The Seattle Children’s Home site in Queen Anne is for sale, and one potential buyer is looking to turn the space into 66 townhouses.
The Seattle Children’s Home is a mental-health treatment center for children. It has been in its Queen Anne location since 1884.
The townhouse plan comes from the developer Toll Brothers, a luxury-home builder developing in 19 states, according to its website. A representative for Toll Brothers said the company has a corporate policy to not comment on projects in the planning stages.
Seattle Children’s Home is currently operating out of its Queen Anne location. In 2012, the home became a part of Navos, a King County mental illness center. After its location is sold, it will move to the Ruth Dykeman Children’s Center in Burien to create a comprehensive care center for children from infancy to young adulthood and families, according to Alice Braverman, Navos vice-president of development and community relations.
“The merger of all three gives us the opportunity to increase our community presence,” she said.
Braverman hasn’t heard anything negative about the tentative development plans. She said she wants the community to know Navos is creating a “center of excellence” that will positively impact the community.
Kate Hoffman, marketing and communications manager for Navos, grew up in the Queen Anne neighborhood. “We want to do what’s best for these programs and kids,” she said. “We appreciate all of the input the community has.”
A ‘collision of plan, principles’
The property at 2142 10th Ave. W. has been for sale for the last few months. The 2.5-acre property is the single-largest piece of land available on Queen Anne right now, Ellen Monrad said.
Monrad, chair of the Queen Anne Community Council, said even though the council hasn’t formally met, its Land Use Review Committee (LURC) has met with the developers and has determined the current plan is not a good fit for the neighborhood.
The existing plan from Toll Brothers places 66 townhouses on the property, with three walkway streets running throughout the property.
The area is a residential neighborhood, with a mixture of single-family homes and small apartments and townhouses.
“It is zoned appropriately so it could increase the density,” Monrad said. “I don’t know if we’re opposed to the density so much as the design. I don’t think our neighborhood necessarily needs more density. I don’t think we need to cover every square inch.”
Queen Anne architect and LURC chair Martin Kaplan said the plan is very preliminary.
With this site, it is important to balance density with a project that is respectful to the community, Kaplan said. Kaplan said the current plan takes a “very suburban type of low-rise, multifamily development and tries to insert it into our more urban environment.
“There’s kind of a collision of plan and principles,” Kaplan said.
LURC has submitted two formal letters to the Seattle Department of Planning and Development to express its concerns about the existing plans for the site. The current design lacks imagination, leaves little open space and erases the existing amenities of the site, the letters stated.
“The developer’s plan is taking an Etch-a-Sketch and shaking it and saying, ‘We’ll start from scratch, even though there are a lot of existing amenities that should inspire some of the development,’” Kaplan said.
LURC’s power is persuasion, Kaplan said. The DPD and City of Seattle are interested in what it thinks of the project. Often, LURC presents developers with problems or ideas the agencies hadn’t considered.
Toll Brothers are going through the due diligence for the project, Kaplan said, and it seems willing to collaborate.
Erasing the existing amenities is one of the concerns of the group Future Queen Anne.
Terri Johnston lives on Ninth Avenue West, across from the property. She began walking door-to-door asking her neighbors if they knew about the development. As neighbors banded together, they created Future Queen Anne, a group focused on making sure the site is developed in the best way for the neighborhood. The group has grown to more than 80 members, with about 30 people crowding into Johnston’s home for the bimonthly meetings.
Johnston and neighbor Sandra Nanney are not against development; instead, their main concerns are the increased traffic, safety and the existing trees.
The goal of the group is to “step back and pause to make sure something isn’t developed there that is irreversible,” Johnston said.
Johnston wants the city to revisit the neighborhood plan.
The group acknowledges that someone will buy the site and develop there, but the members want it to be a thoughtful, community-based design. The site has a canopy of 100-year-old trees, Nanney said: “It’s a shame to think that they’re going to tear it all down.”
The group is also concerned about traffic implications. There are many kids who walk to Coe Elementary and McClure Middle school in the area, Nanney said: “Just thinking about the additional traffic that can come from this...it just feels there’s a lot more traffic impact in an area that’s already pretty congested to not have more thought [put into it].”
Nanney would like to see more four-way stops and crosswalks.
While the group isn’t concerned about density, the members want to maintain the uniqueness of the neighborhood, noting that it would be “out of character” to put “66 of anything” in the space.
“For me, it’s not about packing in a bunch of homes; it’s about packing in a bunch of one-size, cookie-cutter homes that says, ‘This is not what our neighborhood is about,’” Nanney said. “If I’d wanted big-box and cookie-cutter, I would have moved to Bellevue.”
There is no one answer, the group decided, but there are many ideas floating around, from a community garden to a high school to corporate campuses for Amazon or The Gates Foundation.
“We’d be remiss not to consider this for the public,” Nanney said. “Because you’re not going to get another piece of land this big on the hill.”
The group plans to follow the project throughout all of the stages of development.
“Part of why we chose the name Future Queen Anne is that things are changing, and change doesn’t have to be a bad thing,” Johnston said. “This is unique: This property, [it’s about] what happens to it and looking at the overarching future of Queen Anne.”
For more information about the Queen Anne Community Council, visit queenannecc.blogspot.com.
For more information about the Future Queen Anne group, visit www.futurequeenanne.com.
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