killoren: Out of touch, Dunn: Wanted to say more, Linke: Wanted to say less, Stineback: Knew her stuff, Kerns: Poker player, Wright: Had more to say but knows panels aren’t the best communication format for deeper discussion.
- First question to the panel came from a CHS discussion of what we’d like to know about the future of 12th (made me very proud!): Is there another area in the city like 12th we can look at for comparison and ideas of what to and not to do? The panelists and the crowd started buzzing but nobody had an immediate answer. “Telling,” said moderator C.R. Douglas. The panel finally offered up Columbia City citing the area’s historical preservation work.
- Recurring question not really answered: How do you achieve development that preserves local businesses and reflects the neighborhood?
- Anti-Ballard line of the night: Panelist Elizabeth Linke, Ballard resident and owner of 12th Ave’s CHAC building that will soon house Velocity dance studio, described new Ballard developments as slums and says what has happened there drives her to preserve Hill arts.
- Issue for the future: How to improve pedestrian experience at 12th and Madison.
- The East Precinct parking lot development that Capitol Hill Housing is pushing forward sounds like it will hinge on the cost of building parking spaces. A ‘structured parking stall’ — a parking space within a structure like an underground garage — costs around $35,000, Kate Stineback said. Here’s a doc I smuggled out (in my sneakers arpparently — sorry for the wrinkles!):
- More Linke: When asked how landowners can help preserve arts on the Hill as she has, Linke said, “I don’t have an answer. It’s very difficult to make ends meet when you are trying to help organizations and make a profit.”
- TDR count: Transfer of development rights programs come up pretty frequently in discussions around development these days. The panel contained itself to pretty much only one discussion of TDRs on the night. Nice work.
- What I mean by out of touch: City’s director of Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs Michael Killoren said he thinks a transfer of development rights program will be part of the solutions the City Council puts in place when it votes on Pike/Pine zoning overlay legislation later this spring. City staff have already said it won’t be.
- Liz Dunn said she won’t rent to national chains. Her tenants must be local and independent. Better longterm value, she says.
- Stuff to follow up on: Dunn was asked about the former 1200 Bistro location and said she’d heard “somebody in the neighborhood” had wanted to buy it and restore it to its “1930s glory” and get the city to give the building landmark status.
- Storage is the key to your future: Seattle University’s Michael Kerns said what happens to the location currently occupied by the storage business at 12th and Madison is the most important development issue in Seattle University’s future. “We have to get that one right,” he said, but would only offer a prediction of something happening on the SU land where the business is located “within the next 5 to 6 years.” Kerns said the development will likely be a mixed-use project. “Let’s just say that storage will not be the ultimate use for that site.”