Tag Archives: development

Opinion: Beacon Hill vs. Georgetown

Drawing by Joel Lee of a potential woonerf or active alley in the Link Station Block, with El Centro de la Raza in the background. Please click through to see a larger version.
By Joel Lee

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. — Eleanor Roosevelt

All of this recent rezoning talk has gotten me thinking about North Beacon Hill’s business district. I’ve lived in many different areas of Seattle and although I love Beacon Hill, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that does not work with our business areas. I love our coffee shops, funky grocery stores, and ethnic restaurants and I do my part to make sure that I spend money locally, but why do I so often find myself leaving the hill for other services? Some of the answer is obvious: when I want to go see a movie I head over to Columbia City Cinema or the Admiral Theater, since this is a service that I just can’t get in our neighborhood. But I also find myself going to Georgetown just to eat dinner or grab a beer after work. If you have been paying any attention you will have noticed that Georgetown has been booming for the last ten years, with many new restaurants and shops and just funky things going on. What do they have that we don’t?

First I decided I should look at available data to see if I could find some truths. According to Zillow.com, Beacon Hill has 4104 residences, our median income is $45,965 (above Seattle’s median income), our highest percentage age group is people in their 30s, and our average household size is 3.107 people. Add to this mix an awesome underground light rail station, stunning views, a large brand-new park coming soon, convenient freeway access, and a location that is a stone’s throw from downtown, and Beacon Hill has been dealt a winning hand.

Now let’s take a minute to look at Georgetown. If you can dodge that freight train and try to concentrate over that low flying plane noise for a minute, let’s try to take a look at their numbers. Depending on where you draw the line, Georgetown has a mere 379 residences, their median income is $33,654 (almost the lowest in Seattle), their highest percentage age group is people in their 20s, and their average household size is 1.94. Add to this mix a few Superfund sites, eclectic zoning, and some disjointed industrial areas, and it’s a wonder that Georgetown survives at all. Despite all of this, Georgetown is not only surviving, but thriving. Their vibrant business district has added new bars and restaurants almost yearly, and their events such as Artopia attract people from all over the region. Music stores, bakeries, multiple coffee shops, pet supplies, a beer store and antique stores have all opened in the last few years.

The Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) recently released a study focused on retail in Rainier Valley. Although the study didn’t focus on Beacon Hill, one of the study’s main finds was “leakage,” which is roughly defined as people leaving their own neighborhoods to buy products and services in other areas. Just as Beacon Hill clearly suffers from leakage as many people leave the area for basic services, neighborhoods such as Georgetown clearly capitalize on this, since there is no way that the 379 people that live there could possibly support their range of businesses.

It’s hard not to conclude from this data that zoning alone will not fix our business district. Neighborhoods like Georgetown and Columbia City have certain less-measurable qualities about them that have helped them thrive. Chief among them has to be neighborhood pride, creativity, activism, long-term vision, building owners willing to take chances, investors with vision and tough as nails entrepreneurs that are brave enough to swim against our economic current. None of these are qualities that we can zone for; they are qualities that we must earn with a lot of difficult risk, vision, community participation, cooperation and tenacity.

Joel Lee maintains the Beacon Hill Public Art website and previously wrote about a vision for Beacon Hill’s “Post Alley.”

Do you have an opinion? We welcome opinion articles on topics related to Beacon Hill. Please email us your articles.

14th and Bayview early design guidance meeting

14th & Bayview development map
Seattle Department of Planning and Development
A development is being proposed at 14th and Bayview, project #3005359. DPD’s summary describes the project briefly as “a three-story building containing 18 residential units and religious institution assembly space at grade.” The single family home there would be removed and replaced by the new structure.

The design review meeting is scheduled for 6:30pm on Tuesday, February 23rd at the Wellspring Family Services building at 1900 Rainier Avenue South.

Chris Bailey wrote about this project on the mailing list:

This is a complex project with full design review and is a good opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the design guidelines developed for North Beacon Hill. You can find the neighborhood design guidelines here.

Thanks to Robert Hinrix and Chris Bailey for the info!

El Centro also seeks the community’s development input

Photo by Wendi
Photo by Wendi

Update: The survey form has been updated. See below for the links to the new questionnaire. They need responses by noon on Sunday, November 29th. Thanks for sending along the new form and revised due date, Chris!

Elliott Jones, Development Assistant with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps at El Centro de la Raza sent this to the mailing list today:

If you’re involved with El Centro de la Raza at all, you know that we’ve been working for a few years on finalizing plans to develop the South end of our property (directly across from the Light Rail Station along Lander St.). We are extremely excited because now that the Light Rail is up and running, it won’t be too long before we get to develop the property and make our beloved Beacon Hill even better!

Our vision for the space includes a large multi-purpose/event building, underground parking, low-income housing, an open space/plaza, as well as retail/office/business space. We are currently working with the Business and Economic Development Center (BEDC) at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business to assess what kind of retail/office/business space will be best for the Beacon Hill community. And of course, in order to figure that out we need your input!

Students from the BEDC will be at Red Apple this weekend with a questionnaire they developed regarding what kind of development you, as Beacon Hill residents, would like to see on that piece of property, so valuable now that the Light Rail has moved in – small, independent stores? Chain restaurants? More grocery options? Better parking?

If you’d like to fill out the survey without taking a trip to Red Apple, you can download the survey in Microsoft Word format from El Centro download the revised survey in Microsoft Word format here.

Because not everyone has the capability of running Microsoft Word, we have made an HTML version and Google Docs version available if you find working with those formats in your web browser easier. (I hope this does not cause a hardship for the survey talliers.) These links have been updated to reflect the new survey above. — Ed.

Please email your completed surveys to Ming Huang, President of the Asian Business Student Association, at huangmingf@yahoo.com.

Ms. Huang and her colleagues will compile them and send the results to El Centro anonymously. Mr. Jones emphasized that they are committed to developing the El Centro property in the community’s best interest.

If you have any questions, you can contact Elliott Jones at (206) 957-4652.

DPD recommends conditional approval of Christian Restoration Center project

Design illustration
Design illustration
The project planned for the site across from MacPherson’s produce stand, the former Christian Resoration Center building (and before that, Tradewell grocery store), has been awarded a unanimous recommendation of conditional approval from the Department of Planning & Development’s Design Review Board.

The project calls for “an L-shaped 4 story structure consisting of 3 stories of residential uses with approximately 30 units above 6,000 square feet of ground level commercial space” in one of three configurations.

The project’s design update has the building set back from 15th Avenue South and offers a large gathering place at street level, and includes a canopy above the entrance. Also, stormwater planters on the courtyard and street levels of both 15th and South Oregon Street, and a water feature along Oregon west of the garage entrance. The review board recommended a more prominent and safe entryway along 15th, adding a canopy or marquee above the entry, window glazing in the north-facing commercial space, etc. They wanted to see a clear access plan for commercial visitors parking in the garage space and plans for landscaping management and maintenance.

The full decision document (pdf) is available on DPD’s website.

Beacon Bits: Recession affects light rail area development and local cut glass company

On a positive note, the cherry trees are blooming! (A little late this year, aren’t they?)

Photo by Joel Lee, in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.
Photo by Joel Lee, in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.

Beacon Bits: delays, development, and free flu shots

  • Remember the big I-5 repair project we warned you about a few weeks ago? After a weather delay, it starts tonight. One to three northbound lanes between Albro and Columbian will close between 7:00 pm and 5:00 am. There will be other closures soon as well; details hereSeattle Times
  • It may be a bit late in the season, but there are free flu shots and flu nose sprays available on Saturday, February 14 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club, 4520 Martin Luther King Jr. Way South. Children must bring parents, and a certified Somali medical translator will be on hand — newrainiervista.com
  • The City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee has endorsed the proposed rezone for the Goodwill site on Dearborn, so the next step is for the full council to consider the rezone on February 17 — Rainier Valley Post