The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections has cleared the construction of a controversial 82-unit mixed-use development that will include a PCC Market in Madison Valley.
Published on July 23, the SDCI director’s decision directs The Madison developer Velmeir Companies and architecture firm Studio Meng Strazzara to follow guidance provided by the East Design Review Board, which approved its plans for the six-story mixed-use development at 2925 E. Madison St. last September.
That includes maintaining the building materials proposed for the project, replacing the loss of a significant tree canopy with a substantial landscape buffer, and a hillclimb that will connect from Dewey Place East to East Madison Street.
SDCI has also approved a departure to locate The Madison’s residential parking on Dewey Place East and retail parking and commercial loading on East Madison, which requires a minimum 40-foot curb cut. There will be 70 stalls each for residential and commercial use.
During peak hours it is estimated that residential and commercial parking demand will be at 52 and 60 spaces, respectively. Bike parking was moved on East Madison as to not impact pedestrians.
Neighborhood opposition group Save Madison Valley plans to appeal the decision, which confirms that an environmental impact statement is not required for the project.
SMV will dispute the loss of an exceptional tree and the tree canopy on Dewey Place East, and address traffic impacts from The Madison, as well as the general scale of the project.
“The landscape plan proposes new trees that will replace and exceed the canopy of the existing trees at maturity,” according to the decision.
Geza de Gall, Velmeir vice president of real estate for the Pacific Northwest, said he’s hopeful the appeals process will be concluded in the developer’s favor by spring 2019, and that construction can start then — The Madison construction is expected to take 18 months to complete.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s being delayed, but it’s the process that exists,” he said, “and we have to go through it.”
De Gall said PCC Market remains committed to the project, and Velmeir will wait until the appeals process is concluded before marketing additional retail space. The property has not yet sold to Velmeir, as the purchasing contract requires all permitting to be completed first.
Velmeir still could opt in to the city’s HALA program, adding affordable housing units to The Madison in return for an additional 10 feet, or roughly another floor to the project.
“We are reviewing the codes and the ordinances in respect to this particular issue now,” de Gall said. “We probably will just be making an inquiry with the city in a few days or so. … We do think that it would be somewhat of a streamlined and administrative process as opposed to a more public process.”
He said Save Madison Valley’s “talking points are being diminished with every step of the process,” and it would be interesting to see the neighborhood group essentially oppose affordable housing.
City People’s Garden Center will be demolished at 2925 E. Madison St., and is currently operating on an extended lease while it looks for a new location. The 60-year-old building was assessed, but did not qualify for landmark preservation.
Six townhomes will be developed on Dewey Place East, which the EDRB found to be an appropriate use for the residential street, and it also helps mitigate the visual impact of the parking entrance.
Velmeir applied for a master use permit back in March, and has been working with Studio Meng Strazzara to address various corrections identified by SDCI, including making sure adequate setbacks are provided.
Engineers have estimated the residences and PCC Market will generate 1,230 daily vehicle trips, with 244 new p.m. peak hour trips and 51 a.m. peak hour trips.
Developers are required to commit to providing flaggers to facilitate delivery trucks reversing down East Madison Street and into the loading dock for the life of the project, according to the director’s decision.
“That was the only non-boiler plate condition that came down on the project,” said de Gall, adding PCC Market had suspected such a condition might be imposed. “If that adds an element of safety to the project, who can argue with that?”