Yesler Terrace will be a lot of things to a lot of people.
The 30-acre site will be a place to live and a place to work. It will be a gathering place and it certainly will be an high-profile project for the city.
Seattle Housing Authority has the job of fulfilling all these needs. So SHA brought in Mark Hinshaw, an architect who has more than 35 years of experience in community planning and design throughout the region. He spent 17 years at LMN Architects and was its director of urban design. He was previously the principal urban designer for the city of Bellevue.
Hinshaw will focus on the public spaces at Yesler Terrace - the streets, sidewalks and parks - that will pull everything together.
Adding public spaces and new infrastructure in and around Yesler Terrace is a big part of the project. There will be a large park; a hillclimb between Little Saigon and Yesler Terrace; and a "green street" loop to link different parts of the neighborhood.
SHA is in the middle of a big infrastructure project in the southwest portion of Yesler Terrace that involves installing stormwater, water and sewer lines, as well as preparing the future park site and building the hillclimb.
Stephanie Van Dyke, SHA's development director, said Hinshaw will help design the kinds of public places that create communities by getting people out of their houses and talking to each other.
Another key part of his job is to work with the numerous firms designing and building projects at Yesler Terrace.
"It's really where the rubber meets the road, and we won't succeed unless we have someone that understands the vision and can work with our partners to bring that vision down to the design details of individual projects," Van Dyke said.
Hinshaw said public spaces will be the glue that holds Yesler Terrace together. He said he wanted this job because it's rare to get a chance to create a truly diverse project, with a mix of incomes and design.
Hinshaw wants the new Yesler Terrace to be a good neighbor. He said large projects done by housing authorities are sometimes seen as separate from their surroundings. Integrating Yesler Terrace with First Hill and the International District will make it a more inviting place.
"Over time, one shouldn't realize this is a separate area, just part of the general evolution of the city," Hinshaw said.
But working on Yesler Terrace is only part of Hinshaw's new chapter. He is also an urban designer at Walker Macy, a Portland-based landscape architect that recently opened an office in Seattle.
Hinshaw has collaborated with Walker Macy in the past, and is working for them now on a waterfront park on Bainbridge Island and the waterfront in Edmonds.
Hinshaw said the Walker Macy job allows him to work on a variety of projects throughout the region while the SHA gig lets him go deep into one major project.
Hinshaw said Yesler Terrace offers some big challenges. The whole city is watching, and that means people with different interests and different backgrounds. Businesses are following it as a potential employment center and existing residents want to see what will happen in their backyards. Hinshaw said it is important to listen to everyone and bring multiple points of view to Yesler Terrace.
"How do we manage a neighborhood that meets the needs of many people?" Hinshaw said. "We have to make sure it is not a monoculture; we have to make sure it is a diverse culture and place."
People will connect with new projects at street level. Hinshaw said he will implore developers and architects working on individual projects to pay a lot of attention to the lower floors, and make streetfronts that are inviting and safe, with gathering places and landscaping.
"The first 20 feet vertically and horizontally are a collectively shared environment where we are close to it, we can walk by it and we can feel it," Hinshaw said. "Once things get beyond that, we lose focus."
SHA will replace 561 aging housing units, which are reserved for people making less than 30 percent of area median income. In addition to those units, plans call for 290 apartments for people making between 30 and 60 percent of area median income, and 850 units for people making less than 80 percent of area median income.
Two SHA buildings are under construction now: 103 units at 1105 E. Fir St. and 83 units at 820 Yesler Way. The 1105 East Fir project should be done in March, and 820 Yesler will open next year, Van Dyke said.
In July, SHA will start construction on a project with 111 units at 221 10th Ave. S. That building will open next year.
SHA is a week or two away from selecting the architect for an approximately 140-unit apartment building at Ninth and Fir. Construction is expected to begin on the building in summer 2016 and it will open by fall 2017.
Eventually Yesler Terrace could have as many as 5,000 housing units, 900,000 square feet of office space, and 153,000 square feet of retail and community space. That could take 20 years and cost as much as $2 billion.
The final composition of the neighborhood will depend a lot on what private developers do.
The first private project at Yesler Terrace is nearing completion. Spectrum Development Solutions' 120-unit project called Anthem on 12th is expected to open in May. The site is at 103 12th Ave.
Spectrum will begin two other projects near Yesler Terrace - Decibel and Reverb - one in March, and one in April. They will have a total of 160 units.
SHA plans to sell about 14 acres in the 30-acre Yesler Terrace site for private projects.
Last year Vulcan Real Estate bought three blocks for $22 million. Vulcan plans to build about 650 apartments on those 3.7 acres. SHA will demolish structures on the sites, and do grading and environmental cleanup this summer.
Stan Snow, Timothy Foster, Jason Rosauer and Rob Anderson of Kidder Mathews are marketing 4.41 acres along Alder Street near Broadway, where about 900,000 square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of retail could be built in two towers up to 300 feet tall.
SHA recently picked Jon Hallgrimson, Frank Bosl and Eli Hanacek of CBRE to sell six acres for mid-rise and high-rise residential projects. Van Dyke said that land should go on the market later this year.
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