What began over five years ago is finally coming to past. Last week,the official groundbreaking of the new Slate Apartments & Lofts was held and a cornerstone was pressed and set. Finally, a neighborhood that always knew its potential is coming to life. What a long strange trip its been.
Back in 2007, the Interbay Neighborhood Association was created to take control of an area of Seattle that had long been ignored. Interbay was originally designated an industrial and manufacturing corridor. On the west side of the railroad tracks the Port of Seattle unloaded Nissan cars, and on the east side the majority of the land lay fallow and empty around the National Guard post. No matter how much the city and industrial supporters tried, manufacturers were not interested in Interbay and took their business to the Kent Valley or up to Everett which had less land restrictions and lower leases.
The residents, businesses and stakeholders grew tired of waiting for something to happen in Interbay, and frustrated with the obstructionist that kept the area dark and abandoned. Members of the Interbay Neighborhood Association knew that the area could keep its light industrial identity and also bring commercial improvements and housing together. The dream was to build a progressive and innovative community that would address Seattle’s goals for green construction that was supported by rapid ride bus service, bike paths, green zones, alternative energy and services. Some imagined Interbay as a neighborhood similar to Granville Island in Vancouver, BC — an industrial backdrop to a variety of exciting services. It seemed like an easy win to rezone Interbay so that this dream could become reality, but powerful lobbying groups and Mayor Nickels commitment to keep Interbay industrial blocked the rezone effort for years. A determined effort of leaders on Queen Anne and Magnolia stood behind the INA, and over time the City Council garnered enough votes to allow Interbay to move forward.
And then the economy tanked and the original stakeholders couldn’t acquire the funding to begin building apartments. Meanwhile, TRF purchased an area of Interbay on 15th Ave. W. with Whole Foods as its anchor tenant. This created a lot of interest in Interbay and investors began to see the possibilities of what could be.
The Freehold Group, the main landowner and visionaries of the area around Interbay/Dravus sold a portion of its properties to Unico, along with the proposed monorail site on 15th Ave. to Goodman Real Estate. Then things really began to happen. The closed Soundtrack Tavern and abandoned houses were demolished, storage sheds and empty warehouses were removed and excavation began in earnest. Unico’s plans to build Slate Apartments & Lofts generated a lot of excitement in the community with the Seattle Times writing a cover story of Interbay having the potential for being one of the most exciting new neighborhoods in Seattle.
Last week, key players in Slate Apartment & Lofts project gathered with the development as the backdrop. Speeches touched upon the long journey to get to this point and what the new apartments will bring to the area. Although the rain and wind howled the tent’s refuge for the ceremonies brought everyone together to share stories and excitement of what Interbay will become. The photos illustrate that what once was a dream is now becoming a reality.
Slate Apartments & Lofts will be completed in spring of 2013. Anyone wishing to learn more about the apartments can go to Unico’s site. The Interbay Neigborhood Association wants to thank everyone who advocated for the rezone effort and kept the dream alive.