Seattle developer looks to revitalize struggling Greenwood block

SEATTLE -- Kate Martin has known it for years - 85th Street in Greenwood has a lot of potential. But, she says, support to actually turn the area around and make something happen has been missing.

So when a Seattle-based development company recently showed interest in bringing new life to the neighborhood, Martin got excited.

"That site has been pretty pathetic for a long time," she said. "It would be very good for our neighborhood to have it repaired."

Martin, a Greenwood activist who is running for Seattle mayor, said the south side of Northwest 85th Street is in need of some love and for the first time in a long time she feels hopeful that could happen with Security Properties' idea.

"This is the first time we have had a highly qualified developer who lives very close to Greenwood, and I think he understands what we need," Martin said. "This is not at all the kind of developer who will leave us with vacant commercial space on the ground floor."

In November, Security Properties approached the Greenwood Community Council with early plans for a mixed-use residential/retail development at the corner of First Avenue Northwest and Northwest 85th Street.

"We view Greenwood and Phinney Ridge as one of the next up and coming neighborhoods in Seattle," said Ned Clapp, development manager with Security Properties. "It has a long history of establishing terrific character and that's what we look for in our proposed developments."

Clapp said while they are still in the very early stages, Security Properties met with city officials to discuss their interest and their idea, which would include ground-level retail and apartments taking up roughly a two-block space, between First Avenue Northwest and Third Avenue Northwest.

The kind of development proposed in Greenwood is similar to what's been done by Security Properties in neighborhoods across Seattle, including Ballard and Fremont. The On The Park and The Epicenter developments each feature mixed-use residential complexes with grocery stores on the ground floor.

Most recently, the company announced plans for a new development called the Angeline in the heart of Columbia City. This 193-unit apartment complex along Rainier Avenue South will feature a PCC Natural Market in an area of town Security Properties says has been lacking a full-service grocery.

The success these developments have seen in securing big-name anchor retail tenants is something Angela Cherry, a member of the Greenwood Community Council, believes could really help their neighborhood.

"For the most part the (Greenwood Community) Council's response was pretty positive," Cherry said. "This is a space that has been vacant for several years, and it tends to have a harder time getting successful businesses to stay."

Security Properties is moving forward with concept and design plans for the Greenwood site, but Clapp said they are also waiting to see what happens with a proposed rezone along the south side of 85th Street.

The rezone under consideration includes a pedestrian overlay, which according to the Greenwood Community Council could create disadvantages for ground floor businesses wanting to open along that stretch of road due to parking limitations.

In December, the community council submitted a letter to the city in opposition of the pedestrian overlay proposal, asking city officials to leave the zoning on the south side of 85th Street as it stands today - neighborhood commercial without a pedestrian overlay.

The Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee will take this issue up during a meeting in late February, and depending on the outcome of the meeting Security Properties' development plans for the Greenwood could change.