Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Comment Now On Proposed Talaris Development Of 65 Homes Through October 24th

The public comment period is open to submit input on the proposed Talaris redevelopment.  through October 24. Commenjts can be sent to PRC@seattle.gov, referencing Master Permit 3030811.  

Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections has installed an information board on the Talaris site.

The Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) recently published this information in their newsletter:

Based in part on recommendations from the architect commissioned several years ago to assess the Talaris property, LCC guidelines for any development are: Maintain and retain open space, landscaping, and existing tree canopy   as well as the character of the site; Protect, enhance, and preserve wetlands;  Remove cyclone fencing around the property; Create a welcoming environment for neighbors; Protect the eagles’ nest ; Respect landmark designation of landscaping and buildings; Install native plants to replace invasive species, especially native plants that provide food and/or cover for native fauna species;  Establish a governance and maintenance management plan for the   property, including the use planned for both existing and new buildings; Identify uses of non-residential buildings that are landmarked; Control traffic impacts of new development including any changes to egress; Install sidewalk along NE 41st Street boundary according to city standards (the city required this in the last proposal); Inform buyers that this property is a designated earthquake    liquefaction zone, plan buildings accordingly, and prepare for the   eventuality of an earthquake and its impact on the sewer system; Work closely with LCC as plans move forward With the property’s landmark designation for buildings and landscape, it remains uncertain how plans currently proposed by Quadrant Homes will pan out. Any walk through the grounds illustrates that preserving the integrity of the natural setting and building 65 homes are two very different objectives.

The LCC September newsletter said:
Talaris Proposals Still in the Works

The Talaris property at 4000 NE 41st Street continues to have complex issues and various development proposals in process. In early August, Quadrant Homes informed LCC that it filed for a MUP (Master Use Permit) with the City of Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection. It is project #3030811 and includes plans for demolishing some existing landmarked buildings in order to build 64 single-family homes. However, they failed to initiate their Certificate of Approval, which is needed first from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods because of its jurisdiction over the Seattle landmark preservation process. Quadrant has stated that they will begin that as well. The current underlying zoning of this parcel is for single-family residences with 5,000 square-foot lots. Quadrant has presented their design concepts to the Seattle Landmark Preservation Board Architectural Review Committee several times. The Board has requested full landscaping and topography plans prior granting any approvals for development or building demolitions. A private school, which could potentially develop and use the existing buildings, has also contacted LCC. Any development will need to preserve building exteriors and landscape in accordance with guidelines of the Landmark Preservation Board. 

The 17.8 acre Talaris campus (4000 NE 41st Street) was reportedly sold to Quadrant Homes in January, which proposes to build 63 single-family homes on large lots that could sell for about $2 million each, according to a recent article in the Seattle Times and Daily Journal of Commerce.

The plan would keep some of the existing buildings and park space, including the existing conference center and four other buildings, and two ponds. Two other small buildings, including Building G, housing a lodge, would be demolished.

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 and sold in 2000 for $15.6 million.

The property, when sold several decades ago, included an underlying Settlement Agreement in which Battelle Neighbors and the Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) 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.

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 barricadefence 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. 

The Laurelhurst Community Club, has been involved with the site forover 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 maintainingopen 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.

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