Community Post

Tell the City Your Thoughts!

Hello Folks,

My name is Diedra and I am a proud resident of the Central District. By profession, I am a real estate agent. Personally, one of my greatest interests is vintage architecture. And so, I have dedicated the essence of my career to keeping the spirit of vintage architecture alive in our great city.

I am truly glad that this website is here to connect all of us that share this neighborhood. I have been wanting to involve myself more in the CDNews Community for some time now and here is how I’ve decided to do so:

Because I do spend a fair amount of time reviewing design proposals and sitting in on committee meetings for historic landmarks, design review, etc. I would like to bring you with me to the meetings. In other words, I would like to facilitate your comments and suggestions about relevant upcoming construction projects in our neighborhood and in others.

After reading everyone’s posts about the 26th and Cherry live/work lofts I realize we all agree that there is a certain integrity to old architecture that deserves to be fought for. Unfortunately, we are always made aware just a little to late. Instead of shaking our heads while the bulldozers doze, I’d like to give everyone a little “heads up” when relevant changes are brewing. Instead of summarizing my trip to these meetings after the fact, I’d like to give everyone the opportunity to coordinate with a willing messenger.

I’m tuned in to watch for new permits of all kinds. I will post as much information as I can and invite anyone to review and offer commentary. I will then collect the comments and present to the appropriate Seattle City authorities.

We can have a voice!

Please feel free to help me develop this. I welcome all comments and inquiries. I have every intention of posting every week. Also, if there are any properties that you would like me to further investigate the fate of, please let me know!

I will check these posts regularly. Please feel free to email me directly: [email protected]


0 thoughts on “Tell the City Your Thoughts!

  1. I too have a concern that the character of our neighborhoods, especially commercial streets, is preserved. The street scape of a Madison Valley or the Catfish corner and Dillatente buildings, may not be considered historic. But, if there were a way to incentivize keeping the lower floor facades as we inevitably go up, and maybe stepping back new construction of higher floors, I would be estatic.

    I think this is potentially also environmentally good as it is a reuse, and it keeps the character of a neighborhood alive.

    I realize these are not necessarily ‘old’ buildings, but even something 30 years old can be worth keeping….

  2. I couldn’t agree more! I am one of those people who was saddened by the demise of the Ballard Dennys, which was a great example of post-war commercial architecture, and just a fun building to look at. I think it showed the lack of imagination and creativity on the part of developers and by many people in the city at large: The same Seattle mentality that wanted the market torn down in the 60’s, or the Olympic Hotel butchered in the 70’s. We don’t do recent history well in Seattle.

    I can’t help but think that Portland would have handled that situation much better than we did.

  3. I totally agree! This might be a way to have the best of both worlds, the memory of the past and the needs of the new.

  4. Somewhere lost in this story are the community benefits to building high density construction, here’s the short list

    1) It creates jobs and increases the tax base
    2) It makes public transport more effiecient
    3) It creates housing
    4) It lowers crime by getting more eyes and bodies on the street

    I think it is a mistake to overlook these points and to be adverserial to devlopers and density. A very high percentage of the problems facing the CD could be partially solved by simply changing our attitudes towards developers whereby we invite them in willingly instead of fighting them

  5. My partner and I got in a debate about this just last night. While we both agree that development and density is a good thing in the abstract, my beef is that so much of the new stuff is anti-social: They build a four-plex (or whatever), and then surround the thing with a six foot high cedar fence, shutting themselves off from the neighborhood.

    And within these same townhouse developments, there is potential for trouble. People don’t always behave like the architects and sociologists would like. I’ve been to dozens of these places where there’s some common problem, but the neighbors don’t know each other, and don’t want to know each other, which just muddles things up even more. How you can live in such close proximity and not know your neighbors is beyond me, but I grew up in Iowa and, despite 25 year out here, am still occasionally puzzled by the Seattle passive-aggressive vibe.

    Once these places start to lose their shine, and people start with their inevitable territorial issues, I think that a good amount of them are going to become problematic. Particularly if people buy units to serve as rental properties, and are then absentee landlords. That’s a bad enough situation with a SFR on a separate lot, but in some of these townhouse developments, it could get really ugly.

    So I’m all for density. I’m just not sure if we’re packing right :-)

  6. I have no intentions to conflict the idea of development. What I aim to do is raise awareness and positive attitude towards positive development. New buildings CAN be beautiful. They can also be be incorporated to existing, vintage, unique, thoughtfully built structures already standing. They can be inspired by curves, materials, shapes, visions of the past. In my opinion, I haven’t seen too many buildings built in the last five years that I truly admire. Particularly when it comes to homes addressing higher density. Development is important, I agree. We do need to create more employment opportunities and affordable housing. But I don’t think that is the mainstream inspiration behind most new urban construction.

    I think that most new construction is cheap, shameful and depressing to look at or think about living in. I think it’s offensive for people to spend their hard earned money on a home that will not hold together well for a decade. I think it devalues the residents labor investment they make to put a roof over their head. And I do know that it doesn’t have to be like that. When I see thoughtfully built homes or when people expand from what was standing on the property before, it usually impresses me. If I see one more townhome with corrogated aluminum siding and twice as many bathrooms as bedrooms, I’m going to scream! If I see one more town home with all the nail gun holes holding together the cheap, baby pine molding called a craftsman I’m going to scream!

    I probably won’t scream. But what I will do is fire people up a bit more to fight back. This landscape is unacceptable for what I believe to be the most beautiful city. We deserve stoic architecture. There are architects with that capacity. We cannot permit investor buddies to find the cheapest spec design around to fill that hole between you and your neighbors house with as much as possible. I hope that in the coming months, I can urge the groups responsible for approving this stuff to think a little harder. And with help from the people in this great public forum I think we can have some weight.

    I have one more thing to add and then I’m done for this time around. I would like to see newer architecture be more concsious of the structures involvment with the public. I see less and less balconies, smaller windows, sharp and dark corners….these choices spell trouble. Just as city light guy had stated with the tall fences. Residents need to be given reasons to look and see what’s going on out in their ‘hood. Its an automatic crime watch!

    Thanks for reading.

  7. Most of the townhomes developed in the neighborhood do not have to go through design review. The size of the project is below the threshold above which design review is required. There are no meetings to go to. On the other hand, the City Council is considering changes to the Multifamily Land Use Code. Proposed changes might encourage better kinds of townhouse development, but there’s not much, if anything, in that which tries to provide an incentive for retaining existing homes on lots zoned for more intense multifamily development. The Squire Park Community Council suggested some possible incentives for that (see Also, see the proposals of CORA Northwest (Congress of Residential Architects) As the City Council works on these issues it’s important for it to hear from those who desire change. In the mean time, if the community wants to try to engage developers and builders in a conversation about the design of townhomes in the neighborhood (that is, if any new ones are being built), then the conversation needs to be directly with the developers and builders. DPD can’t require changes that are not required by the Land Use Code.