by Kirby LindsayYears ago, along Stone Way, between North 39th and 40th Streets, a hole was dug for pending construction. Today, the hole remains. Referred to, sometimes, as the ‘QFC Pit,’ recent research has shown that current efforts to transform the site into something – or anything - may soon run out of time.
Ownership Established, For Now?
A call to Kristin Maas, spokesperson for QFC, established that the pit remains the responsibility of the grocery store chain. In early March she hadn’t known of the graffiti and water complaints mentioned during the February Fremont Neighborhood Council meeting, but she promised to forward them on to the facilities department. Four days later, the problems had been cleaned up.
Maas encouraged all neighbors, and concerned passers-by, to contact her if new problems develop on the property. She can be reached by e-mail or by calling 425/990-6182.
According to Maas, QFC is “still in the process of selling that property.” She could not recall, off the top of her head, how long this sale has been ‘in process.’ An article from The Seattle Times, originally published November 29, 2008, reported that Prescott Development agreed to buy the property from QFC in July 2007, pending City approval of changes to the permits.
When contacted early in March 2010, Carl Pollard of Prescott said that the sale is in a 30-day process, and he was not ready to talk.
Permits Pending, For Now?
According to Bryan Stevens, Customer Service Manager with the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD), his department issued QFC a new master use permit (MUP) on July 17, 2009. The original MUP contained a plan for a grocery store at street level but this one allowed construction of ‘retail space’. Stevens had heard there was no interest in a grocery store for the site but, under this MUP, “it doesn’t mean there can’t be one,” or several small stores, or a drug store. This permit also allows construction of 143 residential units, seven live/work units, plus parking for 192 vehicles.
The MUP issued in 2009, Stevens explained, will be good for three years (it expires, he said, near the end of 2011) with the possibility of an extension for another three years. Under this permit, the project has three phases with the first - further excavation and shoring up of the site - already completed.
The construction permit for phase two - pouring a foundation and construction of a garage structure - remains under review, Stevens reported, awaiting a response by the permit holder to corrections demanded by the City. The time limit for a response has been extended. By September 2010, the DPD must have a response, issue the permit and the holder must have begun work, but they can take up to 18 months to complete the job, with the possibility of another renewal.
Phase three concerns construction of a street level structure, as agreed upon during the MUP process. “We don’t necessarily know what business decisions are being made behind the scenes between private property owners,” Stevens explained, about the delay. “We know the owner when the permit is issued. It is a static thing,” he explained, and the owners have no obligation to keep the DPD informed.
Again, according to The Seattle Times, the previous business located at the site – Safeway – closed in 2001. The building, graffiti covered and decrepit, came down in 2006 (DPD recorded a demolition permit issued in 2003). It is a long time for a hole in the ground to sit fallow, but meanwhile, neighbors can enjoy the silence and clear views, for a little while longer…
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