Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dilapidated And Fire Damaged Bike Shop With Recent Squatters Finally To Be Demolished Possibly This Week

appearance of squatters in side area of building

Ever since the Bicycle Center (4529 Sand Point Way NE) closed in September 2015, the building has become more and more dilapidated and covered with graffiti.

In May of this year, the City deemed the building a "Graffiti nuisance property"  and the graffiti was painted over in time to not receive any fines.

The owner signed a City graffiti waiver form, granting permission for Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) volunteers to abate graffiti on his property, which happened in June and again in August. 

Volunteers were allowed to paint over graffiti only up to ten feet, as the owner claimed First Amendment rights and declared any graffiti above that height as "art" and subject to First Amendment protections. 

Thus the owner is not required to remove the graffiti and the City has no authority to force the property owner to remove it from the upper portion of the building, as it is exempt from the City’s Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance.

In addition, the Laurelhurst Blog recently received many emails about what appears to be homeless living in the side shed area. The old wood panel that secured the area has been moved to the side to allow an opening for entry. Inside are several sleeping bags as well as a shopping cart filled with miscellaneous items and numerous other items all around the small space.  

Blog readers commented: 
Driving on Sand Point Way I thought I saw people inside a storage shed (or similar) to the left of the Bike Shop (connected to it, towards to the back of the building. That side structure had a big opening with what looked like a big plywood panel halfway covering it and you could peek inside.  
There is a “homeless” guy living in the shed next to the Bike Shop.  We have noticed that the boards on the front of the building have been moved.  This morning while sitting at the light I saw the shirtless young man come out and urinate on the side of the building.  There are 2 or 3 bikes in there also, I suspect they are stolen. 
The Laurelhurst Blog notified the City Department of Inspections who told the Blog that the City's Vacant Building Inspector was alerted as well as the owner to remove trespassers and have it secured.

On September 2 a demolition permit #6491039 was approved and issued which states: 

Demolition of the "Bicycle Center," 2 story building previously damaged by a fire. Building footprint is approximately 3000 sf. All utilities to be terminated and property to be left vacant until such time a new land use application for future development is submitted.
Last week, the City notified the Laurelhurst Blog that demolition is scheduled for later this week.

Yesterday, the Laurelhurst Blog contacted the owner of the building who said:

Thank you for your concern about the building.  I want this building down as much as all of the neighbors.
We have had a more difficult time getting the demo permit approved than anticipated.  It was issued last week.  The contractor is lined up and ready to go.  We’re waiting on a clean air permit to get started.  Optimistic it will happen this week.   We will get the side boarded up in the meantime.   
While generally the demolition would coincide with a development permit, it became clear that waiting to demo would not be a viable option at which point we escalated our efforts to obtain an independent demo permit.
We do not have a building design and use of the new building for the property  at this point.  We just want to remove the neighborhood nuisance. 

In 2005 the upstairs portion of the building sustained about $75,000 in damage in an arson fire allegedly started by an employee who wasn't paid. No repairs were ever done following the fire to the deck, siding or the two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, leaving it completely fire damaged.   The Laurelhurst Blog Staff also was told there is no running water or heat in the fire damaged building.

Three years ago, a volunteer group from University Presbyterian Churchpainted the neglected, visibly blackened smoke-damaged building a bright turquoise color and covered the broken windows with plastic, spray painted in bright green as well. 

A few weeks later, the plastic started to fall away from the windows and flap around in the wind, showing the broken windows and neglected upstairs area.

About 40 years ago, before the building housed the Bicycle Center, it was a pharmacy and soda fountain, popular with young children to stop by after school for a treat.

A long-time Laurelhurst neighbor told the Blog Staff:

Really old Laurelhurstians remember that place as Zopf's pharmacy, in the mid-60's complete with great soda fountain! Green River Sodas. Below is a picture I found on Ebay.

In August 2007 the owner submitted permit #6136600 to "demolish the existing commercial building and construct a 4 story mixed use building with 37 residential units and below grade parking for 49 vehicles. And in  April 2013 Permit #3007871 was submitted to "construct a 4 story mixed use building with 24 units" was submitted.

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