The Y-Arts Center at 6036 SE Foster has been the subject of redevelopment plans for close to two years. In its simplest conception, the plan is to rebuild the YMCA childcare facility to more modern specifications, while adding 54 units of housing in a mixed-use building that will rise four stories along Foster Road and three toward the rear near Holgate.
Plans for the property, situated just east of the commercial stretch that includes Tambayan Filipino Restaurant, Kilroy’s Tattoo, Flat Blak Gallery, Backstory Books and Latchkey Gallery, have sat mostly dormant until this last December, when it was announced the project would be going through a Planned Development and Conditional Use Review. It was then that we posted plans and renderings for the site, which would represent one of the largest developments planned for Foster in the near term. (Others would include the mixed-use projects proposed at SE 72nd and SE 51st and Foster.)
While the need for mixed-use and more dense housing along Foster is clear, it is not lost on developers that development of this kind is new to the neighborhood. For that reason, just as we’ve seen with the 72nd and Foster project, developers and architects are meeting with the community to discuss their plans and seek feedback. And last week at the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association meeting, the architect (from Leeb Architects) for the YMCA project did just that.
While the focus of the Q & A quickly turned to parking, a few details about the project were revealed. We share below:
Plans currently call for 54 units of housing to be split into two buildings: one four-story, mixed-use building that will front Foster and include the rebuilt childcare facility at ground-level and 42 apartments above; another 12-unit building will rise three stories to the south toward Holgate. The larger building will be nearer to Foster than the current facility now sits, which should do well to better engage with the street and provide more pedestrian-oriented energy. There will be a north/south passage road connecting the facility and apartments closer to Foster and those to the south near Holgate. 58 parking spots will be included in the project, as will significant landscaping (the site is currently 90% paved), a children’s play area, and communal grounds for barbecuing, etc. If all goes according to plan, construction could start as early as spring 2018.
While the idea of adding multi-story housing along Foster may feel like an uncomfortable concept, and concerns about parking and a changing character of the neighborhood are valid, increased residential density along transit and commercial corridors is a necessary step for the city’s sustainability—both economically to keep rents down, but also to ensure population growth doesn’t push on the urban growth boundary. A diversity of housing stock also adds to the vitality of a neighborhood. Almost as important, though, is how new developments such as these will fit into the neighborhood and how it will impact the corridor. Growth is inevitable, but we should demand thoughtful design so as to ensure a positive impact on the neighborhood. We’ll cross our fingers and hope the aesthetics of the building add vibrancy to the corridor and make the coming changes a little more palatable.