SEATTLE - Applications for apartment projects and those already underway in the Denny Triangle will bring at least 3,000 new units to the area known for traffic congestion as people commute in and out of downtown Seattle.
The city has received an application for a set of twin tower apartments, each 39 stories, at 1901 Minor Avenue. That’s set to create more than 600 units, a block away from a project under construction that brings in more than 300 units.
Another site, at 7th Avenue and Bell Street, is also slated to become twin tower apartments of 40 stories each. All of these plans include hundreds of parking stalls, which have typically come close to matching the number of units in the building.
These are only some of a handful of Denny Triangle projects, intended to house people close to where they work. Amazon is in the process of building several towers along 6th Avenue.
“It’s great that those folks are living near their jobs, because we’re keeping people off the regional highways by building housing next to jobs,” said Jon Scholes, president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association.
People currently living in the Denny Triangle area said they see a severe problem with people trying to get on and off the freeways. They’re not sure more housing in the area will solve that problem.
“Stewart Street is just wall to wall cars all night anyway. Howell or Olive is the same thing coming back the other way,” said John Cardarelli.
But he said as long as he stays out of the traffic, he doesn’t mind the extra people moving in.
“Let them bring their tax dollars, hopefully, and a little more money into our neighborhood,” he said.
But Amorette Moreno, who travels by bus, said her wait time at each stop and her time spent sitting in traffic has increased drastically as more people have arrived.
“We never see an end to all of this construction, and I think that’s the most frustrating part,” Moreno said.
Anton Babadjanov, who writes for TheUrbanist.org and is part of the Belltown Community Council, said almost 42 percent of people in the Denny Triangle take public transit. More than 9 percent walk, and more than 4 percent bike. That leaves almost 28 percent who drive alone.
“Traffic impacts of new residential buildings are minimal in comparison to new office buildings, although even in this case only about a quarter of workers are expected to arrive by driving alone,” Babadjanov said.
A spokesperson for the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, Bryan Stevens, said, “It’s an area where we plan for high-rise development, but for whatever reason it hadn’t been ripe for that until Amazon and a few other housing projects started moving in.”
The boom is now obvious.
Stevens said the city approved around 6,500 permits per year in the last two years. But in 2015, they’ve already approved 4,700 in the first six months.
That puts Seattle on track to issue 9,000 permits in 2015, a record not seen since 2012.
Stevens said the areas deemed "construction hubs" are carefully tracked by “Access Seattle,” a coordinated effort by the Seattle Department of Transportation and community members.
While the city cannot ask a developer to put a hold on construction to mitigate traffic problems, there can be coordination day to day, to make sure traffic still flows through the area.
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