Too Big to Fail: Part 4 of 4; 5th & Lenora [#3026266]

Too Big to Fail: Part 4 of 4; 5th & Lenora [#3026266]

Just as in what appears to be the Design Review standard script, tonight (9/4/18), the Downtown DRB approved yet another major downtown Seattle high rise apartment building (MUP3026266, 2025-5th Ave) with only one, symbolic and for all practical purposes, unusable loading berth! 

For a 44 story, 458 apartment building of almost 500,000 sq ft, this decision was ludicrous.

As was stated so eloquently in several comment letters, "I hope you recognize the importance of this issue and its impact on future traffic congestion and public safety. Unusable loading berths are being given the rubber stamp at the same time eCommerce is expanding demand for deliveries at well in excess of 15% per year. As trucks block the alleys to unload, others must circle the block and wait or come back later. When buildings are not chamfered at the alley entrance, pedestrians are put in danger as trucks must creep blindly into the sidewalk or repeatedly sea-saw back and forth across the street and sidewalk to maneuver into or out of the alley." Yet, at the top of the meeting tonight (9/4/18), they announced that in making its decision the board would not consider any comments relating to number or size of loading berths or matters related to waste storage or parking on which they have no training and they believe belongs to SEPA review. 

So if these things belong in SEPA, what is Design Review? According to the SDCI, Design Review provides a forum for citizens and developers to work toward achieving a better urban environment through attention to fundamental design principles. Design Review is intended to assist new development to contribute positively to Seattle’s downtown neighborhoods. Design guidelines offer a flexible tool, an alternative to prescriptive zoning requirements which will allow new development to respond better to the distinctive character of its surroundings.”   

How can the Design Review Board keep a straight face while claiming loading berths, waste storage, or parking aren't issues for them to consider? This is the same endless loop of pass the buck we've been fighting for over four years.The DRB says it’s not their purview and will be taken up in SEPA. In SEPA, it is presumed that it has been considered by DRB, when in reality no one has considered functional design. And if we don’t like it, we’ll have to take them to court. Is that in the spirit of citizens and developers working together? Of course not; but that is how the deck is stacked against tax paying citizens.

This madness in the rush to build ill-conceived, non-functionally designed, towers will create a problem for everyone who lives or works downtown. In the City’s mind, these massive towers are too big to fail, because they are the answer to the City budget problems, and the developers are more than willing to open their pockets and accommodate them.

However, if like in this proposed project, they can’t contain their transportation and waste impacts, they will dominate shared public right-of-ways, adversely affecting downtown traffic, livability, and even mobility for first responders, resulting in irreversible disastrous decisions with generational impacts for Downtown Seattle.

Following are detailed comments and drawings showing why this project fails to pass the test for good functional design:

Comment Letter on #3026266 on 9/4/2018

Comment Letter on #3026266 on 12/14/2017

Hungry for more “Too Big To Fail“? We wish there weren’t more, but sadly — we’ve got you covered.