Highland Park ex-substation’s potential discussed again, plus SDOT projects and more @ HPAC

(WSB file photo)

Nine years after the city declared the old substation site at 16th/Holden as surplus, its fate remains unsettled.

Last night, it was a major topic at the March meeting of HPAC, the community council for Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge.

City Councilmember Lisa Herbold and representatives from two affordable-homeownership nonprofits, Homestead Community Land Trust and Habitat for Humanity, were there to talk about the site’s possibilities – almost half a year after a similar discussion at HPAC involving Herbold and a different nonprofit (WSB coverage here).

Seattle City Light is still willing to basically give away the property, Herbold said, but, as was explained in October, it has to be for a “public benefit.” Affordable homeownership would qualify. Both organizations at the meeting said their clients are people earning no more than 80 percent of the “area mean income.” Homestead said it’s working with a similar ex-substation site on a 5-story building in North Seattle with five stories of affordable condos over ground-floor commercial, something like this:

At the site in Phinney Ridge, Homestead’s Kathleen Hosfeld explained, they also bought a parcel adjacent to the former substation, enabling them to build 29 “affordable condos.” Habitat’s Brett D’Antonio also suggested it could be “stacked flats” over commercial, and that could total two dozen units, with some parking. Affordable condos/flats could be priced as low as the $200,000s, the guests said. Meeting participants stressed that commercial space was important, as community members had stressed as far back as 2013; there was discussion of whether commercial space in a mixed-use building could be sold rather than leased, as the housing nonprofits don’t see themselves as landlords. They suggested the community could provide lists of potentially interested buyers for such space.

The discussion ended without any real resolution, but Herbold is continuing to talk to the city Office of Housing about the site. (That’s about where the discussion in October ended.) We’re checking with Seattle City Light to see if there’s any timetable for getting the site out of its holdings.

SDOT UPDATES: The meeting began almost two years to the moment after the West Seattle Bridge closed, transforming traffic through Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge (among other places), and not in a good way. SDOT has since put into place dozens of projects large and small – from the Highland Park Way/Holden traffic signal that went up in the first week (with its permanent replacement to be installed post-bridge-reopening) to dozens of speed bumps.

SDOT’s Sara Zora and Shauna Walgren were joined by Department of Neighborhoods’ Dominique Williams for a quick round of updates.

The most notable announcement was the one we reported separately last night, the decision to cancel plans to reconfigure traffic at the 16th/Austin intersection. Here are the mostly self-explanatory slides they rolled out in addition to that – first, what’s been done and what’s ahead:

They also brought information on what they say resulted from the work:

And then more of what’s on the drawing board in the area – some already set for construction, some just in design:

Here’s a possibility for later this year in Riverview:

And among two that are in design right now, there’s a major project that’s been long discussed – they’re working on a conceptual design now for a possible Highland Park to South Park path:

That could cost $15 million, so grant funding would be vital, the SDOT reps said. They hope to return in a few months with updates.

In Q&A, they were asked if there are plans to repair damaged pavement on 16th in South Delridge. They said some “concrete panel replacement” was planned along with mentioned-earlier work near Cambridge.

PUBLIC SAFETY: The meeting began with a relatively short discussion on this topic – Southwest Precinct Lt. Dave Terry was there for community Q&A. He was asked about camping blocking the sidewalk at 16th/Cambridge and reiterated as he has at other meetings, SPD is not tasked with addressing such issues. Councilmember Herbold spoke up to say she was still working with SDOT regarding how to resume enforcement of the 72-hour parking rule, since that’s not happening now unless a motorhome is clearly abandoned. An attendee expressed concern about what she suspected are sex workers seen coming out of the Riverview greenbelt, distraught, and wondered how to check in to ensure the women weren’t under duress or otherwise being exploited. Also introduced during this part of the meeting, a new area rep for the LEAD program, Sean Blackwell.

NEXT MEETING: HPAC meets fourth Wednesdays, 7 pm, online TFN. Watch hpacws.org for updates.

4 Replies to "Highland Park ex-substation's potential discussed again, plus SDOT projects and more @ HPAC"

  • John March 24, 2022 (7:48 pm)

    Excellent proposals for the old substation and a welcome change to that corner.

  • AMD March 24, 2022 (9:19 pm)

    It would be REALLY exciting to see that substation developed into something like what’s shown in the drawing from North Seattle.  Would be a great boon to the coffee shop across the street, and a much more pleasing view than the fence we’ve stared at for years.

  • Highland Park neighbor March 25, 2022 (5:15 am)

    One key aspect that Homestead mentioned was that a mixed use development of that caliber would involve buying additional plots of land next to the substation. These are residential homes and not available to the city. And the City missed their chance to purchase the parcel to the south. What can they build on their existing 5000 square-foot parcel? Their options are more limited. – This should be factored in and discussed.Has anybody suggested a community center? A P-patch garden? What about a state of the art replacement building to the burned-down HPIC? Neighborhood house, a wonderful nonprofit up the street,which provides affordable and free education options would also be a good candidate for space like this.

    • John March 25, 2022 (7:40 pm)

      I assume from their suggestions,  Highland Park Neighbor is housed.   Those of us housed have different perspectives on what makes our neighborhood better as a community vs better for humane compassion.   Housing first for those without. 

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