Today the Office of Housing released its draft Redevelopment Plan for the Fort Lawton site in Magnolia, moving the project one step closer to reality after a nearly thirteen years roller-coaster ride.
After the recent dismissal by the Hearing Examiner of a challenge to the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the city could take the next step and issue a redevelopment plan. During the contentious EIS process, some Seattle residents and advocacy groups (particularly those in Magnolia) argued that the 34-acre site should be used to expand nearby Discovery Park, while others advocated for increasing the amount of affordable housing beyond the 238 units in the proposal that the EIS studied.
The redevelopment plan issued today sticks to the plan in the Final EIS; if it did otherwise, then the city would need to re-do the EIS and further delay the project. The plan includes:
- 86 units of studio apartments in a complex: 85 units for homeless supportive housing for seniors, including veterans. It will be built through a partnership between Catholic Housing Services and the United Indians of All Tribes, with case management services provided by Catholic Community Services of Western Washington. One unit will be for a site manager.
- 100 affordable housing rental units for households making up to 60% of AMI, constructed by Catholic Housing Services. The housing development will include a multi-function community meeting space.
- 52 townhomes/rowhouses, intended for ownership by households earning up to 80% of AMI. Habitat for Humanity will construct the units, which will be rent-restricted for at least 50 years. HfH will continue to own the underlying land and lease it to the unit owners through 99-year leases that are renewable and inheritable.
- 61% of the site will be for open space and recreational use, including 13 acres of “passive” recreation uses such as picnicking and viewing (including a park space among the rowhouses/townhouses), and 5 acres for active recreation activities.
- 4 to 5 acres of wooded area will be incorporated into Discovery Park.
- The city intends to create two unlit, multi-purpose fields, and is negotiating with Seattle Public Schools for the school district to manage and use those fields.
- Sidewalks and trails will be installed throughout the site, though without direct connections to Discovery Park or the Magnolia neighborhood. Texas Way, the main street through the site, will also be improved, with 6-foot sidewalks on both sides (though no bike lanes), planting strips, and in some places curb parking .
- Up to 266 parking spaces will be built: up to 206 withthe housing and 60 for the parks and sports fields. The city expects that up to 226 of the spaces will be in paved lots. For the townhouses/rowhouses, the parking will be on the ground floor with two floors of housing sitting above.
- One existing building from the old military installation will be retained as a maintenance facility.
Here’s the breakdown of the 34 acres, by use:
Now the costs:
- The 85 homeless supportive housing units: $28.3 million
- 100 rental units: $40.2 million
- 52 owner townhouses/rowhouses: $18.4 million
- 2 fields: $5.5 – 7.0 million, plus another $500,000 for the 60 parking spaces
The funding will come from a number of sources, including the Office of Housing’s various programs, Low-income Housing Tax Credit Equity, the State Housing Trust Fund, HUD Self-help Ownership Opportunity Program, and the Federal Home Loan Bank (detailed budgets for the three housing developments are in the plan document).
Currently, 9-10 acres of the site are zoned for single-family housing up to 7200 square feet, and would need to be rezoned for multifamily housing (LR2). According to the city, in the Comprehensive Plan the property is already designated for multi-family housing.
The Office of Housing is now accepting public comment on the Redevelopment Plan; you can submit your comments until February 22 by postal mail, or email to email@example.com. The department is also holding a public hearing on the plan next Monday, February 11 from 5:30 to 8:30 at the Catherine Blaine School at 2550 34th Ave W. in Magnolia.
Once the comments have all been received, the city will consider them, potentially make adjustments to the plan (keeping it within the boundaries of the EIS scope), and submit the final version to the City Council for its approval — likely with its own public review process and tweaking.
Sadly, the property conveyance, funding, permitting, demolition and construction are complex and still expected to take years.