DRA SeattleComment

Downtown Development [5th & Virginia] Could Hit Roadblock from State Archaeologists

DRA SeattleComment
Downtown Development [5th & Virginia] Could Hit Roadblock from State Archaeologists

Downtown Development Could Hit Roadblock from State Archaeologists

By Kristen Drew, KOMO News, January 4, 2017

SEATTLE - State archaeologists are the latest roadblock for a major development in downtown Seattle.

The delay is welcome news for neighbors who've been fighting to change the development plans.

Developers want to turn a city block along 5th Avenue and Virginia Street into new apartments, a hotel and retail space. But, the proposals are concerning to some who live nearby.

"I'm hoping that the developer will see the light, you know, and realize this is not right," said John Sosnowy who lives in the nearby Escala, a 31-story luxury high-rise.

Behind the alley of the Escala is where the projects are being proposed.

"There's never been two, who you call glass wall high-rise residences that close across the alley from each other in Seattle," said Sosnowy. "You could walk all the alleys, all the streets in Seattle, you won't find a comparable situation."

Sosnowy is not opposed to new developments, he's just concerned about how the towers are being proposed.

He said the projects will create livability issues when it comes to traffic and lighting. He's also concerned some residents wouldn't get any sunlight at all after construction.

"Our analysis says that's going to be crazy. It's going to be unworkable," said Sosnowy. "It can't function this way. So all we're asking for is a design that will be functional and be healthy for everybody that's going to live here."

In one proposal, the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation is now recommending the city do an assessment in advance of construction, to figure out if there are historical remains on the site.

That's not unusual for downtown development but, if the city decides to take the recommendation, Sosnowy said it gives residents more time to focus on the key issues.

"We feel like the city got us in this predicament and we're going to fight to get an equitable resolution," he said.

At design meetings, proponents have said the project will deter crime in the area.

The city is still reviewing the projects and there's no timeline for when permits will be issued.