The city will be scheduling a public meeting regarding Fred Meyer’s plans to extensively remodel its Greenwood store at 100 NW 85th St.
Normally, a remodel to an existing building doesn’t warrant a public meeting, while more extensive redevelopment plans must go through the Design Review Board, as Fred Meyer’s previous proposal did.
However, a group of architects and designers, called Greenwood Deserves Better, recently collected about 75 signatures from neighbors of the Fred Meyer site and turned them in to the city, which forces a public meeting about the project. The city should be scheduling that meeting in the next few weeks.
Greenwood Deserves Better is concerned about Fred Meyer’s appeal of the city’s decision regarding environmental impacts of rezoning the site.
The city plans to rezone the 13+-acre portion of the Greenwood/Phinney Ridge Residential Urban Village, which includes the land under Fred Meyer and Greenwood Market, as well as some surrounding properties. The proposed zoning would change the site from C-1 40 (commercial zoning that is oriented more to big-box stores and car traffic, and allows for building heights up to 40 feet), to Neighborhood Commercial, which calls for more density, pedestrian access, and allows taller buildings, to encourage residential. The rezoning proposal breaks down the site and surrounding areas into four subareas with slightly different zoning for each. (See the map here and the city’s full report). The city held a public meeting on the proposal last summer; more than 100 neighbors gave input on the plan.
The Department of Planning & Development conducted a SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) review, and determined that rezoning the site would have no significant environmental impacts (.pdf). But Fred Meyer is appealing that decision.
“They’re asking about transportation and utility impact topics,” Gordon Clowers, DPD Senior Urban Planner, explained. “That refers to our conclusion that there wouldn’t be significant impacts on those systems, and they want more information on how we made those decisions.”
A rezone appeal hearing is set for 12 p.m. Wednesday (tomorrow), at Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue, Room 4009. It is open to the public.
Greenwood Deserves Better (formerly called the Greater Greenwood Design Development Advocacy Group), is afraid that Fred Meyer is using the rezoning appeal as a delay tactic, to get their expansion plans approved before a rezone would affect them.
Fred Meyer had previously proposed a massive redevelopment of the site that included housing, a three-story parking garage, and other retail. That plan went through an extensive design and public review process. But the company abandoned that plan last August, saying it was just too expensive in the current economic climate. So, Fred Meyer put forth a new proposal to expand its current store by 55,305 square feet and remodel the Greenwood Market building into Fred Meyer’s home and garden center.
But then Fred Meyer found the Greenwood Market building to be in poor condition, so the plans changed yet again to the current proposal, which would expand the current Fred Meyer by 55,305 square feet. The Greenwood Market building would be demolished, and the Pacific Lock & Key kiosk in the parking lot would be moved to a different part of the site.
“Our group feels (that) is an underuse of the site, and an impact on the entire neighborhood,” Evan Bourquard, an architect and member of Greenwood Deserves Better, explained. “It really feels like they’re sneaking the permit into the city. They want non-significance on their project to increase the size by 55 percent. Even within the context of an addition, there are some areas of improvement. We’re just trying to get the city to force them to do the public meeting.”
Tom Gibbons, Fred Meyer’s Director of Real Estate, was unavailable for comment.