Interbay Armory

Laura Loe
5 min readSep 26, 2019

When I decided to switch my focus to large land parcels on the light rail spine in Seattle, WA I somehow got interested in large land parcels everywhere. The Mercer Mega Block discussion sucked me in… and then came the Interbay Armory.

There are a whole bunch of folks who organize alongside me, inform my thinking, round out my knowledge. Armchair urbanists are a funny bunch.

We think we’re helping make the world a better place™

Sigh. And when you’re engaging in hypothetical, far off “what ifs” it seems really privileged when people are suffering right now.

September 25, 2019 Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee

AND YET! When you show up at the meetings for far-off land use decisions the people in the room are even more unlikely to be the people who would come up with creative solutions… in this case, maritime workers, Seattle Public School students, Native American leaders from Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, employees at Michaels, a new craft store next to the Armory.

I can’t speak for them, but I can relentlessly bring up that someone in charge needs to reach out to them. Share The Cities is trying really hard not to speak for anyone other than ourselves. It’s the tendency of urban planners and urbanists to not do meaningful grassroots work and to not see people without degrees as “experts.” But of course some of us have big dreams for big land parcels: Urban Agriculture! Passive House Intergenerational Co-ops! Ground Leases to keep Public Land in Public Hands.! And we know what we don’t want: We do not want air pollution from diesel trains, crumbling bridge infrastructure or failure to mention climate change in the analysis of best uses of land near billion dollar future light rail infrastructure.

Other people I organize with are skilled at looking at maps, charts, budgetary analysis, and liquefaction risks. There are also folks I support financially and organize alongside who have the lived experience to look intersectionally at land use in terms of race, class, disabilities, LGBTQIA, and they call me in when I have missed something.

I’m focused on destroying gate keeping, improving access by demystifying jargon, doing good old fashioned education, communicating values, digging into objections based on greed or fear, and coalition building.

I’m motivated by my anger when I think we are doing wasteful land use that will perpetuate past land use wrongs, whether it’s from a climate action or racial justice frame.

My interest in Interbay Armory began with this article in The Urbanist:

I was also inspired by the thoughtful words spoken at the May 8 meeting by Nancy Helm of 350 Seattle.

“Imagine these 25 acres as a dense, climate resilient, economically diverse, energy efficient community, home to 5,000 or more residents with shops, childcare facilities, and a huge park next door, because that’s what we’re gonna do with the golf course,” said Nancy Helm of the group 350 Seattle at the public meeting.”

“Some community members asked the committee to more aggressively court participation of minority populations in the long process, arguing that people of color in south Seattle should also benefit from development on the site, as should Native Americans who once relied on the estuaries long buried underneath the parking lots.”

At the May 8th meeting I stood up and asked that the consulting team reach out to indigenous folks in the Seattle region.

Below are three important resources every Seattleite should know about to learn more about whose land we are on:

Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee — Washington State Department of Commerce

“In 2018, under enacted SSB 6095, Section 1004 (10), the Department of Commerce was tasked by the Legislature to explore potential future uses of the Interbay Property located in Seattle’s Ballard-Interbay manufacturing industrial center that is currently used as a readiness center by the Washington National Guard (Guard).

The Governor and Legislature appointed members of the Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee to advise and help identify potential future uses of the state-owned site. Assuming the Guard is able to relocate, the Advisory Committee will help guide the redevelopment process with the goal of recommending a use that maximizes public benefit.”

Sept. 11, 2019 — Committee Meeting

Draft Meeting Minutes
Meeting Agenda
Meeting Presentation
Draft Interbay Findings Summary
Redevelopment Concepts Summary
Redevelopment Concepts Matrix
Industrial Residential Concept Analysis

Twitter Thread about September 25th Meeting:

Previous tweets about Interbay:

Please join me at the next & last meeting for the Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee — Washington State Department of Commerce:

October 1, 2019 — Open House

Nordic Museum
2655 NW Market St,
Seattle, WA 98107
6:00pm — 8:30pm

What is the expected outcome from this process?

The committee will provide a report to the legislature and the Office of the Governor with recommendations for each of these areas by Nov. 15, 2019.

The committee’s report will include recommendations regarding the structure, composition, and scope of authority of any subsequent state public development authority that may be established to implement the recommendations of the Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee.

Join us in the Share The Cites Slack Channel #interbayecodistrict.

Send an email to sharethecities@gmail.com with the subject “Interbay” to be added.

Ray Dubicki will be presenting about the Interbay Armory & Seattle’s Industrial Lands at the next Share The Cities meeting on September 28, 2019.

Stay tuned this Fall, UW students are working in a studio led by Associate Professor Rick Mohler to create proposals for the Interbay Armory & adjacent sites.

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Laura Loe

Laura Loe is a renter, an educator, a musician, and a gardener from Colombia/NY/LA/Chicago who has lived in Seattle for over 10 years.