Dearborn Street Development Conditionally Approved

The redevelopment of the 10-acre Goodwill site at 1400 South Dearborn St. has been conditionally approved (h/t Central District News). Read all the gory details here (pdf). Most significantly, the developer’s request for a contract rezone from 65 to 85 feet was granted, with the key condition that 400 residential units be provided.

This proposal has been controversial, as noted here. I continue to be decidedly ambivalent. I like it because it is much better use of the land, and it will be great to have new housing and retail on that site. But I also dislike it for several reasons:

  • Overall, it’s just too damn big. Big developments inherently lack the diversity in building form, age, use, style, cost, etc. that are essential ingredients for a vibrant city.
  • It’s overparked. 2300 parking stalls. And Seattle wants to be the greenest city in the U.S. Hello?
  • The car-centric design deprives the development of the granularity that would more appropriate for an urban village. Ideally the street grid would extend through the site in both directions to allow maximum permeability for both cars and pedestrians. But the requirement for massive structured parking decks terminates the grid on the south and west. You have to walk up two flights of stairs to enter the site on foot from Dearborn.
  • Oh, and apparently I’m in favor of banning big box stores from Seattle.