More Apartments Proposed for Land at 55th and Freya
On Wednesday night Todd Whipple from Whipple Consulting Engineers came to out monthly meeting to discuss a proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment to change the zoning of a 9 acre parcel at the corner of 55th Avenue and Freya from Residential Single Family to High Density Residential.
This parcel is owned by the Moody Bible Institute and it was part of the annexation earlier this year that included the apartments on 55th and the Regal Commons property. The property currently has a radio station on it, but it is zoned for single family homes. This change would allow them to build apartments on the property.
Moody Bible Institute wants to keep the existing buildings on the site, so of the 9 acres only about 8.5 will be available for development. The total number of apartments on site would be between 144 and 188. Mr. Whipple said that they would be market rate apartments, not subsidized. The land has not been sold yet, but Dennis Crapo and Diamond Rock construction are interested in purchasing it to build the apartments. If they were to build a single-family subdivision on the site it would have about 85 homes.
Development of the parcel would include building sidewalks and planting strips along the parcel frontage on Freya Street and 55th Avenue. They will also build 53rd Avenue on the north side of the property to connect to the partially completed 53rd Avenue to the west.
But Wait, There’s More…Apartments
In the course of the meeting Mr. Whipple mentioned that there is a 64 unit apartment complex planned on Palouse Highway just south of Freya Street. These apartments are being built in the County on land already zoned High-density residential. The developer is Lancze Douglass and there should be a public comment period coming very soon.
For the Comp Plan Amendment, Mr. Whipple says they need to supply the City with a trip generation letter (for traffic impacts), submit a non-project SEPA application (which should include a comment period), among other documents. Their deadline for submission is October 31st. SNC will let you know when these comment periods open up. If you have questions or concerns about this, I encourage you to contact our City Council members because they will be the ones to vote on the Comp Plan Amendment next year.
Tomorrow night, June 19th, the City Council will hold a hearing about the update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan. This update includes the development of a project called the Ray Street Crossover. This is an auto-oriented traffic capacity project that will run traffic across the east side of Ferris High School’s campus to connect Ray and Freya and send traffic our towards the County.
For those of you who can make it down in person, personal testimony at the hearing has a big impact Council members. The meeting is tomorrow night at 6pm at Council Chambers in City Hall.
The deletion of this project from the Comp Plan update will go a long way to maintaining the vision set forth in our neighborhood connectivity plan where we make a our neighborhood a place that encourages people to use multiple modes of transportation to move around and does not promote the development of sprawl and other features (like high-speed auto routes) that will make our neighborhood less walkable, less safe, and less livable.
Southgate received a notice yesterday about a SEPA comment period for a proposed 13-home subdivision along Freya Street called Moran South Estates. You’ll remember this project held a Community Meeting back in August.
The project is very similar to the developments on 45th Court and 47th Avenue directly to the north and south of this area. A couple comments related to pedestrian accommodation that I would supply would be to ask if the right-of-way improvements along Freya Street will be completed per Spokane Municipal Code. As you can see, the sidewalk ends as the cul de sac goes out to Freya. Anyone living on the east side of Southgate knows how unaccommodating Freya is to pedestrians and bikes. If we don’t ask developers to fill in the sidewalk between 44th and Palouse Hwy it will never be built.
Another pedestrian accommodation (supported by the SMC, the City Comp Plan, and our Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan) would be to add some non-motorized connection to the west. A mixed-use Centennial/Ben Burr style trail punching out at the end of the cul de sac or out of the southwest corner of the development across a County-owned stormwater swale would allow residents easier and safer access to the shopping area of our neighborhood’s District Center via Palouse Hwy. It would take some discussion between the developers and the owners of Clare House or the County, but it would be a great amenity and help prevent the continuation of the pervasive lack of east/west connectivity in our neighborhood. Without this type of connection residents would have to walk a 1/3 mile south or 1/4 north to find a route towards the District Center.
The SNC Land Use Committee will draft and submit comments as well, we will upload those here when we have them drafted. In the meantime, please send in your comments so the City knows what you think.
On Monday, April 11th, the City Council voted to approve the Spokane Housing ventures Annexation that has been under consideration for almost a year now. The action brings about 37 acres of new land between Regal and Freya Street into the Southgate Neighborhood. The Council further voted to bring the land into the neighborhood under the Center and Corridor land use category, which was the position of the neighborhood council since this time last year.
As we mentioned at our March Neighborhood Council meeting, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the land use and zoning related to the former South Regal Lumber site. SNC had made the point that the City Comprehensive Plan and our Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan supported the designation of this land as Center and Corridor rather then General Commercial land use and zoning. We are very happy to have the City Council support our viewpoint by a 6-1 margin, but more importantly we are happy to have the City Council support the City Comprehensive Plan and its goals and policies.
The Spokesman-Review is reporting that the City is facing a threatened lawsuit from the developer for taking this action. I want to thank everyone that contacted the City Council regarding this issue. We were told that public input was a big part in the consideration of this issue over the past few months. I would also encourage you to contact your City Council members one last time to thank them for standing with the Comp Plan and the neighborhood to enact the vision so many people worked to create through our neighborhood planning process.
We will keep everyone updated on any further action or outcomes from the annexation. This is one case where it paid to get informed and stay involved. I look forward to seeing everyone at our future Neighborhood Council meetings where we will continue to discuss issues related to the safety and quality of life for Southgate residents.
The City of Spokane is updating the transportation chapter of the city’s Comprehensive Plan in 2014. On Thursday they released a 12-page booklet with the Inlander that outlines the process, the philosophy that drives it and some draft goals for the final product.
There are some great ideas in the document, some of which are already being enacted. Projects like the Crestline water main and the upcoming High Drive redevelopment incorporate some of the vision the city is talking about (combining transportation and utility projects to stretch limited funds). The big question is how these concepts, some of which are already in the current Comprehensive Plan, can be enacted in current projects like the development of the Southgate District Center.
The booklet emphasizes the need to encourage multi-modal transportation options with the goal of creating “livable streets”. Features like dedicated bike lanes, roundabouts, and pedestrian connections are held up as “Best Practices” in transportation planning and design. These are all elements of the complete streets approach Southgate Neighborhood took in developing our Neighborhood Connectivity Plan. I encourage you to look at the city’s plan and see how it melds with our neighborhood’s.
The city is encouraging public input through a series of open houses starting early next month. The full list is on the back of the brochure or can find the information on the Spokane Planning Department website. I’ve also entered the events on our website calendar. Now is the time to put this on our radar and give our input to the city since this update will set the tone for transportation planning in our area for the next 20 years.