Monday, September 25, 2017

Take "Safe Montlake Passage" Survey For Direct, Safe Route Through Neighborhood To Light Rail Not Included In UW Master Plan, And Other Proposed Nearby Large Developments

Laurelhurst resident Katherin Burk, has started "Safe Montlake Passage" to advocate for modification of the proposed UW E1 parking lot (the lot between the driving range and the stadium) development plans, included in the UW Master Plan, into a redesign to create a well lit bike/pedestrian path to create a direct route from the neighborhood directly to LINK Light Rail.

The Safe Montlake Passage proposal also includes a bus/rider drop off/turnaround, carpool drop-offs and designated parking spots for rideshare parking such as Car2go, ReachNow and others, for improved NE Seattle ridership on LINK.

Katherin invites the NE Seattle community to take her survey, which includes data about the specifics of commuting scenarios and experiences, which she will present to UW and Sound Transit decision makers to show the consistent and frequent use of the variety of daily NE Seattle residents who need a safe and easily accessible route to access the UW Link station. The survey will also reflect the number of residents who want to take LINK, but currently the limited access to the station is hindering their efforts.  

Katherin told the Laurelhurst Blog:
Imagine if you could safely ride or walk through the current E1 lot? What if there were rideshare (Car2Go, ReachNow) Parking and a turnaround for public buses and passenger drop offs? So many more commuters, residents and families would use LINK. 
Safe Montlake Passage is a campaign to advocate for modification of finalized development plans for the E1 parking lot at the UW.  Currently on the UW Master Plan illustrations there is a design of the proposed development, just west of Montlake Boulevard.  
When Montlake  traffic is backed up, which is frequently, there is no easy way to pick up or drop off riders at the UW station. Buses, carpools and rideshares are caught up in Montlake traffic, and, there is no Car2Go, Reach or other rideshare parking.  Further, there is no safe and well lit pedestrian/bike path through the E1 parking lot to safely reach LINK.
The finalized plans to develop the E1 parking lot that the UW published in July does nothing to address Montlake congestion or access to the UW Link station.  
The development of E1 seems like an opportune time to add a well lit path for all pedestrians/bicycles, a turnaround for buses and carpool drop offs and designated parking spots for rideshare (car2go, ReachNow, etc.) so that more NE Seattle riders can use the LINK. 


Safe Montlake Passage is not a proposal to add single rider car parking. This is a proposal to ask UW to amend their plans to allow buses and carpool drop offs, rideshare parking, and to develop well lit and safe pathways for pedestrians and bicycles through what is currently the E1 parking area.  
Please take the survey as soon as possible especially for those commuters who can provide personal experiences that make the case of how much this would effect and improve commuters and citizen experiences.

Karen told the Laurelhurst Blog that the sometimes uneven sidewalk on Montlake Boulevard is narrow and unsafe for pedestrians with the heavy vehicular traffic.  It is especially dangerous for bicyclicsts.  The lot gates are so wide a cyclist can barely go around. The bicycle route advertised to east campus is an unpaved, dirty, gravel road and dangerous. 

She said it is also twice the distance to walk that route rather than going through the E1 parking lot or other routes near the sports facilities. Going through the parking lot is a direct route from Laurelhurst and cuts back on commuter time.

The 2018 10-year UW Master Plan "identifies 86 potential development sites and the need to build 6 million net new gross square feet of building space on the Seattle campus during the life of the Campus Master Plan. The additional space will accommodate anticipated growth of students, staff and faculty of 15 percent between 2018 and 2028."

LCC commented in a recent letter to the City regarding the impacts on potential development near Laurelhurst saying:

The massive square footage expansion requested by the University in this proposed Master Plan, and the planned 20% increase of students, faculty and staff is monumental in scale.
It is a very aggressive plan to expand the University's footprint out from down to Boat Street, upzone the U District with tall buildings, and expand along Montlake Boulevard with building structures on the E-1 parking lots which border Laurelhurst.  In addition, there are plans to increase buildings along Mary Gates Memorial Drive. 
The CMP 2018 shows that Buildings E80, E81, E82 are planned to be doubled in height. These are student housing units that border the single family Laurelhurst neighborhood.  The sf residential heights are capped at 30 feet.  The CMP 2018 should not increase the heights to be compatible with the underlying zoning. Not only is the CMP requesting to double the height, but also build out in the green space that the student families heavily use.  LCC requests that the 65 foot heights not be allowed in this part of the campus, and retain a more family friendly setting for both the students and nearby neighborhoods.  


Other grown in the area includes:
  1. University District upzone upzone, which could increase building heights to up to 320 feet (32 stories), plus another 15' for mechanicals.  The affected area is the main University District core (15th  Avenue NE to the freeway and 41st to NE 50th Street) and potentially 240' buildings in other areas of the core area.
  2. University Village's proposal for a seven story garage, 65 foot high West Parking Garage in the parking lot directly near the Anthropologie store, on 25th Avenue NE where currently there is surface parking.  In addition, four buildings would be constructed in the northwest part of the shopping center, which would include approximately 100,000 sq. ft. of commercial space and 915 parking spaces provide within one of the structures. A portion of an existing building would be demolished.
  3. Union Bay Place NE developments , near Safeway, one already under construction
  4. Aegis Assisted Living development, where the old Baskin-Robbins was located
  5. Seattle Children's Hospital construction of Forest B, an 8 story building, to be located on the existing surface parking lot near the Emergency Room

For more information email SafeMontlakePassages@gmail.com, call 206-8494955 and check Twitter.

For more information about the 2018 Seattle Campus Master Plan (CMP) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) go here.














Tonight Center For Urban Horticulture Free Class On Keeping A Field Journal






















UW Botanic Gardens’ Center for Urban Horticulture (3501 NE 41st Street) is holding a class tonight called "Keeping a Field Journal: Tools, Techniques, and Tips" from 6:30-7:30pm.  

The information says:


Learn the basics of keeping a field journal from a certified natural science illustrator. This class will cover the basics of useful supplies to fundamental techniques for field journaling.  
It will also go over examples of layout design for field journals, how to prepare to draw in the field no matter what the conditions, and it will introduce you to a few great authors and illustrators who work in the natural science illustration field. Come prepared with your preferred pen and pencil to do some short drawing exercises.


Instructor Sage Stowell has a B.A. in Environmental Studies with a minor in wilderness studies from the University of Montana in Missoula. She developed an interest in natural science illustration during college while in a field-based learning program called Wilderness and Civilization. In June 2016, she completed a year-long certificate program in natural science illustration at the University of Washington. Sage is now in the Masters of Environmental Horticulture program at UW. 

Register online or call 206-685-8033.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Submit Comments Now On Proposed University Village Development, Details On Four Other Nearby Large Developments


The University Village has submitted a proposal for a seven story garage on 25th Avenue NE where currently there is surface parking. 

The
plan is to add a 65 foot high West Parking Garage in the parking lot directly near the Anthropologie store. 

In addition, four buildings would be constructed in the northwest part of the shopping center, which would include approximately 100,000 sq. ft. of commercial space and 915 parking spaces provide within one of the structures. A portion of an existing building would be demolished.

The final design has been submitted to the City for approval, under
Project 3025629 which states:

Land Use Application to allow five new retail buildings and one, seven-story garage building with retail and parking for 880 vehicles (University Village, Major Phased Development). Review includes 10,000 sq. ft. of demolition and the removal of 467 surface parking spaces.


On Monday at 8pm at the Good Shepherd Center (4649 Sunnyside Avenue NE Room #202) there will be a "Design Review Board Recommendation Meeting." 

Written comments on important site planning and design issues, which should be addressed in the design for this project, are accepted through Monday in preparation for the meeting.  

Comments can be sent to
PRC@seattle.gov or City of Seattle – SDCI – PRC, 700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000, PO Box 34019, Seattle, WA  98124-4019.

Susie Plummer, University Village Vice President and General Manager for the last 8 years, provided an overview of the
University Village expansion plans at the Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) December 2016 Board meeting.  

LCC provided this summary of that meeting: 
The primary entrance of the new parking garage would be off 25th Avenue NE, but also another will be off NE 49th Street. Almost all surface parking in the Village would be removed in this phase, except a few rows on the east side of the center.  And 100,000 sq feet of new retail/restaurant space would be added.   
Currently, the UVillage operates 480,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space, and are considering a "Lifestyle" Shopping Center, without large retail chains as anchors, and this new project would be 21% increase. 
LCC expressed concerns about the already gridlocked traffic that the area experiences from the back ups (especially eastbound) on the NE 45th Street Viaduct, and all the way from the Montlake Interchange.   
Plummer said Transpo, a professional transportation consultant, was hired to do a traffic study.  LCC requested a copy to analyze and collaborate to mitigate adverse traffic impacts.  
Plummer also suggested that more roadway signage could help in directing mall visitors to the parking lots. She is trying to work with neighboring businesses, the University of Washington and SDOT.
Plummer said that the commercial perimeter around the University Village is expected to add "about" 1200 residential units in the next 5 years, on Union Bay Place NE, with more to potentially come along 25th Avenue NE.   
Speed ramps (similar to the airport) and a couple of electric charging stations, although not legally required, are being considered.
Plummer provided history on the mall - Stuart Sloan has been the owner since 1994.  Some long-term shops: Mrs. Cooks (owned by a Laurelhurst neighbor) for 40 years and the Confectionary since 1959.  There are 36 locally owned businesses and 48 regional owners.  The Village is currently at 480,000 square feet.  There are 128 stores and restaurants.

Here are some of the drawings of the latest design proposal from a pedestrian’s point of view posted here.
Drawing of proposed University Village west garage from driveway
to Office Depot.
Walking south on 25th Avenue NE along the proposed
University Village west garage.
Street view of bus stop, micro retail, and pedestrian entrance to
the proposed University Village west garage.
Pedestrian passageway from 25th Avenue NE through the proposed
University Village west garage.
Car, bike, and pedestrian entrances to University Village at the
south end of the proposed west garage.
For more information about nearby developments on Union Bay Place NE, near Safeway, one already under construction, go here.

For information on the Aegis Assisted Living development, where the old Baskin-Robbins was, go here.

And for detail on the upcoming construction at Seattle Children's Hospital go here.


Owl Calls Heard Near Talaris And Rare Long-Eared Owl Spotted At Arboretum

A neighbor, living near Talaris, was awakened quite early in the morning recently to the sounds of calls of owls.

He wrote:

We were awakened on September 16 at 4:30am with lots of calls coming from the forest at Talaris. Turned out it was two Barred Owls. How cool is that?! 

To hear them go here for a recording that my wife and I agreed were the same calls we heard as I didn’t record the two Barred Owls.

Also here is a post from the Union Bay Watch Blog published by Larry Hubbell, long-time photographer and birder, about a long-eared owl, spotted at the Arboretum.  




The Lioness

Congratulations to Kelly Brenner, avid naturalist and author of the Metropolitan Field Guide. Once again, Kelly has located a species of owl rarely seen in the Arboretum. This week, with the assistance of some noisy jays, Kelly found this long-eared owl. The first and only one I have ever seen in the Arboretum!

Can you guess why the name, Leo, popped into my mind?

Last fall, Kelly found this great horned owl in the Arboretum. These two owl species may look superficially similar but they are actually quite different. The long-eared owls weigh less than a pound while great horned owls can weigh a number of pounds. My Sibley-Guide says, great horned owls weigh-in at just over three pounds, while All About Birds indicates they may weigh as much as five pounds.

In both species, the feathers on their heads are not ears or horns. If what I have read is correct long-eared owls have earholes located asymmetrically, on opposite sides of their heads. The off-kilter positioning enables then to pinpoint sounds with a high degree of accuracy. The great horned owls apparently have ear holes which are located relatively close to the same position on either side of their heads. You can read more and see photos related to owl ear research at, The International Owl Center.

Being a much smaller creature, Leo would make a nice snack for a great horned owl...

...and possibly a complete meal for one of our local barred owls. Barred owls weigh approximately fifty percent more than Leo.

This may explain why Leo looked and listened carefully at the source of every little sound.

It may also explain why Leo chose to roost deep within the branches of a western red cedar. This location insured that any significant predator would have to make a quite a racket if it tried to approach Leo.

Even with small children playing in the vicinity Leo still found time to relax.

Sometimes, both eyes were closed.

Sometimes, they were wide open...

...and sometimes, Leo got by with the sight from a single eye.

Occasionally, Leo fluffed up his feathers even though the weather was fairly warm. I am uncertain if this was done to retain heat inside the cooling shade of the cedar or if it was an attempt to look as impressive as possible.

The relative length of Leo's wings was a surprise to me. Did you notice the wingtips crossing below his (or her) tail. 

Dennis Paulson has mentioned that birds with relatively longer wings tend to migrate further than birds with shorter wings. The measurements in Sibley indicate that barred owls, which are not migratory, have wings twice as long as their overall body length. In turns out that great horned owls, which are also not migratory, have wings whose length also equals twice the measurement of their bodies. 

Long-eared owls, on the other hand, have wings which calculate out at 2.4 times their body length. Not surprisingly, the range maps for long-eared owls show that each year some of them breed north of the Canadian border and some winter as far south as Mexico.

There are number of different types of migratory behavior so it could be that the long-eared owls, which breed in Canada, may winter in Washington and those which breed in Washington may winter further south, and so on. It is also possible that the ones which breed in Canada may winter in Mexico. Their precise migratory process is still unknown. 

Even Birds of North America mentions that their migration is poorly understood. It also indicates that beyond being migratory long-eared owls are also nomadic, e.g. they go or stay depending on the food they find. It seems to me that if we want to co-exist with wild creatures we must, at a minimum, understand where they live and why. (Budding scientists, please take note!)

While reviewing long-eared owl information I learned that they are sexually dimorphic. This means that there are visible differences in the exterior of the male and female birds. This effort inspired me to take another look at this close up.

If a long-eared owl has dark vertical, facial markings which line up with the center of their eyes then the bird is female. If the dark marks line up with the inside of the eyes then Sibley indicates the bird is male. It appears to be time to rename Leo to Leona.

***********

Update - 5/27/17:

This week my friend, Dan Reiff, pointed out that I may have misunderstood the gender-specific, long-eared owl illustration in my guide book. I primarily use 'The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America' by David Allen Sibley. The fact that Mr. Sibley states, 'dark vertical stripe through eye' under the 'Adult Female' symbol and the fact that his male owl illustration locates the stripe slightly differently is apparently just a coincidence.

After researching a half a dozen different sources I can find only one other reference to gender-based differences in long-eared owls. In Peter Pyle's, 'Identification Guide to North American Birds' he states, '...females may average darker overall, with richer buff and more heavily streaked plumage than males, but differences are difficult to access without comparison.... Reliable sexing should be attempted only with experience and, even then, intermediates (up to 50%) are not reliably sexed...'

In defense of Mr. Sibley, his illustrations of both long-eared owls and short-eared owls show the females as being somewhat darker and richer in color. This appears to be consistent with, Mr. Pyle's comments. Mr. Pyle also provides a comment about the gender of short-eared owls which is nearly identical to his statement about the gender of long-eared owls. 

The bottom line is sexual dimorphism in long-eared owls is difficult at best and it is certainly not as simple as it appeared to me when originally studying my Sibley's guide. I suspect we will never know for sure whether our long-eared visitor was best named Leo or Leona. If you have a Sibley guide you might take a look and see what you think. My apologies for the confusion.

A special Thank You to Dan for his expertise and attention to detail. 


***********

The fact that Leona spent a complete day sitting in a cedar tree in the Arboretum does not indicate that she is lazy. Owls are nocturnal. They generally sleep during the day and hunt at night.

Sending the day sitting in the cedar does seem to indicate that Leona is not currently nesting and most likely not feeding or protecting young. I have not seen any sign of Leona in the days since her visit. I suspect she was just passing through. I am hoping that Leona enjoys good health and a long life as she continues her journey, migratory or nomadic.

By the way, the name Leo came from the first letter of each word in the term 'long-eared owl'. It also turns out that the name Leona means Lioness, hence the title of this week's post. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Give Input Now On Laurelhurst Community Center Programs And Hours

Cara, Recreation Coordinator for the Laurelhurst Community Center, invites the community to take a short survey, designed specifically for just the Laurelhurst Community Center, regarding operating hours and program offerings.

Cara said:  
Based on the 2017 City Council budget, the Community Centers current operating hours are Monday through Friday from 9-2pm.  We would like to know what operational hours and programs would best serve your family’s needs.  This is part of our on-going effort to align programs and operational services that meet the needs of the community. 

Laurelhurst Community Center hours are not in jeopardy. We are hoping to receive more hours in the future depending on the City budget and City Council decisions.  

The purpose of this survey is to reach out to our neighbors, users and community to find out “if” we were to be granted more operational hours and more staffing resources, how would the public like to see those hour/resources used.  Your feedback is important to us.

We do not want to send a perception that we are in fact being granted more hours by City Council, but rather a “what if” so that we can be prepared to make changes that the direct community wants to see.  
We are hoping this tool will help us in the future to modify our offerings in a way that makes the center and programs more accessible to our community and to more members of the community in terms of what programs we offer, when we are open, etc.  
We hope that we are serving the needs of families in our area, but would like to ask the public if there are gaps in our current program offerings that would appeal to them and fill any needs that are out there.  Things such as child care, more special events, preschool programs, teen programs, etc. 
There is a new budget cycle each year and we would one day like to be restored to a fully operational site with full time staff.  This may or may not happen with the 2018 budget cycle, but if more hours are granted we would like to have a strategy in place that the community has given input into.

Cara can be reached at Cara.Brown@seattle.gov  or by phone at 206-684-7529. 

North Seattle Women's Choir Seeking New Members




A neighbor would like to share with the community that  Emerald City Women’s Chorus, formerly Rain City Women’s Chorus, which collaborates with Music Center of the Northwest, is looking for new members to join the non-audition chorus. 

All practices are at the Wedgwood Community Church (8201 30th Avenue NE, Seattle) on Monday evenings and concerts are generally at other venues in North Seattle.

Sharon, choir coordinator sent this information:


This is an invitation to all women who would like to sing with a non-audition chorus, Emerald City Women’s Chorus, in North Seattle.   The chorus is looking to expand its membership to all women who want to sing for the joy of singing. 

The chorus meets on Monday nights from 7:30-9:30 pm during the school year, starting on Monday through December 4th, ending with a community concert. The cost is $117 for the Fall quarter.   
The choir sings a mix of genres, from show tunes to classical to folk and rock and roll, with the occasional song in a foreign language. 


Earlier this year, the founder and director of the Rain City Women's Chorus retired and the chorus disbanded after 34 years of providing women who love to sing an opportunity to come together to learn new music, make friends, and to share their passion for music with the Seattle community at quarterly concerts. Many of these chorus members wanted to continue singing together, so in collaboration with Music Center of the Northwest, the Emerald City Women’s Chorus was established.  Stacia Cumberland is the artistic director for the new chorus and Tom Hecker is the accompanist.

For more information contact Sharon Glein at (206) 525-7497. To register call Music Center of the Northwest at (206) 526-8443 or arrive before 7pm on Monday.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cars Not Allowed To Park Or Drive In Park Except For Designated Purposes

The Laurelhurst Blog has received many emails about cars driving in the Laurelhurst Park and feeling unsafe with kids and dogs running around.

One neighbor said:
On September 3rd, around 11am, a person parked their silver SUV (license plate starting with BEY) on the path and then proceeded to get their dog out to train off leash. He didn't move his car but kept it on the foot path.   
It was parked closest to the NE 48th Street side of the park, very close to where the stairs are down to the street.

It is insane to see a car driving around the perimeter of the park with many small children playing at the park. 



The pertaining Seattle Municipal codes says::
11.72.280 - Park.
                        
No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle in any park as defined in the Park Code (Ordinance 106615 ), [21] except in areas designated for such purposes.
(Ord. 108200 , § 2(11.72.280), 1979.)

This Morning Audubon Society Story Time This Morning

Nearby Seattle Audubon Society (8050 35th Avenue NE) is having a story time today for ages 2-5, from 10:30am-11:15am, in the Nature Shop. The cost is $2 per child.

Here is information:


Snowy Owl - Fledglings and Friends

Fledglings and Friends Story Time

Whooooooo loves OWLS? Seattle Audubon does! While many humans may not appreciate the shortening of daylight hours during fall, longer periods of darkness provides more time for nocturnal owl species to safely hunt for food. During this story time, your owlets will learn about what owls do during the day, how they hunt at night, and why their feathers are especially soft.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Talaris Property Update

The Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) recently published an update about the 17.8 acre Talaris campus (4000 NE 41st Street) in their newsletter.

The For Sale sign put up in May, was recently taken down.  LCC told the Laurelhurst Blog Staff that they don't have any additional information about status of the property. They contacted the broker who said they were "looking at the offers."

LCC Newsletter Article:

Talaris Land Use: Then Until Now...


Recently, the Laurelhurst Community Club, the City of Seattle, and 4000 Properties LLC, (the current owner of the Talaris site, the former Battelle Institute site), signed off on an agreement closing out a lawsuit about the property that had lingered without decision in King County Superior Court for almost four years. The dismissal agreement does not resolve any of the parties’ various claims and defenses. Instead it leaves them for future resolution, if necessary.  
The Battelle site has been a focus of community concern for over three decades. Originally permitted as an “institute for advanced study” under the Seattle Zoning Code, by the mid-1980s its conference and event venue business had become a source of neighborhood complaints related to traffic and parking. Responding to Battelle plans for expansion, LCC through its land use counsel, Peter Eglick, brought the community’s concerns to a legal proceeding before the Seattle Hearing Examiner in 1988.  
The outcome was a Hearing Examiner decision that called into question not only whether Battelle was entitled to expand, but also whether it could continue with some aspects of its existing operation. Battelle sued in King County Superior Court to overturn that decision. Ultimately, Battelle also entered into settlement negotiations with LCC and the City. The negotiations resulted in a 1991 “Settlement Agreement and Covenants Running With the Land.”  
The Agreement, recorded in the King County land records, applies to the site regardless of any change in ownership. It includes provisions regulating expansion of the current uses and buildings, barring control by major institutions such as the University of Washington or Children’s Hospital, and prescribes a specific landscaping plan and parameters for the site.  
Over the years since entry into the Settlement Agreement, LCC has monitored site activity and redevelopment plans and has occasionally been forced to take formal legal action. For example, a proposal two decades ago to convert and develop the site into a facility for Seattle Community Colleges, violating the Settlement Agreement, prompted a Club lawsuit.  
The community college plan was dropped, followed by withdrawal of lawsuit. LCC has also worked with site owners and potential developers for the site. More recently, renewed owner moves toward site redevelopment resulted in another round of negotiations between LCC and the owner. These were largely unsuccessful.  
At the same time, the owner asked the City Council to move on changes to the City’s single-family land use planning designation for the site. The Club opposed this change as unwarranted, and the City Council did not adopt it.  
In 2013, as knowledge spread of an owner plan to divide the site into over 80 lots for development, some community members became concerned about how that might effect the site’s building and landscape design, notable examples of work by prominent Seattle architects.  
A landmark nomination was submitted to the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board and by November 2013 the Battelle/Talaris’ exteriors of the existing buildings and site were designated as land marked status. A landmark designation is not an empty honor. Instead it can carry a significant regulatory punch through “controls and incentives” adopted by the Board after negotiations with the property owner.  
Therefore, in response to the designation, the 4000 Properties LLC owner sued the City challenging the designation and attacking the actions and fairness of the Board and the Seattle Landmarks Ordinance itself. In response, and to protect the integrity of the landmark process, LCC successfully moved to intervene in the lawsuit in December 2013.  
For three years, the lawsuit proceeded based on the position that the owner just needed a few more months to work out a possible sale or other deal concerning the property. LCC protested, pointing out that the owner had made the choice to file the lawsuit and could make the choice to withdraw it if it was interfering with plans for disposal of the site.  
After almost three years had passed, the court finally said no to yet another extension, telling the owner either to proceed with the lawsuit or withdraw it. The owner dropped the lawsuit with the understanding that he may re-bring its claims later. At that time, the owner also entered into a “neighborly agreement” concerning mowing the site lawn.   
For the first time in almost four years there is no pending litigation concerning the site. Meanwhile the Settlement Agreement and Covenants Running With the Land continue to apply.  
One more piece of the continuing Talaris site puzzle is still outstanding. Over the same period of years starting with the 2013 landmark designation of the site to the present, the volunteer Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board has granted the owner extension after extension of the time frame for agreeing to “controls and incentives” implementing the landmark designation. Another such extension was granted in early July.  
LCC continues to participate in this important city process. LCC also continues to monitor the situation as property “for sale” announcements come and go and proposed uses are floated.



The Laurelhurst Blog published this information in May:

The site,  built in 1967, was originally owned by Battelle Memorial Institute.  In 1997 Era Care Communities purchased the property for $6,125,000 and it was developed into Talaris Institute which focused on infant and early learning research of the brain. In 2000, Bruce Mc Caw under the name 4000 Property LLC of Bellevue, purchased the property for $15,630,000.   The county has assessed the property at $14 million. 

Pistol Creek Management, appears to manage the property and may be involved with ownership.  Bruce McCaw is referenced as Chairman Emeritus of Pistol Creek and Co-Chair of TalarisThe owner of Talaris listed on the City's Public Records is Greg Vik, with 4000 Property LLC, also associated with Pistol Creek.

Seattle Mansions Blog said that Bruce McCaw "is involved in large scale commercial real estate investments with his Pistol Creek Financial Company."


The property was originally sold with an underlying Settlement Agreement in which Battelle Neighbors and the Laurelhurst Community Club are partnered together with the land owners of the parcel.  The Settlement Agreement specifically states that major institutions can't operate within this property (no hospitals, colleges, etc).  And the Settlement Agreement has specific restrictions attached which specifies the use of the property to protect the quality of life in the adjacent neighborhood.

The property was designated with landmark status in November 2013, which dictates that specific controls define certain features of the landmark to be preserved and a Certificate of Approval process is needed for changes to those features. Some incentives and controls included in the City's ruling are zoning variances, building code exceptions, and financial incentives, which are protected, as stated on the City's Landmark and Designation website.

Last year, 4000 Property LLC was exploring several options including a planned residential development with townhomes and houses, as well as development of the entire site into a private school campus, Academy for Precision Learning School

The housing proposal, initially presented in January of 2015 included three options: 1) 37 houses with no removal of existing buildings  2) 63 housing units and remove existing Building G and 3) remove Building G and the lodge and add townhomes and 72 single-family homes. 

The Laurelhurst Community Club, has been involved with the site for over 30 years, working to ensure the property is well integrated with the neighborhood by closely monitoring proposed development.  LCC has also worked with current owners in lobbying for better property maintenance.

LCC's other priorities in partnering with the owners are maintaining open space, the eagle's habitat and valuable mature trees, supporting and enhancing property values and character of the entire Laurelhurst neighborhood and minimizing traffic impacts on all neighborhood streets and access points.

LCC issued this statement following the recent Seattle Times article about the property going on the market.

At Monday's LCC monthly Board Meeting the Talaris property was discussed.
The Seattle Times story  that was published yesterday was filled with many inaccuracies.
The Laurelhurst Community Club has had a long standing role in the development of the property since it became a unique" island" in the single family zoned neighborhood when the Battelle Research Institute began in the 1960's.
The original architects including Bill Bain Senior, and later , Bill Bain Junior (Founded NBBJ), and Richard Haag  (who built Gasworks Park) were visionaries for the site with overarching concept of providing a respite for the "think tank" scientists. The Battelle Research Institute was built with the purpose of an "Institute for Advanced Study", and the City of Seattle granted that special use permit for that purpose because it  was a small institution located within a single family residential neighborhood.
Governed by a legally binding "Settlement Agreement" that runs with the land, both LCC and Battelle were "good neighbors" throughout their occupancy, and access to the site was openly casual, without barricades as the architects has designed to meet the needs of the scientists within, and the neighbors from the outside. The Battelle owners maintained the landscaping at the site and shared in the maintenance of the median strip outside their entrances, as per the mutual agreement.
When Battelle vacated the site, numerous proposals were offered, and many did not materialize due to their own financial constraints.  LCC supported many of these new ideas and development plans.
Bruce McCaw and his immediate family bought the property in the early 2000's and the Talaris Institute was welcomed by LCC and neighbors-another good fit with mutual respect.
More recently, the Talaris Institute was dissolved, and the property was offered on the market for development for the past 4 years. . LCC has vetted a variety of uses, and only the 400 unit apartment complex was strongly opposed as it was not compatible with the underlying single family, nor Institute for Advanced Studies. That proposal would have completely destroyed the entire site, and LCC fought hard to prevent that development that was not context compatible.
The Seattle Landmark's Board then designated the exteriors of the buildings in late 2013.  In addition, the relationship of the buildings to each other and the garden as "landmarked" are also landmarked. This limits the development to uses that retain the buildings and the site configuration.
Other proposals such as single family connected housing was proposed by the owner, as was a school for autistic children called Academy for Precision Learning. LCC worked through each one in a constructive manner, and had not rejected either concept.
The owner, Bruce McCaw, now wants to completely dispose of the property from his real estate holdings and hired a big real estate broker, CBRE to list the property for sale.
LCC has heard from some sources that the price is around $30 million.
Another entity called the Orion Center For Integrative Medicine, a clinical research center, which specializes in integrative medicine support for cancer patients , expressed interest in buying the property. Bonnie McGregor, the founder and executive director, who is located currently at Talaris, spoke at the  Monday night LCC meeting with a positive reaction.
LCC maintains an open viewpoint and willingness to work with any, and all, proposals that respect the Landmarked status and underlying zoning, and the Settlement Agreement of the property, and provide the owner with compensation for his initial purchase, albeit the covenants were in place at that time which restrict development and its future value.


As mentioned in LCC's statement above, for decades, neighbors were free to stroll the grounds, until 2013, when Talaris suddenly put up "No Trespassing" signs and installed a four feet chain link fencing in 2013, as well putting up a main driveway barricade, fence on northwest side and a surveillance camera.  Neighbors were no longer allowed to use the large grassy meadow area where generations of kids practiced soccer and the past few years the grounds facing NE 41st Street are often neglected and grass not consistently mowed. 

A real estate agent told the Laurelhurst Blog Staff that, though there is residential development potential,  in speaking with a few investors they feel the project is too complicated and are not interested.

Bonnie McGregor, mentioned previously, who operates the Orion Center for Integrated Medicine at the Talaris campus, commented in the Seattle Times article:
...the property "is frequented by wildlife ranging from coyotes to ducks. Bonnie  often pulls into her parking spot and takes a minute to breathe in “the peace of this place” before starting work, she said. "There’s nothing else like it,” Bonnie said. “To lose it, to have it developed, I think would be a crime. It breaks my heart to think about that happening.”
Here is an article from The Registry and also the Puget Sound Business Journal.

For more information about Talaris go here.