Roosevelt Development Group takes a new tack in Seattle

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Home Builder with Retired

Roosevelt Development Group takes a new tack

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The Roosevelt neighborhood and growth issues.

Roosevelt Development Group, aka RDG or HB Management, brought the Great City Organization to the Roosevelt neighborhood April 14, 2010, seemingly to enlist their help in convincing the populace of Roosevelt, the Seattle City Council and Mayor, and anyone else interested that the development wishes of one property owner should be more highly considered than the decade long work of the community as to how the urban village of Roosevelt will grow over the next 25 to 50 years.

Great City  is “a strategic urban advocacy group that believes smart and responsible urbanism is the solution to many of our social, economic, and environmental challenges” according to their website. Five or six members of that group along with about 15 residents of the Roosevelt neighborhood were in attendance. RDG presided with their architect, attorney and possibly their public relations firm on hand to answer questions. Ed Hewson and John Breiner opened the conversation showing some charts and graphs that conceivably demonstrated that if the area in question (the approximately 45 properties owned by Hugh Sisley, as well as several that RDG has purchased over the past two or three years) were to be developed with taller buildings, there would be more “public space” at ground level, more green space, more walk friendly areas. Along with the charts and graphs were some “foot prints” of tall buildings and of short building. The neighborhood has been asking for almost two years to be shown what the buildings would look like but so far, there have been no profiles of the proposed skyline in the urban village.

A concern was raised about the number of units, and therefore the number of  people, that would be added to a relatively small area of the village, and how that number compared to how the population would be affected by development to zoning changes as recommended by the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association. The architect gave a surprising answer. He seemed to say that the number of units in a 16 story building would be the same as the number of units in a 4 story building, because a taller building would be more slender and then talked about something in the Seattle Building Code called “floor area ratio.” I would guess that his answer would be true if sixteen story zoning were granted to the site, but the builder chose to build only four levels. But given what he said, the question was raised, “Why then would a builder build a more expensive taller building, when the same density and number of units could be achieved with a cheaper design?” The answer was as vague and unsatisfactory as the answer to the first question.  

Another big concern is that the RNA is considering disciplined growth in the entire area from 75th St down to Ravenna Blvd., from the I-5 Freeway to 15th Ave NE, and area of about 200 square blocks. The big push by RDG is to maximize expansion on approximately 5 blocks.

There are many residents of the area that a)Would like to see the derelict properties of the landowner torn down, and b)The property developed in a manner consistent with the carefully thought out Roosevelt Neighborhood Plan. RDG might be the best group to work with or there may be someone else. One thing the neighborhood is sure of, having experienced over 30 years of property abuse by the current landowner, there is no hope of working in a constructive manner with him. There is also no desire to see his interests sustained. He has resisted city and neighborhood efforts to clean up his holdings.  There is no reason to believe that once developed there would be a more harmonious bond between this person and those of us who reside in the area.

Roosevelt blight  Sisley property  Sisley blight 

For example, the homes in the pictures have been neglected for years. The entire block with the exception of a fruit stand on the corner has been vacated and fenced for almost two years now. The sight is an eyesore. It has been requested that all of these buildings be razed, but those requests have fallen on deaf ears. Our beautiful part of the city has to endure this landowner’s stubbornness and vindictiveness. 

Someday these properties will be developed, but in the interim, there is opportunity for community gardens, neighborhood events like block parties, and educational opportunities. Should the landowner to participate in something like that, it would be one small step in the right direction. No one expects it to happen.   

Fortunately, there are enough concerned residents of the Roosevelt urban village, that our grassroots effort to achieve growth in the area with the right buildings in the right places will prevail.  

Contact me to be put on a mailing list for more information on the proposed development, or just give me a call.

 

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Glenn Roberts
Retired

 

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