New housing, a small-scale hotel and small-retail proved popular at a community forum on what people would like to have built on MJB’s property between 17th and 22nd streets east of Q/R Ave.
Over 100 participants attended the meeting in August, which included a presentation on about the project context and small group exercises to identify desired uses, design features, and priorities associated with the MJB waterfront sites.
These findings, which were recently released by Makers Architecture and Urban Design, will be incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan’s draft concepts and alternatives (tentatively planned for November).
Ultimately, the Comprehensive Plan will include policies associated with these sites and the City will likely adopt updated zoning and design provisions associated with the site.
The workshop results below include summaries of the findings from 16 groups, including a summary of the desired use mix by the three major subareas, a summary of the top issues, and response to a question on the appropriateness of regional retail on one of the MJB sites.
Desired Uses and Site Features by Area
Most groups mapping concepts for the north site included a mixture of residential, retail, office, and a hotel with a continuation of the waterfront esplanade, internal connections, and some open spaces. Here’s the list of use type and design feature preferences in order of preference:
- Housing. 15 out of 16 groups included some form of housing on the site. Housing uses were distributed widely throughout the site (see subarea findings below for details). 13/16 placed at least one mixed-use building, including a combination of large- and small-scale buildings (generally 3-4 floors). 9/16 used at least one townhouse building, with many using several. 6/16 included live-work lofts and 4/16 included cluster or cottage housing.
- Hotel. 15 out of 16 included a hotel on the site – most often along the waterfront section. Large and small scaled hotels were used almost equally.
- Retail – small scale. 15 out of 16 included some form of retail on the site. 14/16 include freestanding retail. Only 1 of the 14 maps included a retail anchor larger than 20,000sf (the specific example was 50,000sf). 13/16 included mixed-use buildings with housing over shops. 8/16 included mixed-use buildings with office over shops.
- Events center. 9 out of 16 included one on the site.
- Open spaces. In addition to the waterfront esplanade, a variety of parks, plazas, and open spaces were included on most maps in some form. Several groups included special trail/open space corridors that connected from Q Avenue to the waterfront, others included centralized commons or medium to large open spaces bordering the esplanade, which other uses were clustered around. Some other groups included open spaces scatterned between many uses.
- Internal circulation. Many groups drew in internal circulation networks, including extensions of 17th Street and a new north-south internal street. Many groups also made an effort to hide parking behind buildings and cluster uses into pedestrian-friendly designs.
- Marine/industrial were represented on only a very small minority of the maps. This included boat storage and commercial marine uses each listed on 2/16 maps and sheds and manufacturing listed on 1/16 map. These uses were largely placed in the southern end of the site.
The groups were more divided on the preferences for this area than in both other subareas. Here’s the list of use type and design feature preferences in order of preference:
- Manufacturing & Boat Storage. These uses were a clear preference south of 28th Street (and many showing them in extending along the north side of the street as well), with 12 out of the 14 completed maps including at least one of these uses. Manufacturing uses were on 8 maps and boat storage was included on 3 maps.
- Housing. 10 out of 15 completed maps included some form of housing on the site north of 28th Street. While there wasn’t one predominate type of housing chosen, the types more often used included mixed-use housing over office (5/16), and multifamily - apartments/condos (4/16).
- Retail uses. 9 out of the 15 completed maps included some form of retail use. 6 maps included small scale retail uses, 5 maps included neighborhood scaled retail anchors (50,000sf), and 2 groups included regional scale retail (100,000sf). 3 groups also include retail as part of residential mixed-use.
- Office. 7 out of 15 completed maps included some form of office.
Five groups included freestanding office buildings and 4 groups included office as part of residential mixed-use buildings.
Many groups made a conscious effort to use the trail as an amenity by fronting residential, office, retail, or a mixture of the three onto the trail. Many groups also tried to carefully locate parking towards the center of the site. A few groups located open spaces in the area, including a dog park, community garden, and public market.
A combination of manufacturing and boat storage were the major preference for the southeast site. Manufacturing was the consenus use for the southern portion of the area, whereas a greater mixture of uses was considered in the northern portion, including some housing. Here’s the list of use type and design feature preferences in order of preference:
- Manufacturing. 14 of the 15 maps included manufacturing – including small and large scale uses.
- Boat Storage. 9 of 15 maps included boat storage uses.
- Housing. 6 out of 15 completed maps included some form of housing on the site. Most of these were on the northern site, though two groups sought live-work lofts in the southern area. The trail was a major factor in siting housing here for these groups
- Industrial sheds. 5 of 15 maps included sheds.
Also, Some form of public open space (public market, dog park, skate park) was brought up several times, located at the intersection of R Avenue and 24th Street.
Groups were asked to define the three most important issues related to the development of these sites. Below is a listing of the top issues in the order that they were listed by the 16 groups.
- Maintaining views and public access to waterfront (14 mentions)
- Retaining marine industry and jobs (9 mentions)
- Balance/mix of uses (6 mentions)
- Downtown connectivity/walkability/transit (5 mentions)
- Green space punctuating the project area (5 mentions)
Groups were asked if it would be acceptable to integrate regional scale retail onto the site, provided it’s well designed. While in the map exercises, regional retail uses were a clear minority (only 2 of 16 groups included it), but the groups were divided on this particular question.
Some common themes that came out was a desire by participants for regional retail that was scaled appropriately for Anacortes, and which had non-motorized access and connectivity to downtown.
Another concern raised was regarding stores that were not consistent with community values, whether in terms of scale, the types of merchandise, or aesthetic fit into the community.