On June 29, 2009 the City Council adopted amendments to the City’s Land Use Code affecting the Pike/Pine neighborhood on Capitol Hill. The amendments were sponsored by Councilmember Tom Rasmussen to address community concerns about the loss of neighborhood character due to rapid redevelopment and growth in the area. The intent of the changes are to promote neighborhood conservation of arts and cultural uses that are characteristic of Pike/Pine, retain structures that contribute to the built character of the neighborhood, and encourage a higher degree of compatibility between new and old development.
The Pike/Pine neighborhood has long been recognized as an urban neighborhood of unique character and appeal. Given its proximity to downtown and adjacency to the high density Capitol Hill neighborhood, concerns arose about how future re-development of the area’s older buildings might affect the burgeoning arts community (from 59 uses in 1991 to nearly 200 in 2008) or the small and diverse local business community. The City’s objective for the project was to encourage the continued use of existing buildings and the retention of “character structures”—buildings that are 75 years old or older—as part of new development; to continue to accommodate small, diverse businesses; and to retain existing art and cultural uses and attract similar new activities to the area.
The Pike/Pine neighborhood is governed by zoning that generally allows mixed commercial and residential uses. In the past, the City Council adopted special rules, to complement and augment the zoning of the neighborhood to ensure that it remained a residential mixed use neighborhood. However, new development interest in the area has caused the residents and business owners to rethink how the zoning influences development choices. In doing this, DPD determined that it was important to update the rules, eliminate redundancies, and implement new incentives and provisions that would help protect the neighborhood’s character.
- A rezone of the neighborhood commercial 3 (NC3) areas in the neighborhood to a pedestrian zone designation (NC3P), retaining current height limits.
- Designation of additional principal pedestrian streets that require street level uses.
- Defining structures 75 years old or older as character structures and providing incentives to retain these structures.
The adopted legislation is the first part of a two-phase effort to address conservation issues in the Pike/Pine neighborhood. The next step will be to look at the potential use of transfer of development rights (TDR) as a conservation tool in the area and enhanced design guidelines to promote a better integration of new structures with existing development.
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