This month we began work on a new housing development for the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene. In a year where we have designed a number of unique projects, this may be the most unusual of the bunch.
The project began a few months ago when our client Paar Development was approached by WSCN to look at their churchyard as a potential development site. The church sits on a large parcel of land with an adjacent green that has for generations served as open space for the neighborhood. The church building itself needs significant repair and the WSCN leadership was faced with the prospect of having to sell off the land to raise money for the repairs. Joe Paar and I reviewed the site, determined that its zoning would allow two new single family homes and quickly concluded that such a development could not generate enough revenue to meet WSCN's needs. In developing two houses, WSCN would give up their legacy and still be unable to fix the church. The idea was a non-starter.
I continued to do some digging. After a bit of research, I concluded that the site was a candidate for re-zoning. So I drew up a quick site plan based on changing from single family zone to low-rise multi-family zone (LR1) that would allow development of six units. By increasing the unit density, the new plan could generate enough return to pay for the church repairs with enough left over to build a playground in the park as well. We returned to the congregation with the new proposal, it was met with great enthusiasm, and earlier this month we began the process of applying for a contract re-zone on the site.
|Existing SF Zoning. Two Single Family Homes. In this scheme, all of the open space becomes private yards for the homes, the church loses her legacy open space, and the scheme fails to generate the revenue needed to repair the church.|
|Rezone to LR1. The change to multi-family zoning allows six (6) new units along the back of the property, saving the front two thirds as a public green. This scheme generates enough revenue to repair the church and upgrade the park.|
Over the next few months we'll work through the initial process with the city, put together some preliminary design ideas and the head out into the neighborhood to do public meetings & get feedback from the folks that live nearby.