There’s overdevelopment – and then there’s underdevelopment. The proposed one-story, 14,000 standalone pharmacy at 4722 Fauntleroy Way SW – first reported here in July – is considered by some to be a potential case of the latter, along with two similar projects we mentioned in that story, one in Wallingford, one in lower Queen Anne, since they are planned on sites where much bigger developments could be built. City Councilmember Richard Conlin has announced a proposal that would prohibit these types of projects in certain urban areas in the future:
Councilmember Richard Conlin introduced interim controls legislation today that sets a minimum density requirement for new buildings in pedestrian-oriented Neighborhood Commercial zones in Seattle’s urban villages and urban centers. Councilmember Conlin developed the legislation in response to neighborhood concerns about one-story, suburban-style projects proposed in various Seattle urban villages.
The goal of the proposed legislation is to align the design of new projects with the character of designated pedestrian zones. “Neighbors affirmed the vision in our neighborhood plans that bulky low-scale development is out of context with their neighborhood. I introduced short-term legislation to ensure we aren’t missing opportunities in communities that have planned for and want a more vibrant streetscape,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee. “It’s great to hear so many people saying yes to mixed-use projects with ground floor retail and housing above.”
The legislation requires a minimum density for Neighborhood Commercial (NC) zones in urban centers, urban villages and station area overlay districts that have a pedestrian designation overlay. The minimum density level, measured by the Floor Area Ratio (FAR), would be based on the maximum allowable height in the NC zone. The requirement would only apply to new buildings or modifications to existing buildings that add or remove more than 1,000 square feet or 10 percent of the gross square footage currently existing on the lot, whichever is less.
“Our Comprehensive Plan targets job and housing growth in our urban villages and urban centers. P-zones in those areas are places where people like to walk, shop and hang out. Strip mall-type developments don’t invite that type of activity,” said Conlin. “The land use code is usually used to limit height and density, but we can also use it to encourage the right kind of growth in the right places.”
The Full Council is expected to vote on the interim controls on Monday, September 9. If adopted, the legislation would take effect immediately after the Mayor signs the bill. Permanent legislation will be developed with stakeholder input in the Council’s land use committee in 2014.
Even if the “interim controls” are approved next Monday, a council spokesperson tells us it’s too late to affect anything in the pipeline right now – it would only apply to projects that are not in the application process yet.
As for the drugstore proposal at 4722 Fauntleroy – while it will require design review, no meeting date is set yet, nor have any new details appeared in public records (or otherwise been made public).