What it takes to grow a village

Things are changing on Queen Anne - we can all see that. The question is: What are we becoming, and are we going to like whatever that is?

The top-of-the-Hill business district is designated an Urban Village in the city's Comprehensive Plan. With new development in the works and more to come, your neighbors are trying to figure out how to grow a village - the kind that will keep what we like about Queen Anne and make it even better.

They offered their thoughts at a public meeting held by the Queen Anne Community Council on June 14 at McClure Middle School. Participants walked Queen Anne Avenue evaluating how architecture, landscaping and other factors make some areas more appealing than others. Then they considered what they want to see in the future.

In a word: high-quality, pedestrian-oriented development that fits the neighborhood and feels like a village as opposed to "downtown." They worry that new buildings will overwhelm the street, and want to find ways to make them look smaller. Blocks with multiple buildings seem more village-like than blocks with one or two long structures. They like some of the architectural variety in the district but find a few areas too eclectic. Most say wider sidewalks, more landscaping, courtyards and small public open spaces along sidewalks would improve the pedestrian environment.

Neighborhood comments are being used by a subcommittee of the Queen Anne Community Council to write design guidelines that cover site planning, building scale, architecture, the pedestrian environment and landscaping. These will apply to commercial areas along Queen Anne Avenue, Galer, Boston and McGraw streets and 10th Avenue West. Proposals in the Picture Perfect Queen Anne Streetscape Master Plan produced by earlier community efforts (available at www.ppqa.com) also will be incorporated.

Queen Anne will be Seattle's 20th neighborhood to develop design guidelines. The city, a local design review board and the Queen Anne Community Council Land Use Review Committee will use them to evaluate projects and let developers know what Queen Anne wants. Although they don't have the force of regulations, guidelines give communities added muscle in working with developers. Projects are often significantly modified based on design guidelines.

Join your neighbors at a second public meeting to offer your thoughts on becoming a village and tell us what you think about the first draft of the guidelines. The meeting will take place at McClure Middle School on Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.

Ruth Dight is a member of the Queen Anne Business District Guidelines Committee.

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