New schools in or around Seattle Center are nothing new. The former Warren Avenue School sat on the current site of the Washington State Coliseum, now KeyArena. When the site was purchased in 1902 the Seattle school enrollment is said to have increased annually by 2,000 children. The school opened in 1903 to relieve overcrowding in the nearby Mercer and Denny Schools (these schools are also gone). Enrollment peaked in 1929 at 734 students. In 1957, Seattle voters approved a proposal for the development of a Civic Center and the World’s Fair. At the time of its closure enrollment had dropped to 250 students as families moved to make way for the fairgrounds. The school district sold the site after the State Supreme Court ruled the state could condemn the property.
Since this time, the Uptown community has been heavily dependent on the rest of Queen Anne for many of its city services. In recent history, Uptown has tried to create its own identity separate from Queen Anne. The Uptown Alliance worked hard to build a voice for their community and I praise them for their tireless advocacy.
This month the Uptown Preliminary Rezone Recommendation Director’s Report was published. In this document, Uptown is called a neighborhood, a regional center, and a district. What is new to hear is that the report calls Queen Anne an “interested neighbor”. I argue that, at this time, Uptown is not an independent entity and Queen Anne is more than a neighbor to Uptown.
The report thoughtfully addresses development standards, the increase of housing supply, transportation and traffic, sensitivity to pedestrians, its connection to Seattle Center, and makes mention of preservation. The report never studies the impact on the school district. The only place the school district is mentioned in the city’s planning efforts is in the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Deep in the comp plan, the city calls out potential future discretionary projects. Specific to Queen Anne, the plan highlights Seattle Center; it bullet points the Memorial Stadium relocation, Memorial Stadium site redevelopment, Key Arena enhancement, and the North Parking Lots redevelopment. These are capital projects that the City might undertake or fund in the future. It’s important to stress that Memorial Stadium is owned by the Seattle School District and the funds used for redevelopment would come from the Seattle citizens.
If the comp plan and the Uptown report won’t address the impact on the schools, then the Seattle School District must… but it doesn’t. The projected growth boundary changes are not slated to account for rezones. The Uptown community cannot rely on the Seattle School District to figure this out for them. When Uptown sits at the table with the city to create a vision for their community they need to advocate for the return of their own schools – for their benefit and the benefit of their interested neighbors.
Historical Photos of Uptown’s former Warren Avenue School
Nicole Demers-Changelo is a Queen Anne resident and Board Member of the Queen Anne Historical Society
There was a lot of chatter this summer of 2016 over the proposal to allow the construction of three-story Detached Alternative Dwelling Units (DADUs) on modest sized lots now hosting single family homes. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) tend to be independent dwelling units in an attic or a basement with separate doors and appropriate emergency exits. Realtors call an ADU a mother-in-law.
Some people fear that these new dwelling units will change our neighborhoods by increasing density and expediting the loss of the neighborhood’s historic character. Interestingly, the historic character of Upper Queen Anne especially the area west of Queen Anne Ave. with alleys includes a large number of alley houses. A brief tour of the area north of Smith between First and Third Avenues revealed at least 15 alley houses, all of which add to the historic character of Upper queen Anne. At least two of these alley houses are brand new, and three of them on Galer between 1st and 2nd West are really for the birds.
It may turn out though that the increase in DADUs (Detached ADU) and ADUs has an effect not unlike what happened in response to the Urban Villages created as part of the 1993 Comp Plan. Although written primarily to prevent urban sprawl in rural King County, the plan forced multi-family apartment buildings and condos into the Urban Villages and successfully protected single family homes and the historic neighborhoods in which they are located. Upper Queen Anne and Uptown were both designated villages with the Uptown village encouraging more commercial development than Upper Queen Anne’s.
I am particularly interested in the DADUs constructed long ago in our neighborhood and which now in their own right add its historic character. In many cases, the DADUs are located along the alley edge of simple single family homes and may have replaced early garages. Of course, that conclusion may indeed be speculative, for many of the houses in the neighborhood were constructed before cars were the prevalent way to get around. As is more likely, the alley houses expanded the main home on the lot making room for growing families or newlyweds. The house at 2004 First Avenue N. is said to have been a wedding gift for a newlywed child. Even if it isn’t an alley house, the gift idea lends credence to my guess. …Continue reading “Huh? My mother-in-law’s an ADU?”