Future of Junction parking lots still being negotiated; Will you have a place to park?
The negotiations between the West Seattle Trusteed Partners (WSTP) and the West Seattle Junction Association (WSJA) are reaching a critical stage.
The WSTP, the coalition of land and business owners, that own the land occupied by the currently free Junction parking lots has stated that development of that land is “inevitable” and that they feel the current lease, signed last year, must be renegotiated or struck down and a new one developed. The WSJA has said they do not disagree regarding development. But the manner, staging and timing are of primary concern.
At stake is the lifeblood of the merchants themselves, parking for customers. The 229 spaces in the lots, with no fees, no tokens, no controls are unique in the City of Seattle. But that land has skyrocketed in value, with a commensurate elevation in property taxes.
In April the WSTP Board backed down from a threat that would have meant the WSJA would have been paying nearly $22,000 a month. That amount would have drained their coffers in less than three months.
Tactics like taping an immediate payment notice to their office door smacked of careless disregard to the WSJA who have been loyal tenants of the lots for decades. WSTP agreed to an option offered by King County Assessor to mitigate the amount this year and next to allow WSJA to raise funds through either increased member dues, or other means.
The WSTP has been considering pursuing a “declaratory judgement” to simply set aside the current lease, something the WSJA considers highly unlikely since the lease has been in force for over a year.
The issue is likely to come to a head soon with both organizations now arguing over the language of a settlement in order to go forward. As Westside Seattle reported last March the WSJA may still need to seek means of public support from donations to fundraising efforts.
A complete re-write of the lease is not acceptable to the WSJA.
The WSJA would allow development of one development site at a time.
The WSJA is seeking a replacement of any parking spaces blocked or lost at ground level during development, and they must meet ADA requirements.
The WSJA is hoping to get an extension of the lease terms equal to the time it takes from the beginning of any development to the time it’s declared open to the public.
They also seek to codify in the agreement that the WSTP will conduct public outreach, including two community forums.
Other areas considered have included mitigation funds based on building costs to be paid to displaced or disrupted businesses, a percentage of any building cost paid into a fund to beautify the West Seattle Junction, and a percentage to pay for displaced seniors since development of the lot near the West Seattle Senior Center would mean nearby parking and access would be lost. A community center, hospital, greenspace and library would be an important piece of the continued vitalization of the Junction.
The WSJA is a Business Improvement Area organization and they would like to be able to create a second BIA and potentially charge for parking to help offset the tax burden.
The WSTP has been in the process of developing a new Statement of Objectives and Purpose that is still being considered, based on the most recent meeting minutes.
A good idea would be to have parking not only for the tenants of the new building but 2 or more lower floors for the Senior Center and for junction customer parking. Either free for seniors or a very reduced cost to all.