Photo of July 2019 BDC meeting with Gael Tarleton

Ballard District Council 7/10/19 Meeting Notes (Interbay Armory & more)

Our July meeting included three different agenda items, with the main portion of the meeting devoted to an update from Rep. Gael Tarleton regarding the Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee, followed by updates on the Ballard P Patch and the Our Redeemer’s Safe Parking Pilot.

The meeting ended with our annual ice cream social. We appreciated new community members who joined us and hope Ballardites will continue to spread the word that all are welcome at our civic meetings. (Reminder: no August meeting. We’ll be back in September.)

Interbay Armory Public Development

Web site: https://www.commerce.wa.gov/about-us/research-services/interbay-public-development-advisory-committee/

Important dates:

  • Public Meeting – Tuesday July 23, at Interbay Armory (1601 W. Armory Way), 9am
  • Open House – Tuesday, July 30, at Ballard VFW Hall (2812 NW Market St), 6pm

Background:

The 25-acre Washington National Guard armory site in Interbay was built in 1974 and is currently used as a readiness center. Due to transportation and congestion issues, it is insufficient for current requirements and the Guard has been working toward relocating.

In 2018, under enacted SSB 6095, Section 1004 (10), the Department of Commerce was tasked by the Legislature to explore potential future uses of the Interbay Property located in Seattle’s Ballard-Interbay manufacturing industrial center that is currently used as a readiness center by the Washington National Guard (Guard).

The Governor and Legislature appointed members of the Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee to advise and help identify potential future uses of the state-owned site. Assuming the Guard is able to relocate, the Advisory Committee will help guide the redevelopment process with the goal of recommending a use that maximizes public benefit.”

Notes from Rep. Tarleton’s Presentation:

  • Interbay has contiguous properties of: state, port, city, county, school district, Sound Transit, and private property owners
  • The Interbay corridor (Holman Road > Ballard Bridge > East Marginal Way) is a freight corridor for the state (secondary to Hwy 99, which is secondary to I-5)
  • Every state, federal, and local agency has a stake in whether the freight corridor works
  • Almost no one in Olympia “knows what Interbay is” so she is working hard on this
  • Area is known as BINMIC = Ballard Interbay Northend Manufacturing and Industrial Center
  • State legislature budget proviso created an advisory committee to determine:
    • How to help the Guard move if they want to
    • What does the federal government say?
    • What happens if the Guard moves and the 25 acres comes available (Gov Gary Locke was previously approached by a Chinese developer with strong interest in the property; he recognized this wasn’t in the public interest – need to determine what is if Guard leaves)
  • Area involves complex interactions between transit, rail, shipping, cruise lines, etc.
  • It is industrial land but very mixed zoning
  • She is very focused on governing what comes next:
    • Retaining public interest in future use
    • Has to serve “maximum public benefit compatible with industrial lands”
    • No current public development authority (e.g., NW Seaport Alliance) is sufficient for this, so advisory committee formed
  • There is no current plan to redevelop the property. They are examining: What are some options? What is the community saying? City? County? Federal government? Port? Private property owners? Metro? Sound Transit?  Gathering input and perspective.
  • Current best estimate from the Guard – IF the state can finance purchase of North Bend property – is a move in 2025.That is the soonest this might happen. “Everyone can take a breath.” We should put this time to best use.
  • A lot depends on the U.S. Army approving plans, design, purchase, etc.
  • 2025-2030 is the time frame that things will really happen
  • Question:  Why is the army moving? Answer: they’ve been trying to for about 15 years. Since the Nisqually quake. They’ve been planning, doing environmental cleanup, looking for land, weathering economic recessions and guard deployments. In 2011-2012 state budget cycle, it finally started to seem possible. (Traffic/transportation congestion are factors in current location not being ideal.)
  • Question: Are you talking with Seattle Public Schools about having 3-5 acres for a school to serve Magnolia and Queen Anne? Answer:  The school district has been coming to meetings and should come to the July 23 meeting. Note that it is a liquefaction/fill site, so not all options are possible. The public meeting will be 3.5 hours, with 30 minutes for public comment (9am – noon meeting, with 12-12:30 for comments).
  • Question: Given all the disparate interests, who is the decision maker? Answer: The state owns the property. A 7-member committee will receive recommendations from a consultant and decide: will the legislature help the Guard move or not? If they do move, need to set up a governing body. That is who will make decisions (along with the legislature appropriating funding).
  • Question: In determining the “greatest public good,” what metrics are they using? Answer: Qualitative and quantitative. Determining what are the categories of public interest at stake. Examining highest market value, geographical constraints, … articulated in strategic plan. Might do a competition with university students (urban planning, transit with livability, etc.)
  • Question:  Is there a railroad siding to the east to serve the Guard property? Answer: might be; let’s look.
  • Questions: Does development have to be in the manufacturing realm? Possible for light manufacturing? Answer: Mix of light industrial, tech industrial, etc. City zoning is an interesting thing. Part of this project is educating ourselves and the agencies involved. What is the economy of manufacturing and ship building today as opposed to the past? Clean energy revolution to take into account, etc.
  • Question: will existing buildings be repurposed? Answer: Not likely. They are old and not suited for it. (Reiterated that no development will happen prior to 2025.)

The meeting had two additional agenda items:

  • Ballard P Patch –– There was a brief presentation from a member of the group trying to save the Ballard P Patch, located at 25th NW and NW 86th. The property is owned by the adjacent Our Redeemers Lutheran Church, and they have been offered $1.8 mil for the property from a developer, who would build 4 houses in the property. So the P Patch group needs to raise $1.8 mil to purchase the property, from individuals or grants from public or private organizations.
  • Safe Parking Pilot — Lisa Gustaveson, from the City of Seattle Human Services Dept, gave an update on the plan to expand the overnight vehicle parking program in the parking lot at Our Redeemers Church (same church mentioned above for the P Patch project), where it has been operating since 2012. The City and church have agreed to increase the allowed overnight live-in vehicles from 2 to 7. The church allows access to persons in those vehicles to use the restroom and shower facilities inside the church. No drugs or alcohol are allowed. The City will fund an outreach worker from Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. (Additional links: HSD Launches Mayor Durkan’s Safe Parking Pilot by Supporting Full Utilization of Existing Program and Seeking Faith Community Partners to Expand Services, Car-dwellers in Seattle may soon have parking spots to call their own)