Pike/Pine businesses await ‘precedent-setting’ help under city’s construction hub program

IMG_8667Pike/Pine business owners could finally get some relief from the neighborhood growing pains they say have battered their prospects for years. While each block and venture faces its own unique challenges, owners say the major issues are well known: The rush of construction is overwhelming the neighborhood and the area’s precious few parking spaces get unfairly tied up by unresponsive construction companies while constant sidewalk closures push customers away.

After more than a year of meetings, the city’s Office of Economic Development and Seattle Department of Transportation have told business owners they’re ready to release a “precedent-setting” strategy to help those businesses stay afloat. But business owners working with the city are still unclear about what those policies will include.

“I’m eager to see the details,” said Philip Shaw, president of the 11th and E Union design firm Golden Lasso

In an April meeting with city officials, business owners floated several ideas, including having developers pay for local business parking spots in private lots, offering public parking in residential underground garages, or having developers put together purchase coupons for retailer or restaurants to give to their new residents.

“24 years in business and this city doesn’t value it.”

Last year, the city tried to step in by launching Capitol Hill Construction Hub meetings with neighborhood business owners. But if the group’s spring meeting that CHS attended was any indication, many owners feel the city still isn’t doing nearly enough. The next session, by the way, is Friday.

Parking complaints have included “no parking” times that last well into the night and weekends when work seems to be at a standstill, construction vehicles that block load zones, and subcontractors who snatch up parking spaces all day with private vehicles.

Last fall, CHS reported on 10th Ave’s Sweatbox yoga studio’s claim of $11,000 in business lost to construction issues.

“24 years in business and this city doesn’t value it,” said one frustrated Pike/Pine shop owner during the April meeting, adding that the city should consider the longevity of a business when deciding how to allot construction impact assistance.

James Kelly of the city’s Office of Economic Development said the policy proposals would be used to create an ordinance that would likely get submitted to City Council sometime next year — a timeline that some owners have said is unacceptable.

Dave Meinert, co-owner of Lost Lake, the Comet, and Big Mario’s and a CHS advertiser, said that many developers in Pike/Pine are simply bad neighbors and the city has done little to enforce those rules already on the books.

… the increasingly mixed-use nature of Pike/Pine and Capitol Hill means whatever solutions the City Hall reps bring back will most likely help residents as well as businesses

Currently, the construction hub program attempts to enforce special requirements on developers in the hub and create open lines of communication with nearby businesses. Requirements for developers include getting an approved construction management plan, haul route, traffic control plan and “confirmation of Project Information Outreach to businesses, residents and stakeholders within a one block radius of the project.”

Capitol Hill’s hub boundaries are defined as a north-south rectangle from E Harrison to E Madison between Broadway and 15th Ave:

Capitol Hill Hub: Area bounded by E Harrison St to the north, Broadway to the west, E Madison St/E Spring St to the south, and 15th Ave to the east.

Before you file this away under “common business complaints,” subcategory “moaning about parking,” realize that the increasingly mixed-use nature of Pike/Pine and Capitol Hill means whatever solutions the City Hall reps bring back will most likely help residents as well as businesses.

Pike/Pine residents and visitors will surely appreciate the Seattle Department of Transportation’s continuing efforts to work with developers to mitigate parking impacts. SDOT’s Wayne Gallup said the city wants to have construction companies give specific details in future contracts about how they’ll handle the influx of hundreds of workers and their cars in high density areas like Pike/Pine.

Communication between developers and businesses continues to be a major hurdle to resolving parking issues in Pike/Pine, Gallup said. To address it, Gallup said SDOT is now creating a website that will eventually show all planned work in Pike/Pine.

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20 thoughts on “Pike/Pine businesses await ‘precedent-setting’ help under city’s construction hub program

  1. I have noticed that for a long time construction companies have blocked off multiple parking spaces, not only for valid construction needs, but also for the convenience of their workers who park their private vehicles in some of these places. This happens everywhere, not just Pike-Pine. It needs to stop.

      • Except that, in the case of Neumo’s, the reserved spots are relatively few in number, and for very limited periods of time; whereas contractors will block off entire sides of streets for days, even weeks on-end, and for unreasonable hours that extend far beyond the designated times they’re allowed to perform work.

    • The construction workers were doing that at Mercer and Mauldin. One day I saw the workers vehicles, all ticketed :)

      No parking should mean no parking

  2. Seattle’s never had any recognition of pedestrian right-of-way around construction–routinely long stretches are blocked off without any accommodation. In this case, there’s finally such a concentration of activity that’s it’s made ALL the sidewalks in the area difficult to navigate.

  3. We absolutely need this to pass and it will ABSOLUTELY help residents as well as business owners on Capitol Hill. How this group can prove that utility to residents would be if they would bump the western boundary line to I-5, rather than Broadway.

    There is a significant amount of construction worker traffic on the west slope of Capitol Hill that is causing issues in the morning – for pedestrians even more than drivers. The influx of construction workers driving around and around and around – so preoccupied looking for parking for BIG pickup trucks that they don’t watch for pedestrians has gone from frustrating to scary.

    • I noticed that immediately too. How can “Capitol Hill hub” not include the area west of Broadway (all the way to Boren)? The bldgs under construction are just as big, the parking just as tight, the # of pkg spaces used up just as many, and the impact to smalll neighborhood businesses just as severe. Whatever else gets decided, the area considered “hub” should be much larger.

  4. The Mayor needs to show that he values the existing businesses. Right now SDOT does nothing to enforce rules the put on developers, over schedule permits in one area at the same time, and listens and then ignores residents and business concerns. SDOT us a department under control of the Mayor and he needs to do something.

    And, my god, someone should do something about the complete crap buildings going up. What a shame that Seattle is allowing developers to build this shit.

    • Right?! How horrible does the Bill’s Off Broadway building look now! It’s almost worse that they left the brick exterior on the ground floors (never thought I’d say that!).

  5. The growth of high density “apodment” complexes without dedicated parking adds to the problem. Project 301742 at 1420 E Howell St between 14th and 15th intends to add 57 units with zero parking. Its irresponsible to assume none of the new residents will have cars. This will create further issues for business on 15th Ave. While I agree 57 parking spaces would not be required as some residents will use public transit for 100% of their transit needs some new residents will bring their cars. It should be required that new high complexes provide at least a percentage of 30% or more for parking space for each unit added.

      • You want everyone else to have parking so that parking is easier for you? Where’s your parking spot, why don’t you rent one instead of complaining about how congested the street is?

    • I completely disagree. While I support a solution for helping mitigate the parking issues caused by construction vehicles, we by no means should be forcing anybody to build parking. We have way bigger issues facing this neighborhood than making it easy to store your car in the public right of way. Requiring parking harms housing affordability and distorts the market for car ownership. In the era of rising rents, climate change, and worsening traffic congestion, the last thing we should be doing is subsidizing car ownership.

      • We are not subsidizing parking if tenants pay for it. If tenants don’t want it then it’s pretty sure businesses will, or Uber or any number of uses. That is what is happening in many places. Excavated underground space is built space. Will be useful for something, even when cars no longer exist.

      • @neighbor: we aren’t, you’re right – but it drives up the cost of construction and the rental rates. So the residents who don’t own cars wind up subsidizing the ones who do.

        Check out the recent study on parking put out by Capitol hill housing — market rates for parking can’t pay for the construction costs of parking.

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