Letter to the editor: Taller buildings on the way, but at least we can have a beer

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Dear Editor:

No matter how unapologetically obtuse the Planning Commissioners’ remarks may seem, Ms. Kier’s point that “It is not the image we want to have of our Town Center” is entirely consistent with the public record from 2006-07 when the Downtown Revitalization Plan was debated and approved. In fact, that plan, as originally proposed by both the Planning Commission and the City Council, did not allow development or re-development of any one-story building between 56th and 58th from 232nd south to 234th. Our current mayor was quoted as wanting 15 stories so he could see Lake Washington from his corner office.

Please see the King TV story concerning the relationship breakdown between the city and Mr. Taylor concerning his property, which is the subject of another recent MLTNEWS story. Another variety of obtuse behavior by city officials is the primary reason a city hall of at least 7 stories does not already stand where the Calvary Church still resides.

All of this is by way of context to understanding the latest “are you kidding” remark from our public officials. The bigger farce is that whether as volunteers or lowly paid elected officials, these people are making binding decisions on our behalf. Those decisions put in motion forces beyond our capacity, and apparently theirs, to control. I did not approve of tall buildings in downtown then and still don’t. Nonetheless more are on the way. Mr. Taylor’s asking price telegraphs his expectations for even taller buildings; the math doesn’t work otherwise.

It is, however, just as true that revitalization of some kind, like a well received brew pub, is more desirable to the downtown core than no revitalization. While we all wait for the dreams of our own local Politburo to come true we can at least have a beer.

Leonard French
Mountlake Terrace

3 COMMENTS

  1. Mr French:

    Please show us your math.    I get an asking price of just under $55/sq. ft.  for land with 7-story height capability, only a few blocks from a major transit center (soon with light rail) that will be very convenient to downtown Seattle, and within a couple of miles of two exits from Interstate 5.  It’s only about three or so miles from Lake Washington and only about five or so miles from the Sound.  It’s about three miles from Alderwood Mall and about 5 miles from Northgate Mall.

    By the time this property is developed, light rail will be in and all of the infrastructure planned for the area will likely be in, perhaps constructed concurrently.

    Ten years ago I paid about $22/sq. ft. for my small commercial MLT property.  

    Granted, there would have to be some massively deep pockets to build this.  But in Seattle there are a lot of people with massively deep pockets, and it doesn’t have to be a Seattle-based owner.  The City is revenue-starved and will certainly be helpful in the planning process, which makes it more attractive to a potential buyer.  Loaned funds are very cheap right now.

    This might not go for $9.95M but I don’t see the price as horribly outlandish.  I think the math works well enough under current Code.

  2. Yep, its $55/SF.  Everything else Mr. Kramer says is also true.  Light rail and, to accompany it. density is now destiny.  It also true that many folks were and still are against this greater density in the neighborhoods they call home. 
    Linda Snyder’s response to this latest flap succinctly captures a larger point regarding DownTown Revitalization.  That is the inexplicable aesthetic sensibilities of planning commissioners who find ugly a service business whose cachet is perfectly fitted to the greater density they prefer, but have no problem with an expanded mid-rise profile which enables that density.

  3. @len french 
    Actually, two commission members were quoted.  A minority although since the sentiments of the others weren’t mentioned in the news piece in question, I don’t know that other members do not feel the same way as those quoted.
    Yes, population density increases and there must be a place for those new residents to go.  Not everyone is happy with that; that fact of life has been made quite clear to all. 

    Perhaps in the near future attention will be turned to the possibility of a public/private partnership to develop a major piece of Town Center land and, at the same time, build a City Hall – a completely redesigned concept in which the City’s contribution is the municipal building and the developer’s contribution includes something that can be described as a Civic Center would be far less expensive on a per-square-foot basis, particularly if it were designed simultaneously and with shared costs in mind.  

    Seniors have a (heavily subsidized) gathering place now.  A large Town Center development could reasonably include a gathering place for those demanding a Civic Center be built.  As developers take interest in a new opportunity, opportunities arise for the City as well.  Perhaps, just maybe, this time it won’t require decades of bond payments.

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