Opinion: Beacon Ave development needs viable commercial space

View Larger Map. This Google Street View shows the building currently at 3227 Beacon Ave. S.

by Robert Hinrix


A developer is proposing a project at 3227 Beacon Ave. S., three doors south of Victrola Coffee. (Ed. note: see the the permit activity for this project on the DPD website.) The property has been occupied by a derelict and vacant apartment building, so in the most general sense nearly anything built there will be an improvement. However, the project as proposed does very little to improve the commercial district of Beacon Hill, in spite of the supposed requirements of the property’s NC1-40 zoning (meaning commercial property, to a 40-foot height).

While the developer could in fact be building a commercial/residential building that would nearly fill the lot, the proposal as it stands is for five townhomes and parking. The one townhome facing the street will be designated a “live-work” space; this fulfills the legal requirement to make a commercial space. It also means that there will be no actual design review and very little opportunity to influence the nature of this project. For Beacon Hill’s commercial district, this is most unfortunate. Instead of a possible restaurant space, or several decent shop spaces, we are likely to get a barely viable space that’s part of someone’s home, facing the street.

But it is not too late to influence the course of this project. If you are interested in making a comment, it can be sent to prc@seattle.gov, cc’ing holly.godard@seattle.gov; she is the designated planner. You absolutely must include the project number in the subject line: it is 3014661.

Because DPD has allowed the developer a “streamlined design review,” it appears that, for a key commercial property development here on Beacon Avenue, the city’s (two week) comment period is already over, but that is not the case. If enough people respond to this proposal, it can still be changed and improved, as permits have not been issued and review is happening right now. It is recommended that comments focus on the lack of commercial space, the fact that the zoning is NC1-40, and that there is only one proposed commercial entry on Beacon Avenue, our principal arterial. For a 5000-square-foot commercial lot in nearly any other area of the city, multiple commercial entries would be required.

By skirting design review the developer will be able to sell his five townhomes and never think about it again — but we on Beacon Hill will have to live with this development forever. Please send in your comments!

Robert Hinrix has been involved in many neighborhood projects and groups, including the North Beacon Hill Council.

Do you have something to say? Send us your own opinion pieces on this or other Beacon Hill-related topics.

10 thoughts on “Opinion: Beacon Ave development needs viable commercial space”

  1. Thanks for the heads up on this. I expected a true commercial building would go into that location. I have sent a message as well.

  2. From the city’s DPD brochure for NC1 zoning:
    Residential uses are limited to 20% of the facade on
    an arterial street, but may occupy 100% of the facade on non-arterial streets.

    From this site’s proposed design:
    Residential Uses at Street Level – 23.47A.005
    May not exceed, in aggregate more than 80% of the street-level street-facing façade when facing an arterial.

    The design seems at odds w/ the guidelines? Writing an email to them now…

  3. I just sent an email echoing the sentiment of this blog. Thanks for posting this and providing some suggested language.

  4. This project appears to be following the current rules.
    Better to send comments to DPD and City Council that the rules need to be changed for the entire city.

    Note that NC1-40 is pretty restrictive. There isn’t much useful that can be built in a small lot with such a low height limit.

    More relevantly, if they are permitted to block the sidewalk during construction, access to Jefferson Park will be bad for months. DPD is really dropping the ball wrt to sidewalk access.

  5. I just sent comments as well. We’re new to the hood, and when I stopped to read the public notice the other day I was shocked. I was convinced that the building would be mixed-use and we would see the commercial core expand. I hope this changes and we can look forward to inviting another small business into the area soon.

  6. Thanks for the heads up on this. I walked by the other day and was just as disappointed as everyone else when I read the public notice. Thanks for the link with the person to email. Just did it.
    Beacon Strong!

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