While downtown residents, and especially those in Madison Tower, appreciate Martin Selig significantly reducing the size of his proposed project above the old Federal Reserve Building, there are still significant issues with this alley as there are almost everywhere in downtown Seattle.
Our 19th Century alleys downtown are totally inadequate for 21st Century traffic demand. The Downtown alley grid was developed over a hundred years ago in the time of the horse and buggy. They are too narrow to handle modern traffic demands or the 24/7 building service and delivery demands of 21st century buildings.
SDOT tries to funnel all of the traffic off of the streets and into the alleys, but existing alleys can’t handle it. Alleys become overloaded with office and residential parking, sanitation, 24 hr. deliveries, repairs, moving, and emergency services; and major streets become blocked with vehicles backed up waiting for access to or from the alleys. This is a major safety and quality of life issue.
In addition, the lack of alley setbacks permits construction of multiple buildings right up to the alley edge degrading privacy, air and light and safety for adjacent residents.
But there is a solution. As you grant permits to build new towers, require a 10’ setback off of the alley to really handle 21st Century demands. There is a precedent for alley setback in First Hill HR zoning where a 10’ alley setback is required, and we believe that this is the only viable long-term solution for downtown as well.