My travels this week led me to Portland’s Pearl District. I couldn’t help but think about places in Seattle that could benefit from broad changes like those that created the Pearl. We don’t have Tax Increment Financing, but we do have Interbay.
Recently the Interbay/Dravus rezone passed out of the Planning Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee, but has run into some trouble on the way to the full council.
Should the rezone be subject to the pending incentive zoning proposal? The mayor seems to want this to happen as do some councilmembers. Additionally the Seattle Department of Transportation seems to have some issues with infrastructure missing as part of the rezone. At the PLUNC meeting where the rezone passed, concerns were raised that sidewalks and road improvements wouldn’t happen.
But Interbay’s time has come.
Like the warehouse district in Portland that became the Pearl District, Interbay is now a mix of low-intensity uses with no housing to speak of. Because of its location, more people living here is not sparking dissent from neighboring single family neighborhoods. Even the industrial community seems to be supporting the changes.
The council needs to avoid getting into a battle over the many ‘what ifs’ that could hold this up. The project should look at non-traditional sidewalks to address the SDOT concerns, and a reasonable target needs to be set for affordability. Sustainable reuse of buildings like the Ecotrust building in the Pearl should also be encouraged.
The council should take the time to get these things sorted out and set some indicators to measure whether the rezone lives up to our expectations. But we’ve waited long enough.