Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Seattle GYM, Formerly ProRobics Closing Soon

Current Picture

The Seattle GYM, formerly Pro Robics, (3811 NE 45th Street) is closing at the end of the month.

The owners sent out this letter:
It is with great sadness and disappointment that we write to inform you the SeattleGYM at Laurelhurst will be closing May 31st. 
As property development and interest in the Laurelhurst neighborhood has expanded and changed, we have been unable to reach a new, long-term secure lease that would also provide options for much needed facility upgrades and improvements that we know you are all aware of. Without this security we cannot achieve our vision of the quality facility and customer service we want to allow us to provide into the future. 
While we understand not all businesses are meant to go on for a lifetime it is still a very difficult decision and we are having a difficult time accepting this development. 
We will continue to operate as usual at LH to the best of our ability through the month of May, including our GX classes as scheduled. We are also dedicated to helping our valued staff members, personal trainers and instructors during this change. 
We are committed to helping our membership community during this transition and have in place procedures for members to request cancellations and/or credit options toward the SeattleGYM at Queen Anne. 
As you continue in your pursuit of improved fitness and healthy lifestyle we hope you will consider continuing with us on Queen Anne Hill. The Queen Anne Club remains in operation with expanded facilities and new adjusted GX schedule to continue providing many of your favorite classes. We hope you will join us. 
We know you will have many questions and we hope they can be answered here.  
We want to sincerely thank you for 30 years of collective community support and inspiration. It has been so gratifying having so many long-term members and 2nd generation members at the GYM; we hope to continue seeing you, our Laurelhurst family, at Queen Anne. 
So from all our staff and instructors, it has been our privilege to serve each of you over the years and we sincerely regret any inconvenience we cause with this closure. We truly thank you for your loyalty and continued patronage over the years. 
Mark & Kari

A neighbor commented to the Laurelhurst Blog:
The closing of the Seattle Gym is sad due to it’s long history in the neighborhood and provision of services to the community. The reason is inability to be able to attain a suitable new lease.   
That is probably, at least in part, to length not being long enough which would be due to plans for property development. 
This and some of the apartment buildings to the east on NE 45th Street were formerly owned by same owner as the Talaris  property.  It may have since been acquired by Quadrant. 
Potential for impact on the Laurelhurst is obvious. 
Thanks very much for all the information you publish.

The building was built in 1948, and appears to be owned by Craig Mc Caw, who also owns Talaris. 

Property records show the owner as "AEROBICS BUILDING LLC" with a Bellevue Post Office Box, which shows as linked to McCaw's 13 other companies, including Pistol Creek, associated with Talaris. 

Bruce McCaw is referenced as Chairman Emeritus of Pistol Creek and Co-Chair of Talaris. Seattle Mansions Blog said that Bruce McCaw "is involved in large scale commercial real estate investments with his Pistol Creek Financial Company."  Several years ago, the Laurelhurst Blog received a curious email from a Pistol Creek Employee sending it under an alias.

The Talaris Research Institute also shows the same Post Office Box on its website.

The 17.8 acre Talaris campus (4000 NE 41st Street) was sold to Quadrant Homes in 2018, who proposes to build 68 single-family homes on large lots that could sell for about $2 million each, according to an article in the Seattle Times and Daily Journal of Commerce.

The Application for a Master Use Permit (MUP) filed by Bellevue-based Quadrant Homes is for a subdivision of the site into 68 parcels of single-family home sites of 5,000-square-foot each and six larger tracts. Only five of the seven existing landmark buildings would remain. The two buildings that would be demolished would be Building G, the cascading building nearest to NE 41st Street, and the Lodge Building E, at the end of the eastern driveway.

The underlying zoning is for either an institute for advanced study, or single family homes with a 5,000 square foot lot.

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 it qA 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 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.

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.

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