Former Teatro Zinzanni site is a sign of things to come for Uptown

Mar 23, 2017, 5:46 AM | Updated: 4:06 pm

When Seattle’s Washington Holdings recently purchased the Teatro Zinzanni property from the Seattle Opera — and helped close the curtains on the long-running acrobatics-meets-Moulin Rouge dinner show — company leaders were cagey about plans for the Roy Street site.

Not anymore.

In a mandatory notice sent to neighbors on Seattle Center’s north side, the company this week said it is proposing, “a 16-story building containing 350 residential units and 9,744 sq. ft. of retail space.” The letter adds that the project will rely on a rezone of the region to SM-160, which means a 160-foot height limit — four times the current allowable 40-foot height cap on the 200 block of Roy.

At one time, such a zoning request would have seen both audacious and unlikely. Seattle historically has kept the buildings near its iconic Space Needle low, with planners even deciding that 10 city parks — including Kerry and Volunteer parks — should have their views of the Needle protected from up zoning changes.

Those days might be ending sooner rather than later. Released Wednesday, a few days after the Washington Holdings notice arrived in Uptown mailboxes, is the template of how city planners see the neighborhood changing and rising in coming years.

The Uptown Preliminary Rezone Recommendation Director’s Report, if adopted by the city council would:

• Double the building height along the Mercer Street Corridor, from the current 40 feet to 85 feet;

• Allow narrow 16-story (with a 160-foot height rezone) residential towers in the area bounded by Broad Street, plus Aurora and Denny avenues;

• Overall, the most areas designated as the Uptown Urban Center currently zoned for multi-family residential or mixed-use would see one or two stories of additional height increases.

The first wave of public comment for the Roy Street project is set for 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5 at the Queen Anne Community Center.

“As a community, we have been actively engaged in conversation about how we support Uptown as a thriving residential neighborhood and unique cultural destination,” said Debi Frausto, of the Uptown Alliance, in a news release from the report’s authors.

“We look forward to working with the City to create more housing options and walkable streetscapes, while preserving the vibrant energy and cultural opportunities that we love about Uptown.”

The report, however, does not advocate a 160-foot height increase north of Seattle Center — the specific rezoning Washington Holdings said it seeks for the Roy Street property. Perhaps anticipating the document’s recommendations, the development company also submitted a second proposal to build the residential project at the report’s recommended 85-foot rezone for the area.

In all, Uptown rezoning could end up as the city’s third effort under Mayor Ed Murray to remake Seattle as taller and denser. The city already approved a major upzoning of the University District as part of the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).  In April, the council is expected to vote on a Chinatown-International District upzone.

The Seattle City Council vote on the Uptown upzone is expected in May.

Find the draft of the Environmental Impact Statement of the proposed Uptown rezoning here.

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Former Teatro Zinzanni site is a sign of things to come for Uptown