Capitol Hill’s largest institution of higher learning has expansion on its mind. And in order to do so, Seattle University needs Seattle City Council approval of its Major Institution Master Plan (MIMP), a lengthy document that details the development the university anticipates during the next two decades.
It’s part of a long and ongoing process, one element of which includes an important public hearing next week. Seattle University’s first MIMP was first adopted in 1986; its current plan was approved in 1997. The latter plan expanded the institution’s boundaries by 11 acres. Work on updating the plan has been going on for 18 months.
Why go through such effort? Beyond being required by law, its because the university is getting bigger. In something of a MIMP mission statement, the university states its intentions are: “To address anticipated future increases in student population and improve development to meet those needs with a vision for the next 20 years.”
Seattle University reports that as of 2007 there were 6,764 full-time equivalent students, a 54-percent increase since 1995. Full-time equivalent faculty then stood at 1,177, a 29-percent jump since 1995. The trend is both expected and intended to continue: In the near term, Seattle University anticipates that more than 10,000 students will attend the institution.
The university’s new MIMP includes a combination of planned and potential redevelopments and specifies that SU’s Major Institution Overlay (MIO) — the area in which the university may operate, which includes its own property, city property and private property — expand by 2.4 acres.
While the overlay isn’t slated to grow a great deal — to put that into some perspective, Seattle University’s current MIO footprint is roughly 77 acres — work within the campus is considerable. A combination of planned and potential development, if completed, will add approximately 2.14 million square feet of on-campus building space through renovations and new development.
To the bullet points:
• Up to 505,000 square feet of planned near-term development is expected to occur within four years.
• Roughly 715,000 square feet of potential near-term development may occur within seven years.
• Up to 925,000 square feet of potential long-term development may occur within approximately 18 years.
• A net increase of 577 parking spaces is planned for the near term.
• Approximately 57 percent of the campus is to be devoted to usable open space.
Concentrating on the near term, the MIMP specifies that the university will, among other things:
• Build additional academic facilities;
• Add student housing;
• Increase pedestrian access across the East James Street and East Cherry street corridor;
• Improve pedestrian paths;
• Replace surface parking with structured parking and increase usable open space;
• Strengthen the presence of the university along 12th Avenue, particularly the northeast corner of 12th Avenue and East Madison Street (where the current self-storage facility is located).
The devil is in the details, of course. And those details are contained in the MIMP and Draft Environmental Impact Statement, a combined document more than 2-inches thick. As you might expect, it contains many charts, many numbers, many maps and many illustrations. CHS is working on getting digital copies of these documents and will make them available as soon as we get them.
The MIMP, and specifically the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, goes over the construction impacts that can be expected, as well as the university’s approach to dealing with them. Space does not realistically permit listing them here. But given that the event horizon for Seattle University’s expansion is nearly 20 years, and that the institution lies within or near the Pike-Pine neighborhood, Squire Park, First Hill, the growing 12th Avenue corridor as well as south Broadway, how the university deals with construction impacts is of considerable importance to numerous neighborhood constituents.
Having spent a few hours perusing the document I can share that it’s fairly straightforward and reasonably easy to follow. Should you wish to have a look, copies of the MIMP and DIES can be reviewed (but not checked out) at Seattle University’s Lemieux Library, the Central Library downtown, the Douglas Truth Branch library at 2300 East Yesler Way, the International District/Chinatown Branch library at 713 Eighth Avenue South, and at the University of Washington’s Suzzallo, Allen and Architecture libraries.
Importantly, the public hearing to go over the Seattle University’s MIMP as well as the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, takes place on Wednesday, June 3, at Seattle University’s Teilhard de Chardin Hall, room 142. It runs from 5 to 8 p.m.
Also worth noting, public comments are accepted through June 22. Send them to the Department of Planning and Development, attention Lisa Rutzick, 700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98104-4019.
More later on this subject, to be sure.