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.
The developers of the Regal Commons, the former Regal Lumber Site, will be holding a traffic impact meeting on Wednesday, July 5th at 5pm at the Spokane Public Library, South Hill Branch (at 3324 S. Perry Street). This is the promised/required follow-up meeting to the initial traffic study scoping meeting held in October of last year. You can read the final study ahead of time here.
We have written before, here and here, about the Regal Commons development and the potential impacts to traffic along Regal Street. Suffice to say the neighborhood council was not convinced that the SEPA Application took into account the specific land uses proposed in Phase 1 of the Regal Commons project and in some cases seemed to underestimate the amount of traffic generated by a factor of ten.
The traffic study that will be discussed addresses some of those comments, however it will be interesting to see how they decide to code the two drive through restaurants proposed along Regal Street. Originally they had these coded as “Shopping Center” buildings, grossly underestimating the amount of traffic generated by their actual use “Fast Food Restaurant with Drive Through Window.” This new study changes the designation of the drive through restaurants to, “Fast Food W/ Drive Thru as modified by the City of Spokane.” The City of Spokane Engineering Department created a modified fast food land use category for this development that tries to establish a difference between standard fast food like Burger King, Carl’s Jr., and McDonald’s versus “fast casual” restaurants like Panera, Chipotle, and Qdoba.
Now the interesting thing about fast casual restaurants is that when they are described by the industry, the differences have to do with price, menu options, and interior aesthetics. The style of service is the same: fast, drive through service. It will be interesting to see what the trip generation numbers would be comparing the original fast food land use code with the modified one from the city.
Another interesting point is that based on public testimony from the developer at City Council only one of the proposed restaurants would be classified as fast casual by industry standards. He said one of his desired tenants is Panera Bread. The other tenant mentioned was Chik Fil A, which is not a fast casual restaurant, but a standard fast food chain. So if nothing else, the trip generation report should be edited to reflect this.
I encourage you all to come down to the meeting on July 5th, there is no indication the notice that you can give comments ahead of time or by email. Though I suspect if you sent a comment to the proponent listed and CCed our City Council representatives it would be noticed. FYI, our regular neighborhood council meeting will be taking place later that evening at 7pm at ESD 101.
Update: Written comments on this topic are due to the City by Monday, July 3rd! Send your comments to Dave Compton. In person testimony will still be taken at the hearing on Thursday, July 20th.
We’ve mentioned a couple times that there is a new 13-home subdivision going in around 46th Ave. and Freya Street called Moran South Estates. This project has cleared the agency review period and the developers will be holding a hearing on the development next month.
Southgate has received a Notice of Hearing that the hearing will be Thursday, July 20th at 9:00am in the Council Briefing Center at City Hall. This is a hearing related to a “preliminary plat” which is why this isn’t happening at a convenient location or time like a community meeting.
Southgate has twice submitted comments related to this project that discuss the need to pedestrian/bike connections to the west of the proposed cul de sac per City ordinances and Comp Plan policies. Thus far these comments have not been responded to, but perhaps some added messages from the neighbors can prompt the City to respond. You can see the entire SEPA application here.
You can submit comments prior to the hearing or provide comments in person. Submit comments to Dave Compton, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public comment period for the KXLY Development SEPA Application ends tomorrow, June 19th, at 5:00pm. This comment period snuck up on us since there was no notification made directly to the neighborhood via mail or to the broader public via a posted sign on the property. There was apparently a notice placed in the Spokesman Review for those that read the public notice pages.
Regardless of the lack of notification, you still have a chance to have your opinions on this project heard. We have collected all the development materials on one page for your to review. SNC also submitted comments during the agency review period that you can review as well.
Some of the main topics of concern from our comments that remain to be fully answered is the true measure of traffic impacts from this development. Aside from specifically calling out the future grocery store, the developers use the more broad development category “Shopping Center” to measure their traffic impact, but we know that there are other high impact traffic generators included in the plan such as a drive-through restaurant. This would increase their traffic impact and as a result their mitigation fee to the City.
One other area of remaining concern are the developer’s plans to manage stormwater on their site. Preliminary plans show them retaining the water in a large pond under the radio tower to the west of the development. There have been concerns about groundwater saturation from neighbors upstream of the KXLY site who already experience high water tables and occasional flooding in their neighborhoods. How will the City and developer certify that paving 80% of the project site will still allow for proper infiltration and movement of storm water for these existing residents?
Whatever your views and concerns are, I encourage you to send an email to John Halsey, email@example.com, prior to the closing of the comment period tomorrow evening.
The City is currently updating the Comprehensive Plan through process they are calling Shaping Spokane. Chapter 4 of that update is the transportation chapter. When it was released in late February, we noticed that a particular project had re-appeared in a couple of places: The Ray Street Crossover
The crossover is a primarily auto-oriented route next to the campus of Ferris High School to speed access of vehicles from Ray Street to Freya Street and out to the Moran Prairie area. The crossover is shown on the arterial network on the draft Arterial Plan Map (Map TR12). This project has also been added to the 2017 DRAFT Capacity Improvement Project List referenced in Chapter 4 and found in Appendix D of Volume V (pg.41) of the new Comp Plan.
The city is resurrecting this project as a way to reduce perceived vehicular congestion on Regal Street and funnel more traffic over to our neighborhood’s designated Major Arterial, Freya Street. The crossover concept isn’t new. It was last floated back in the early 2000s (and even earlier than that), but was abandoned during the Neighborhood Planning process that took place from 2007 to 2010 because data from the City could not show how this proposed crossover would improve level of service better than signalization improvements to the intersections of 37th and Ray and 37th and Freya. For this reason, and with the concurrence of the then-current Senior Traffic Planning engineer, the city-adopted Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan does not include the Ray Street Crossover (see image below).
Rather, the Neighborhood Plan suggests signalization improvements at the intersections of 37th and Ray and 37th and Freya to better manage the flow of vehicular traffic. This alternative reduces impacts on Ferris, on Hazel’s Creek and is undoubtedly less costly. The table below is taken from the 2017 Draft CIP List and shows the two signalized intersections are estimated to cost $500,000 where the crossover would cost $4,056,000 and still require a signal and intersection improvements at adjacent intersections.
In addition to putting back in the Comp Plan, the City recently submitted a Roadway Capacity Justification (RCJ) report to the Spokane Regional Transportation Council (SRTC) in an attempt to justify the development of the Ray Street Crossover. The RCJ report ignores the Neighborhood Plan’s recommendations, that is the signal improvements at 37th/Ray and 37th/Freya, and instead just models traffic impacts with and without the crossover.
City staff have told neighborhood representatives that they have the ability to run the transportation model in-house. We requested that this model be run and the RCJ report adjusted to reflect the neighborhood’s preferred solution. The aforementioned 2017 Draft CIP List does include signalization of 37th and Ray and 37th and Freya as projects in the South region (see below).
Until this occurs, the Southgate Neighborhood requested to the Plan Commission and City Council that the proposed crossover be removed from the Arterial Map and 2017 Draft Capacity Improvement Project list until such time as sufficient studies have been done to address the improvements desired in the neighborhood plan. This removal would support proposed TR Goal E of the updated Comprehensive Plan, “evaluate transportation projects using objective criteria to reflect community standards and desires.” (Comp Plan, 2017, pg. 4-15)
South Hill Traffic Management: Assessing the Bigger Picture
In the larger picture, the RCJ report and portions of the draft Comprehensive Plan highlight the need for a more comprehensive assessment of traffic issues on the South Hill. The Southgate Neighborhood and South Hill Coalition have requested a that holistic Traffic Management Study and Plan be developed for the entire South Hill. This plan could assess and provide a context for any and all arterial designations and additions on the South Hill suggested in the new Comp Plan and CIP list:
The Ray Street Crossover,
the completion of 44th between Regal Street and Crestline Street,
and addition of a proposed minor collector between Southeast Boulevard and Crestline Street.
It would help determine how these individual projects and designations align or do not align with the goals of the Southgate and South Hill Coalition Neighborhood Plans. It would help these or any other projects support the existing and proposed Comprehensive Plan’s call for a “Balanced Transportation Approach” that seeks to first accommodate the pedestrian and maintain or enhance the character of neighborhoods and livability for neighborhood residents.
There will be additional hearings on the Comp Plan update at City Council in the next couple of months, so the public will have a chance to comment on this proposal again. We will also keep you updated if the City provides models for the intersections improvements called for in our neighborhood plan. Our Comp Plan and Municipal Code call for balanced, multi-modal translation development in our City, this proposal is geared primarily towards auto-users and a less dramatic, fiscally reduced solution should be considered before putting this into the Comp Plan for the next 20 years.
Southgate has received a notice that another group is proposing to develop an assisted living facility at 44th Avenue and Freya and the developer will be holding a Community Meeting on Tuesday, April 11th at 5:30pm at the Southside Community Center.
This new project is being called Fieldstone Memory Care and the site plan shared with the City at a pre-development meeting in December shows a 39,000 sq.ft. single story building with three smaller 5300 sq.ft. bungalows being built along the 44th Avenue trail on the north side of the property.
Pre-development notes from the City show the development will include 60 beds (a decrease from previous proposals). They City also indicates that they want the developers do construct full right-of-way improvements including curb, sidewalk, and pedestrian buffers along Freya. They are also encouraging the project to connect to the 44th Avenue Trail as an amenity for their residents.
This site is currently zoned as single-family residential, but it did have a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) granted in 2008 allowing development of assisted care facilities. That original CUP expired, so these developers would have to re-apply for a new Conditional Use Permit. As with previous proposals for this site, there will have to be extensive geotechnical and grading work done to make the site useable as indicated in the site plan.
The KXLY Development in the Southgate District Center has two different review deadlines coming up this week.
On Wednesday, March 22nd the City’s Design Review Board will hold a “recommendation meeting” of the project at 5:30pm at City Hall where the developers will present their responses to the initial design review back in February. You can see the updated design here (warning: large 150MB file). The biggest changes are enhanced pedestrian connections between the development and the park, inclusion of infrastructure for STA’s new High Performance Transit stops along Regal, addition of a mid-block pedestrian crossing on Regal between the new development and the Target site, and better screening of the south side of the proposed grocery store. Feel free to take a look and send your comments in to Julie Neff at the City Planing Department.
On Thursday, March 23rd the agency comment period for the KXLY project SEPA Application closes. The SEPA Application is where we can comment on issues like traffic impacts and stormwater management. The SEPA Application references a Traffic Operation Study submitted to the City in December that covers trip generation and Level of Service (LOS) for roads around Southgate before and after the project. The traffic study says the project will add 12,625 ADT to Regal Street bringing the total trips on that section of Regal up to 28,525 ADT when added together with existing trips from the City of Spokane Traffic Volume Map. That total doesn’t include trips generated by the new Maverik gas station or the proposed Regal Commons project. The SEPA application also covers potential stormwater impacts, so you can review that information as well. You can submit your comments on this SEPA Application to John Halsey at the City of Spokane Planning Department.
This SEPA comment period is the agency comment period for this project. There will be another public comment period after the developer responds to the agency comments. Recent updates to the Spokane Municipal Code for neighborhood notification means that neighborhoods now get notified during the agency comment period instead of having to wait for the public comment period, but you can comment in both.
Things are moving fast with the weather improving. Make yourself heard before it’s too late.