Hello downtown friends and neighbors.
Recently we received our new appraised value for our home. According to King County, between 2015 and 2016 our unit has increased by 24%. Normally one would think that this is a reasonable increase; after all, there has been unparalleled demand for residential living units in downtown Seattle, and given the activity in our immediate downtown neighborhood this may make some intuitive sense.
However, on closer scrutiny, it can be argued that this is an unreasonable increase.
Our thinking goes like this; with two, five-hundred-foot building being proposed (and well along in the approval process) on Fifth Avenue and Stewart and Fifth Avenue and Virginia that are a mere 18 feet away from the eastside units' windows, our unit value has not increased--indeed it may even be worth less than it was one year ago. The same can be said of the homes at 1000 Madison Avenue and the east side of Olive Eight.
The Development Sub-Committee of the Urban Relations Committee at Escala and elsewhere downtown has been warning us all along that these unbridled and poorly designed developments will have a negative impact on the values of our homes. Indeed, alley separations, as currently being done in Seattle, are separated by the length of a parking stall! We have witnessed that units on the eastside of Escala have been on the market longer and are valued less than others in our building by virtue of these proposed ill-conceived developments.
Additionally, the 19th-century-designed alley on Escala's east side is proposed to carry the vehicular traffic (passenger cars, food deliveries, package and postal deliveries, emergency vehicle access and moving vans, etc.) of almost 1,000 apartment residents and hotel guests daily! Right now the alley is occluded more than 40% of the time during business hours--this will get worse by a startling order of magnitude.
Perhaps by ratcheting this concern up to the county level by pushing back on property tax increases, may get shed some light on this matter. Imagine if other downtown residents petitioned their questioned their assessed values based on the criteria mentioned above, maybe our concerns would be taken more seriously by the City of Seattle.
This argument is not about NIMBY ("not in my backyard"); nor is it about density as most of us invested in downtown because of the vibrancy that density brings. Instead, it is about access to air and light, the provision of privacy and the ability to enjoy reasonable access to the alley for all our neighbors--at Escala and future, downtown residential developments.
These two proposed developments near Escala are indeed welcome, but not in their current massing and in their proposed proximity to Escala's eastside. The designs proposed by the two developers of both buildings, need to be constantly called into question. If not, we will have to live with the consequences.
So, when you receive your updated evaluation consider appealing it.
Two Downtown Seattle Residents at Escala