A pedestrian zone at NE 65th Street & 35th Avenue NE?

Our city is booming. Last year, 21,900 people moved into Seattle. By 2035, the city is expected to grow by 120,000 people and 115,000 jobs. Between 2000 and 2010, the population of Ravenna-Bryant increased by 1,810 people.

green house
The “Big Green House” on 35th Ave NE near NE 73rd Street was demolished earlier this year. Photo thanks to Wedgwood in Seattle History: http://wedgwoodinseattlehistory.com/2015/02/17/the-big-green-house-thanks-for-the-memories/

As is evident by the multiple cranes that are now part of our skyline, the boom in population is leading to a boom in development. We see it downtown, in South Lake Union, and in Ravenna-Bryant. Change is everywhere, including along 35th Avenue NE.

In addition to changes to The Theodora and the development of Bryant Heights in the southern area of R-B, the “Big Green House” where R-B and Wedgwood meet provides a good example of changes in our community.

Where the Big Green House used to stand, town homes are being built. Those town homes will have very little to no commercial space, which is not what the community said we wanted. Neighbors have repeatedly reported wanting places to walk to and an inviting business district with destinations like bookstores and restaurants. To do this, more commercial space is needed.

Community change prompted many R-B and Wedgwood neighbors to participate in Wednesday evening’s meeting hosted by the Department of Planning & Development (DPD) in partnership with RBCA and the Wedgwood Community Council.

65th node
DPD’s board suggesting that the area along 35th Avenue NE just north of NE 65th Street be designated a pedestrian zone (in orange).

During the meeting, DPD shared recommendations they have for changing zoning along 35th from NE 65th Street in Ravenna-Bryant up through Wedgwood. Their recommendations were guided by a plan the community developed over the past few years. Since a community can only go so far in turning plans into reality, DPD was asked by community members to step in and help move plans forward.

At NE 65th Street and 35th Ave NE, DPD recommends that instead of increasing the heights of buildings, the area could be designated as a pedestrian zone, like the area around NE 75th Street and 35th Ave NE.

In pedestrian zones (P Zones):

  • Residential uses may occupy no more than 20% of the street-level street-facing building facade.
  • Buildings cannot have large blank facades on the street-facing pedestrian level.
  • A parking lot on the building site cannot be in front of the building or abut the street. Parking must be under the building or behind it.

These regulations are meant to encourage businesses to open and increase pedestrian activity.

The R-B and Wedgwood communities can reject DPD’s zoning suggestions along with zoning recommendations in the community-developed plan, which are much more ambitious than DPD’s. This is the time for the community to decide: do we want development along 35th to keep happening like it has been, or do we want to encourage development that creates a vibrant, walkable business district? Either way, change is afoot.

What do you think? Provide feedback to DPD via their online survey.

Valarie B.

Were you at the meeting? Sorry I did not get to meet you. At the meeting I don’t think people understood that we have to be proactive with zoning to regulate development, because it will come. The Big Green House is a missed opportunity when we could have had something better. Now we need to act for a better future on 35th Ave NE.