posted 05/21/12 07:52 PM | updated 05/23/12 12:01 AM
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Lake City Re-Envisioning Meeting Re-Cap

The Lake City Re-Envisioning meeting took place Saturday morning, May 19th from 9-1:30 and it was a huge success.  Representatives of the Pierre family introduced the event, along with some community members and facilitators.  Then the team of UW architecture students facilitated break-out groups of over 60 community members in attendance to discuss larger vision ideas for the area, Lake City's current assets and disadvantages, and then specific focus properties up for redevelopment.
Some common themes emerged:
* Desire for an urban village with pedestrian/ bike friendly pathways to connect people with the commerce.
* Desire for a mix of open/green space with mixed use retail and residential dwellings to support the village feel.
* Desire for a Trader Joe's (and some wished for a PCC or Whole Foods.)
* Desire to break up the linear feel of LCW/ create visual pauses and delineations.
Ideas to support these goals:
*Creating identifying and connecting features to highlight the natural asset of Thornton Creek that runs below LCW. One person imagined the road over it like an old wooden bridge... so conversations focused on providing focal and actual connection points to the creek. 
*Separating areas of LCW into separate "blocks" or squares, each with its own unique atmosphere, to break up the linear highway.
*Emphasis on sidewalk cafes/ broad entries to businesses.
*Embracing larger scale commercial development to support the increased density and commerce.  Ideas for this were focused around what some were calling "Sola" (SOuth LAke city) at the current Pierre properties on NE 115th (across from Ricks).  Concepts were focused around creating a good campus feeling with a plaza like gathering area with benches/fountain/trees (similar to Westlake)--and with "green walls" to the buildings--encompassing the intersection on either side of 115th.  This idea promoted the ability to support a large corporate entity such as a Google or Microsoft satellite campus, or perhaps a software or biotech company.  The existence of a unique fiber optic network beneath 522 would prove an incentive for this development.
*Mixed use residential/retail centered on a greenbelt on the property just north of 115th.  One concept involved multi-level mixed use areas that would step down to the greenbelt on the west side while still providing an attractive/ people-friendly facade facing LCW.  The property directly across the greenbelt and opposite existing residential area would incorporate townhomes.  This general area would be a key gathering space for the anchor business employees, with lunch offerings, sidewalk cafes, retail.
*One idea included developing bike corridors that loop in from the Burke Gilman trail from the North via 125th, circling the civic area around the library and community center and development near the "town center" or "Nola" (NOrth LAke city), continue to Thornton Creek on a back route parallel to Lake City Way on the west side with a loop to SoLa's "greenbelt" and plaza area, and then developing a bike corridor that runs roughly alongside Thornton Creek back to the Burke Gilman.  This would facilitate a multi-modal community to counter the car-centric feel of LCW and expand the Lake City community into a more multi-dimensional feel than the current linear dimension of LCW.
*Similar to the bike corridors, all groups agreed on a more serpentine feel to the buildings and "crennelated" facades to counter the sense of having a wall facing a long, straight road.  This would allow for a more human- centric feeling, especially if it were to accomodate "parklets" and large sidewalks.
*One group liked the idea of elevating the people-centric retail development and connecting it all with skybridges to create an "above the freeway" community and allow for the traffic to flow freely.  This group promoted a strongly varied sense to the architecture and spaces to accommodate the unique ethnic groups and small business offerings they would like to encourage.  They connected the fiber optic network with the idea of having a global emphasis to the Lake City urban hub and wanted to have the ability to project outdoor movies onto the side of a building, correlating it with the advanced technology expressed in Times Square of New York.
*Others preferred slowing the traffic down with strong visual and visceral cues: entire intersections resurfaced with paving/cobblestones similar to Westlake Plaza and the crosswalk on 45th and Wallingford; people friendly/ sidewalk design (such as trees, lampposts, art and plantings) to the commercial areas to help bring visual interest and a sense of pedestrian traffic.  Also, incorporating visual destination points: the plaza with fountain, stairs in front of corner businesses (similar to Harvard Exit on Broadway), "Chrome City" art installations or other "auto themed art" to celebrate our auto history.
*Many enjoyed the trees planted on lake city way and planters at the center and agreed more would be beneficial.
*The North Lake City focused area centering around the post office area focused on creating more connection between the community center and library to LCW businesses.  They encouraged more open space and pedestrian corridors to furnish a link back to Lake City Way.  They also suggested including a wine bar and people friendly retail.  A "small" dog park -- a park for small dogs?-- was a priority, as well as an expanded community center with more family offerings (indoor gym time), and better support for the Farmer's Market.  Ideas also embraced a public outdoor space for concerts/ outdoor movies.
*SoLa groups also suggested the presence of sidewalk cafes and a "European style corridor" of outdoor cafes along the diagonal road that intersects the Bill Pierre property just south of Thornton Creek.
*SoLa groups also suggested allowing for re-zoning/higher building heights in exchange for developers installing sidewalks to connect residential communities with the urban village.
*Nearly every group included a Trader Joe's in their design concept.
Current pluses and minuses to the community:
- businesses that are large "walls" to LCW (storage facilities) or are otherwise featureless or "turning their backs on" Lake City Way.
- dangerous intersections
- negative commerce (strip clubs, gun shops)
+ beautiful trees on 125th
+ new tree plantings on LCW
+ nice town center similar to columbia city
+ nice civic center with library/community cntr
I'm sure I missed some of the main points, but it was a fantastic, productive and inspiring meeting.  Facilitators mentioned that there will be 4-5 such meetings. 
Hope you can get involved!  This is a rare and wonderful opportunity, and the success of Elliot Bay Brewery has proven that this community is ready for gathering points!
(The Map shows all the Pierre properties set for redevelopment, though the design meeting didn't preclude re-envisioning the entirety of LCW.)
Thanks for the update
Unfortunately I missed the meeting. Thanks for the briefing.
Comment by danaek
1 day ago
( 0 votes )
When is this all supposed to happen?
Are the Pierres moving their business or closing it? I hope they keep the liscensing business open or someone else picks it up. It is very convenient to have that there.
Comment by Rhonwyn
1 day ago
( 0 votes )
Mini-recap on my blog
Hi, I run the Victory Heights Blog and I did a mini-recap of the workshop on Saturday along with some photos: http://victoryheights.org/wp/2012/05/19/pierre-property-work

Cgeb's article here is much more comprehensive, I didn't take that many notes.

Ryan
Comment by Ryan
1 day ago
( 0 votes )
Recap-what was missing
I attended the workshop and found it very interesting and creative. I really liked the idea that we had to embrace who we are so we don’t turn our backs to LCW and the people that live here. This included embracing the diversity here. One big point that didn’t seem to be in any of the recaps was that along with the development of physical structures, we needed to develop much greater support services. One way to do this is redeveloping the community center so that in not only functions for sports and recreation, but it should have many classrooms and counseling facilities. Classes in ESL, for example, would be very useful.
While these issues do not fit directly into the redevelopment of the Pierre properties, any redevelopment would be challenged to be successful unless the city and state provide the necessary social services for the community, including the newly arrived and the homeless.
Comment by Jerry
1 day ago
( 0 votes )
NOLA, COLA, SOLA
Thanks for the well-done reporting on Saturday morning's gathering with one post-script. I found the acronyms for Pierre Properties to be only partly useful. Given that Lake City goes all the way to NE 145th and that acronyms sometimes stick, I'd suggest that the Pierre Properties are in COLA (Center Of LAke City) and SOLA (South Of LAke City). The true NOLA (North Of LAke City) wasn't discussed as Pierre has no properties there but that NOLA is worthy of long range envisioning as well at some point.
Comment by Barbara
1 day ago
( 0 votes )
Trader Joes
If people are really interested in a TJs, it can't hurt to fill out the "Location Request" form on the Trader Joe's website.

TJs Corporate might seriously consider Lake City if they are bombarded with requests for a new store. Here is the link: http://www.traderjoes.com/about/location-requests-form.asp

I've filled it out a few times. :)
Comment by sjernstrom
1 day ago
( 0 votes )
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