Michael Harthorne
Picketers protest one of the developers of the new Greenwood Fred Meyer project outside the Sept. 28 Design Review Board meeting for the contentious project. CLICK IMAGE FOR PROJECT DESIGNS COURTESY OF GGLO.

Controversial Fred Meyer development moves forward

Outside a Sept. 28 Northwest Design Review Board meeting, one of the developers of the new Greenwood Fred Meyer project attracted controversy with a handful of picketers decrying his business practices. Inside the meeting, the development itself was only slightly less controversial.

Dozens of neighbors attended the second early design guidance meeting to hear how the plans for the $77 million, 7.31 acre project that stretches from Third Avenue Northwest to First Avenue Northwest along Northwest 85th Street have changed since the first meeting on July 13.

The defining features of the project remain intact with a few modifications in the new design, and the Design Review Board gave their approval for the project to move forward to the recommendation stage.

The 160,000 square foot Fred Meyer is sunken underground, except in the northeast corner where the elevation of the site is significantly lower.

The project's parking garage is located on the northeast corner near the Fred Meyer entrances, though it is now two stories instead of three and includes no housing surrounding or on top of it.

The design includes 25,000 square feet of additional retail space and 200 apartment units.

Retail is located along 85th Street and curls around onto Third Avenue and First Avenue.

Three-story housing is located along Third Avenue and on top of the retail space on the west end of 85th Street. Two-story housing is located on the interior of the site.

Project architects GGLO made a number of changes to the design in response to criticism from neighbors and board members at the July 13 meeting.

The new plan reestablishes the natural street grid, with what would be Second Avenue acting as the major vehicle access through the site and what would be 86th Street acting as the major pedestrian thoroughfare.

The Fred Meyer Garden Center has been removed from the Fred Meyer lid and incorporated with the store.

The plaza on the northeast corner near the store entrances has been redesigned to include additional commercial space.

There is an additional parcel of land missing from the northwest corner of the site in the new design because Fred Meyer could not come to an leasing agreement with its owner.

Greenwood residents were split over the new design. Various comments complained of too much or too little parking or too much or too little housing.

The peat bog located underneath the project was once again a hot-button issue for the public. Seattle Department of Planning and Development representative Scott Kemp assured residents that it is being studied and the project cannot move forward if it doesn't meet the environmental requirements of the site.

Though the Design Review Board approved the project to move forward, they encouraged the developers to look at changing a number of design aspects and gave them the option of returning for a third early design meeting if they wish.

As previously mentioned, housing was removed from around the parking garage. The board encouraged the architects too look at returning some of the housing to buffer the parking garage from the street on First Avenue.

In the current plan, both entrances to the parking garage are on First Avenue Northwest, both the public and the board encouraged moving at least one entrance to Northwest 87th Street.

The board also wanted to see increased public access to the site at all times, not just when Fred Meyer is open, and increased mobility through the site for wheelchairs and bicycles.

The board encouraged the architects to look at creating a more active public plaza in the center of the site where what would be Second Avenue and 86th Street meet.

After the approval of the preferred sunken store design, the developers of the Fred Meyer project are free to apply for a Master Use Permit.

At the July 13 meeting, the board required the developers to come up with a plan for a two-story Fred Meyer, despite the company's assurance that they would not build one.

The two-story plan presented Sept. 28 was rejected by the board and most of the public.

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Unprofessional reporting

You have printed a photograph of protestors with signs decrying racism by Lorig at the top of the front page and yet... NOWHERE in the article is any explanation of the photo, the protest or the charges of racism. How very unprofessional and irresponsible of you.

Try again.