Being nearby Main Street property owners, we are concerned about this project, its impact on the streetscape and are wondering if it is a one-off or a preview of coming attractions.
Most of us may recall that high school or college paper or project that had a checklist of elements to include. For example, number of words, footnotes, perhaps even a bibliography and table of contents. We may also remember the night before the due date, cramming to get all of the boxes checked, but creating a really lousy project, which the resulting grade reflected. That is what it looks like here. The architect has tried to check off of all the boxes to get a passing grade from the city but has failed miserably.
The design is to say the least, non-descript, perhaps even brutal and, despite the applicant’s remarks, pretty much void of significant, aesthetically pleasing elements. While it was designed for Edmonds, it could be anywhere. It could incorporate some design elements of the adjacent or nearby buildings, but it doesn’t. It is pretty much a square box.
We hope that the ADB would require the developer to add elements to break up the mass of the building and add some visual interest. Perhaps a varied roof line. Compare the roof lines of the adjacent office at 501 Main St., Reliable Flooring and the Main Street Commons under development at 6th & Main. The nearest similar building to this is the 1990 vintage Centennial Building at 6th & Main, which has a similar box design but at least offers a roof peak element on its 6th Avenue façade. Also add some modulation to break up the massive sides of the building so that it does not overwhelm it neighbors.
Question 13A of the project environmental impact statement asks if this project is on or near any building 45 years old or older that is listed in, or eligible to be listed in, a national, state or local historic register. The applicant responds, “None are known to exist.”
This is incorrect; we are the proud owners of the Charles Larson house at 630 Main St., which in 2013 was designated as an historic property by the Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission and the city. We estimate that our property is within 350 feet of these parcels.
Also, let us not forget some of the other historic properties, whether registered or not, within a short radius of the site, which include the “Rose House” at 555 Main St., the Reliable Flooring building at 542 Main St., the 524 Main St building and the residence at 560 Bell St.
Since in its review, the state Department of Ecology noted that there are two contaminated sites within 750 feet of project, we would argue that since we and all of these other properties are within this same radius, this statement must be corrected and the historic significance nearby buildings considered by the ADB.
In addition, per the Snohomish County Assessor, the single-family home on the site is over 100 years old and is representative of the smaller homes owned by families that could have provided housing for waterfront mill workers that may have just walked up and down Main Street to and from the mills. In fact, this is the last home of its size and style remaining on the north side of Main Street.
Given the gap between the response to this question and the reality, we encourage the ADB and City to carefully scrutinize all responses to the environment checklist to ensure their accuracy.
The developer of the 605-611 Main St project, GBH Holdings, is also the developer and owner of an apartment building at 303 Edmonds St. Some may recall this project, the Beachwalk apartments, a three-story, nine-unit apartment. In 2018 the developer was able to take advantage of a provision of the zoning code that did not require a building with a footprint of less than 4,800 square feet to provide onsite parking. As that was the zoning code in force at the time, the city had no choice but to issue the permit, which it did. Hurriedly, the city council approved a six-month moratorium on any new permits until the code could be updated to remove this exception.
Of additional concern to us, perhaps selfishly, due to its proximity to our property and office, is that this owner has apparently acquired the property at 627 Dayton St., the former Baker Funeral home, which for almost the last 50 years has been used as an office. This information is reflected on the Snohomish County Assessor’s website.
This site shares the same zoning classification, BD2, and is also under 12,000 square feet so is exempt from the 5% public open space requirement. If this property is developed in the same fashion as is proposed for the Main Street property and has 24 units with one parking space per unit, where will the overflow parking go?
Well, that answer is pretty obvious. Adjacent to this site is the lower library parking lot, which provides over 50 parking spaces that do not have any time limitation. Potentially, these residents could consume a significant portion of the library parking lot.
As for parking, that may not be able to be disputed for the Main Street project, since the current code is one spot per unit. Perhaps the code may need to be revised to require 1.25 to 1.5 spots per unit. In a building of this size that would provide an additional six to 12 stalls.
It appears clear that the developers are reviewing the codes to see how to maximize their property’s potential. Projects like this will significantly affect the look and feel of downtown Edmonds. As citizens we need to pay more attention to what the codes allow, not just in the central business district zones, but throughout the city. Or this project could be just a preview of coming attractions.
John and Sandy McDonald
McDonald McGarry Insurance
630 Main St.