Seattle Unity New Facility Project 12/5/15 Update


Yes, it has been a long time since the last update!

No, you haven’t missed anything—it has indeed been a long time since the last update in April. If you want a quick review of what’s been happening, please see the 2015 Itinerary that captures the highlights of the past 3 years. For a more detailed review, please see previous updates and videos below and check the FAQ section.

Here is the very latest news on our new facility:

Why the wait?
As we mentioned in the April Update, since the end of 2014, we have been waiting for a decision from the City’s Department of Planning and Development [DPD] regarding our plans. At issue was whether the new zoning rules for the South Lake Union neighborhood would allow Seattle Unity to move forward with our preferred option of selling the north portion of our property and rebuilding on the south portion. We were unable to make major progress on this work until that zoning issue was resolved.

While we were waiting…
While waiting for the City, we used the spring and summer to continue to evaluate the various options before us. In particular, we looked at the option of selling the entire property and relocating. At the 2015 Annual Meeting, Membership had approved our looking at this option as a fallback in case the City did not approve a zoning change to allow us to redevelop on our current site. What we discovered was that, given how tight the real estate market is, there were no potential sites available that met our criteria for relocation.

Good news from the City
This dilemma became moot in late September when we heard that our requested zoning modification language had been accepted and approved by the City of Seattle. This enables us to move forward on our original plan for dividing the property and rebuilding. This is very good news, and we owe many thanks for this outcome to our land use attorney who worked with the City on modifying language in the zoning ordinance.

What comes next?
Now that the zoning issues have been resolved in our favor, we are able to actually bring into being all that we have been talking about for the past few years. In late November, the Board and the SUV committee met in a half-day retreat to plan next steps. They approved a plan for how the church will decide on the sale of the north portion of the property.

That 5-step process is described here:

1. A small team—made up of 1 Board member, 1 member of the SUV team, and 1 staff member—identifies up to 10 potential developers who meet our basic requirements. Others outside of the small team may nominate some of these 10 as well.
2. The small team meets with prospective developers and winnows the list to no more than 5.
3. These 5 meet with representatives of the Board and SUV and submit written offers.
4. The Board and SUV review these offers and identify the top three finalist candidates, including their preferred number one candidate.
5. The Board brings these finalists before the Membership for a vote. Members vote on the sale of the north portion of our property to one of the candidates.

This process will get underway after the beginning of the new year.

No date has been set for a Membership vote.