Reader view: Have your say Jan. 4 and 5 about proposed 24-unit downtown apartment

Support our community by speaking up against the application for PLN2021-0066, for the 24-unit apartment nuilding at 605 and 611 Main with only one parking stall per unit.

Here are the ways you can do this:

  • Attend and speak at the city council Zoom meeting on Jan. 4 at 7 p.m.
  • Attend and speak at the Architectural Design Board Zoom meeting Jan 5. at 7 p.m.

Here is a link to the staff report for the Phase 1 public hearing on  Jan. 5.

This is just the beginning of what our historic downtown and Edmonds will look like if this goes through. Do you want Main Street and others lined with a tunnel of these buildings? There will be eight businesses that will be displaced, many women-owned, by this apartment providing no business space in our small business district!

Renderings and graphics taken from Architectural Design Board agenda documents.

The developer even admits that:

“Structures on the adjacent parcels do not support the intensity of development under the current zoning and comprehensive plan and are anticipated to eventually be replaced with higher-density development. The proposed project is seen as a guide for future redevelopment allowed and encouraged by the comprehensive plan

The proposed apartment building is designed to go straight up three stories tall against the lot line on the narrow alley between Main and Bell. The entire west side of our building (600 Bell) is along the back of this building on the alley. All the buildings along the alley, shown on the aerial view, have setbacks to allow for extra cars and car/pedestrian access safety. This development will have none of that and traffic will leak over onto our property setbacks. If you live on an alley or easement, this potentially could be the “guide” to do it everywhere.

This proposed development is 14 feet from lot line to lot line and 23.5 feet from our condo to a straight up three-story concrete wall, blocking all light, privacy and view. A zero-lot line design covering 99% of the lots with no open space. Is this the future buildings we want in Edmonds? Citizens have a say in this. It is going to be located just a block over from the new Civic Park and there is no parking provided there. Where will all the visitors park, and will that support our downtown commercial zone or take away even more access?  We should ask these questions and more.

There are also safety concerns: 

  • There is only a 12-foot 2-inch entrance to the alley at 6th with poor visibility.
  • No set back, zero lot line resulting in difficulty getting in and out of garages safely.
  • Where will moving trucks or delivery vehicles park without blocking the alley?
  • Is there adequate emergency vehicle access and parking?
  • Increased traffic with a minimum 24 more vehicles entering and exiting a very cramped space.
  • Department of Ecology wrote a letter with concerns about contamination at the site and runoff downhill.

The Edmonds Comprehensive Plan says that “any growth or development should strive to preserve light, privacy and freedom from visual pollution.” That is not followed here.

Edmonds is uniquely called “The Gem of Puget Sound” and follows our existing Comprehensive Plan growth management goals. Mimicking Lynnwood- or Ballard-style redevelopment is not in our goals, and it states: “While general decisions on how the region will grow are made collaboratively at a regional level, it is up to each community to determine how to implement this vision and the desired growth level at the local level.” We do have a choice – it is not inevitable. I hope our city council is paying attention to this.

Once this goes through (legal or not), it can’t be challenged or changed. Do we want this and future for profit oversized development, to override the needs and wishes of the citizens of Edmonds?

This could be only just the beginning. It could happen to your neighborhood. This developer-driven focus on upzoning Edmonds for maximum profit vs. a citizen-focused community vision to “maintain unique local character” is not consistent with the goals of our current Comprehensive Plan.

Please speak up as this is still only in the application phase and it is not too late!

— By Lynda Fireman

Lynda Fireman is an Edmonds resident

 

47 Replies to “Reader view: Have your say Jan. 4 and 5 about proposed 24-unit downtown apartment”

  1. I’m actually pretty excited about this development. Our town is getting a little more vibrant every year and this development looks like it’ll energize that process.

    1. “Ruined by highrises” is a stretch. Because of all the people now living in Ballard, it’s a vibrant neighborhood full of shops, nightlife, grocery stores, breweries, parks, and places people want to go. I remember in the 1990’s when it was a sleepy little fishing village with little going on; and today it’s a major regional destination with almost as many people living in Ballard as the entire city of Edmonds.

      As for parking, there are a number of private, paid parking lots on Shilshole, a big garage on 24th, and surface lots on 56th with plenty of spaces available.

      1. Are you being facetious or sarcastic here? Ballard: “a vibrant neighborhood full of shops, nightlight, grocery stores, brewers, parks and places people want to go.” How about Commons Park: https://www.myballard.com/2021/12/07/city-to-sweep-ballard-commons-today/.

        And while Ballard might not have highrises it does have this: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/after-ballard-residents-businesses-complain-rv-owner-removes-makeshift-second-story/ar-AAOzhe6

        Populuxe Brewing closed permanently in 2021 after 23 years; Bastille Cafe and Bar closed in 2021 after 11 years. Other closures include No Bones Beach Club, The Boar’s Nest, the Corner Spot, Brunswick and Hunt. Recently the Starbucks in Ballard announced a temporary or possible permanent closure because of safety concerns–https://komonews.com/news/local/ballard-starbucks-closes-as-nearby-businesses-deal-with-safety-concerns.

        Other business closures / moves have also occurred–Sunset Hill Vet Clinic long established at 24th and Market has moved to 90th and Holman Road.

        As for crime: Ballard receives an overall grade of D; however, those vibrant areas you mention in downtown Ballard receive a Failing grade. https://crimegrade.org/safest-places-in-98107/. To be fair Edmonds receives a similar grade to Ballard for property crime. But Edmonds receives a B+ for violent crime compared to C- for Ballard.

        As for parking, all is paid–both on street and surface lots. I am not familiar with any parking garage on 24th that has public parking available.

      2. You should take a poll as to how many “Ballard refugees” we now have in Edmonds, who moved here exactly because the congestion, stress and noise that resulted due to the increase in congestion in Ballard.

  2. Thank you Lynda for your letter in opposition to the proposed apartment building on 6th and Main. This structure is a fine example of what the Citizen’s of Edmonds do NOT want in our town. Increased density does not have to be destroy our downtown character and way of life, but if approved this development will be the beginning of redefining our downtown environment. Our Council, Mayor and Architectural Design Board are responsible parties in this decision and hopefully will listen to citizen’s opposition. They have options. So will they stand with the Citizens or the developers?

      1. This thread is replete with unknowledgeable comments that are simply nonsense. This one probably tops the list. What has councilmember Chen got to do with this proposed building???

    1. I agree with you, Helen. Thank you, Lynda for alerting us. Unfortunately, watching out for what this mayor and some on the city council are going to do next to change our city is becoming part of our lives. We all need to be involved as some of the people wanting to constantly change our city do not understand Edmonds. And to those who want an exciting and vibrant place to live, you should find that place and move there. I think many of us residents really like Edmonds, appreciate the great businesses here and enjoy its natural beauty. We do not need excitement every five minutes to know we are blessed to live in a great place.

  3. Are all of these factors currently to code or is the developer requesting exceptions to current codes? I wonder if the most persuasive argument to make with architectural design board is to ask them to deny any exceptions, like whatever they are asking for that allows them to merge the 2 lots?

    Otherwise, if this proposal is already 100% within the current code, I am not clear on what to ask the city to do to stop it… if they change codes after this goes thru, it won’t apply to this development. 🙁

  4. I recognize there will always be change and some is hard to accept but this clearly feels wrong from the get go. The safety concerns raised are clear and apparent. Aside from the fact that this is a totally unattractive structure that looks more like a commercial building than dwellings, the additional traffic and parking in a already tight downtown core would be ridiculous. 24 units, 24 parking under the structure all to enter and exit onto Main Street. And what of additional vehicles? It is absurd to assume only one vehicle per unit. And what of guests and deliveries? On street parking related to the complex would further stress an already stretched downtown parking situation. And there are other proposed and in process projects opposite that will also add traffic to the area. Apartments and condominiums outside the core are required to have adequate parking not on street and most if not all existing complexes within the core have parking that do not appear to spill over. I see no reason to relax rules or require less for new construction given the challenges the city already faces in regard to parking.

    1. This property is zoned for mixed use. The proposed project does not comply with zoning regs.
      Scale of proposed project is WAY out of proportion with buildings in the area.
      Proposed project is adding dozens of cars to an area of Edmonds already bereft of parking. ((Didn’t this also happen recently at the 303 Edmonds Street apartments?))
      Proposed project will increase traffic in the alley by 30% with no plan for safety.

  5. Lynda, Thank you for alerting us to this proposed development. It is exactly what we don’t want.

  6. I looked at the rendering of the proposed apartment building design. It is totally not in keeping with the the flavor and joy of living in Edmonds. It would have been so much better to have retail space at ground level to encourage foot traffic in Edmonds. Their are not enough parking spaces available for the building. It looks like a big ugly box! Who would want to live like that! Living in Edmonds could be like living in Paris very unique and special. Send that building back to the drawing board.

    1. Let me get this straight. You want to instead build a taller building with empty retail spaces — or more of those “restaurants” with Street Shacks clogging our arteries? As for parking: What on earth is wrong with one spot per unit? It sounds like you are one of those people who parks 13 cars on her lawn. We don’t all live like that. And who wants to live in this building? Well, it is a great and walkable location with a decent view, and it comes with a parking space, unlike units in most buildings in most cities and towns. It sounds like the only problem may be the neighbors.

    2. Paris is filled with 6-8 story apartment buildings with almost no parking, and a city government lead by Anne Hidalgo rapidly restricting cars from the city center to encourage walkability, biking, and public safety. Being a non-car orientated, millennia-old, dense city is a big part of what makes Paris so unique and special.

      1. Mike Bjork, PARIS… really? You mean the City of Lights, whose center was meticulously designed by the landscape genius Le Norte in the 17th century, and whose growth and development and have been jealously guarded since then? As an FYI, Paris City planners since forever, have followed the Golden Ratio in architecture, erring on exceeding it, not falling short if it. This makes cities more spacious and more aesthetically pleasing. We do not do that here. Most of Paris’ new buildings have been built outside of the center ( La Defense) and the cosmetic addition to the Palais Royal and the Louvre, are just that: cosmetic. Paris’ area exceeds 40 Sq. miles, and its central artery, the Champs Élysées has 8 lanes, not to mention its 4 lane Peripherique , which are serve the 2.2 million inhabitants, most of whom work there ( not our case in Edmonds). Unlike Edmonds, the capital city of France has a vast array of busses and subways.Most of its main roads are broad, with wide sidewalks, making walking along the roads easy. We are 40k+ people, who have cars, and we’re OK with it: we don’t need someone to do this “for our own good”. Furthermore, If we build taller buildings in town, Main St will look like a dark canyon, unless you decide to claim eminent domain , buy the houses to broaden the street. But if it’s Paris you want, why not? Their laws, regulations for building, while more liberal than Rome’s, make us look as we operate at the speed of light, but if we follow them, Edmonds won’t be built into a nightmare until after our great-great-great grandkids are born.

      2. Edmonds and Paris have little in common regarding form or function or history. Taking a bit of Paris, out of context, and transporting that to Edmonds~ well, it doesn’t transform Edmonds into Paris, nor make us more Paris-like. Let’s try to make our city the best Edmonds it can be, and avoid conjuring up inappropo comparisons.

  7. I have to ask myself if there would be such a cry of foul here, if the proposal was to just build another really really big single family home or maybe even two really big single family homes on this property? The city code planning encouraged preferred so called Edmonds life style (whatever that is) seems to be either a very few people living in rather large homes or one or two people living in luxury apartments and condos. It becomes a little sad when people are demanding that other people should not be given the same opportunity to have what they already have by design and written into the preferred building standards of the city over a course of many many years.

    1. I believe you are using the point here. I think the real issues are the lack of aesthetics in the design of the structure, the appropriateness of the location, the lack of setbacks, insufficient parking included for the number of units. Edmonds has a distinct lack of parking already in the downtown core and to further stress the situation by potentially allowing on street parking for permanent residents seems like an irresponsible move. Particularly on a street that is already congested.

  8. I sure wish more Edmonds residents, currently alarmed at the prospect of this 24 unit development on Main St., had spoken up and participated in the public hearings and Design Review Board meetings for the Pine Park townhouse project last year.

    This precedent-setting development, eight townhouses and six “Live/Work” units, was narrowly approved by the Design Review Board on a 3-2 vote. It will completely fill and pave over the footprint for the old Baskin Robbins on 5th, leaving no space for foliage or trees. Esthetically, and practically, the project leaves much to be desired.
    From a climate change perspective, it makes no sense to approve any project that allows developers to completely denude the property of trees and ground cover. But that is what has happened, opening the door for similar projects in Edmonds.

    The hearings for this project were very sparsely attended, and the DRB received very few comments. If you don’t speak up you have little reason to complain about the results.

    https://myedmondsnews.com/2021/02/pine-park-townhouse-workspace-development-proposed-for-former-baskin-robbins-curves-location/

  9. What an extremely featureless, boring building. Not even decent windows, faux balconies without even room for plants. People storage at its most taste-free.

    A blight, and a monument to cheap-and-fast building, presumable calling itself “architecture.”

  10. Of all of these posts I find this one to be the most ignorant.” It sounds like you are one of those people who parks 13 cars on her lawn. We don’t all live like that.” Ok…obviously this person is not aware that most of these will probably be at least double occupancy. This mean each person will have their own car. So yes we do need two spots for each unit.
    I have been complaining and complaining about lack of parking and all this entails and Now they are angry and now crying about not parking in all areas of Edmonds (Bowl). Funny how when it effects the Bowl the attitude changes.
    Time for Edmonds to take a long hard look at itself… and time for our citizens and city government to stop being hypocrites.

  11. I am opposed to a large building like this that doesn’t have set backs from the street. It “looms large” in juxtaposition to the style of the area. Other areas of Edmonds can have Ballard style, contemporary redevelopment, but the quaintness of our downtown core with its restaurants & shops is a unique treasure that should be preserved. I would be opposed to any variances from the current building code.

  12. Thank you Lynda for bringing this to the forefront. It is another ugly structure. I cannot understand why, if we have to have larger structures in town, why they can’t be more in line with the architecture already present in our town. As far as parking, it is ridiculous to think that only 1 parking space is needed for each unit. Require 2 spaces each, and let the developer figure it out. Put the ball in their court. DON’T BALLARDIZE EDMONDS!!

    1. Why on earth would anyone with two (or more) cars rent a unit in this building, knowing it comes with only one parking spot? Maybe we should pause the drama and give people credit for common sense; let the “parking problem” with this building solve itself.

  13. This is what you are going to get when you put low height limits. Big square boxes.
    One car per unit is fine. It’s more than houses there get. This should mean that less cars will enter the downtown area as these people can walk.
    There are worse buildings in downtown.

    I will now wait for my e-mail to get blown up every time someone writes a comment.

  14. I lived in Kirkland for 10 years. They did the same thing to their downtown that Edmonds is now trying to do. Their thought was that people would get rid of their cars, or drive smaller cars, or scale down to one car. It didn’t happen. So much for common sense. Kirkland became very badly congested. Too many cars and people in too small a space. Go see for yourself.

  15. Thank you Lynda for writing an extremely detailed, well researched view on this proposed development. We have a beautiful quaint Edmonds downtown that we would like to keep that way. Visitors come from all over to stroll through Edmonds visiting the shops and restaurants. There are plenty of areas to build apartment buildings outside of downtown. I hope Edmonds residents will email the city council, mayor and architectural design board expressing concerns about this development. Let’s keep downtown Edmonds the treasure it is.

  16. What family has only one car? Or a family of 3 or 4 who have only one car, especially if there are teens of driving age? So the overflow has to park on the street. There are other businesses at 6th and Main that rely on those parking spots. I think the city council should address our downtown parking, or lack thereof, instead of allowing zero lot lines and one parking space per unit.

  17. Do not approve this complex in our precious downtown Edmonds! I grew up here and it is so sad to see this wonderful town ruined by tall ugly blocky building.

  18. Parking: Downtown residents can buy parking permits from the city. They must be attached to the window,$25/yr and must park in a designated area. They can also buy a hanging tag for guests, $10/yr. We already have DT residence who buy these permits every year. Current count is over 700. We already allow anyone to park outside the 3 hr zone for up to 72 hrs.

    If one looks at the packet for this meeting you will also note that they will be discussing some really great additions to Main Street Commons. Mike McMurray is adding a place to display the old Edmonds Fire Truck and has a covered stage as well. Great additions to DT.

    Often these discussions revolve around “preserving” things the way they are today. It may be time to sort out if we want to create some sort of preservation zone and why. Doing so tampers with the free market, current codes and a host of other issues. But should we discuss?

    Parking stalls have value. By the ferry, $5/hr. DT 3hr zone, free unless you over stay and then a fine. $40??. Outside the 3 hr zone it is free for 72hrs, then a fine and towing. Resident permit, $25/yr. Employee permit, $50/yr. On street dining space, at $250/mo. maybe? that would be $8/day. It also may well be time to discuss creating more parking close to the downtown core and/or more efficient ways to allocate the current space. It is good that council has created (and may modify) one more price point for a parking stall. Opinions are interesting but some informed discussion may serve us better. Adding space is not free. It may turn out to be a question of our priorities.

    1. I am confused as to what your comment is here. It seems to be only about parking and the cost and restrictions of parking in Edmonds. As a member of Edmonds Economic Development Commission, are you recommending this project as a means to “sell” parking spaces?

      1. Susan, my comments above were only to show what is available to any resident who has a home in the DT area. Yes I am a member of the EDC but do not speak for the EDC. I am only trying to help folks understand what any DT resident or DT employee can do to get parking permits. Pre CV we had over 700 employee and 700 resident permits. Actually, Susan there is on street parking outside the 3 hour zone right nearby so the new residents may not choose to buy a permit. Just some data, not selling anything.

  19. This is Figure 1 on an attempted end-run on Upzoning. If we give some months/years (depending on how nimble the staff who support this and the developers are), soon there will be no need for a formal upzoning vote, because these ugly, graceless, misplaced monstrosities, will gobble our town.

    With this monstrosity, which will have apartments priced at a premium, you’re giving up all pretense that you want “affordable housing”, the good of the city, etc. I can’t help but wonder as to what the motivation to to do this end-run might be. It can’t be an attempt at a higher political position, because an opponent who shows before/after pictures would win hands down… then there’s just crass, bad taste. Or $$$. Nobody can claim that these ugly, hulking boxes would benefit our city,beautify it, and bring more visitors. So seriously: cui bono? who profits? Because if this project is implemented, it is not the people who should profit that will (us, the Edmonds residents), because this is the first step towards making our town ugly, crowded and claustrophobic.

    Among the enthusiastically supporting commentators in this comment thread, is a city employee who was the lead on the recent bike lanes,and eliminated many parking spaces, while another comment comes from a transportation planner from Seattle. So a crucial question is, who IS driving the narrative that this is what Edmonds residents want for their future?

    1. Ms. Evulet,

      I’m the City employee you reference.

      My duties have absolutely nothing to do with this – or any other – private development. I’m a professional and, as such, refrain from publicly voicing my opinion on issues in which I have a conflict of interest.

      In this instance I’m just an Edmonds homeowner with an opinion.

  20. A little over two years ago we moved to downtown Edmonds from a neighborhood just north of Ballard. We did a lot of shopping, eating out, etc. in the downtown part of Ballard. But that ended several years ago when downtown Ballard became saturated, but just kept growing. I agree with one of the other commenters that thirty years ago Ballard was a gritty and unkempt neighborhood, but ten years later it had become a tony, hip place for young people to enjoy and live in. But again, if the community planners would have only shown some restraint and slowed down the growth, Ballard could still be that way. The end result is that now downtown Ballard is noisy, overcrowded with apartments (that have a constant turnover of renters), almost no place to park, a consistent challenge in keeping the sidewalks and parks free of tents and drugs. The complete opposite of all this is one of the main reasons we chose for moving to downtown Edmonds. I worry that by adding a 24 unit apartment building so close to the hub of the city is the first step towards making the same mistake that Ballard made some 20-25 years ago.

  21. Roger, the parking problem Will solve itself. There is ample street parking in the area, and they can buy 2 permits to park on the street for $50 per year. See more discussion below.

  22. An apartment building is being proposed because there is a great demand for apartments in the downtown area. I live in a 43-unit building that always has a waiting list of people wanting to rent one as soon as it becomes available.

    There are many large condo buildings in the downtown, including all around this proposed building. After reading the comments in this thread I can only conclude that many of the writers just don’t like apartments.

  23. My wife just informed me that I’m way too neutral on this particular issue as she thinks it’s a totally ugly building; out of character with surrounding structures with inadequate parking in it’s design and something we should jump on the bandwagon to stop. As they say, happy wife, happy life. So much for my one and only New Year’s resolution to be more open minded about all things Edmonds.

    I do have to say that opposing that particular building at this time feels a little like trying to stop a runaway train that has been on the loose for years. We’ve slowly but surely bent our planning standards toward ever larger single family dwellings filling up entire building lots to the greatest extent possible. Hence little on site parking and the loss of big trees. We’ve also encouraged lots of rather large apartment and condo complexes in the downtown area. This building looks to me like a somewhat logical extension of what those planning policies have been over the years here and just what you might expect to get built in a transition zone area like the 6th.
    Ave. block of Main Street. Assuming this is an apartment building (not a condo), it is just one type of business operating in a symbiotic relationship to the other business’ in the “walkable” downtown district.

    If we truly want to keep this part of town more residential than business, then we should be encouraging a luxury Condominium type building for this spot. Something more like four really nice homes with proper set backs, some landscaping and adequate on site parking. We are good at saying what we don’t want but not so good at saying what we do want.

  24. Permits are fine. The only drawback I see is parking spots are all being used by employers, employees and extra parking for buildings without enough garage space.
    Where are our friends and visitors that we want to attract supposed to park?

  25. I’m all for more housing.. but in the right places. I think this would look like crap on main.. as another commenter said “a big ugly box”.

Comments are closed.