While the languishing Post Office and large parking lots remain, a Central District community group is seeking to bind a set of community priorities to future development of the MidTown Center at 23rd and Union.
Some 70 people gathered Tuesday night at 18th and Columbia’s Centerstone to discuss their desires for the 106,000 square foot property at a meeting organized by the Central Area Land Use Review Committee.
“Central Area LURC is not trying to stop development,” said the group’s chair Amanda Bryan. “We want to make sure it’s engaging with our community.”
To do that, the group wants the City Council to attach community influenced development stipulations to the site before the current family owners sell it off. Next month the City Council will consider whether or not the property can be up-zoned from four to six stories. If the up-zone is granted, the council can also require what’s known as a Property Use Development Agreement. PUDA’s can include a broad range of requirements for a future developer, including community aspirations for the site, Bryan said.
Longtime property owner Tom Bangasser told CHS he’s already begun talking with interested developers.
During those early conversations Bangasser said he applied for the up-zone so developers could start proposing six-story projects. Bangasser, who’s family has owned pieces of the property since the 1940s, said he opposed Central Area LURC’s current attempts to shape the future of the site.
“If you put enough restrictions on the property, nobody is going to buy it,” he said.
Many of the ideas discussed during Tuesday night’s meeting, although still purely hypothetical, echoed those forged by the Capitol Hill Champion for the the Capitol Hill light rail station site: affordable housing, courtyards, small retail spaces, adequate parking, and preserving the history and culture of the surrounding neighborhood.
During the meeting Seattle architect Brian Runberg presented a few “big picture” ideas for the site. One proposal included a large anchor store, possibly a grocer a la Metropolitan Market, surrounded by smaller retail spaces and townhouses.
Bryan said she would present the ideas to council members when they consider the 23rd and Union up-zone on July 16th.
Meanwhile, Lake Union Partners has broken ground across the street on The Central project. The developer paid $3.8 million for the land and plans to build a 92-unit, mixed-use building at the site.
‘Keep the Central Area’s Squire Park Plaza affordable for families, seniors and the disabled!’
Another pocket of community activism to help shape future development is also making itself heard. A group has posted this petition to call on Mayor Ed Murray to work to reverse a plan to sell Squire Park Plaza to a for-profit developer:
We, the tenants of Squire Park Plaza and neighbors, respectfully ask your administration to reverse the OED and OH recommendation dated March 11, 2014 to sell Squire Park Plaza to the private market and to do everything in your power to help CADA sell our building to a buyer committed to maintaining or improving its current levels of affordability.
The building’s current owner, Central Area Development Association (CADA), has entered into an agreement to sell the 1710 S Jackson building to a for-profit developer on the City’s recommendation, the group says.