Category Archives: Uptown / Lower Queen Anne

Key Arena Redevelopment Project Moves Forward with Community Input

By Joe Veyera

As KeyArena hosted the third day of the Seattle/King County Clinic on Saturday morning, community members and stakeholders were invited to discuss the venue’s future just steps away.

For four hours, hundreds filtered through the Cornish Playhouse, the site of a design open house as the Oak View Group seeks input on what a looming $600 million redevelopment of the facility could look like.

“This project from day one has been an open and transparent process,” said Lance Lopes, director of OVG Seattle. “We’ve been very clear about wanting to make sure that we listen, that we engage, and that we talk to the people to make sure that this arena truly is as good as it can be.”

Representatives from CAA Icon — a consulting firm for sports and entertainment facility owners and operators — and architecture firms Populous, DLR Group, and Swift Company were on hand to hear what concerns and ideas the public has for the project. Attendees could give their thoughts on everything from the design of the arena’s interior and how all four sides of the building interact with the surrounding area, to how the development can be fair and equitable for all citizens.

Several local community groups, including the Uptown Alliance, the Queen Anne and South Lake Union Community Councils, and both the Office of Arts & Culture and the Uptown Arts & Culture Coalition were also represented on Saturday. Lopes called those groups the “heroes” in the process, because of their countless volunteer hours spent on the project.

Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (who represents District 7, which includes the Seattle Center campus) said she regards the redevelopment of KeyArena as, “one of the most important things that have happened in our city.”

“This is going to transform our city,” Bagshaw said. “I’ve lived here — my husband and I raised two kids here — for 40 years, and in addition to the work that we’ve done around the waterfront that is connecting the waterfront back to our city, this is going to make Seattle Center again the center of Seattle.”

Lopes also acknowledged what the redevelopment of venue could mean for the rest of the campus.

“I think we all recognize just how special Seattle Center is to this community, and for us to be able to reinvest in this arena, and create another 50 years of expansive growth and excitement here at the Center is something we’re really proud of,” Lopes said.

Among those hopeful that this effort could be the one that gets across the finish line, and provides a venue for a future men’s professional basketball and hockey franchise in the city is longtime advocate Brian Robinson.

Robinson, who sits on the city’s Arena Community Advisory Group, said the northern part of the city has room for development — on top of recent development — and the idea of bringing an amenity like an NBA/NHL facility to the area is an exciting one.

“There are challenges to the access, and everybody knows that,” Robinson said, “but I think that there is a good story to tell about just this historic Seattle Center campus, having a major reinvestment and becoming a centerpiece for the entire northern downtown district.”

But along with Seattle Center itself, Bagshaw expressed her interest in what the efforts may mean for the surrounding neighborhoods as well.

“I’m very excited about what we can do here in Uptown, in Belltown, in South Lake Union, to really make our businesses a place where they are going to be supported, they are going to be thriving, and there’s just a lot more opportunity,” she said.

The City Council could vote to approve the Memorandum of Understanding between the city and OVG as soon as Dec. 4. That would put the project on track for completion in October of 2020.

Whether the council will ultimately vote that early remains unclear. Both mayoral candidates, in interviews with the Queen Anne & Magnolia News last week, expressed some skepticism. Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in addition to no public funding and a real transportation plan, the plan has to “move KeyArena forward as a fantastic public space.”

“I think Seattle Center is one of those jewels in Seattle,” she said, “but it’s in serious need of upgrades. If we can get someone to pay for those upgrades, that would be a plus.”

Activist and urban planner Cary Moon said she hasn’t seen enough investment in the transportation solution to be convinced it can work, and wants to be sure it’s a good financial deal for the city.

“My No. 1 goal is to protect the public interest, so that means protecting the Uptown neighborhood, [and] making sure that the businesses that are already there will thrive from the increase in people in the neighborhood,” she said.

For more information on the project, visit or 

Story syndicated from the, photo credit Joe Veyera.

Days Numbered for Musicians Mural in Lower Queen Anne

By Stephen Cohen

It’s a familiar site for those driving by the former home of Silver Platters on 705 5th Ave. North in lower Queen Anne, but it won’t be much longer.

The large mural painted on the back of the building — and the building itself, which was recently home to the Seattle Immersive Theatre — will be coming down over the next couple of months. In its place, a five-story, 99-unit apartment complex will rise, according to plans submitted to the city.

The mural was painted over three long weekends in 2012 by students attending a one-time summer camp by local artist Don Rockwell. According to Silver Platters owner Mike Batt, the mural had a dual purpose: In addition to paying tribute to artists like Buddy Holly and Jimi Hendrix, murals by local artists tended to keep graffiti artists away.

While he has fond memories of the project, Rockwell isn’t exactly mourning the upcoming loss.

“I wouldn’t bend over backwards trying to preserve it. It was a student effort, and they had fun doing it and they learned a lot,” Rockwell said.

Rockwell said the design, which features artists from Louis Armstrong to Bob Dylan, was meant to show the connection of different types of pop music, from gospel to blues to jazz to rock and roll.

Rockwell’s work can be seen throughout the city, including at the current Silver Platters location in Sodo, which features an indoor mural that pays “homage to the history of music in the Northwest,” according to Batt.

As a longtime sign painter and mural artist, Rockwell is used to the transitory nature of his work, which helps explain his laissez-faire attitude toward its future.

“I’m surprised it was up there as long as it was,” he said.

In addition to painting new murals on the outside of Silver Platters in Sodo, Rockwell is currently working on a project at the Lagunitas brewery in Ballard.

Story syndicated from, featured photo credit Grant Hindsley.

City Approves Lower Queen Anne Rezone to 65-Foot Buildings

The City Council unanimously agreed to pass the measure to rezone buildings between Roy Street and Denny Way to a cap of 85 feet on Monday, October 2nd. The existing buildings in that area are less than half that height.

Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess signed a slightly altered version of the rezone into law last week, on Wednesday, October 11th. The alteration reduced the cap to 65 feet.

The need for more housing and specifically, affordable housing has the City Council and many neighborhood residents cheering on the decision. According to a KUOW report, the rezone in the Lower Queen Anne area (also known as Uptown) is expected to result in a minimum of 600 new affordable homes by the year 2038 (20 years).

However, these affordable homes won’t necessarily be located in the Uptown neighborhood, since developers will have the option to either dedicate a portion (7-10 percent of residential buildings and 5-10 percent of commercial developments) to be priced for households with lower income, or they can instead pay into the city’s affordable housing fund.

“The actual affordable housing is not going to be built on site. The majority of it is going to be paid in lieu so a lot of people think they are going to get affordable housing but it’s not going to be in the areas these zoning changes are occurring,” said Jon Lisbin, president of Seattle Fair Growth.

Despite the Council’s unanimous vote, many neighbors are concerned. The CEO of the Bayview Nursing Home, Mary Cordts, expressed concerns that buildings of the new height could block daylight for members of her retirement community. Cordts did say that a reduction from the initially proposed 85-foot cap to 65 feet would be more manageable, so it appears her suggestion was applied when the legislation passed last week.

Another community member, Alexandra Moore-Wulsin, told KUOW News that her concerns were more about the more widespread effects on the community: “In fact, what it is doing is gentrifying this neighborhood, and it’s being replaced by shadowy, corrugated steel and brick canyons. Please don’t do this to our city,” she said.

Uptown Residents Concerned Over Increased Zoning Heights

The City Council most recently hosted a public meeting to discuss the re-zoning of Uptown/Lower Queen Anne on September 11th, and now they are preparing to make zoning changes. Although preliminary approval has been granted, residents are concerned about a significant loss of natural light for homes and residential buildings in the rezone area.

In some parts of Uptown and Lower Queen Anne, the rezone allows for double the limit of current building heights. Currently, the limit on buildings around the Seattle Center is 40 feet, but that could more than double to 85 feet for new construction in some areas.

While some groups are strongly in favor of the plan, since it will create a greater opportunity for the additional low income housing that the city desperately needs, others are concerned about the negative effects.

CEO of the nearby Bayview Nursing Home, Mary Cordts, is worried about a loss of daylight for members of the retirement community. “The residents will not have sun in the winter. Please honor, not abandon, those nursing home residents and do not allow an 85 foot rezone,” she said in the review meeting. She followed up by mentioning that a 65 foot limit would be more acceptable.

The final vote on the rezoning will take place early this month, and Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien said they would discuss the daylight issue prior to that vote.

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