"Parking change stalls Re-Doogals planA year into the project, backers say city planners are changing the rules."
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:58 PM
"The mixed-use development proposed for the site of the former Doogal's restaurant cleared a known obstacle when Planning Director Stephanie Warren OK'd building within 40 feet of the Winslow Ravine.At the same time, though, Warren decided that the development needs to provide 11 more parking spaces than previously thought. That decision, if it stands, could be a deal-killer, project backers say.There's no way to add that much more parking, project manager Bror Elmquist said. If the decision stands, there will be a much different project - probably a building on the corner with surface parking on the present lot. At issue: calculation of square footage for purposes of the city parking ordinance, which four spaces per 1,000 square feet. From the outset, Elmquist proferred parking-requirement calculations based on net leasable square footage, the actual space used by each commercial tenant, excluding things like common halls, restrooms, and so forth.On that basis, the applicants determined that the project required 65 parking spaces for the 17,000-plus feet of retail and commercial space and the nine condominium units proposed for the project at the northeast corner of Winslow Way and Ericksen Avenue.The applicants proposed to meet that requirement by building a 52-stall underground parking garage, using two spaces on Ericksen Avenue and contributing $175,000 in lieu of more spaces, an amount sufficient to buy 10 spaces in a future municipal parking lot.But in the final approval, Warren said that parking requirements must be based on gross square footage, meaning that the common areas must be included. Adding in that additional footage boosted the parking requirement to 76 spaces.Moreover, Warren said the additional spaces had to be provided on site, not by way of buying additional in lieu spaces.Based on this determination, the applicant would need to modify the project's square footage or uses or need to create the additional parking spaces on site, Warren wrote in her decision.Warren said Friday she was not part of the early conversations between the planning staff and the applicant. She agreed that the issue should have been resolved much earlier in the process, and said she is trying to determine why it was not.Elmquist and the site's owners, Marco and Jim Magnano, met with Warren Wednesday to discuss her decision on parking. No agreement was reached, but further meetings are planned.'We're still talking' is the best way to put it, said Marco Magnano, a senior litigator at the Seattle law firm of Foster Pepper & Sheffelman.Elmquist said he did not think the project could be redesigned to add the additional parking spaces.We're trying to work this out with Warren, he said. If we can't, we won't have any choice except to appeal her decision. The initial obstacle to the project was the Winslow Ravine, which borders the L-shaped site on the east. Current city code requires a 50-foot buffer from the edge of the ravine for environmental protection, and an additional 15-foot setback to protect the buffer during construction.The applicants sought a 25-foot reduction in the buffer width, which was opposed by the Friends of the Ravine environmental group. The city staff suggested a compromise, essentially reducing the buffer to 35 feet. The city Planning Commission recommended the full 25-foot reduction, and Warren agreed.During the year that the application has been pending, parking was never raised as an issue, Elmquist said. Our parking calculations were based on net leasable 16 months ago, he said. It came up again several months ago when the staff report was prepared, and we again confirmed it was net leasable. "