On Monday, April 29th, from 5-7 PM at Q Cafe, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development will hold a community open house to obtain feedback on their proposal to rezone a portion of Interbay:
For the past six months, city planners have been studying possibilities for the future of Interbay. Metro has introduced Rapid Ride frequent transit, and new apartments and offices are under construction in the area. Newcomers, ranging from small craft distiller Sound Spirits to large retailer Petco, have joined long-standing businesses like GM Nameplate and Keller Supply to become part of the business community. And more change is likely.
Some background: the public process for this rezone has been underway for some time, and of the original three concepts — an urban village, an industrial area, and a “local production district” — the choice appears to have been winnowed to down to some variation on the third. You’re probably wondering what a local production district is, so here’s the blurb from the DPD concept:
Industrial lands develop in ways that support growing opportunities for locally-produced, customized, specialized, small lot production. […] Integrates retail and production uses. Small parcels accommodate independent businesses, and large parcel offers centralized management of campus-like environment.
What this translates to in policy is a rezone from Industrial General (IG), which is what most people would think of as industrial (e.g. much of SODO, the Ballard docks) to Industrial Commercial (IC). The best example of IC zoning that I know of is the area of Ballard just northwest of 15th & Leary, which hosts an eclectic and growing mix of microbreweries (which retail on-site), car mechanics, bike shops, bars and other businesses, all housed in a jumble of buildings of various vintage and quality. This is, I believe, what DPD is aiming for in the part of Interbay west of 15th Ave NW. One minor code change, to create a neighborhood retail area at Dravus & 14th, is also proposed.
At this point, the urban village concept having been rejected, this rezone doesn’t seem to hold out the possibility of increasing housing availability in any meaningful way, rather it’s mostly about allowing more productive non-residential use of a swath of the city that’s well-served by transit, which seems like a good idea in as far as it goes.
One transportation investment in this area that strikes me as forehead-slappingly obvious, and would aid the success of the proposed local production district, is to connect the recently-built Ship Canal Trail to Thorndyke, via a short section of trail, on existing public right-of-way underneath the Emerson St ramp, as shown on the map at right. Today, the trail passes within a hundred yards of the proposed rezone area, but the only safe and sane way for a bicyclist to get into the area is by detouring more than a mile through Magnolia. Anything DPD could do to move this connection forward would be highly desirable.
The proposed changes seem unlikely to be controversial, but it’s always good to have pro-transit, pro-bike, pro-density comments so DPD’s public feedback isn’t all just whining about parking. If you can’t attend Monday’s meeting, take the online survey here. Finally, if you’re interested in Ballard zoning, a similar rezone process will begin in May for the 15th & Market area of Ballard, an area now dominated by very car-oriented development, so I’ll try to keep an eye out for that.