Survey on Seattle Townhome Design, Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI), Seattle Design Guidelines and Municipal Codes

Many Seattle neighborhood residents express their concerns with the evolving look and feel of Seattle's low-rise residential areas. In response to those Seattleites interested in the appearance and livability of higher density townhome and rowhouse developments, a 20-question online survey was prepared to gather some collective feedback from anyone who would like to participate.

Why bother?

A community-wide collective voice is always helpful during the City's 'early design guidance' reviews conducted on selective multi-family developments.  As you may already know, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) typically invites the public to offer comments regarding important site planning and design issues which the public believes should be addressed in the design relative to a given project. After a two-week comment period, the SDCI Director then proceeds with his review of the submission.

It is anticipated that with this survey, the collective thoughts from Seattle residents reflecting on some of the area's townhomes might promote a more thoughtful scrutiny of low-rise multi-family development submissions.  The Seattle Design Guidelines and Municipal Codes have been somewhat effective in raising the bar overall compared to residential developments from a couple decades ago. Yet there are still some examples where it appears that guidelines and regulations have been waived or bypassed. The collective voices will help to instill the significance of the City's attention in design and density reviews.

How can you share your opinion within 10 minutes?
Here is a link ( to a brief online survey for those in the community to provide their thoughts regarding the recent townhomes and rowhouses being built throughout the city.

Single-family, midrise and high-rise residences have not been included for this particular survey. Please provide your feedback by May 1st so the results can be shared with those involved in the multiple design reviews at the SDCI.  Please visit:

Download Preliminary Results



Did You Know? You can Attend Meetings of the Central Area Land use review Committee CALURC

The Central Area Land Use Review Committee (LURC) is a volunteer committee of neighborhood residents who are working to give those who live here a voice in decisions that shape our environment.  The LURC meets with developers and designers and advocates on behalf of residents.  Meetings are held at least monthly and more often as needed.  Currently, the LURC is working with community partners including the Historic Central Area Arts and Culture District, the Central Area Collaborative, and others to produce a set of design guidelines that are specific to the Central Area. To learn more, see the Central Area Land Use Review Committee on Facebook at


23rd & Union / Midtown Center Updates

The agreement to purchase and develop the 23rd and E. Union (Midtown Center) site described in this newsletter and other sources in December is not currently going forward. 

The Early Design Guidance meeting attracted a standing-room only crowd to hear a presentation for a project comprising a seven-story building to accommodate around 440 housing units and retail space including a 30,000 square-foot grocery store at the corner of 23rd and Union and a large pharmacy fronting Union just east of the grocery store.  A design including space for up to nine additional small scale retail spaces was presented.

Prior to the EDG, meeting the developer indicated in public meetings that they planned to participate in more than the usual two Design Review Board meetings because of the importance of hearing from and responding to the public.

The initial proposal had included the possibility that a portion of the site could be acquired by the community-based organization Africatown, but in mid-February, the developers Lennar Multifamily Communities and Regency Centers announced that the agreement between them and the property owners, the Bangasser family trust, had come to an end without a purchase having been finalized.

On March 3, at a community meeting called by Africatown, their spokesperson, Wyking Garrett told the public that he saw continued opportunity for Africatown to share in the ownership of the development of the site with a different purchaser.  At that meeting, a representative of Forterra, a non-profit corporation with decades of experience in complex land transactions, indicated that Forterra was prepared to “fully back” the effort spearheaded by Africatown to participate as an owner in the development of the site.

On that same day, March 3rd, on its website, Forterra further explained its position:

In summary, the joint statement is that “Forterra and Africatown Community Land Trust are working together to secure a continued place for the historically-black community in Seattle’s Central District.  We hope to team in the redevelopment of Midtown Center, … and have made a proactive, pragmatic offer to purchase the property after another buyer’s offer was withdrawn.”

The statement goes on to say that redevelopment of the site “one of the last large blocks available for redevelopment in the CD, … if done right can help stem the displacement of current residents and ensure the continuity of the neighborhood’s rich African American history.”

However, The Capitol Hill Blog reported on an ongoing dispute between Africatown’s Black Dot and Bangasser’s Midtown Center Partnership as a result of the partnership’s attempts to block Black Dots continued access to their work space there. More details can be found at

In the meantime, the eviction of UMOJA Peace Center from in the Midtown Center block was completed despite protestors on Wednesday, March 15th, the same day that Wyking Garrett reportedly stated that the locks on the Black Dot space have been changed by the property owners.   More on this can also be found at




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