What’s going on at U-Village?

From the Puget Sound Business Journal

The city of Seattle last week approved QFC’s plan to expand at University Village, where the grocer will build not only a larger store but a two-level garage.

The QFC garage is in addition to a six-story garage that University Village is building next door. Together, the additions will add around 1,270 structured parking stalls, and more than 100,000 square feet of commercial space, including a Virginia Mason Medical Center clinic.

But what does that have to do with the Ravenna-Bryant neighborhood?  To answer that question, let’s look at a few things the RBCA has been working on in the general U-Village area.

2012 Neighborhood Street Fund Application: In December of 2012, RBCA submitted to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) a Neighborhood Street Funds (NSF) application for a sidewalk installation project for the north side of NE 50th St., spanning 30th Ave NE to 35th Ave NE.  The project was ranked third by the Northeast District Council and is currently being reviewed by SDOT for feasibility and cost estimate.   The additional NSF projects selected by NEDC came in much higher in their ranking, thus it is unlikely that this project will be recommended for funding by NEDC.

In March of 2013, RBCA learned from U-Village management that they were looking for a project to fund through the required mitigation for their Phase I expansion.  (The Phase 1 expansion included the building currently being erected along NE 45th Street which includes a parking garage.)  The 50th St. NE sidewalk project was identified by RBCA as a potential option.  A few weeks following, RBCA learned that SDOT identified a project from the University Area Transportation Plan to be funded with mitigation dollars, to install an Intelligent Transportation System along Montlake Boulevard.

University of Washington Student Urban Design Project:  The RBCA is currently working with two UW classes: Urban Design and Planning 300: Introduction to Urban Planning and Civil and Environmental Engineering 563: Transportation Choices.  Students recently put forth recommendations for design elements that would improve the pedestrian experience in this area.  A full report by student groups is expected by June 10th, but initial ideas include:

  • Pedestrian friendly parallel parking as opposed to perpendicular or angled parking
  • Pocket parks with movable furniture and signage at either end of the corridor and at the intersection with the trail
  • Narrow the street and include a four way stop at the intersection with the trail
  • Brand corridor as home repair/kitchen shopping area and “shop local”

Union Bay Pedestrian Improvement Project: A pedestrian improvement project along the Union Bay Place was identified as one of the priorities in Seattle’s Pedestrian Master Plan.  Initial costs for sidewalk installation and drainage infrastructure improvement projects were estimated to be $1mil.   SDOT is planning to apply intermediate pedestrian safety treatments along the corridor that will define the walking area on both sides of the street.  Improvements will more clearly define how motorists should park along the corridor, construct limited asphalt paving for the walkway and install wheel stops to prevent encroachment into the walkway area.  Outreach will be conducted this year with the improvements scheduled to be implemented in 2014.

25th Ave NE & Blakely Bicycle Improvement Project: Funded by University Village Phase I mitigation dollars, SDOT is planning to make the following improvements to the intersection of 25th Ave NE and Blakely Ave:

  • Install bicycle detection/push button,
  • Install bicycle signal head,
  • Advance pedestrian/bike interval,
  • Control right turning traffic by installing a right turn phase and a no turn on red,
  • Add cross-bike markings next to the crosswalk.

This project is slated to begin in spring of 2014.  There will be an opportunity for public input before any treatments are added.

Want more information?

An analysis of QFC’s land use application is available at: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/LUIB/AttachmentProject3009681ID51823009681decision.pdf.  The Notice of Decision may be viewed at: http://web1.seattle.gov/dpd/luib/Notice.aspx?BID=816&NID=15284.

With so many changes planned for U-Village and the surrounding area, the RBCA wants to ensure the area is a neighborhood-friendly place that positively impacts our community.  This and other Ravenna-Bryant land use issues will be discussed during tomorrow night’s Board meeting — 7:00 p.m. at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center.  All meetings are open to the public.