Vacant/Underused Lot Pilot
Project Status: Project Complete
A number of vacant and underused lots are currently sprinkled around the city. The economic recession has introduced uncertainty into the development process and limited prospects for new development in the near-term. Many development proposals are now awaiting the return of the capital markets and local demand. When project planning and construction is halted on a site for economic and financial reasons, the result can be a vacant lot or an unfinished hole in the ground. These may pose a safety hazard as well as create an unsightly condition. Vacant or underused property can be particularly troublesome in business districts or otherwise high-activity areas such as downtown and Center City neighborhoods.
In response, the Mayor directed DPD to develop a pilot program to put these lots to better use and address issues of safety, improve the appearance of neighborhoods and promote more active streets. Legislation has been adopted by City Council to establish a pilot program to promote more active use of vacant and underused lots. The pilot promotes the following:
- Make it easier to allow active uses, such as food vendors and retail kiosks, on lots in commercial and mixed-use areas such as downtown and neighborhood business districts; and
- Require accompanying active uses when allowing short-term parking (parking for business customers) on lots where construction projects are stalled in areas where this type of parking is currently restricted (i.e. downtown, South Lake Union and other business districts).
Highlights of the pilot program include:
- Permits for active uses have a term of three years, and may be renewed for one additional three-year term;
- Active uses are required adjacent to the street lot lines of any parking permitted under the pilot;
- Short-term customer parking is permitted for a term of three years without renewal;
- The DPD Director has discretionary authority to adjust certain standards and to approve active uses not listed in the Code that are similar and meet the intent to provide for interesting and active streetscapes;
- Lots within a special review district or landmark district are not eligible, in order to protect the sensitive nature of these areas; and
- The results of the pilot program will be evaluated within two years to inform future possible Code amendments for permanent provisions for active uses. A maximum of 20 sites are eligible.
March 31, 2011