Open house for Shoreline Town Center, Wednesday, Jan 12

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Can you imagine Aurora looking like this?
by Diane Hettrick

The Open House for the Shoreline Town Center is Wednesday, January 12, from 6:30 - 9:00 pm at Shoreline City Hall, N 175 and Midvale Ave N. Opening remarks at 6:30 pm, then small group discussions.

After several years of community meetings, the proposed Town Center Subarea Plan and Town Center Zoning are ready for public review.

The planning department held public meetings, first, to determine where town center was. When your business district is a three mile long strip along a state highway, it's hard to tell where the Heart of Shoreline is.

When Shoreline incorporated, scoffers said we were not a town, had no downtown, and implied we were just left-over King county sandwiched between Seattle and Snohomish county. "There's no 'there' there," they joked. But we knew who we were, where the borders were, and how we were different from our neighbors. We knew how we were different from Lake Forest Park, but how we were joined to them, and the neighborhoods bordering LFP spent some time and many precinct votes deciding which city to join.

There were many plans from the City and from volunteer committees about What To Do About Aurora over the years since incorporation. I remember many elaborate scale models. One plan was to have three retail centers along Aurora - at 155th, 175th, and 205th. That didn't fly, probably because so much of the land north and south was held by private corporations.

When the planning department held public votes in recent years to help locate the Heart of Shoreline, they literally gave people heart stickers and told them to put their heart on the map. To everyone's surprise, the vote was overwhelming in favor of 175th.

Public comments were also overwhelming that they did not want commercial spaces encroaching on neighborhoods any more than they already were, but they did want the existing spaces strengthened and upgraded. The North City volunteer committee worked closely with the City for years to redevelop their business district. Richmond Highlands is relatively healthy and Ridgecrest was unfortunately sidetracked. 15th at 145th is currently being planned under the subarea zoning.

According to Senior Planner Paul Cohen, the planning for Town Center includes concepts to segue from business to residential by "putting a residential face on the back side of business" and by creating codes to have buildings "step back" from residential streets. The codes would require preservation of "significant trees" and the creation of "greenlink streets." Planners envision Town Center as a place where people go to spend time and to walk or bicycle from place to place.

This does not mean that miles of buildings along Aurora will suddenly be torn down. It means that you have to know what the goals are before appropriate zoning codes can be created for future development by private owners. The land along Aurora is privately owned except for the green space from 175 to 185 between Aurora and Midvale, and buildings which do not meet new codes would be "legal non-conforming." However, if an owner wanted to redevelop or remodel, they would have to meet the new zoning codes.

At the open house, you will see maps with four different zones, reflecting the differences in the areas in the Town Center.

Town Center is the area along Aurora Avenue bound by N 170th Street, Stone Avenue, Linden Avenue and N 192nd Street.

For more information visit the Town Center Subarea Plan page or call Project Manager Paul Cohen at 206-801-2551.


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