Community Benefits Agreement News Weekly Roundup

April 11, 2014 -- Partnership for Working Families

Towering new high rise planned for University CircleWKYC-TV

4755 Fauntleroy alley vacation returns to council Transportation Committee tomorrowWest Seattle Blog

Timeline calls for Chattanooga's Harriet Tubman site demolition this summerTimes Free Press


Towering new high rise planned for University Circle


A.J. Ross

April 11, 2014

The University Circle area of Cleveland is on the rise, literally, with plans moving forward for a new high rise in the heart of the Euclid corridor. "There's not that many options in University Circle, and I think that the higher-end apartments would do well," said Derek Taylor, who works nearby.

These are just some of the sentiments developers are hoping to bank on with blueprints now in the works for a new state-of-the-art multistory apartment building in this space currently occupied by the Children's Museum. "I would say it's inevitable we have Case Western growing, and so is the Cleveland Clinic," remarked Steffen Christoffersen.

The new $130 million dollar investment, called One University Circle, will be between 25 and 28 stories tall, utilizing green construction to build nearly 280 units with floor-to-ceiling windows. It's a massive undertaking Cleveland City councilwoman Mamie Mitchell believes will create jobs. "It would create opportunity for our minority MBEs, we call it enterprises. We have quite a few contractors around, and I think that would be a great opportunity to participate in what we call 'community benefit agreements,' “she said.

Still as with most construction projects, some have their concerns. "I think one of the things that might change is the vibe of University Circle. ... We have a lot of historical institutions here maybe bringing in people, something new, might change that," worried Christoffersen.  

However, others believe the pros of the project far will far outweigh the cons. "I think it's a good thing. It will get some people living down here," said Taylor. "There's shops down the street, all the museums, and attractions ... hospitals. I mean you can live, work and play down here and not have to even own a car."



4755 Fauntleroy alley vacation returns to council Transportation Committee tomorrow

West Seattle Blog

West Seattle Residents

April 7, 2014 

Tomorrow morning at 9:30 am, the City Council’s Transportation Committee revisits the “alley vacation” request for 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, the mixed-use project now named The Whittaker. Four weeks have passed since March 11, when the committee held the required-by-law public hearing but decided to postpone a vote until some questions could be answered (WSB as-it-happened coverage here). While tomorrow’s meeting is not an official public hearing, it will begin with a public-comment session. 

Meantime, six West Seattleites sent City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the committee, one more plea not to advance the alley vacation, and detailed concerns about the project and process. It is in essence their response to his response to those who sent him comments and concerns, as reported here on March 14th.


Dear Councilmember Rasmussen:

Thank you for the explanation of your analysis of the proposed development at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW in West Seattle. We appreciate the time you took to listen and respond to community inquiries about this proposal. We continue to be concerned about several aspects of this proposal presented during public testimony by the developer and others that appear to be in error. This letter is sent to ensure that the record is accurate and that our concerns are appropriately considered.

Triangle Plan – First, we want to make it clear, we are not opposed to redevelopment of this site within the applicable zoning code requirements. We also feel strongly about adherence to the Triangle Plan because this is a legacy decision that our community will live with for 50 to 75 years (at a minimum). The community, including residents, businesses owners, and other interested parties, dedicated significant time and effort to making the Triangle Plan the best guidance possible for the life of the planning area. Attached is an analysis of concerns we have with the proposed development’s compliance with the Triangle Plan in Exhibit A – Triangle Plan.

Public Benefit – We understand the alley vacation is not a “giving” of the public right-of-way to the property owner, but a market rate sale. We hold that public property is a limited resource that should not be sold or otherwise transferred out of public ownership without substantial public benefit being achieved. To that end, we sought, without success, a Community Benefit Agreement with the developer that would establish terms of the benefits accruing to the community from such transfer. We remain concerned that some of the benefits identified by the developer to justify the alley vacation are standard requirements under the Seattle Municipal Code and should not, therefore, be counted toward the benefit required for vacating public right-of-way. Please see the full discussion in Exhibit B – Public Benefit.

Community Outreach – Members of the community have been actively involved in the review of this project since first presented in 2012. We appreciate that the developer made presentations at meetings with the community. We are concerned that on Page 5 of the developers March 11, 2014 presentation to the Transportation Committee, many of the Community Outreach Meetings listed with a particular group actually involved only one or two members associated with that group. Further, the meetings were held in conjunction with members of other groups. The developer has by accident or design overstated their outreach to the West Seattle community. This is important because it may appear that a particular group or board has supported the project, when in reality that group or board never saw a presentation. Please see full discussion in Exhibit C – Community Outreach.

Traffic Impacts - We also are concerned about the lack of a more robust traffic analysis for the retail component. In May of 2013, we submitted to the Seattle Design Commission (SDC) the attached pictures and vehicle counts of actual delivery truck traffic patterns and conflicts associated with the Whole Foods located in Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood. We also provided the SDC with a copy of the USDOT/WSDOT-sponsored study of truck traffic at Puget Sound grocery stores, which showed that even at conventional grocery stores, freight deliveries are much more frequent than project proponents assume. We ask that you look carefully at these highly relevant comparisons because they do not comport with the traffic analysis relied on by the Seattle Department of Transportation in making its recommendations to the City Council on this development. There is also additional analysis available from work done by Ross Tilghman, P.E, who is now a member of the Seattle Design Commission. Please see Exhibit D – Traffic Impacts.

Review Process – Much has been made of the project reviews before the Southwest Design Review Board (SWDRB) and the Seattle Design Commission. We attended all of the public meetings and we believe that these reviews were much more tentative than characterized in public testimony. The SWDRB was not unanimous in its final approval. The SDC conditionally approved the vacation, and had scheduled an administrative review of a key design condition prior to the alley vacation hearing. But that review was cancelled purportedly because the developers were not ready to provide updated plans. This is consistent with what happened to the public as this proposal moved forward, i.e., the chance for public review continually shifted, and our comment opportunities diminished. Please see Exhibit E – Review Process.

Finally, we believe the inaccuracies and insufficiencies in the public record are enough to ask the City Council to pause in its deliberations. Pretty drawings and clever naming does not change a poor development into a good one. If this developer has the staying power to do a development that provides the legacy and cornerstone project the West Seattle community is looking for, there is no need to rush this forward. We believe there are sufficient reasons to hit the pause button and make sure the record is clear and correct before you proceed.

Thank you for your consideration.


West Seattle Residents:

Deb Barker

Rene Commons

James Guenther

Elena Perez

Shawn Terjeson

Diane Rose Vincent


Timeline calls for Chattanooga's Harriet Tubman site demolition this summer

Times Free Press

April 8, 2014

by Joy Lukachick

In two weeks the city of Chattanooga will own the dilapidated former Harriet Tubman public housing site, but Mayor Andy Berke said it could take several years to see an industrial user on the East Chattanooga property. The long-awaited deal will be complete April 21. Berke originally announced the city’s bid last July, but the deal fell through two months later, only to be resurrected upon a new bid from the city.

City officials already have paid $250,000 for closing costs and will give the Chattanooga Housing Authority $2.6 million in cash at closing. “This is a big project that is important to the city,” Berke said. “This isn’t a short-term project. You’re going to see the best results of this a few years down the line.”

Berke’s plan is to demolish the buildings on the site and clear the 36 acres of land to market for future industrial use.

Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce representatives have said the plan could include combining a handful of parcels to the north — some land that Berke’s father and uncle own — for a total of 70 acres.

But Berke’s staff has insisted that the city has no intentions of purchasing his family’s property.

Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce spokesman J.Ed. Marston said the only property currently being considered to expand the site is owned by Hamilton County Department of Education.

Since Berke’s final offer for Tubman drains most of the money the City Council had approved for the deal — a total of $3 million — the mayor will have to request about $2 million extra for the clean-up and demolition. But the cost could be higher. City officials are assessing the 76 buildings for any asbestos or lead-based paint that would have to be removed based on federal environmental guidelines. To offset the costs, city officials are asking the council today to approve a blanket resolution that would allow them to pursue any local, state or federal grants for the demolition and site preparation.

City Attorney Wade Hinton said the agreement will require officials to give a monthly update. If any of the grants require city funding, the request will go back to the council, he said. “We just thought it would be wise to do take this approach since there might be opportunities that might be more time sensitive,” Hinton said. Berke estimates demolition should begin by this summer after bids are submitted and a contractor selected.

City officials have promised with the purchase of Tubman that jobs would be created for East Chattanooga residents. In order to ensure jobs, the Peoples Coalition for Affordable Housing — a group of area residents and organizers — proposed that the city enter a community benefits agreement. This type of agreement would ensure that a certain percentage of jobs go to residents within a certain ZIP code or area.

These types of agreements have been used elsewhere. In April 2013, a developer entered an agreement with New York officials to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory, with a stipulation that at least 51 percent of non-construction workers on the project would be local residents. The agreement further stipulated that underemployed residents of the immediate neighborhood be given first priority.

When Perrin Lance — president of Chattanooga Organized for Action, who acts as a liaison for the coalition — made the request for a community benefits agreement at City Council, Chairman Yusuf Hakeem balked. “We have worked very hard on this project,” Hakeem told Lance. “I don’t have objections to you presenting what you did, but I’m working at not being offended.”

Councilman Moses Freeman, who represents the neighborhood near Tubman, said a community benefits agreement isn’t needed because he has already promised to bring jobs to the community.

“[This coalition] doesn’t want to trust me,” Freeman said. “I’m very sensitive to the people in my district and to achieve their goals.”

Instead of a benefits agreement, Berke said his staff is researching how to stipulate in the request for proposals that some of the workers for demolition work should be hired from within the community. But he didn’t give any details on what that type of proposal would look like.

Lance said the mayor’s idea is a step in the right direction, but he said the city should consider including that a specific percentage of jobs be kept for the community. “I think what he’s doing is good, but where is the accountability?” Lance asked.