‘Single family home neighborhood’ — the Madison Valley PCC mixed-use battle

An $85 filing fee — and lots of billable hours — is holding up a Madison Valley mixed-use apartments and PCC grocery project but the long, drawn out Seattle process to develop the property might finally be set to move forward.

Conflict between a community group attempting to use the State Environmental Policy Act as a defensive blanket and developer Velmeir Companies will come to a head by December as the city’s Hearing Examiner is slated to make a decision on an appeal against the project.

Save Madison Valley, a group aimed at maintaining the area as a “single family home neighborhood,” has been working, it says, to ensure that Velmeir commits to mitigating the environmental impacts of its 82-unit, mixed-use six-story development at 2925 E Madison.

The project passed through the first stage of the design review process finally in January 2017 after a relatively rare three sessions in front of the board. The design from Meng Strazzara was fully signed off on last September — but the project isn’t yet close to breaking ground.

Save Madison Valley is asking the Hearing Examiner to reverse the design review decision and the city’s determination on the project’s environmental impact and require the development to undergo new rounds of costly, time consuming review. It’s a strategy cut from similar cloth to the legal fight holding up Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program that has cost the city plenty in legal fees — and maybe 717 affordable apartment units.

But Velmeir may not have to wait for December to move forward. Continue reading

CHS Pics | A sunny dB in the Park


(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_2267Summer has been over for a week but you wouldn’t know it by the sunny afternoons we’ve been enjoying so far this fall. And you wouldn’t have known it Sunday as the 12th annual Decibel Festival wound down by turning the beats up at the free dB in the Park party at Volunteer Park.

While the thumping bass inspired many to dance and all to do the bum-bum-bum head nod, some in the CHS comments aren’t fans of the outdoor DJ performances. We expect further inspiration for those some come October 15th as the Volunteer Park Trust holds a community meeting to discuss the project to replace the park’s aging stage. If you’d like to speak up in favor the bass, mark your calendar.

In the meantime, enjoy the pictures, below. And the sunshine, above. Continue reading

Not NIMBY but neighborhood, group says its part of Capitol Hill needs new community council

Over recent months, CHS has documented the rising activity of groups seeking to push back, contain and, sometimes, stop the redevelopment of Capitol Hill. But while the concern around massive projects in core areas of Pike/Pine or Broadway might get the most attention, some of the fiercest attacks against the development are happening in the areas of Capitol Hill where midrise and single-family residential zones meet — rip zones in Seattle’s tides of density.

[mappress mapid=”54″]”If you look big picture, the kinds of pressures that are going to be on this area are going to be pretty big,” Hill resident Anne Schwab told CHS as a group of neighbors she helped bring together prepared to meet earlier this month to talk about forming to better represent the area.

The Miller Park Neighbors (green) Schwab and others here along 19th Ave, feel like the issues for areas where they live and work are increasingly disconnected from the neighborhood as a whole. The Capitol Hill Community Council (red) is focused on the problems and opportunities of Pike, Pine and Broadway, she and others organizing the group say.

As an example, Schwab points to a four-story apartment development scheduled to be complete with construction this summer at 19th and Mercer. Zoned for multifamily, it will rise to four stories and bring 50 new apartment units to the corner in view of the blocks of single family homes in the area. While it will bring amenities including a new Linda Derschang restaurant and possibly a market to the block, Schwab says more should have been done to represent the community in its planning.

“There’s a lot that the community could have taken to make that a better project,” she said.

The Capitol Hill Community Council was reformed in 2008 after dissolving from lack of participation and leadership. Full disclosure: I was arm-twisted into running it as president for a term to get things going again. After that dark, twisted period of poor leadership, the council has matured and taken on larger responsibilities like the light rail station development. Currently headed by Seattle Gay News publisher George Bakan, the group appears to have achieved a sustainable level of activity and managed for the most part to keep in-fighting to a minimum — not a small challenge in the mix of personalities that are involved in neighborhood activism. The CHCC’s bylaws describe extensive boundaries that cover from Madison to 520 and I-5 to 23rd/24th Ave — yes, even Montlake is included. Meanwhile, there are other sub-community groups at play including the North Capitol Hill Neighborhood Association (blue) that most recently spoke out against biking and pedestrian improvements planned for the 520 replacement project.

With those overlaps and gaps as background, planning for the new Miller Park group is in the earliest of stages. The geographic focus right now, organizers say, is the area between Madison and E Aloha, south to north, and east and west boundaries of 23rd Ave and the village around 15th Ave. There is hope that the group can rise above NIMBY causes and keep the focus on what’s best for the area. Andrew Taylor, longtime neighborhood activist, head of the city’s East District Council (yet another community council) and a frequent CHS contributor, is also helping to organize as the idea moves toward its first community meeting. First, small steps have been taken. The Miller Park Neighbors blog is live:

Welcome to Miller Park Neighbors
This will be the home of “Miller Park Neighbors”, an East Capitol Hill neighborhood group which is in the process of getting organized.

To keep updated on what we’re up to, you can check back here, and/or join our listserv:

Send an E-mail to:


and act on the instructions in the E-mail you receive. Your E-mail will not be displayed in any messages (about upcoming meetings, etc) we send to you and other interested neighbors.

More info on our first meeting, and on upcoming gatherings. coming soon.

We’ll update as the group moves forward. In the meantime, anybody with plans for a Summit Slope Community Council, Broadway Hill, or Roanoke councils, let us know.