Community Post

City okays sprawling new Swedish development on 18th

The big decision we’ve been waiting on for almost two years has come to a conclusion, with the city deeming  Swedish’s expansion project a “minor amendment” to the hospital’s sixteen year old development plan.

Neighborhood groups had strongly pushed for the city to designate it a “major amendment” due to the very different uses in the proposed project compared to the original institutional plans. Neighbors felt that the original uses, such as a daycare center, would be low-impact on the surrounding single family neighborhood, and that the switch to offices would not be compatible with that original vision.

However, the city disagreed, deciding that while the uses on that block were different, the proposed uses were envisioned within the broader scope of the institutional plan, and than the relocation of those services did not meet the threshold for a major amendment. The full details of the city’s decision is included in the pdf file attached at left.

The Swedish expansion project will add 128,780 square feet of new medical and office space and 359 new parking spaces to the entire block on the east side of 18th Avenue, stretching from Cherry to Jefferson.

0 thoughts on “City okays sprawling new Swedish development on 18th

  1. As some of you may know, my wife was an inpatient at Swedish Cherry Hill late last year, and receives ongoing treatment there ( ).

    The care she received there has just been superb: the combination of skill and compassion shown by all the staff there is truly remarkable. It made a truly gripping stressful time that much bearable.

    We live near Group Health and are well aware of the impacts of major institutions. Just wanted you to know that your local institution is doing a great job.

    BTW: you can support us and them by supporting the Brain Cancer Walk:

  2. but there is a community of people who live here and a neighborhood there
    who probably support such good work but also actually live there in their homes. Would the idea of more accountability to the neighborhood regarding development really interfere with the good work? What if someone who wanted to do good work wanted to build an institution next door to your home? Maybe you would ask, “Why here and how can this be better?”

    This isn’t about the good work but more about the people who live in the neighborhood and have needs too.

  3. The hospital was there first. Density and development should be concentrated in areas like this. Part of living in a city is accepting that you’re going to have density and mixed use development near you. These kind of things have to go somewhere and development decisions should not be about who can make the most noise, or say in the case of the Children’s expansion, who can afford to file the most lawsuits.

  4. Joanna,

    Do you live on 19th? Between Cherry and Jefferson? I do. This means that I stand to be most affected by the Swedish expansion.

    And I support this development. Why?

    Because we live in, and love, this city, and I believe that this city is only as vital as the change that occurs within it. The Swedish development is an example of such necessary and beneficial change.

    Cities are vibrant, diverse, exciting, frustrating. Cities exhibit these traits because they are magnets for change. Swedish’s decision to develop this block is indicative of this characteristic of change; as such, I’m inclined to believe that this deveopment will bring vitality to our neighborhood. Sure, not the vitality that one would assign to a neigborhood institution like Tougo coffee; but vitality nonetheless. Vitality through economic development, vitality through the healthcare jobs generated, and, certainly not least, the vitality generated through the lives enriched and saved through this world-class medical institution (viz. Andrew Taylor’s testimony above).

    So, what I’m trying to say is that the same bankrupt rhetoric that seems to characterize our neighborhood — namely that of victimhood (Dixie Mitchell, anyone?) and knee-jerk reaction to change — need to be put to rest. Because these approaches have simply failed to provide tangible results for our community. Just as the city grows and changes, we as a neighborhood need to grow up, too.

  5. I decided quite some time ago that the “not in my backyard” push back or argument is not appropriate for world class hospitals. This will adversely impact a small group of people that live in that direct vicinity but is a huge gift for the community whole. This is great news.

  6. Over the last couple of years C.D. News has posted lots of good information that help shed some light on this complicated situation. It’s not a simple matter of development or no development.
    The City of Seattle has a process for approving the development of hospitals and universities in residential neighborhoods. The process allows for input from and discussion with neighbors and, ultimately, a decision by the City Council.
    The development master plan for the former Providence campus was adopted in 1994 and was set to expire in 2009. It was reasonable to expect that there would be a new planning process beginning in 2009. However, about the time that it might be expected that a new Master Plan process would begin, Swedish Medical Center (which now owns most of the Providence campus) and the Sabey Corporation (which owns about 40% of the campus) asked that the 1994 MIMP be continued beyond its 2009 expiration date and that the development of a new MIMP be postponed.
    In support of that request, Swedish represented that it simply needed more time to complete the development called for in the 1994 plan. Based on that representation, the Department of Planning and Development said “Requiring a new … Master Plan that would reassert the Hospital’s intention to develop in a manner already described in the existing Master Plan would be expensive and time-consuming for the Hospital, and would not benefit the City or the Hospital’s neighbors.”
    Fair enough. But, surprisingly, within a year Swedish and Sabey changed their request and put forward a proposed development far different from the “manner already described” in the 1994 Plan. The effect, if not the intent, is to take the planning for future development out of the process that allows extensive public comment and City Council approval.
    One could argue that the Major Institution Master Plan process in law that tries to balance the interesets of expanding hospitals with protections for the vitality of neighborhoods is too cumbersome for institutions. But that’s the process the City Counci adopted. While no one is arguing that Swedish should be prevented from further development many believe that Swedish should be required to submit to the Master Plan process.
    Yes, the process gives residents and other neighborhood stakeholders more opportunities to participate and influence the outcome, and it does requires City Council approval. If the current decision of DPD stands, then Swedish and Sabey will have been successful in a bold maneuver to avoid the process that, apparently, it fears would hamper its freedom to act.
    Finally, this is not simply a case of a “world class hospital” wanting to expand to meet its needs. The major reason that it’s necessary for Swedish to propose the more intense development on the residential block to the east of the hospital is the sale of a big share of its campus to a private developer, the Sabey Corporation. Sabey, and the tenants it has attracted now occupy much of the campus space which could have been used today for Swedish Medical Center expansion.
    For the greater good of society it’s reasonable for residential neighborhoods to accommodate hospital or university development that’s out-of-scale. But, is there the same argument to accommodate non-hospital developments such as Sabey’s taking place in residential zones instead of commercial zones where those uses are intended?

  7. There is a great deal of discussion about process here but so far no one is complaining about the actual plan. Given the existing size of the campus this is not a massive expansion but in reality relatively minor. As I look at it I can see much that actually benefits the neighborhood like more off street parking. The only thing that would come from a longer process would be a more expensive project not a better project.

  8. The city has an extensive process by which the Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) weighs whether proposals are in keeping or not in keeping with the existing Major Institution Master Plan. The CAC voted overwhelmingly that this constituted a Major Amendment based on the original proposals in the plan. The City’s assessment that this is a Minor Amendment renders the process meaningless. The low density and community-oriented programming that included a day care center, small inn, and other uses that the neighborhood as well as the institution would have benefited from that was envisioned in the original MIMP has been replaced with a high density COMMERCIAL medical office building with no community amenities. Let there be no misunderstanding. There is no “world class” medical research going on in this expansion. This is simply a commercial, business venture to improve Sabey’s bottomline. There is no resemblance between this proposal and the original MIMP. The CAC encouraged Sabey, who is driving the development, to undertake a new MIMP. This would have been a collaborative process of give and take and resulted in a longer term plan in place for the development of the campus. Sabey declined and instead pushed forward this proposal. It is hard to understand how DPD construed as a Minor amendment. I encourage the Squire Park Community Council to file a formal appeal.

  9. The devil is in the details, and you have less faith in the ability of developers and neighbors working together to produce a better result than I do. Given the existing scale of the residences in the neighborhood this is a significant expansion, not minor.
    (As for the parking, while the project includes a parking garage, there’s virtually no chance that the result will be fewer cars on neighborhood streets unless, somehow, people can be persuaded to choose pay for parking in a garage — or, even better, taking public transportation — instead of parking for free on the street. If the project included a real, enforced commitment by Swedish and Sabey to reduce the number of employees and tenants who commute by SOV then that would be a better project. But that’s more likely to come as the result of a planning process that involves some real give and take with neighbors.

  10. As said above, it is not about the quality of care at Swedish. This is not even about this particular building. What has happened is a precedent where the citizens have little or no recourse over, for example a developer under the cover of the institution, putting up a building with a truly noxious use or getting a contract rezone in such a way that literally incentivizes the nearby residents to sell their homes. That is the reality of Sabeyland in Tukwila — right in the flood plain.

    The process is created precisely so that the neighborhood can BE that diverse community that has these mixed uses and world class facilites. They SHOULD have done a new Master Plan. Neighborhood Plan and Institutional Master Plan updates done BY communities should not be negotiable (it is actually base don State Law) — even if there is NO CHANGE. It’s the mechanism by which we agree, as opposed to arguing over this or that particular building with all the attendent political shenanigans.

  11. My comments were not necessarily for or against the entire plan. First I am simply pointing out that good work is not the point for a neighborhood interests. Ideas that would grant any group doing good work free rein with development is not in the best interest of any neighborhood or community. There are many folks for whom I have much respect who have worked on these issues for years and possess many more details than I do. I am just attempting to wrap my head around why others would be against community involvement and empowerment in this issue. As a community I believe that we have proven to be as caring as any other.

    Squire Park is one of the oldest continuing residential areas of Seattle, maybe older than Leschi. Many of the original homes are older than the hospital and many about the same age. Some are newer, generally in locations where the older building no longer exists. The hospital was not there first.
    “The sisters purchased the property of J. J. Moss — four lots and a dwelling — for $5,000. The self-trained architect Mother Joseph (born Esther Pariseau) was known as “the Builder.” She traveled north from the order’s headquarters at Fort Vancouver to design and supervise construction of the three-story building that would serve Seattle’s growing population. The structure was succeeded by a larger hospital, designed by Donald McKay (b. 1841) in 1882.

    The hospital served 88 patients in the first 17 months and many more thereafter. The Sisters constructed a larger hospital at 17th Ave. and Jefferson St. in 1911, and the Federal Courthouse was later built on the 5th Avenue site.”

  12. I’m within three blocks of Swedish’s Cherry Hill Campus.

    It might not be much of a protest message but still a small act on neighbors’ parts to push back on Sabey-Swedish’s commercial design would be to request The City rezone your street for two-hours or less of parking, unless you are a resident. With this zoning, The City also provide residents a guess pass too. We have the zoning on our street now. It pushed the Swedish employees’ parking habits further out and gave us back the space to pull out of our driveways. Each day on my walks, I’m surprised that many near-by street still haven’t organized this zoning. Let Sabey-Swedish deal with it’s employees’ parking needs.

    I’m guessing the new garage will not fix this infrastructure pressure for my residential neighbors because the development will be largely commercial and so add vehicle occupancy to all our streets in addition to the already visible number. Also, consider that many Swedish employees and newly moved-in businesses will not want to pay for the monthly or daily cost to park in the garage and so, like rational humans, will seek less expensive or free options, i.e. street parking. I believe, like someone said above, the devil-is-in-the-details. Therefore in these infrastructure details you see peeping through Sabey-Swedish’s commercial attitude for a project granted the DPD institutional code and process.

    Why a little last ditch protest? I’m all for my neighbor, the hospital, growing and working to stay a vital institution. I like having Swedish near-by with it’s mix of employees in our neighborhood daily. I’m against their administrators, intentionally or not, circumventing the city’s planning process. This is an annoying discourtesy by a big, investment-rich commercial neighbor on it’s small, residential neighbors. That they don’t have to absorb the real expense for infrastructure and instead pass it onto our little residential streets is a daily reminder that residential neighbors accommodate Sabey-Swedish’s needs.

    The world will not come to an end with this go-ahead but the process that led to the project’s approval is, I repeat, annoying.

  13. I live on 19th between Cherry and Jefferson, and I side with those whom also support this project. There is some talk here about the process, but I honestly don’t see any serious problem with it. How hospitals operate has changed significantly even within past decade, and ultimately the neighboring community benefits with an increasd quality of patient care. This level of care in turn impacts the means in which the hospital must develop and expand. This project has been talked about for more than two years – enough already. I believe that they should be allowed to move forward.

  14. I find it facinating that as the organizer for the last four years of our annual night out picnic that I have NEVER met Larzipan or Brett. Wow!

    I have organized and knocked on every door of the homes here though and can honestly say that not one of my neighbors has ever told me that they support this project. Do you Lars or Brett by chance live in one of the two Sabey owned houses on the street?

    The issue is that while the hospital has a right to expand it does not have a right to deny the people in the community who are most affected an voice by deliberately circumventing the process.

  15. Hi, my name’s Robert, and I live at 1814 E Jefferson Street. When I purchased this place, the MIMP that was in place foretold of a gym, a childcare center, and an inn. Now, without meaningful citizen input, this expansion stands to devestate the value of my property and the standard of living I’ve come to expect here. Six of the eight windows in my home will stare into the back of that massive office. That includes the bedroom window on the top floor of my home, which will be shadowed by the enormous structure. My backyard will see a nice breeze exchanged for an eye-sore.

    The community negotiated for a transitional use in that location, and the DPD has deprived us of the benefit of that bargain, by a completely disingenuous ruling.

    I am saddened to see how many of you who are so quick to promote a massive corporate interest at your neighbor’s expense.

    I’m not done fighting yet, and I will be appealing the decision, and I encourage all of you interested to consider doing the same.

    See the following link for details on the decision, as well as the process for appeal :