The comment period on the U-District Urban design has been extended until Monday, and I strongly encourage STB readers to provide comment on the documents as whole and the three zoning “alternatives” in particular. I’ll briefly summarise the three options below, as well as give my personal opinions, but I recommend you have a look over some or all of the documents if you have the time. Either way, please send comment to firstname.lastname@example.org endorsing either alternative 1 or alternative 2. Thanks!
In brief, the first alternative is a mid-rise option that rezones much of the U-District between 40th street and Ravenna. Much of the area immediately around the station formerly known as “Brooklyn”* would be increased to 160 feet, others to and to 125 feet and parts farther would be up-zoned to 65 and 85. The city has estimated this alternative would allow for 9,130 new dwelling units and new 16,435 jobs.
The second alternative is a high-rise option and would up-zone a smaller portion of the U-District, but would allow for much taller buildings. The area immediately around the station would be up-zoned to 340 feet, with a small section between 47th and 50th up-zoned to 240′. Less area overall would be up-zoned in this proposal, and the city has estimated this would allow for 9,802 new dwelling units and 17,832 new jobs.
The third “alternative” isn’t really an alternative to anything, other than I suppose to the previous two. It’s for no change to zoning, and would allow for 6,606 new housing units and 8,401 new jobs.
There are many more details in the report that I haven’t the time nor the space to regurgitate, especially when the document are there and nicely formatted. I do have a few thoughts:
- It’s a bit difficult to say whether alternative 1 is better than alternative 2, though both are better than alternative 3 (I’ll likely put the details in the comments rather than make this post overlong). I know many neighbourhood groups have already become quite incensed over the high-rise option, and it could have a difficult time. If you strongly support this option, you should make your opinion strongly known.
- The accuracy of the numbers is obviously extremely dubious. At first blush, we might remember back to middle school chemistry’s “significant digits” and have reason to doubt the numbers’ precision. I also couldn’t find the formulae used to generate these numbers. I suggest taking them with many large, industrial sacks of salt.
- Both alternatives 1 and 2 have much silliness around “green streets”, setbacks and new building “distances” that might harm walkability. Whatever happens, we should push back on these or at least suggest tempering them in favour of the sort of things that actually matter: sidewalk width, kerb cuts, pedestrian facilities, bike facilities, etc.
* University District Station, on Brooklyn between 43rd and 45th.