Seattle YIMBYs are still basking in the fuzzy afterglow of victory in the expansion of the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability plan and upzoning in its densest neighborhoods. But there is one District 3 front in the city’s war over development where neither side is ready to declare a winner even though it seems the battles could finally be over.
In late February, the Seattle Hearing Examiner ruled in favor of developer Velmeir Companies that its plans for a six-story, mixed-use apartment building, anchored by a new PCC grocery store in the heart of Madison Valley were in line with the State Environmental Policy Act. Community group Save Madison Valley had asked the examiner to reverse design review approval and the city’s determination on the project’s environmental impact and require the development to undergo new rounds of costly, time consuming review,
But officials at Velmeir aren’t ready to celebrate a groundbreaking.
It’s not because the developer must still work out a few issues over sunlight and neighboring p-patches identified by the Hearing Examiner.
Velmeir vice president Geza de Gall declined to comment on the decision as the company remains in wait and see mode until the Save Madison Valley group finally puts up the white flag of surrender.
They have good reason to be cautious. The fight with Save Madison Valley has dragged on for years including a seemingly neverending design review process that brought in everyone from Seattle anti-development thought leader Peter Steinbrueck to Madison Valley restaurateur Thierry Rautureau, The Chef In The Hat, to speak against the project.
CHS first reported on the rumblings of redevelopment in Madison Valley in March of 2016 as word spread that City People’s, the neighborhood’s beloved garden shop, was going to be displaced by a new mixed-use project. But this wasn’t your typical displacement. The longtime owners of City People’s and its unusually large tract of E Madison land said the decision to sell came with much more caution about picking a developer to work with after watching with surprise and disappointment when the garden store partners previously sold their 15th Ave E home only to see a Walgreens rise on the property. Three years later, City People’s is still open under new ownership. The development? Well, it’s coming.
But first, Save Madison Valley needs to decide what it will do next. “We still think we have a solid case to make in the areas the Examiner did not intervene (height, bulk and scale, trees, and traffic) and are ready to go the final step and appeal to the Superior Court,” the group’s latest update reads. “Our attorneys are ready to support us. Now we’d like to hear from you.”
“Let us know what you think — send us your thoughts, a thumbs up… Are you with us for this final leg of the journey, working to protect the vibrancy and livability of our neighborhood? Your thoughts and donations are very much appreciated.”
So far, there is no record of a lawsuit being filed. Save Madison Valley has not responded to our inquires about its plans.
As for the project, there are few updates to report. The sale agreement for the property remains in place but the deal also remains in limbo so there is no final price tag. The project is permitted and designed for a six-story, mixed-use building with 82 market-rate apartments above a 25,000-square-foot PCC grocery store, and underground parking for some 140 vehicles.
The Hearing Examiner’s decision is below.
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