On May 26 at 5pm, the all-volunteer West Design Review Board will hear about a project at 2550 32nd Ave W that would house new neighbors and bring an updated grocery store to the heart of Magnolia. Plus, it’s a deep green building that is good for planet earth. Please join us in registering for the City of Seattle public meeting.
What happens in Magnolia does not just impact Magnolia residents. Every green building is a step towards a better future for our whole city. We must do all we can, as soon as we can, for our climate. In our design review advocacy we prioritize green buildings. There are some adjacent neighbors concerned about an extra floor that is allowed under Seattle rules for the wonderful Living Building Challenge which incentivizes deep green construction practices, like rooftop solar panels and high energy efficiency standards. We wish that deep green buildings would receive expedited design review, since they are inherently a community benefit.
We have a dual housing and climate crisis. Meanwhile, Seattle’s design review delays add significant additional design costs, not to mention additional financing risks, that uncertainty injects into a project. Unnecessary design review delays aren’t just happening in Seattle. All those delays and extra costs are causing problems across the country. Henry Grabar recently wrote about this challenge in a Slate article titled “Good Design Is Making Bad Cities, but It Doesn’t Have To” highlighting the work of the Sightline Institute and quoting their housing researcher Dan Bertolet.
“Similar standards in the city’s historic districts, Bertolet calculated, had cost Seattle more than 1,000 new homes over a period of a few years—and, because time is money, driven up the cost of the ones that did get built,” Grabar wrote.
One way to take action for more housing, is to speak up in favor of projects at design review meetings. Unfortunately future residents’ voices are often left out or ignored in land use processes, even though they are the ones most likely to be calling this building home. Please take action with us!
Seattle For Everyone, Share The Cities Action Fund and The Urbanist will be posting specific talking points for this project on our social media. In general, your comment should champion the green bonus of an additional floor. The bonus allows the building to contribute 133 new homes, and at least that many new neighbors, able to live in the exclusive community of Magnolia. Highlight that living above a grocery store means new neighbors will live less car-dependent and more ecofriendly lives. The builder has been very responsive to the community. They’ve prioritized a sunny plaza, as well as addressing shadow concerns with extra setbacks.
While not in the purview of the design board, our advocacy won’t stop at housing as we support bus frequency improvements near this project. We know that when housing and transit planning don’t sync up, there can be growing pains. Those temporary growing pains are worth it for a more climate-friendly city.
There is room to be optimistic the project will be greenlit; several Magnolia’s local businesses appear to be supportive of this project based on Queen Anne Magnolia News’ coverage of a previous meeting in October.
Share The Cities Action Fund has created a guideline for public comment at design review and is mobilizing around this effort in areas of low displacement risk. Please consider sharing our Facebook event for the May 26 meeting, especially if you are a resident, or have a community connection to Magnolia. Our petition on Change.org has received over 100 signatures in support of this project. Please email email@example.com with questions.