Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Neighborhood Commercial: Grocery stores in neighborhoods?

BACK IN TIME:  This 2011 report explains how the City plans to zone commercial businesses in our neighborhoods.  

Grocery stores in neighborhoods? Coffee shops? Supermarkets?  Retail? Fruit and vegetable markets?  Will our neighborhoods be rezoned someday to allow for these businesses?  

On June 14, 2011 Redmond City Council spent another of many "study sessions" reviewing "neighborhood commercial" (NC) rezoning.  Planner Kim  Dietz's goal was for council to decide on where NC can be situated in the community and how to prevent "commercial creep."

The NC rezone method agreed upon by council includes certain requirements :
  • no more than one commercial development concentrated in each of six different neighborhood areas spread throughout the city.
  • rezones are no larger than 1-acre and predominantly near residential.
  • development must be in close proximity to one of  the following three concentrations: a business, home, or recreation e.g. park. 
Vice President Pat Vache' noted this criteria will keep development on NE 116th only at both ends of the road, east and west. Councilmember Hank Margeson commented earlier this year that the "PCC" development on 116th and Avondale was an example of a good neighborhood commercial development.  Councilmember David Carson was concerned NE 116th could turn into a strip mall.  Vache' reminded Carson only one NC rezone was allowed per neighborhood area.  

Councilmember Kim Allen said "from an historical perspective NC has always been around." Councilmember Hank Margeson said, NC "is more open today but, is not wide open". 

Planner Kim Dietz reminded council that "none of our neighborhood plans (citizen advisory committees) say 'no' to neighborhood commercial.  Some were silent or speak to general support or a higher level of support..."   The Bear Creek neighborhood had a high level of support.

Margeson referred to his experience on the Education Hill Neighborhood Advisory Committee when citizens were committing to keeping an open mind.  He said  "The advisory committee was asked: do you want to encourage NC more?,,, find a spot where it might fit?,,, vs. a simple 'yes' or 'no' question." 

Councilmember  John Stilin wanted to understand what "keeping an open mind meant."   The Idlewood Neighborhood process requires a land use review in addition to a rezone. When pressed, Planner Dietz said neighbors could "opt out" of a project but, the final decision rests with Council. President Richard Cole clarified that when a developer applies for a project in any neighborhood, it would have a "review panel" (composed of neighbors and staff).  Vice President Pat Vache' concurred and the entire council,  agreed in silence.   
Council's final review was centered on concerns of 7/11 type convenience stores. Cole is extremely outspoken against these stores in our neighborhoods, as is Allen.  Councilmember Allen, a land-use hearing examiner in Kitsap, said these types of stores would be "regulated out" by hours and large signage.  Stilin said the focus should be on "aesthetics".  "7/11's" have a limited line of goods.  The types of projects allowed by council are:  supermarkets, fruit and vegetable markets, retail, cafeteria, restaurants, take-out, coffee shops.  Councilmember Hank Myers said all commercial projects would be subject to the Design Review Board.  Council will review the development criteria every five years.   

Citizens may comment at the Hearing scheduled for July 19Council has a final study session on August 9 and will vote on it September 6, 2011.
 Bob Yoder

July 19 Hearing - document


Bob Yoder said...

Anyone want to comment, pro or con? So far, it looks like residents want to have some kind of "neighborhood commercial" in their neighborhoods.

cwittel said...

With careful planning and restrictions, I think commercial stores would improve the liveability of our neighborhoods. How nice to be able to walk to the store or coffee shop! It would reduce energy consumption and sustainability probably more than chickens in the backyard. I have seen metro cut our service over by Idylwood Park until we are almost completely car dependent for most of our trips into dwntwn Redmond.

Paganne said...

I think allowing commercial or business enterprises in residential only neighborhoods would be disastrous. Traffic on Education Hill is already snarled and impractical after the conversion of 166th et al. Can you imagine adding a Starbucks or Tullys and a Subway sandwich shop at the top of the hill?

It would put our local concessionaire at Hartman Park out of business during baseball season, create parking and walking challenges all day long and add to the theft and crime of our neighborhoods; not to mention the draw of skipping class for High School students.

I oppose this issue and I hope others do to. If the City of Redmond were more business friendly, they wouldn't have issues with businesses staying in Redmond in the city corridor where they belong.

Cathy said...

If you could actually have a small grocery store in your neighborhood, it would be great. But I don't think that model would work here in suburbia - I don't think the business would get enough traffic to make a profit and I think people would want to drive to the store, which is not the point. It's supposed to be something you would want to walk to in your neighborhood.

Norma said...

Councilmember Allen succinctly described NC as "something you walk to, to get things you need." Do we want grocery and Starbucks on Education Hill, North Redmond, Grasslawn, or Idylwood (View Point) neighborhoods? 'Clusters' of projects?

Council re-affirmed from previous meetings, the form of NC they want are cafe's, small grocery stores, spas, professional services, near parks (culture, rec, and government) on 1-acre parcels within .25 miles walking distance from neigborhoods.

Do you REALLY want a Starbucks or grocery next to the Jr. High or High School?

Sue said...

The small grocery stores I remember from my childhood were as Kathy describes. I remember baby strollers lined up outside the store- that definitely would not happen now!

AZ said...

I would love to be able to walk to a Starbucks from my house in North Redmond and would do so often when the weather is nice. I used to do it all the time when I lived in Seattle. Right now I can walk to Theno's Dairy and I would be overjoyed if they expanded that commercial area to include coffee shops, sandwich shops, groceries, etc even if those shops were not quaint local establishments but a Subway and a Safeway. In fact an espresso hut on 116th near where the new fire station is being built would be awesome.

Bob Yoder said...

AZ sounds like a city planner or Redmond councilmember (from Arizona?)is trying to plant a seed! LOL. I remember lots of talk about a grocery market on the 10-acre Washington Cathedral parcel on 124th adjacent the church. ha ha? hmmmmm huh??

...new girl in town said...

We are moving from Seattle to Redmond to be in a neighborhood that doesn't have businesses mixed in. I hope the council does choose very carefully "what" and "where."

Richard Morris said...

Walking to a convenience store located in Redmond might be an URBAN MYTH, especially if you live near Hartman Park or Idylwood Park. Both parks have awful parking, heavy traffic, and plenty of on-site fast food choices.

There are very few walkers on Ed Hill. I am a faithful bus rider/ commuter. When I wait for my 221 metro, I am amazed at the number of cars passing by my stop near the Jr. High with a driver only (no passenger). It is annoying when the drivers honk at their kid's playing tennis, as if to say "no walking/ busing for me!"

But seriously, we have plenty of convenience stores and coffee shops on the mean streets of Redmond. Traffic calming has not taken hold on Ed hill, and those camera lights seem to infuriate Mukilteo Speedway drivers.

joShu said...

7-Eleven? No, ugly.
Subway? Nah.
Starbucks? Too corporate, but getting there.

A privately owned place serving good coffee, selling local products, tasty baked goods in an interesting, homey small building with lots of plants, local character and good conversation? Now we're talking.

Bob Yoder said...

besides joShu...anyone else talk'n?

Andy Raffman said...

With respect to development at the intersection of 172nd and 116th in North Redmond:

AZ, who apparently lives near Theno's, said: "an espresso hut on 116th near where the new fire station is being built would be awesome"

It's funny how the people who are for residential commercial at the intersection of 116th and 172nd don't appear to actually live nearby. My recollection from the last time RC was proposed for that intersection was that almost no one who actually lived near the intersection wanted it (with the exception of one resident who owns a large parcel and who is looking to develop it).

For what it's worth, you can walk to Starbucks. There's a quite nice one down the street at the PCC. We walk there all the time.

I understand the allure of residential commercial; who doesn't imagine sitting in a coffee shop, sipping an expresso on a quiet Sunday morning; or strolling home in the sunshine with a their groceries and a baguette of French bread for dinner.

But often reality and the law of unintended consequences cause results to be far different from what we hoped for. My guess is that in the end we would get a 7-11, a tanning salon, or an insurance agent. With a nice "Craftsman" facade maybe. With people from outside our neighborhood parking in front of our houses, and delivery trucks driving through 116th.

Having been involved in reviewing Redmond's cottage provisions and voicing concerns about the sidewalks and traffic along 116th, I am also not convinced that we as a city have the expertise to write regulations without loopholes to avoid this negative outcome; or that we as a city have the fortitude to enforce those regulations against well connected developers.