Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) recently notified the public that they have filed for expansion plans on their main campus in Laurelhurst – Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection Project #3036201-LU. This is Phase 3 of their Major Institution Master Plan (MIMP) named the Copper Project.
Neighbors near Children’s along 45th Ave. NE and 44th Ave. NE between 45th St. NE and 50th St. NE will want to pay particular attention to Phase 3 plans. The additions will be highly visible on the northeast side of the Laurelhurst Children’s complex.
Some Key Elements of the MIMP’s Phase 3 Project
- Plans now show five phases instead of four, which were originally approved for the MIMP.
- A new surgery center called The Copper Surgery Pavilion is proposed at a height of 37 feet+ 15 feet for a mechanical penthouse along 44th Ave. NE with a service road in the setback area.
- One of the existing parking garages off Penny Drive will be demolished and three above-ground stories of parking will be added at the corner of NE 50th St. and 44th Ave NE for a total of 8 floors of parking. The project adds 500 parking spaces.
- An elevated sky bridge is proposed to connect the new parking garage with the Copper Surgery Pavilion at the eastern boundary.
- A drop off tunnel is planned in the new parking garage.
- The total amount of new development is 621,324 square feet of building and “moving dirt” in Phase 3. However, much of it is exempt from being counted in the 2.1 million campus limits because it is counted as parking, underground (below grade) location, or is rooftop mechanical, allowed on 40 percent of the roof, over the allowable height. So the height is 37 feet for the two new buildings, plus 15 feet for added height for mechanical, which totals 52 feet height visible along 44th Ave. NE and NE 50th St. but also very visible from many other nearby locations.
- Penny Drive, the main road entrance off Sand Point Way NE, will be changed to connect the campus with the new buildings with a drop off in front of the Surgery Pavilion. In addition, with a special “No Protest” agreement with the City of Seattle, a second left-turn lane will be built into Penny Lane to ease exiting congestion.
- Also the new temporary exit for the Ocean garage for the clinics, etc will be re-routed onto NE 45th Street from 2021-2024. SCH is planning to hire professional flaggers to help the exit the Seattle Children’s users onto this very busy street.
- A temporary construction road is planned to be built from Sand Point Way NE through NE 50th St. and 44th Ave NE.
- A paved permanent access road in the 75-foot mandatory buffer is planned along 44th Ave. NE and NE 50th St. with a hard surface turnaround.
While SCH posted the public comment deadline of August 26, 2020, the public was not able to see or hear about the plans until the SAC meeting on August 31, 2020. In its permit application on the SDCI website, the EIS addendum and Statement of Need, which contain valuable information for the analysis, were not accessible to the public to view. LCC requested the documents three times and the Applicant was notified by the City to fix the files for public access; unfortunately, the detailed analytical documents needed were not available to the public for more than three weeks after the signs were up to notify neighbors. LCC requested and received a 14-day extension to prepare comments, which are now due by September 9, 2020.
Important Details About the Project
Phase 3 is governed in accordance with the Seattle City Council Clerk File #308884, dated April 5th, 2010, and the Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) and SCH Settlement Agreement, recorded with the City on February 3, 2010. After the original expansion plans were denied by the Hearing Examiner, the Settlement Agreement was negotiated and agreed upon by both parties which allowed the hospital to add 2.1 million square feet of new buildings and parking for the duration of 20 years, (to 2030), in four phases.
In addition, to the physical development, the Seattle City Council bill includes a Transportation Management Plan (TMP) that established a requirement that SCH must meet before each phase of its development is approved, established the maximum single occupancy vehicles (SOV) allowed on campus, commuting goals, and regulates on-site and off-site parking to reduce the impacts on the surrounding, mostly residential, neighborhoods. The approved MIMP also established development standards, added a 75-foot setback around three sides of the SCH campus next to the neighbors’ homes, changed the existing allowable heights, required an increase in on-campus parking and authorized the demolition of the Laurelon condominiums for their new and taller buildings along NE 45th St .and Sand Point Way NE.
When the MIMP was approved, it also created the Standing Advisory Committee (the SAC), which reviews these plans and phases to add feedback and ensure compliance with the terms of the MIMP governing rules set by the City from the Hearing Examiner. Many Laurelhurst residents serve on this board to represent the whole neighborhood. The SAC meeting to review the Phase 3 was August 31, 2020, at which many details of Phase 3 were revealed.
LCC supports the mission of SCH to provide growth in its excellent pediatric health care. LCC also must review the proposed plans at each development phase to ensure that it is in compliance with the requirements governing both the Settlement Agreement and Major Institution Master Plan. LCC has submitted comments for SDCI to consider and will stay informed and active during the next steps of the process.
Make sure to email or send your comments
Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection
Attention: Public Resource Center
700 Fifth Ave, Suite 2000
P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA
Please include project #3036201-LU and your address in the comment letter for future notices. The deadline for public comment is September 9, 4:45 p.m. The city planner indicated that comments will also be considered after this date.