When it comes to “location, location, location,” the Central District is poised to outperform many of Seattle’s best neighborhoods for walkability, connectivity, and mobility.
by Eva Otto
With a Walk Score of 88, the Central District (taken from 120 20th Avenue) ranks higher than many areas of Ballard, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, and Ravenna.
For the newbies, Walk Score assigns a numeric value to the time and effort required to walk, ride, or travel. The higher the score, the more desirable the location. For example, Seattle’s Walk Score is 71 while Dallas’ is 44, and New York City’s is 88. So, if you’re want to walk more, drive less, and ride your bike to the Farmer’s Market, think twice about moving to Dallas. If you want the walkability and ease of New York City, the Central District in Seattle has the same Walk Score as New York, 88.
From the Central District, 20 minutes in a car takes you father, faster. 20 minutes to get from there to Bellevue, SeaTac, Fremont, or Alki Beach. It’s also a 10 minute drive from the Central District to the University of Washington.
Commuting to downtown Seattle take five minutes in a car, seventeen on a bus, and eight minutes on a bike. Go ahead and try to be late.
Some notable road and infrastructure improvements are also underway. The Central Area Greenways Project is building safer, more efficient and accessible corridors for all road users. And soon, nearby street cars will transport passengers from ‘links’, at First Hill, Jackson St., and Yesler Terrace to South Lake Union by way of the Waterfront.
With physical mobility and proximity to social and economic resources comes increased social and economic mobility. Take for example, the impact of estimated new jobs in the neighborhoods or the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace.
Yesler Terrace encompasses 4.3 million square feet of housing in 5,000 units, and 1,800 subsidized homes for low and moderate-income residents. The graph below shows the location of 120 20th Avenue as a red circle. The green bars represent the amount of new jobs from 2010–2030.
HacktheCD’s model seeks to “incubate new businesses, advance research, and create scalable models that help historically underserved communities around the world thrive in the 21st century.”
The 23rd Avenue Action Plan, is a city-community collaboration to create “a shared vision and action plan to improve the health and equity” of three Central Area hubs — 23rd and East Union, 23rd and East Cherry, and 23rd and South Jackson. The committee, led by City of Seattle, Senior Planner, Quanlin Hu recently published its final draft, that outlines the comprehensive and inspiring vision for the area. The admirable plan represents the participation of over 600 people from people with a varying ages, ethnic and economic backgrounds.
Another key initiative is the Comprehensive Plan, signed on May 15, 2015, which codifies the City of Seattle’s commitment to race and social equity as a foundational value in development.
With Seattle’s unprecedented economic growth spurt, so too, has its approach to community and neighborhood development. Many of the values unique to the sharing economy are in process at the community level. The emphasis is to emerge from silos and “connect” people, share resources, and rally behind the character of the community and the City.
- Get there Pronto with a new cycle sharing system with 500 bikes and 50 stations across Seattle. Pronto bikes can be rented from and then returned to any station in the system, creating an efficient network with many possible points and combinations of departure and arrival.
- Hop on the bus, Gus. Unlike Uber, OneBusAway provides access to real-time arrival and schedule information for public transportation vehicles operated in Seattle such as King County Metro, Sound Transit, Pierce Transit, Intercity Transit, Community Transit, and Washington State Ferries. While it will not prevent aforementioned vehicles from being tardy, this app will let tell you, “when the next one is coming.”
- Whet your appetite. Buy, eat and enjoy local produce. Janelle Maiocco (formerly of Farmstr) launched Barn2Door to “help farmers connect with consumers interested in buying local food.” Or, be outstanding in the field with your friends at Seattle Tilth. Sign up for a class, get a weekly box full of fresh, delicious produce June-October, enjoy 100% local, ecologically grown.
- Power-down, mediate, and recharge your body in your private “EMF-reduced” sleeping sanctuary — your bedroom. Isola Homes’ Vida row home bedrooms are on a mission to minimize the ubiquitous buzz of our wired world with wrapped electrical wiring and the removal of overhead lighting.
- Be Rain Wise. It rains buckets here in Seattle. On a good night, 300 gallons of water can be dumped onto your house before hitting the streets. Collectively that translates into millions of gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater pouring into the city’s waterways, threatening human and aquatic health. Then, the sun comes out and people start watering their lawn and gardens! Whaa? Yes, it’s an unnecessary waste. A rain water collection barrel is a killer app in this situation. The City of Seattle offers rebates homes in critical areas. Visit the RainWise site here.
Selling Without Selling Out – The Winner of the Green Home Tour’s 2014 Choice Awards is Moving the Industry Further
When property owner Dana Stream was approached by Isola Homes, one of Seattle’s fastest growing homebuilders she had something unique in mind for selling her urban in-city lot. Stream didn’t want her property to turn into just another townhome community. She wanted to ensure that the builder focused on the design, health and wellness of the community for future generations.
Stream recently built a backyard cottage that won the Green Home Tour’s 2014 People’s Choice award showcasing her building biology principles to reduce electromagnetic fields of pollution (known has EMFs) in the home.
Stream was looking to push the industry further with the concepts she was incorporating into her backyard cottage when Isola approached her to purchase the Central District land. Stream showed Isola Homes her building practices, and they agreed to take up the challenge of creating an EMF reduced home for the public, holding true to their company’s mission to innovate and build community with integrity in the marketplace.
Isola Homes’ Marketing Director, Noree Henderson reaffirms this by stating “At Isola Homes we are committed to building extraordinary communities which are founded on our core value principles of integrity, function and design.” In partnership with Dana Stream and her company Lifestream Solutions, we are pleased to be involved in offering a new way to live for our homeowners where the focus is on the benefits of health, rejuvenation and livability for modern lifestyles.”
“We want to demonstrate that developers will be rewarded with higher value returns by staying on top of trends that are important to consumers.” Stream believes owners have a role in land stewardship and can exercise that role at the point of sale. Sellers can hold the industry accountable and help move progress parcel by parcel. “Sellers have the option to be more discerning about who they sell to in a fast growing market and how they sell. Selling for social impact is another trend we hope to see become more prevalent.”
We applaud builders like Isola Homes for their willingness to take risks to innovate and further define what it is to live in a healthy home. Development is a privilege and it will take more sellers like Stream to help move the market towards development that is restorative for both the planet and the wellness of its inhabitants.
by Eva Otto
Did you miss the Green Home Tour? Click here to watch the video of homes on the tour.
Don’t miss one of Seattle’s most innovative new homes on the Green Home Tour in the Maple Leaf neighborhood. This amazing 3-story, 2 bedroom/2bath backyard cottage is going beyond green home standards to invite homeowners and builders to redefine what it means to live in a healthy home.
The Lifestream Cottage is designed to be a home that can evolve with technology and still provide healthy living and sleeping spaces to the humans who live inside them. This is done through three key measures that were the design goals of the project.
#1) Maximum energy efficiency, #2) Build a chemical-free house that does not off-gas and #3) Build a home free of electromagnetic pollution (EMF-Free), that minimizes radiation exposure from everyday electromagnetic waves that bounce around inside the home.
These concepts for building go beyond Built-Green checklists and come from the field of electro-biology and the new science of building biology.
The owner/designer of the cottage John Stream, of Lifestream Solutions is a building biologist and industrial designer. His project team included the builder and systems designer Michael Cleveland, architect Erin Lau, and co-designer/co-owner, and investor Dana Stream.
On the tour you will get to peak behind the walls of this cottage to see makes this house off the charts with energy efficiency. One of the coolest features you will see is how this cottage has an exterior and interior insulation system that includes 18 inches of insulation, separated by a 2 inch air gap used for channeling pipes and wires. When asked about the R-value, Mr. Stream calls the wall and roof system “R-Ridiculous.” since the R-value well exceeds the highest energy efficiency standards. This tight envelope requires an Energy Recovery Ventilator to help maximize efficiency and keep fresh air coming in while the ERV recycles heat back into the house.
How does one build a chemical-free house? Is it possible? The answer is yes! Stop in on Saturday from 11-5pm and find out how.
What is truly innovative about this cottage are the steps that the design team took to make ensure the sleeping area was well protected from any possibility electromagnetic radiation. Since 80% of healing in the body occurs when humans are asleep, and electromagnetic radiation disrupts that healing sleep, it is essential to keep the bedroom an EMF-free zone.
Measures to reduce energy fields in the home included reducing the amount of metal used in construction, using fiberglass rebar instead of metal in the foundation to help the earth’s magnetic field pass through the home and not become distorted, using steel shielded wires throughout the whole house with no overhead lighting or wires running at head level in the walls and finally in the bedroom removing wiring from the area around the bed while still providing electric sockets for lighting. Masterfully innovative! A must see on this tour!
Don’t Miss out on Rainwater Rebates! Come Learn How to Build a Raingarden!
Many neighborhoods in Seattle are now eligible for up to 100% assistance for building raingardens and installing cisterns in their home gardens. In an effort sponsored by King County’s Rainwise program to better manage the city’s stormwater local non-profits have partnered with the program to help train, empower, and inspire residents to take action and recycle rainwater back into the environment in a natural way, rather than letting it become polluted waters that run off into the sewers.
The Rainwise program has programs throughout Seattle and is especially thriving in the neighborhoods of South Park and West Seattle. Both of these neighborhoods will be a Sustainability Stop along the annual NW Green Home Tour. Visitors will enjoy food, fun learning activities, and the chance to meet RainWise contractors who install cisterns and rain gardens – plus a mini-self guided tour of installed RainWise rain gardens will be available. Join us on the tour and find out if you are eligible for assistance with your own raingarden.
In West Seattle’s Highland Park local non-profit Sustainable Seattle is working with the Highland Park Improvement Club to help beautify property and remove unnecessary pavement to prepare areas for community green spaces. Hannah Kett, Sustainable Seattle’s Neighborhood Program Manger says, “With these transformations, HPIC serves as a demonstration site and educational opportunity for the surrounding neighborhoods. The community is encouraged to take an active part in this project and learn about the impact they can make at home. It’s exciting to see so many getting involved!” Visit the Highland Park site on the tour.
In the neighborhood of South Park the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle ECOSS is helping to bring community together to create vibrant green spaces. ECOSS was created by South Park community members to facilitate working partnerships among different, and often conflicting, segments of the community – residents, businesses, industry, and government. The aim was to bring these groups together to address environmental and developmental needs of the community. This year ECOSS is helping to provide tours and information in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Cambodian, as well as games and activities for all ages, and specialty foods and music reflecting the cultural heritage of South Park residents. Start the tour at the “RainWise village green” in a block that includes rain gardens, refreshments and indoor activities at the South Park Neighborhood Center. Walk, bike or drive on a short self-guided tour to explore how residential and community raingardens (some located in urban farms!) and RainWise cisterns (super-sized rain barrels) are all helping to control urban stormwater. Elizabeth Louden, assistant director at ECOSS states that she “hopes many folks will have a chance to come see the diverse raingardens/cisterns that residents have already set up and get inspired to get involved in making their own raingarden.” Click here for more information about the South Park tour.
Helping the city function like a natural ecosystems is also the mission of the new non-profit Urban Greenprint. The mission of Urban Greenprint is to apply the principles of biomimcry to revitalizing the city. Click on the link to visit their website and learn more the importance of helping manage stormwater absorption into the soils.
Joining the Green Home Tour this year is a sustainability stop that brings
art, culture and green building technology together. On April 26th the
public will have an opportunity for a “behind the scenes” look inside
Taproot Theatre Company’s newly constructed Kendall Center located on the
site of the Eleanor Roosevelt Building that was destroyed in the October
2009 arson in the historic Greenwood business district’s crossroads.
Tours are at 12pm and 1:30pm.
The 12,000 square foot annex was constructed by Method Prefab when Taproot
opted for modular construction to expand into the space previously occupied
by the Eleanor Roosevelt Building. Designed by The Miller Hull Partnership,
the targeted LEED Gold building renovation and expansion takes design cues
from the early 1900’s era neighborhood setting, adding improved efficiency
with energy-conserving lighting and HVAC systems, public green space in a
congested traffic corridor, and the use of reclaimed and environmentally
An additional highlight to the tour is the artwork featured by Bherd Studios
in the new Stage Door Café. After the arson in 2009 Bherd Studio artists
painted the mural that ran alongside the sidewalk of 85th and brightened the
neighborhood. “Having Bherd Studios create the murals for the Stage Door
Café was another way for us to include them in our recovery, as well as to
feature Greenwood artists.” The mural consists of two panels: The left is a
composite of photos from the reconstruction of the Old Globe Theater in
London; the right is based on snapshots of Taproot Theater. “The concept was
taking a bit of the new from the old, with Taproot Theatre being the new and
Shakespeare’s Globe being the old” said John Osgood and Kevin Sensei, the
artists that created the mural.
Join the tour and have a behind the scenes look at the theater’s new spaces
Black Box Theatre that seats 120 – A space for developing and performing new
scripts, additional classes for youth and rehearsals
The Stage Door Café (Now Open) – a comfortable setting for patrons to gather
before and after performances for dialogue and engagement; open six days a
week, it is also a way to serve the Greenwood community
Scene Shop (1,200 sf) – a more spacious and efficient construction space
will shorten the time needed to construct and move-in scenery, allowing for
additional performance weeks and increased revenue
Costume, laundry, and repair shop
Green room with dressing rooms and bathrooms
Lobby providing additional space
Administrative offices with conference room and staff break room
interior/exterior deck with living walls and green roof
About Taproot Theatre Company
Taproot Theatre Company is a professional, nonprofit theatre company with a
multi-faceted production program. Founded in 1976, Taproot Theatre serves
the Pacific Northwest with Mainstage Productions, Touring Productions and
the Acting Studio. Taproot exists to create theatre that explores the beauty
and questions of life while bringing hope to our search for meaning. Taproot
Theatre Company is a member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), Theatre
Puget Sound (TPS), Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Association (PNA) and the
Greenwood-Phinney Chamber of Commerce.
About Method Prefab
Method Prefab (Method) is a custom manufacturer of precision-built
prefabricated structures. The company offers fully custom prefabrication of
any design by any architect. Founded with a mission of adding innovation to
the future of construction, Method is guided by the core value of
thoughtful, sustainable design. Prefabrication allows Method to reduce
construction timelines and control costs while building custom projects in a
controlled environment, minimizing exposure and waste. As such, Method can
focus on sustainability and cutting edge design. Method’s structures ship 80
to 95 percent complete, resulting in project timelines of two to five
months. For more information, visit: methodprefab.com