To give you a little background, my husband and I lived prudently and saved all of our married lives so we could some day live in a nice place like Escala. We moved downtown 3 yrs. ago to get out of our cars and retire peacefully in a walkable community. All heck broke loose early in 2015 when we first learned about the proposed Douglaston development right across the alley from our Escala condominium. At first, none of us thought this was possible. We had bought in Belltown and expected Belltown DMC zoning with 80’ tower spacing.
When we did our pre-closing neighborhood walk, we walked across 5th Ave by the Westin Hotel and looked up at Escala, and saw a solid wall of glass windows facing the alley, which confirmed to us that there’s no way the City would have granted a permit to build Escala if it were possible to build a 500’ tower right across an 18’ alley from it. That would be a terrible DPD decision. But it was possible, and they did, because we have since learned to our surprise and chagrin that we were located in the only 2-½ blocks of Belltown zoned DOC2 with no residential development standards.
Several persons have asked a good question that I’d like to answer. The question was “If Escala was built right on the alley, why shouldn’t Douglaston be able to build on the alley, too? A good question, and here’s the answer. “We did not build on the alley. None of us were around when Escala was built. The Las Vegas developer that built Escala proposed to build on the alley, and the City let him do it, which the City should not have done, given the situation. The DRB with the consent of the DPD created this problem and now they need to fix it. They have the tools and the responsibility to fix it [Belltown Design Guideline B2.3 and SMC 25.05.675.G] now; so please do your duty! We won’t get a do-over once these towers go up.
-LaGayle Sosnowy, Downtown Resident