By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Tonight brought first word of the draft recommendations for what to do with the Myers Way Parcels, 30+ acres of city-owned land on the southeast edge of West Seattle.
The draft was unveiled at tonight’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting by the two city Finance and Administrative Services managers who led a tour of the site two weeks ago, organized by City Councilmember Lisa Herbold for community members (WSB coverage here).
During the tour, FAS’s Hillary Hamilton and Michael Ashbrook (left-center and right in the photo above) said they were close to finishing the draft. And now – it’s ready. They came to the HPAC meeting with a one-sheet that’s not available online yet (today’s downtown power outage set them back a bit) – here’s our transcription of the “draft property recommendations”:
The draft recommendation includes a balance of planning for future City needs, financial consideration of the outstanding loans on the property and enhancement or preservation of natural spaces:
*The property immediately south of the JTF (9401 Myers Way S)
This property is proposed to be used for a future expansion of parking and training areas at the JTF. Within 15 years, City will need to relocate city parking uses at the Arrowhead Gardens Apartments. Other training needs, such as driver-safety training and trench safety, have been identified.
*The properties south of Roxbury Street and north of the City Light Right of Way (9501 Myers Way S)
This property is proposed to be sold at fair-market value. It could be sold through a negotiated sale with a developer that supports community needs such as job creation or mixed-use activities. The property could be marketed with the use of a real-estate broker to facilitate a sale for such purposes while assuring appropriate financial compensation to the City.
*The properties south of the Seattle City Light Right of way and east of Myers Way (9600 and 9701 Myers Way S)
FAS will identify a purchaser who will preserve and enhance the natural environment of the property and complete a negotiated sale. Examples may include a land trust foundation that would permit public access for recreation and education, an adventure-park operator that would preserve trees and allow public access, or a commercial developer that would preserve or enhance the natural areas. If a sale is not completed within two years, then the property is proposed to be transferred to the Seattle Parks Department for green space. Parks would consider what level of public access would be suitable through their own processes and budget.
Hamilton noted that this is a big change from only a year or so ago, when “our idea was probably ‘let’s sell everything’,” but they heard community opposition to that.
With affordable housing something the city is very interested in helping create, Hamilton acknowledged questions about why this site wouldn’t be quickly earmarked for that. She explained that the “pink” heart of the site – the part proposed for selling for commercial uses – is the most buildable but not necessarily for housing because of cement-kiln dust contamination left over from fill brought to the site decades ago. The city’s affordable-housing experts “looked really hard” at it, she said, but along with the contamination, it also would require roads, sewers, electricity, and drainage, all of which would cost a lot. Sales of any part of the parcels is instead supposed to generate some income, not drain the city coffers. The new one-sheet includes some financials related to the land – saying it’s appraised at $14 million, and that “potential sales proceeds” would have to go toward:
-$1.3 million “outstanding balance on the loan used to purchase the property” (in 2003)
-$5 million “to pay interfund loan to assist homelessness” (as decreed by Mayor Murray last November)
-$500,000 “to reimburse the Dept. of Finance and Admin. Services for consultants and holding costs”
Elaborating on the greenspace potential in the southernmost section, Hamilton said the intention would be to “save the tree canopy” – and she mentioned that could be achievable in one of several ways, including the newly emerged adventure-park idea that is “newly on the table” (here’s our recent story about it). She summarized, “We see the blue area as somewhere that the trees would always be protected, one way or another.”
Subsequent concerns that came up at the HPAC meeting – which included attendees from the neighboring unincorporated Highline area too – included parts of the property currently being used by homeless campers, and the need for more transit in the area.
The FAS reps stress that the comment period is still open and people are welcome to say whatever they think should be done with the area, as well as what should be done with the money that would be brought in by selling any part of it.
Along with accepting comments in writing, they’re working on an event June 30th at the JTF, likely “an evening meeting where we’re going to talk some more” about the proposal, and listen to community comments. (That idea came up during the aforementioned tour.)
After they’ve gathered comments on these draft recommendations, a final recommendation will be drafted in the form that would have to be approved by the City Council. That, they expect, will happen in midsummer; then the legislation would go to the council for a vote in September, under the projected timeline.
We’ll update this story Thursday when we get digital copies of what was handed out tonight, and any other information/reaction.