The Georgetown Community Development Agency is soliciting contributions on plans for 150 affordable homes

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One of the few places in Seattle where industry goes hand-in-hand with homes and small businesses, Georgetown is one of the city’s most distinctive neighborhoods, a place for doers—people who dream, design, build and repair. The neighborhood has long been a magnet for people drawn by its industrial character, entrepreneurship and, in keeping with the proximity to industry, affordable housing and commercial space. But Georgetown is increasingly suffering from the same lack of affordability that is affecting the entire Puget Sound region. In response to that Georgetown Community Development Agency (GCDA) was formed with the aim of ensuring the neighborhood can continue to provide affordable housing, commercial space and jobs to the people who make it exceptional.

GCDA recently announced plans for its first affordable mixed-use development, which will bring 150 affordable homes and commercial space to 402 S Lucille Street, a quiet area in the neighborhood. Project design is being undertaken by Jackson Main Architecture, but before plans are formalized, GCDA would like the community to consider what they want from the new development, which will be permanently affordable through a Community Land Trust model. It is projected that 100% of the homes will be affordable, with most at 60% of the area’s median income (AMI) and below, with some homes to be at 30 to 40% AMI. There are also plans for artist living and working spaces to be incorporated into the future building.

Construction could begin as early as spring 2023 if planning and approvals go smoothly, and the building could open as early as fall 2024, GCDA hopes.

An aerial view of the future site of GCDA’s 150 house mix-use development. (Image credit: GCDA)

“We want people to come out with their pens, ideas and dreams,” said Samuel Farrazaino of the founders of GCDA and the creator of Equinox Studios, which is spread across three buildings as a tenant-owned interdisciplinary artist and maker space. Equinox Studios also hosts many notable neighborhood events, including the Georgetown Carnival.

To collect community feedback, GCDA created an online survey, which will be available until March 11th. However, in partnership with Equinox Studios, GCDA hosts the Georgetown Ideas Festival 2022, on Sunday, February 27 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

A half-pipe is set up on Airport Way S, which is closed to cars, and a guy on a bike gets some serious air while a crowd looks on.
Georgetown held a street festival in 2017 after a critical mass ride “Dead Baby Downhill.” Airport Way S was closed to cars and open to people cycling and hitting the halfpipe jump if they so choose. (Photo by Doug Trumm)

Farrazaino said the invitation is open to all and that he hopes the event will attract the diverse spectrum of people interested in Georgetown. “We need industry people, property owners and people living on the streets to get out. All the people who live, work and dream here, the more people the better. We need to get people talking about how we’re doing this so we can do it in a community-centric way,” Farrazaino said.

The event will be family-friendly, offering food and drink, and in keeping with the high-jinks Equinox Studios events are known for, Farrazaino hinted that there could be “a surprising adrenaline-pumping experience.” Given that Equinox Studios hosted a “crane truck circus show” last summer, readers should take adrenaline literally.

An art installation at the Georgetown Carnival, a community event sponsored by Equinox Studios. (Image credit: Architecture Freak, Creative Commons)

Community feedback will be incorporated into development plans submitted to the Seattle Department of Construction and Instructions (SDCI) and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods for the Early Design Guidance process. GCDA is particularly interested in learning what types of shops and services people would like to see at the commercial level on the ground floor. However, as a quarter currently without a full-fledged grocery store Maruta Shoten — a grocer specializing in Japanese imports — is a treasure but also lacks other essential services like childcare, GCDA aims to identify what community members’ needs are top priorities.

The GCDA hope to use their Community Land Trust to create more affordable housing and workspace in Georgetown in the future, and they aspire to use the Lucille Street development as a model for inclusive development. Industrial and residential development has historically been at odds in Georgetown, but Farrazaino hopes a different path can be followed in the future. He was disappointed to see that the currently proposed draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Seattle’s Industrial and Marine Strategy allocates so little space for residential development in industrial areas because the industry is much cleaner and safer than in the past and Farrazaino fears that the two remain apart could have spiraling negative consequences.

“Housing has been seen as a threat to industrial areas, but the downside is we then get all these other uses and there is no money to clean up the land for the future. Meanwhile, it’s no longer affordable to build modern manufacturing in the city, which is a slow-moving cancer that will crowd out industry and jobs,” Farrazaino said.

Like Ileana Preuss, author of “Recast Your City,” interviewed by The Urbanist’s Ray Dubicki last year, Farrazaino envisions a future where homes can sit atop makerspaces and other industrial uses. The last thing he wants is for the industry that has shaped Georgetown for over a century to disappear.

At a time of challenging growth, Georgetown continues to inspire people to care about its community, and new developments such as the GCDA plans for 402 S Lucille Street offer hope that all of the diverse attributes that make the neighborhood so special are amidst this can flourish change.


editor-in-chief

Natalie Bicknell Argerious (she/she) is Editor-in-Chief at The Urbanist. She has been a passionate urban explorer since childhood and loves learning how to make cities more inclusive, vibrant and green. They can often be found with their dogs and cat in Seattle’s Central District and on Capitol Hill. Email her Natalie [at] the urbanist [dot] org.

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