Community Post

Madrona House Move Update: 1 Lost, Last 2 In Limbo

The saga continues for the classic Madrona homes displaced by the expansion of Epiphany School. Four homes were affected by the expansion, and one of more recent construction was not movable and was destroyed two weeks ago.

The deal fell through on this one, will be demolished Thursday

Old windows salvaged from the soon-to-be demolished house

One of the two houses in limbo, temp. placed on the schools basketball court

A second house, the brown one in the middle of the three along Denny Way, had a tentative buyer who planned to move the house to a spot in Leschi. But that deal has fallen through and it is now scheduled to be demolished on Thursday of this week. Today crews from Second Use Building Materials were working on that house, trying to salvage useable components such as the divided glass windows and old trim.

The other two houses are in a state of limbo, having been temporarily moved from their original sites to the school’s basketball courts on another part of the property. The plan to move them later in July is at risk due to opposition from several property owners along E. Howell, the narrow residential street that runs behind the Epiphany property. The width of the homes would require the temporary removal of several small trees in the city right-of-way and the pruning of much larger trees that hang over the street from a hillside greenbelt. 

The original plan to move the homes on Denny Way, a much larger arterial, wasn’t feasible due to the high cost of dealing with all of the bus trolley wires and other overhead communication and power transmission wiring that runs along that street.

Matt Neely, Epiphany’s Head of School, tells me that the prospective home buyers and Nickels Brothers House Movers has until the end of July to find a way to move the remaining two houses. If that can’t be done, the houses will be demolished.

The whole episode here raises an interesting question about the definition of environmentalism. The residents on Howell define it a very localized, personal way, not wanting to see a change to the leafy, shaded nature of their street. Others point to the hundreds of tons of materials will go to the landfill if the homes are destroyed, and the scores of trees in real forests that will be cut down to build new construction houses on the vacant lots that these homes would otherwise occupy if they could be moved.

Personally, I’m hoping they can work out a deal.

0 thoughts on “Madrona House Move Update: 1 Lost, Last 2 In Limbo

  1. the folks on E Howell seem like selfish babies w/ no concept of the big picture. i bet they have a prius though. the embodied energy in these houses and the ability to re-use them is a big deal. classic attitude of most people though – save the environment, but not if it inconviences me.

  2. sorry, no prius owners on that block, just folks that made a bad knee jerk decision.

  3. Going down Howell, seems like there are bushes and non-native invasive plants covering what would be a sidewalk? Or is it all parking strip?

    If it is covering a sidewalk, tha tis clearly illegal and the city can levy fines. If it’s the parking strip, it’s still city owned property and with invasive species, is a problem.

  4. Can someone explain what legal right these people have to prevent the pruning of trees that are on City property or City Right of Way?

  5. I don’t think everyone should be so quick to pat themselves on the back for being environmental stewards if these houses are saved. Older house use an enormous amount of fuel to heat and cool compared to new construction. New construction would require no trees to be cut. I am not speaking just of those that will be cut on Howell Street, there are 5 or more mature trees to be cut for just one of these house to be installed in it’s new location. With proper recycle methods that are currently used in home demolition much of the exisitng houses could be placed back into service.

    Secondly, although it appears selfish that the residents of Howell Street don’t want their trees cut it is equally selfish for the home movers/buyers to want to use Howell. If it isn’t economically feasible to move the houses down Denny perhaps they should have calculated this into their plans before getting started. Are they hoping for a governmental bailout if their finances don’t work out? I didn’t realize that our society was in the business of helping home developers finance their projects. Although there may appear to be no financial costs to cutting a few trees there arguably is great cost to the quality of life if we allow this type of action and then precedent to be set.

  6. I’ve met at least one of your “home developers” last week when the homes were moved to the playfield. A young family with children who were elated with the opportunity to save a “classic”.

    A home that is moved has to be renovated from within. The old lathe and plaster, cracked from the shifting, has to be replaced with drywall after new insulation, wiring, & plumbing installed. So you’re getting a new home at a fraction of the costs with less impact to the environment.

    Have you ever tried to remove old growth siding from a home with the intent to reuse? I did once, it was near impossible and not at all feasible, sad to say. Only a few items, doors, windows, some trim, appliances and the concrete foundation (ground up) are saved (the reality of proper recycle methods). The rest of the home (a majority by volume) goes to the dump.

  7. As a matter of fact I have dismantled houses in the past. Yes, it is difficult. I guess it depends where one’s priorities are or what qualifies as the greenest option; that is, if that is the highest criterion for consideration here. Somehow I think making money trumps green any day of the week.

    Right you are that one of the homes may be going to a family that is actually going to live in it and they are not developers. But I think we would be foolish to pigeon-hole all house movers as having such altruistic intent.

  8. These CD News posts and some of the comments still intimate that this is some trivial impact to a few small trees and a clean up of some overgrown greenbelt. Based on the info I have from poeple meeting with the City arborist office (that has to approve the permit to allow the “pruning” needed for the move), the tree canopy on Howell will be reduced by 65% to accommodate the move. That is not trivial – it is drastic. And the reality is the only reason that the move is being planned for Howell instead of Denny is $$. So the dilema as I see it is whether the homeowners on Howell should be expected to live with a drastic change to their street, or should the moving company and new homeowners be expected to cover the cost of the move down Denny w/o the large impact on Howell. I have to say, I think this should be Nickels Bros. and the new homeowners’ issue. It is unfair for the homeowners on Howell (or any other person) to bear what is in effect a permanent burden to save $$ for those who benefit directly from the move. For those that want to save the houses and the environment, how about raising some cash to cover the extra cost of moving the houses down Denny instead of Howell?

  9. New insullation, wiring and plumbing? Only if they are already dated or missing already.
    Lathe and plaster cracks from houses settling and is a pretty simple fix only complicated by someone trying to take advantage of someone.

    The houses I’ve seen moved required none of the above and one was actually moved with all the furnature present and even chandeliers still hanging inside. The houses move about 1 mph on a lift system that maintains a certain height even as it rolls over curbs. Moving a house is a big, expensive deal but still way more environmentally friendly than building a new one.

    The tree issue is a bigger concern considering we have Seattle City Light hiring Asplundh to decimate any tree anywhere near a wire in this city. The trees have it pretty tough already.

  10. Get your cameras and kegs ready folks! the biggest thing to move through Madrona is finally happening Sat night and it all starts at 7p! Thanks to all those who came to an agreement on this topic and we should all pledge to take extra special care of our howell street neighbors that agreed to the move.

  11. “The tree issue is a bigger concern considering we have Seattle City Light hiring Asplundh to decimate any tree anywhere near a wire in this city.”

    Yes, it’s much better to have trees catch on fire when they encounter a 26kv primary wire (which is the only thing they trim by).

    After all, that’s what nature intended.