What the development set to replace City People’s will look like

E Madison looking northeast... to the future or, at least, beyond Madison Valley

E Madison looking northeast… to the future or, at least, beyond Madison Valley

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.

Design Review: 2925 E Madison

“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.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 8.45.21 PMOne of the biggest design issues for the project is how to mesh the heavy duty parking levels that are partially exposed to the single family-style neighborhood down the valley from Madison:

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.

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26 thoughts on “What the development set to replace City People’s will look like

    • Yes, they are. A major concern is the impact of PCC customers on Madison’s already-difficult traffic flow. It’s bound to get much worse. Also, there is a safety concern….judging by how difficult it is now to exit the City People’s parking lot, this will be an extremely dangerous situation as many more vehicles will be exiting the PCC parking garage.

    • only if you are one of the nimbys that owns property nearby. otherwise, they aren’t right. major arterial with direct access to downtown. we need to make as much use of the land around such roads as we can. sorry that you thought the world would freeze the way it was when you purchased your home but things gotta change. and part of that change is happening in your backyard. sorry.

    • The building is damn ugly. They keep showing the Madison side which is “meh” — but the real monstrosity is on the East side of the building, which is a 180 car above ground parking garage.

      … barf. I thought Seattle was supposed to be a green city?

  1. Developers’ preferred plan now splits the building traffic, perhaps motivated by neighbors’ concerns. Residential traffic now exits via Dewey Place. The 78 residents’ cars will presumably make a trip or two per day, mildly impacting Dewey Place, which is presently used by about a dozen pickup trucks with City Peoples’ logo on them.
    The design now also contains 19 two bedroom apartments (a rarity in Seattle), again possibly in reaction to “Save Madison Valley”‘s concerns.

  2. (my letter to the Design Review Board) prc@seattle.gov
    Re: 3020338, Development at 2925 E Madison St, Seattle, WA 98112
    I am a longterm resident of the nearby, rapidly developing, Madison-Miller Urban Village on E. Madison Street, and a longterm neighborhood advocate and Design Review meeting attendee.

    I approve of the applicant’s willingness to meet with residents prior to the EDG meeting, and to share their preliminary plans. This seems a useful trend and should be encouraged.

    The applicants have made several changes to their plans since that meeting, perhaps in response to neighbors’ concerns.

    1) Residential traffic now exits via the rear of the property, reducing the traffic impacts on E. Madison Street.

    2) 19 of the 75 units are now 2-bedroom, a rarity in recent developments, providing homes for families adjacent to this mostly single-family neighborhood.

    3) Multiple strategies are employed to disguise the parking garage wall that faces Dewey Place, via extensive use of greenery.

    I personally approve of these changes, and am encouraged by the developer’s willingness to change.

    I am aware that the developer has not made the major changes in the bulk and scale of the project desired by many neighbors, but note that the design does not seek any design departures, and seems to me to be within the parameters envisioned by the City of Seattle for NC2 developments.

    Indeed the 25,000 square feet medium-szed grocery store proposed is the example given of a typical commercial NC2 use by our City’s zoning chart (http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/cs/groups/pan/@pan/documents/web_informational/dpds021568.pdf). I note from that chart that NC2 would allow “50,000 square feet for multipurpose retail sales facilities.”

    I thank the Design Review Board for their tireless volunteer work,

    Andrew Taylor
    20th & John,
    Former chair of East District Council and Miller Park Neighborhood Association.

  3. To the neighbors complaining about the lack of subsidized housing in the proposed project, I ask, have you opened the doors of your house to somebody at below market prices? This is simply a case of self-interested homeowners hiding behind misleading “Progressive” taglines to pursue their own selfish interests at the expense of responsible development and general progress.

    • So only the people who rent out rooms in their homes at below market rate should believe that subsidized housing should be a thing? Ok, so get rid of food stamps unless you’re giving away food. Get rid of Medicaid unless you’re giving away medical care. Good grief what retarded logic.

  4. “no affordable housing is being offered”

    I’m pretty sure there is no affordable housing currently in the neighborhood of City People’s. It’s pretty affluent.

  5. So much for the YIYBY (Yes in YOUR back yard) argument that there would be affordable housing. Expect these units to go for $3000/mo or more.

  6. Neighborhoods have character and a historical aesthetic. People are right to resist this develop-at-all-cost phase that presently inflicts Seattle. Those profiting are often afar and will never be part of any of these communities.

    • that’s exactly the mentality that got san francisco into their current housing crisis. besides, isn’t this like the first of this kind of development in madison valley?

      and, sorry, what character are you talking about in this neighborhood? affluent white people who can afford a single family home of $500K+?

    • Zeebleoop – Have you ever walked around the neighborhood? On my block I have neighbors who are black (3), white (2), Japanese (2) and hispanic (1). The entire neighborhood is not white and rich, and many bought their houses a very long time ago when we had to put up with zero police response and gunfire all night. Our opinions are now worthless because our property values rose (as did our incredibly high property taxes that pay for your services – you’re welcome)?

      I’m an hourly shift worker. What do you do for a living? If you live on Capitol Hill you must be rich, white, living in a condo or a mansion and working at Microsoft, right? Stereotypes are bad, k?

  7. In the drawing the trees to cover the giant wall and open parking garage (God, that will sound terrible all day/night on the Dewey side) are 46 feet high. So on the Dewey side the giant wall and open, lighted, noisy parking garage will have some tree screening in about 46 years? What a dishonest representation that drawing makes.

    Folks yelling about the need for this overpriced grocery store 7 blocks from another grocery store and within 14 blocks of 5 grocery stores should realize that Madison narrows to 1 lane each way at this spot and is already a nightmare to navigate coming out of even the 6 spot parking lot at the pizza place. One cannot turn left (West) and traffic daily backs up all the way up the hill. All the traffic out of this store will turn right then have to circle around the narrow residential neighborhood streets to get back on to Madison. Good luck, cyclists on the Lake Wa Loop!

    A giant grocery store should be at a larger 4-way intersection, not in a narrowing corridor like this.

    • It’s not just motorists – it’s pedestrians, bicyclists on a heavily traveled bike route and everyone living in the surrounding blocks. Try to see the bigger picture before wigging out over the possible loss of boutique groceries for rich people.

  8. If traffic is a concern then why not do away with street parking. This will free up space for traffic and busses, bike lanes etc.

    Projects of this scale in this area are what you get when we have the low height restrictions elsewhere (like Capitol Hill). If you can’t build up, we have to build out, unfortunately and more areas like this will be impacted.

    • There is very little street parking on that narrow stretch and none on the side of the street in question until you get further down (East) the block. I don’t think, with the arboretum on one side and a cliff on the other you can widen the road enough to make more lanes. It’s a true bottleneck.

    • What? There is a ton of street parking and its plenty wide as it is. Widening the street is the last thing we should do. As I said, just do away with street parking and make room for commuters.

    • Timmy – If you do away with all street parking all the way down Madison from 23rd, which you would need to do, you could *maybe* squeeze in another lane (not sure as on wider 22nd where there are 2 lanes it’s incredibly narrow). I’m all for that. However, you’d still have the same problem when you hit Lake Wa BD just past this project: The street again would narrow to 1 lane due to the right turn lane and the street parking thereafter. I wish they could widen the street and do what you ask – that would make the BRT actually have the “R” in it mean something.

  9. The building should be at least twice as high and have less than half the parking. If you’re worried about traffic, build less parking. But don’t take your concerns out on an opportunity for more housing.

    • I agree it should have far less parking.

      Re twice as high – good luck. The design review board tonight found that math used to calculate the height on the back side was problematic at best and found that the whole design showed no respect for design guidelines regarding a building facing a residential street.

  10. The design review committee tonight found all sorts of issues with this project including its dubious measurements scheme on the back side and its completely dishonest representation of landscaping (not even possible there) which showed trees at a height they’d be 50 years from now replacing an urban grove of mature trees.

  11. Looks good enough for those going to shop for groceries at least. How fast can this get built? I’m assuming it’s a few years off no matter what?