A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods

 

Property owner hopes to turn explosion site into the ‘living room of Greenwood’

September 20th, 2016 by Doree

The property owner of the site of the devastating March 9 natural gas explosion in downtown Greenwood says his company is planning to rebuild the site into “the living room of Greenwood.”

The blast destroyed Mr. Gyros, Neptune Coffee and Greenwood Quick Stop, and damaged another 50 surrounding businesses.

“We are 100 percent committed to rebuilding Greenwood,” Mike Slattery of Slattery Properties said at tonight’s Greenwood Community Council meeting.

With insurance dragging its feet, Slattery said his company is moving ahead anyway and has hired an architectural design firm to begin designing a mixed-use building that will cover the west side of Greenwood Avenue North between 84th street and the soon-to-open Flint Creek Cattle Co. restaurant on the corner of 85th (the restaurant plans to finally open Oct. 1.) The building that housed Better Hearing, Kouzina and Insurrection Apparel and Boots will be demolished.

Mike Slattery of Slattery Properties explains his company's plans for rebuilding the natural gas explosion site.

Mike Slattery of Slattery Properties explains his company’s plans for rebuilding the natural gas explosion site at the Sept. 20 Greenwood Community Council meeting. Photo courtesy of GCC.

Slattery said that before the explosion, his company planned to restore buildings on that block to look like Greenwood in the 1930s, taking cues from the Flint Creek building. They had done some work on roofs and windows, and were very excited to have Flint Creek sign a lease to turn the former antique store into an upscale restaurant.

Then came March 9.

“When you see your son calling at 3:30 in the morning, it ain’t good,” Slattery said. “He said the place is kindling and in pieces.”

It’s now been more than six months of cleaning up and dealing with insurance companies. With this morning’s Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission report that places blame for the explosion on Puget Sound Energy for failing to properly decommission a gas line attached to Mr. Gyros that was later damaged by transients, Slattery hopes the insurance money will start flowing.

“With the partial finger pointing to PSE, it strengthens our case,” he said.

Slattery said the plan now is for two levels of underground parking, ground floor retail of seven or eight small businesses, then apartments on top. He said the company will offer retail space to all seven businesses that were destroyed or displaced. (G&O Family Cyclery, which was next to Neptune Coffee, suffered extensive damage and has temporarily moved a block north.)

“We’re looking to do something that blends with the neighborhood, that will be a first-class project,” he said. “We’re hoping to make that retail presence the living room of Greenwood.”

He said the retail spaces will likely range from 600 to 1,200 square feet. He wants small, local businesses in there, not national chains, with outdoor seating, a green roof, and “having a belly full of PSE, we want to put as many solar panels on the roof as possible.”

The community will have opportunities to comment on the project once design gets officially underway.

Update Wednesday: Slattery Properties has applied for a permit with Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections to construct a 91,400 square foot building with 75 apartments, ground floor retail, and 70 parking spaces. The project will be subject to Early Design Guidance meetings (open to the public) and environmental review.

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Reminder: Greenwood Community Council to discuss Sound Transit 3, explosion site development plans on Tuesday

September 19th, 2016 by Doree

The Greenwood Community Council’s monthly meeting on Tuesday will have a presentation on the upcoming Sound Transit 3 package, to help voters understand the proposed projects, timelines and projected costs.

And a representative of Slattery Properties, which owns the property on the west side of Greenwood Avenue from North 84th to 85th streets, will discuss the company’s plans for rebuilding the Greenwood explosion site. Owner Mike Slattery told me at the Sept. 9 Phoenix Party that the company is tentatively planning a mixed-use building with two levels of below-ground parking, ground-floor retail, and housing on top.

The meeting is from 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Greenwood Library, 8016 Greenwood Ave. N.

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Greenwood Community Council meeting about Sound Transit 3 package is Sept. 20

September 9th, 2016 by Doree

The Greenwood Community Council’s monthly meeting will include information about the upcoming Sound Transit 3 package, to help voters understand the proposed projects, timelines and projected costs. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at the Greenwood Library, 8016 Greenwood Ave. N.

This November residents of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties will vote on the next iteration of expansion of Sound Transit services, known as Sound Transit 3 (ST3). The package includes more than 60 miles of new light rail lines across Seattle, the East side, as well as connecting Tacoma to Everett. ST3 also includes bus rapid transit service on the Eastside, expansion of Sounder commuter rail, and the addition of parking capacity at various transit stations. Passage of the ballot measure will mean our region will make an approximate $54 billion investment in transit expansion and will see big new transit projects come on line every few years between now and 2041.

The meeting also will include the Council’s usual monthly business, plus an update from the property owner of the Greenwood explosion site on his plans for that block of Greenwood Avenue from North 84th to 85th streets.

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Greenwood Community Council meeting Tuesday to start planning new park by Greenwood Library

August 29th, 2016 by Doree

The Greenwood Community Council is hosting a meeting Tuesday night to start planning the new park that will be built just north of the Greenwood Library, at Greenwood Avenue North and North 81st Street, where a small strip mall and Bleachers Pub used to be.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, at the Greenwood Library, 8016 Greenwood Ave. N. The new “Friends of” the park group will be established and take over planning, separate from the GCC. The park group will start engaging neighbors in what they want to see at the new park, and will advise the park’s designers, help find funds to complete the construction, and serve as stewards for the park once it’s built.

The buildings are scheduled to be torn down this fall, with the park completed by fall of 2017. The city has funds to develop the south half of the site, but does not yet have funds to develop the north half, where the Bleachers Pub building is currently. According to the city’s webpage for the new park, that north half of the park site will remain lawn until more funds are found.

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Give Parks department your input on new park at 81st and Greenwood Saturday

June 24th, 2016 by Doree

Stop by 81st and Greenwood from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday during the Greenwood Car Show and give Seattle Parks and Recreation your input for a new park on that site. The park will cover the entire east side of Greenwood Avenue North between 81st and 82nd streets, just north of the Greenwood Library.

The strip mall and Bleachers Pub buildings are scheduled to be demolished this fall. Cascade Design Collaborative will design the park this summer and fall. Construction will take place winter through fall of 2017.

Future-park-Greenwood-81st

You can also take an online survey. They’ve even got a Pinterest page where you can post ideas.

Members of the Greenwood Community Council also will be at the future park site, giving away free temporary tattoos with the “Show Greenwood Some Love” design that was a T-shirt fundraiser after the March 9 natural gas explosion. (GCC members also will be at Sunday’s Celebrate North Seattle event in the Oak Tree Village parking lot, along with the Aurora-Licton Springs Urban Village group.)

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Greenwood Community Council meeting tonight on mandatory housing affordability

June 21st, 2016 by Doree

The Greenwood Community Council meets at 7 p.m. tonight (Tuesday) at the Greenwood Library, 8016 Greenwood Ave. N., to talk about the city’s proposal to implement mandatory housing affordability.

The City has released its “Director’s Report” on MHA-Residential legislation and draft ordinance. HALA focus groups have begun to meet and provide input on HALA’s community generated principles which will form part of the basis for changes to zoning, design, and planning in certain residential areas. We will review the overall MHA Program, and discuss the proposed policies and ordinance for the MHA-Residential program.

Click here for the Mandatory Housing Affordability summary.

Click here for the Mandatory Housing Affordability Director’s report.

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Greenwood Community Council meets Tuesday to learn about urban villages from nearby neighborhoods

April 18th, 2016 by Doree

The Greenwood Community Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, at the Greenwood Library, 8016 Greenwood Ave. N., to learn more about nearby neighborhoods’ experiences with urban villages.

The Greenwood Community Council’s monthly meeting will be devoted to the urban village strategy, which forms the backbone of Seattle’s growth plans as outlined in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Guest speakers from nearby Lake City, Crown Hill, and Aurora Licton Springs will be present to share their experience engaging their community and developing a vision for potential changes to the zoning, boundaries, livability, infrastructure, and neighborhood planning in the urban village.

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Neighbors, business owners come together to move forward after Greenwood explosion

March 16th, 2016 by Doree

About 70 neighbors and business owners attended a special Greenwood Community Council meeting at St. John’s Egan Hall Tuesday night to learn more about the investigation into last Wednesday’s devastating natural gas explosion, and find out how the neighborhood can move forward.

Kelly Kasper, GCC Health and Safety Committee Chair, opened the meeting by saying how heartening it was to see the community rallying in response to the disaster.

“On that day it was amazing to see all these people come together, my neighbors helping other neighbors.” Having worked at the Red Cross, she said knowing your neighbors is one of the most important things you can do. “Because you never know when the next ‘fill in the blank’ is going to happen.”

Puget Sound Energy spokesman Andy Wappler said his first thought upon seeing Kasper at the scene that morning was, “Oh, it’s the Red Cross coming,” then realized, “No, actually it’s the neighborhood coming.”

Wappler spent some time explaining what to do if you think you smell natural gas.

“Leave the area and then call. Don’t stay in the building, don’t touch the light switch. Don’t touch the phone inside. Don’t try to turn off the gas yourself,” he said. “Leave, then call. You can call 911, or call us directly.”

Puget Sound Energy’s direct line for that is 1-888-225-5773. But it’s usually easier to call 911. Fire department protocol is to then call PSE.

He said embarrassment prevents many people from calling, especially in the middle of the night. Wappler said PSE has technicians working 24/7 who are happy to come check it out.

Natural gas is naturally odorless, which is why PSE adds that rotten egg smell to it. However, one woman in the audience said she can’t smell that. So Wappler explained other ways to tell, such as a loud hissing sounds, bubbles in ground water, or vegetation next to a gas meter that is inexplicably dying.

Wappler said crews finished gathering evidence from the site yesterday, finding the gas meter, piping and anything else they believe is relevant to the investigation. PSE is one part of the investigation, which is being led by the Washington Utility and Transportation Commission’s Office of Pipeline Safety. Now investigators will inspect each piece for breaks, corrosion or anything else that could affect the integrity of the system. He said our neighborhood’s piping system is not old, “So we’re confident the system here is safe.”

A man in the audience asked Wappler why the gas to the explosion site and surrounding areas wasn’t shut off sooner, saying he could see it flaring an hour after the blast. Wappler explained that although that flaring looks dramatic, it’s not particularly dangerous. PSE didn’t want to shut off gas to a wider swath of the neighborhood, because once service was restored, they would need a technician to relight pilot lights for every single home and business affected. But some homeowners would try to do it themselves, which he said is more dangerous.

Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas, who lives just a few blocks from the site, said “I was never so proud of my neighborhood as this weekend. I saw all the people coming together. I saw how the Phinney Neighborhood Association really stood up for the neighborhood.”

Left to right: Chardell Paine, PNA Membership & Events Director; Joel Darnell, Greenwood Community Council Land Use Chair; Seattle Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas; AJ Cari, Office of Economic Development; Tom Van Bronkhorst, Department of Neighborhoods.

Left to right: Chardell Paine, PNA Membership & Events Director; Joel Darnell, Greenwood Community Council Land Use Chair; Seattle Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas; AJ Cari, Office of Economic Development; Tom Van Bronkhorst, Department of Neighborhoods.

Chardell Paine of the PNA said that as of yesterday, combined fundraising totals were more than $146,000. “It’s all coming together, everyone working together,” she said. She said the PNA had convened a Greenwood Relief Fund Advisory Board, which will include business owners, community members, PNA staff and others to set guidelines to fairly and quickly get money to the people and businesses affected by the blast. That will be done in three phases: Immediate needs of residents displaced and business employees; rebuilding businesses; and the long term needs of the community.

Of 53 affected businesses that the PNA has identified, seven remain closed: the three destroyed in the blast – Neptune Coffee, Mr. Gyros and Greenwood Quick Stop; plus others that were seriously damaged, including G&O Family Cyclery; The Angry Beaver tavern; Gorditos; and Insurrection. The Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co./Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas has relocated temporarily to the PNA. Paine said the 13 residents who lived above Gorditos have been completely displaced.

AJ Cari, from the city’s Department of Economic Development, is one of many city employees supporting business owners and anyone else affected by the explosion. The city has set up the Greenwood Recovery Office at Works Progress co-working (which is donating the space), at 115 N. 85th St., Suite 202 (upstairs). It is open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. starting today through next Friday, March 25 (closed Sunday). Parking is available behind the building with access for those with disabilities. Phone number is 206-396-2788.

The meeting ended with audience members thanking various people, organizations and businesses that stepped up to help out in some way during the last week. One woman in the audience summed it up by saying, “The sense of the village here in Greenwood is so inspiring.”

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Greenwood Community Council meeting tonight on moving forward from last week’s explosion

March 15th, 2016 by Doree

The Greenwood Community Council is hosting a meeting tonight (Tuesday) with city officials to focus on the neighborhood moving forward after last Wednesday’s natural gas explosion that destroyed three businesses and damaged more than 50 others.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at St. John’s Egan Hall, 120 N. 79th St., just off Greenwood Avenue, and will focus on how to prepare for and avoid future disasters such as gas leaks, and resources for recovering and rebuilding over the long term.

Here’s the agenda:

7:00 Welcome and introductions

7:10 How to stay safe from gas leaks and prepare for disaster — Speakers from Puget Sound Energy, Greenwood CC Safety/Health Committee, Q&A

7:40 Steps and resources to recover and rebuild — Speakers from Phinney Neighborhood Center, Dept.
of Neighborhoods, Office of Economic Development, Q&A

8:20 Testimonials from the audience for those who stepped up to help neighbors in a time of crisis

8:30 Adjourn

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