Action Needed: Comment on Southgate Annexation

Tomorrow night the City Council will be considering the land use and zoning of the Spokane Housing Ventures annexation that includes the former South Regal Lumber site. If you’ll recall from last month, at issue with whether the former lumber site will be given a General Commercial land use designation with Community Business zoning that is the request of the developer or will the City Council decide to make its land use and zoning Center and Corridor as is more in line with the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan.

I encourage all of you to please send an email to our City Council members encouraging them to follow the Comprehensive and neighborhood plans and supports the Center and Corridor zoning. Here are the Council members email addresses:

Ben Stuckart: bstuckart@spokanecity.org

Lori Kinnear: lkinnear@spokanecity.org

Breean Beggs: bbeggs@spokanecity.org

Amber Waldref: awaldref@spokanecity.org

Candace Mumm: cmumm@spokanecity.org

Karen Stratton: kstratton@spokanecity.org

Mike Fagan: mfagan@spokanecity.org

Here are some points to consider again while shaping your comments:

  1. Voting for Center and Corridor land use and zoning will result in zoning that better supports the vision of the city’s Comprehensive Plan and the Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan for vibrant, walkable neighborhoods.
  2. The current zoning in the County is “Mixed-Use” which is the County’s most pedestrian-oriented zoning. In fact, the County Comprehensive Plan explicitly states that it is designed to, “discourage auto-dependent uses and encourage pedestrian orientation with an emphasis on aesthetics and design.”
  3. The most pedestrian-oriented zoning in the City is “Center and Corridor” which focuses on creating commercial zones that have a mix of uses and encourages pedestrian-oriented, auto-accommodating designs to provide options for residents of the surrounding neighborhood.
  4. Comprehensive Plan Land Use Goal 10.3 says that the City must, “honor the intent of adopted county plans and ordinances for areas proposed to be annexed.” As you can see above, the intent of the Mixed-use zoning is to provide pedestrian-oriented development that makes it easier for people to get to and use the site without a car.
  5. The area is surrounded by 12 apartment communities within a quarter mile, including 360 apartments that are part of the proposed annexation. This high-density housing concentration makes this area a prime candidate for pedestrian-oriented development.
  6. There is a Comp Plan-designated District Center at 57th and Regal Street, and multiple city maps and plans indicate that this property is destined to be part of that Center. The City’s Official Land Use Map shows these properties as part of the future District Center.
  7. The City’s Pedestrian Master Plan adopted in November of 2015 has a map titled Centers and Corridors and Downtown Zoningwhich includes all County Neighborhood Center and Mixed Use zones. This indicates that as late as November last year the City Planning Department considered Mixed Use zones in the County to be comparable to the City’s Center and Corridor Zoning. That area just south of the proposed annexation is part of the UGA and will someday be part of the City and Southgate Neighborhood. It makes sense to plan in a coordinated manner and not create an island of General Commercial zoning between two District Centers on Regal Street.
  8. Neighbors are concerned about the increased traffic that such high-density, auto-oriented development will bring to Regal Street. A way to mitigate that increased traffic is to design projects that encourage people to use the site without their car. Every person that can walk or bike to the site is one less car on the road contributing to congestion. It’s not about limiting cars, but providing easier alternatives to them.

Center and Corridor zoning provides elevated standards for design and function that encourage pedestrian and non-motorized use of the area and forwards our goal of creating a safe, vibrant neighborhood streetscape. Without this zoning, the development can move ahead in an auto-oriented manner that will increase traffic along Regal Street while discouraging non-motorized use of the area by residents of the 12 apartment communities within a quarter mile of the site.

Please send in your comments to the City Council, they told us at the last hearing that the amount of input from the community is what made them reconsider the zoning and extend the hearing for a month. If any of you can also come in person to lend your support for the Center and Corridor zoning of this area it will have a major impact on the Council’s actions. The Council meeting is at 6pm, Monday night at Spokane City Hall.

Thank you for making your voice heard to build a better neighborhood. If you have any questions please let us know.

City Council Defers Vote on Annexation Until March 14th

Last night our City Council held the first of two hearings on the proposed Spokane Housing Ventures Annexation. We’ve already written about it a number of times, we’ve discussed the annexation overall and the plans to build a retail center on the former South Regal Lumber Site.

Southgate Neighborhood Council and some neighbors provided written comments and testimony in support of the annexation, but with the condition that the retail and apartment portions be brought into the city as Center and Corridor zones that better meet the current land use designations out in the County and will help implement the City Comprehensive Plan and Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan.

You can watch the hearing as broadcast on City Channel 5 on Vimeo (the annexation hearing starts at about an hour and 8 minutes): https://vimeo.com/154777568

The Council decided not to vote on the land use designations, but rather opted to leave the record open for the next 30 days so citizens can submit more written comments. On Monday, March 14th, the Council will hold a second hearing on the annexation and vote on both the land use and the overall annexation on that day.

I want to thank everyone that submitted comments prior to this hearing, the Council said they had a large number of comments from all over the South Hill and beyond which is why they decided to defer their vote and keep the record open to hear even more feedback. So please, keep talking to your neighbors and encourage them to send comments in to the City Council. You can find all of their email addresses here.

We will keep you aware of any new developments over the next 30 days, I hope we will see even more neighbors down at City Hall on March 14th to tell the Council what they think about this topic.

Take Action: Comment on Zoning for Spokane Housing Ventures Annexation

Comment now on the Council’s upcoming zoning decision for the former Regal Lumber site.

On Monday, February 8th, the Spokane City Council will take a vote to determine the Land Use and Zoning of the properties that are part of the proposed Spokane Housing Ventures Annexation. Most of the parcels already have buildings on them, so their use and design is moot (ex: apartments, radio station, mini-storage), however the 8-acres along Regal Street (the former Regal Lumber site) can either be zoned as auto-oriented General Commercial development, or pedestrian-oriented (auto-accommodating) Center and Corridor. I encourage all of our neighbors to submit comments to the City Council members either via email or phone; or by giving testimony in person at the City Council meeting (6pm, Monday, February 8th at City Hall).

Here are some points to consider while shaping your comments:
1. Voting for the “Alternate” proposal suggested by Planning Department Staff will result in zoning that better supports the vision of the city’s Comprehensive Plan and the Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan for vibrant, walkable neighborhoods.
2. The current zoning in the County is “Mixed-Use” which is the County’s most pedestrian-oriented zoning. In fact, the County Comprehensive Plan explicitly states that it is designed to, “discourage auto-dependent uses and encourage pedestrian orientation with an emphasis on aesthetics and design.”
3. The most pedestrian-oriented zoning in the City is “Center and Corridor” which focuses on creating commercial zones that have a mix of uses and encourages pedestrian-oriented, auto-accommodating designs to provide options for residents of the surrounding neighborhood.
4. Comprehensive Plan Land Use Goal 10.3 says that the City must, “honor the intent of adopted county plans and ordinances for areas proposed to be annexed.” As you can see above, the intent of the Mixed-use zoning is to provide pedestrian-oriented development that makes it easier for people to get to and use the site without a car.
5. The area is surrounded by 12 apartment communities within a quarter mile, including 360 apartments that are part of the proposed annexation. This high-density housing concentration makes this area a prime candidate for pedestrian-oriented development.
6. There is a Comp Plan-designated District Center at 57th and Regal Street, 500 feet from this proposed annexation area. That area just south of the proposed annexation is part of the UGA and will someday be part of the City and Southgate Neighborhood. It makes sense to plan in a coordinated manner and not create an island of General Commercial zoning between two District Centers on Regal Street.
7. Neighbors are concerned about the increased traffic that such high-density, auto-oriented development will bring to Regal Street. A way to mitigate that increased traffic is to design projects that encourage people to use the site without their car. Every person that can walk or bike to the site is one less car on the road contributing to congestion. It’s not about limiting cars, but providing easier alternatives to them.
Thank you in advance for your comments and input. Please get your comments in by Monday afternoon (but the earlier the better). Your involvement will help us continue advancing the mission of the Southgate Neighborhood Council: to improve and preserve the quality of life in the Southgate Neighborhood. If you have any questions, please contact Southgate Neighborhood Council at southgatecouncil@gmail.com.

Update: New Site Plan for Former South Regal Lumber Site

Developer Cyrus Vaughn presented a new site plan for the development on the former South Regal Lumber site (now being called Regal Commons) to the Southgate Neighborhood Council meeting on January 13th. The revised site plan and renderings still show a 30,000 sqft. “grocery” store as the largest building on the site. The new renderings also show a multi-story office building on the NE corner of the site as well as two drive-thru restaurants on the corners along Regal Street.

A KXLY reporter was on hand to produce a story about rumors of a Whole Foods being the grocery tenant, however the developer and his representatives would not reveal the name of the main tenant only referring to them as a “natural grocer.”

Rendering of proposed development looking east from Regal Street towards Brown's Mountain.
Rendering of proposed development looking east from Regal Street towards Brown’s Mountain.

The developers provided a packet of information to attendees with these renderings and an email from the Spokane City Planning Department. Questions from the audience centered mostly on traffic impacts of the project, the lack of pedestrian orientation of the buildings along Regal Street and of the project overall given the 12 apartment communities within a quarter mile of the site. Additional comments were also given about the proposed traffic light at 53rd Ave and how it may be more appropriate to have that located at 55th Avenue since it is a through street running from Palouse Hwy. clear to Crestline St. The developers didn’t have any direct answers to these questions, but instead said these were things that would be studied and considered as the developers went through the SEPA and building permit processes after the annexation. As we mentioned in the previous post on this topic, the zoning given to the site in the annexation process will have ramifications on whether or not this development is more auto or pedestrian oriented.

Another view of the proposed development looking NE.
Another view of the proposed development looking NE.
The revised site plan produced by project architect Nystrom Olson.
The revised site plan produced by project architect Nystrom Olson.

On Friday, the City released the hearing schedule for the annexation proposal that will bring this property into the city. There will be two presentations to the City Council in briefing sessions: Monday, January 25th at 3:30pm in City Council Chambers and Thursday, January 28th at 3:30pm in the Council Briefing Center. The public can attend these events, but not public comments will be taken. Public comment can be given on Monday, February 8th at the City Council Meeting at 6pm in the City Council Chambers when the Council considers a resolution to set the final hearing date.  That final hearing date is tentatively set for Monday, March 14th at the City Council meeting.

If you have thoughts about the development and the proposed zoning of the annexed land, I encourage you to contact your City Council members by phone or email or come down and give testimony and comments at the hearings on February 8th or March 14th.

 

The Future of the Former South Regal Lumber Site

8-acre Retail/Commercial Property Planned on Former South Regal Lumber Site. Developers to present plans to Neighborhood Council on January 13th.

Through the summer the neighborhood could hear the sound of jackhammers and rock crushers processing over 40,000 cubic yards of basalt and bedrock to level the former South Regal Lumber site for future commercial development. South Regal Lumber shut its doors at the end of 2014 and demolition and grading of the 8-acre parcel began in earnest last spring. The developers are now planning to move on to the construction phase of the project starting in 2016.

The Plan

In 2013 Cyrus Vaughn consolidated the ownership of the parcels along Regal Street between 53rd and 55th Ave. and successfully petitioned the County for zoning changes to allow commercial development of the entire 8-acre area. The new proposed development, Regal Commons, has been marketed to potential tenants and businesses for over a year by local broker Sperry Van Ness Cornerstone. Their website shows renderings of the potential development and highlights such features as “12 Apartment communities within a quarter mile” and “Lighted Intersection at 53rd & Regal with 26,000 cars per day.” Potential tenants are listed as grocery, drug or hardware stores; restaurants, coffee shops and offices are also listed.

regal_commons_site_plan_Sept2015
A plan view of Regal Commons from SVG cornerstone’s website. Regal Street is on the left. Main tenant is identified as a 25,000 sqft. grocery store.
regal_commons_natural_gorcer_with_elevation_view
Rendering of the proposed Regal Commons site from SVG Cornerstone’s website
regal_commons_hardware_retail_with_elevation_view
Elevation and detail view renderings of the proposed Regal Commons site as designed by local architects Nystrom-Olson.

Articles in the Journal of Business highlight developer’s interest in Southgate as the next major development region in Spokane. In April 2015 Guy Byrd was quoted by the Journal as saying,”the next major commercial growth area likely will be along the Regal Street corridor on the upper South Hill, especially from 44th Avenue south to 57th Avenue.” He also opined about the future of the KXLY site further north on Regal Street, “The site…is being planned as a lifestyle center that would have up to 100,000 square feet of commercial development with residential components, similar to Kendall Yards, northwest of downtown, or Riverstone, in Coeur d’Alene.”

In June 2015 Byrd was again quoted by the Journal of Business regarding development on South Regal, this time specifically related to specialty grocery stores like Natural Grocers and Whole Foods. From the article: “I think you’ll see these types of grocers on Regal,” he says. “The South Hill has a good demographic for their users. That’s where people with higher socioeconomic income are concentrated.” The article discussed the new Trader Joes and Natural Grocers stores along North Division and discussed the entry of the last major brand in category, Whole Foods, into the Spokane market.

With the economy improving, the eyes of the local commercial and high-density residential developers are falling squarely on our neighborhood. 2016 is shaping up to be a very busy year with KXLY, Regal Commons, and the Palouse Trails Apartments in various stages of development.

Getting in the Zone – Annexation’s Effect on the Development

In March of 2015, the Spokane City Council accepted the request of Spokane Housing Ventures to be annex their three apartment complexes along 55th Ave into the city. The Council, following city policy, expanded the annexation area to include adjacent properties to avoid creating a spot annexation surrounded on three side by County land. In December, the Spokane Plan Commission held its second workshop on the proposed annexation of this property and other adjacent parcels between 53rd and 55th Ave. from Regal Street to Palouse Hwy. Under consideration was the zoning designation of the parcel as it is brought into the city. Currently the property is zoned “Mixed-Use” under the County, the city of Spokane is considering either Community Business or Center and Corridor (CC2) for this property.

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 10.08.53 AM
The proposed zoning of the annexed parcels preferred by Southgate Neighborhood Council

Southgate Neighborhood Council provided comments and testimony at the hearing in support of the CC2 designation since it more closely aligns with the intent of the County Mixed-Use zoning and the goals of the Spokane Comprehensive Plan and Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan. As noted by the developer, there are 12 apartment complexes within a quarter mile of this property (including 360 new apartments along 55th Ave. alone). The proximity of such high density housing makes this property a perfect candidate for a pedestrian-oriented mixed-use development that can provide services and amenities to the thousands of residents within walking distance.

Presentation to Southgate Neighborhood Council

The City Council will be considering approval of the annexation in late January/early February, so there are opportunities for Southgate to provide more input to our representatives while they make their decision. The developers of Regal Commons are currently opposed to the Center and Corridor zoning designation, but they are coming to the Southgate Neighborhood Council meeting on Wednesday, January 13th to present their current plans and discuss them with the neighborhood. I strongly encourage area residents to attend the meeting to learn more about the future of this major commercial project and provide their input directly to the developers. A consistent, open dialogue is the best way for all parties to support each other and the smart growth of our neighborhood.