Saturday, May 5, 2012

Making Connections - Pierre Project Mental Mapping

DPC met Thursday with Marty Curry and three of the UW grad students working on the Pierre Property project. We were given a sheet of paper and were asked to draw out our perception of Lake City - to make a "mental map". Afterwards, we each explained our maps - what we liked about Lake City and what we thought could be better in the context of the Pierre Property redevelopment.  Some highlights after the jump.

A Douglas Park resident who has lived here since the early 60's talked about how Lake City Way was back then. He described a vibrant, walkable business district that had a wide variety of businesses that local residents shopped at. One possibility for bringing back a vibrant business district would be to focus on the streets one block off of the main drag, make it visually inviting with clear directions to public parking, and make it a destination that people want to come to for recreation, shopping, and work. The Pierres have an opportunity to do this along 127th and along 30th. 

Another DP resident described the visual transformation of a large parking lot by a local business. They put down wood chips and potted plants and the experience of the space was completely changed. There was discussion about other ways of transforming large spaces in Lake City. Murals were discussed as a way to visually transform a space. The north entry to the business district was discussed as a possible location for a large community mural. It is difficult to imagine how a place could be, and some large scale visual transformations like this in Lake City may go a long way toward helping people become engaged in the process of re-imagining our neighborhood.

There was a strong desire expressed for more businesses like Elliot Bay Brew Pub, Seattle Gymnastics Academy,  and KaffeeKlatsch. They are small, local businesses with owners who are directly engaged with the community and have provided us with a "third place" for communal gatherings. Other businesses desired for the area that have been expressed: a toy store, a bookstore, a local grocer like Uwajimaya or Central Market, a Trader Joe's, a bicycle store, a deli / sandwich shop that also serves ice cream, more professional services, shoe repair store, retail furnishings store.  Many of these businesses could be tenants of the spaces that are redeveloped by the Pierres and we could work to develop this list and make connections between their space needs and any new Pierre buildings.

Many people in attendance agreed that the affordability of the area is attractive to families who want to live in the city and raise kids without taking on large mortgages. There was also many observations shared that this area is experiencing a very significant change in demographics. The number of families with kids under the age of 6 is very large and increasing rapidly. This is creating a strong demand for family oriented services, a safe environment for kids, improvements to schools, and positive activities for youth.  

A mother at the meeting mentioned that she travels to other Community Centers by car during the day to find indoor play space for her kid during the day. Many of the Community Centers have large gymnasiums and storage space for toys. They hold open play times during the week and it is a great way to get out and socialize with other parents while the kids play. There is nothing like that in our immediate neighborhood. The other Community Centers also have times and space available for community members to just drop in for a card game, shoot some hoops, or swim some laps.  A new, larger Community Center in our Civic Core would be very enthusiastically greeted and used by this community and the idea space for it would be the Pierre Parts and Services property. If they were interested in leaving a legacy to the community, this would be the one. 

The walkability of Lake City was mentioned by a few people. Many community assets were mentioned that people walk to - the Farmers Market, the Library, the local parks, stores in the business district, favorite streets to walk in the interior of the neighborhoods. These destinations are very much valued, but the connections to these places are substandard - no sidewalks, open ditches, overgrowth, poorly defined edges, poor landscaping in right of way. A community focus on connecting these destinations with safe and visually attractive right of ways will encourage the patronage of the business district by their biggest supporters - the residents that live within walking distance. This would be of benefit to the Pierres as a strong business district with high occupancy will help with securing funding and partnerships with developers. 

The area where Thornton Creek passes under LCW was mentioned as a community asset that could use further development as well. There is currently a park at that location on the west side that is not well known. The Pierres own property adjacent to that park and it has been suggested a few times now that it would be a great place to highlight this important junction. 

The next opportunity for us to speak up about our vision for Lake City is on Saturday, May 19th from 9am to 1:30pm at Nathan Hale High School. Mark your calendars!

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