Holy Names Academy principal Elizabeth Swift says the school wants to be a good neighbor, and that means taking steps to address what has been a longtime issue in the neighborhood — parking.
The Catholic secondary school for girls recently submitted a land use application to the City of Seattle for demolishing its 30-year-old gym, creating five levels of below-grade parking under it, and then constructing a new gymnasium over the garage.
“I believe it will be good for the neighborhood,” Swift said. “It will get our cars off the street, and it will accommodate our events.”
With the required permitting process, Swift said construction is expected to start in either spring 2019 or 2020, and private fundraising efforts continue.
“The gym will come down — most of it — and then we’ll build a parking garage and build a gym on top,” she said, adding construction will match the school’s historic look. “It’s designed to match the current building with the same cornices and arches, and I think it will look really nice with the existing building.”
Designs submitted to the city call for partially demolishing the 13,415-square-foot gym and constructing a new gym at 15,382 square feet.
The underground parking garage will include 246 stalls, and 32 new surface parking spaces will also be added on the north side of the school at 21sth Avenue East and East Aloha Street, 728 21st Ave. E.
Additional work includes pedestrian walkway improvements, sidewalk repairs and minor street improvements.
Swift said Holy Names has a full 700-student enrollment, plus a faculty and staff of 100. The school has spent the past year exploring solutions that would reduce on-street parking.
“I think what brought this on is the changing of the neighborhood,” she said, “and there really is very little parking south of us, west of us.”
The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections has received several letters of support from neighbors and parents.
Ann Skrobut wrote she has three daughters who attend Holy Names, and that parking has gotten worse over the past four years. Resident Kim Renderos wrote that she supports the project because of the lack of parking in the neighborhood, and because she understands teachers commute from outside Seattle and students live all over the city.
Holy Names parent Anne Read-Anderson wrote this in her letter of support:
“Each year, my daughter’s carpool has had to park a little farther from school, and I know it must be a trial for the neighbors to deal with all the kids’ cars parked on the street. (I know for a fact that the school polices parking infractions very closely: my kid has been called out of class for having parked too close to a driveway, and served detention that day.)”
Resident Amanda Higgins urged SDCI to remove the north parking lot from the project, writing that replacing that lawn with asphalt for bus storage doesn't fit in with the single-family neighborhood.
Holy Names Academy was founded by the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1880 and located in Downtown Seattle. Construction on the Capitol Hill facility started in 1906, and the school opened in 1908.
Holy Names Gym Parking Plans by branax2000 on Scribd