The controversial project planned to replace much loved gardening store City People’s in Madison Valley will be on the design review docket Wednesday night. Expect some community pushback.
Here’s an excerpt from an “open letter” from the Save Madison Valley Group to the PCC grocery chain which is slated to open a store as the anchor tenant in the new development.
This building is misplaced because of its scale and scope, its impact on the area, and it is disrespectful of the community. It works only in so far as an attempt is being made to squeeze every possible dollar out of the property on the backs of the surrounding neighbors and the larger Madison Valley community.
“Why misplaced?,” you ask. They say:
- the height, bulk and scale of the building dramatically overwhelms the site (a mid-block triangle on a steep slope, two sides abutting single-family homes)
- a mature urban tree canopy and green space will be removed
- a two-story parking garage will be exposed on one-side, sending fumes, light, and noise onto single-family homes 23 feet away
- a large blank wall will stand 15 feet from single-family homes on one and one-half sides
- a hillside will be removed and replaced by a garage
- on the side facing the Valley this 4-story building will actually measure 6 stories
- a 158-car garage will open onto Madison Street, which is two lanes at that point and heavily congested at peak traffic times already
- no affordable housing is being offered
- no family housing is included (predominantly studio, and 1-bedroom apartments)
Developer Velmeir and Meng Strazzara will attempt to navigate those local waters presenting the plan for the four-story apartment building with a whopping 26,600 square feet of retail space and underground parking for 158 vehicles to the East Design Review Board for the first time.
“The development’s aim is to extend the vibrant retail experience along E. Madison St. and create a market rate mixed-use rental community that appeals to a wide range of Madison Valley neighborhood residents and retail business,” the “project vision” for the development reads. We’re guessing that probably won’t win Save Madison Valley over.
CHS reported on the group’s formation and concerns about the project earlier this year — as well as early efforts by the developer to engage with the community. CHS broke the news in March on the plans to close City People’s and for the store’s longtime owners to sell the land and retire. PCC was confirmed as the anchor tenant for the huge retail space in April. A second, much smaller retailer space is also planned in the development “to host a variety of retail needs for the Madison Valley neighborhood.”
Below the retail level are two levels of concrete parking structure. Per Seattle zoning code definition, the proposed parking levels are at an average 70% below grade due to the man-made steep slope site. The heavy concrete parking structure walls greatly help noise reduction for low speed traveling vehicles inside the parking structure. The design calls for small 5’-0” x 5’-0” screened vents 16’-0” on center. The screened vents will have a 42” sill height, sufficient to block most vehicle headlights. (6) On the exterior of the concrete wall and in between the screened vents are structured wire lattice for climbing vines to grow vertically. (7) In addition, trees will be planned in front of the screened vents. The design intension is to create a green wall in front of the single family homes. The preferred option splits the parking garage entrance by its primary use to both E. Madison St. and Dewey Pl. E. to help alleviate E. Madison St. traffic congestion. The residential parking entrance will be located off Dewey Pl. E. to discourage retail trips into the single family zone. The commercial parking entrance and indoor loading facility will be co-located off E. Madison St. at the far west side of the development, away from the intimate urban plaza for a safe and pleasant pedestrian experience.
Wednesday night, the board will be weighing that solution and what will likely be a lot of community feedback.