Public comment meeting TONIGHT on potential Theodora redevelopment (LIVE COVERAGE; PHOTOS)

On Thursday, August 14, representatives from the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development will be collecting public comment on the land use application to redevelop the Theodora Apartments (6559 35th Avenue NE). The meeting is being held at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center (6535 Ravenna Avenue NE) from 7-8:30 PM.

Prior to the meeting, at 6:40 PM, the Theodora Rescue Committee and their supporters will be marching from the Theodora to the RECC.

Theodora_exterior1

Land Use Application information

The owners of the Theodora, the Volunteers of America (VOA), have agreed to sell the property to Goodman Real Estate, a private real estate developer. The apartment building is one of two buildings that the VOA owns in Western Washington and has been used as housing for low income elderly and disabled people. In redeveloping the Theodora and converting the building from low income senior housing, Goodman intends to:

“alter and change the use of existing two story, 62,937 sq. ft. 113 room congregate residence (The Theodora) to a 64 unit apartment building and to allow a 35,361 sq. ft. addition for new apartments (45 units) for a total of 109 units. Parking for 56 vehicles will be located below grade.”

Additionally, Goodman is seeking landmark status for the building. The Landmarks Preservation Board will be considering the nomination at their meeting on Wednesday, August 20, at 3:30 PM in the Seattle Municipal Tower (700 5th Avenue, 40th floor, Room 4060).

Theodora_exterior2

Additional information

Tenants With Disabilities Filing Suit Over Sale Of Seattle Apartment Building (KPLU, July 3, 2014)

Ravenna-Bryant Community Center information on Theodora sale and redevelopment (various posts from 2013-current)

Permit and Property Records and Documents for Project #3017233 (includes public comments already submitted)

***

We’ll be providing live coverage of the meeting below, starting just prior to 7 PM.

UPDATE (Friday, August 15): First, a few pictures from last night.

Theodora_comment_meeting1

Marchers from the Theodora Apartments arrive at Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center around 7 PM. The banner reads “GOODMAN REAL ESTATE BACK OFF OUR HOMES.”

Theodora_comment_meeting2

Peter Metzger, a member of the Theodora Rescue Committee, speaks at the public comment meeting. Metzger held up part of Goodman’s landscape plan, which includes the removal of trees on the present Theodora property. Then he held up the Seattle Times A section from Thursday (same day as the meeting) whose cover story was about Seattle’s dwindling tree canopy.

Theodora_comment_meeting3

Another speaker (this one with Real Change) takes his turn. In the background, Jerry Sudor (with the Department of Planning and Development) writes down parts of of all speaker’s comments. Carly Guillory (seated; also DPD) looks on.

Below are the notes that Sudor took during the public comment period (not in chronological order, however). Click on any of the images to view the larger, readable version. The full phrase on the last on the last sheet (partially blocked by a reporter’s shoulder) is, “Portland/Bellevue better keeping trees.”

Theodora_comments1 Theodora_comments2 Theodora_comments3 Theodora_comments4 Theodora_comments5 Theodora_comments6 Theodora_comments7

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20149:01 PM

Adjourned! Going to take pictures of the comments Jerry wrote up and add those to the post tomorrow morning.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20149:00 PM

Jerry wrapping up. Public comments can continue to be submitted.

Feedback on all this? An analysis will be written up, working with a SEPA checklist provided by the applicant. More notes get added if things are left off. Comments inform the review of this checklist. But this is down the road aways. Zoning analysis first, and it’s complicated. And if variants are requested, another public process begins (and is also an appealable issue).

Heard pretty loudly tonight that more people should have gotten assistance and didn’t. Will be looked into.

Planners caseloads are heavy, but everything gets looked at. Some projects take a while. The body of rules is huge.

Thank you all for coming tonight.

[Theodora folks starting up a song as they leave.]

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:54 PM

Member of the Theodora Rescue Committee. Been in other Goodman properties. Recognized Goodman reps and VOA folks her tonight (did not introduce themselves, and have since left). Finds herself profoundly disturbed by Goodman and VOA and their treatment of the tenants (misleading about timeline for moving out). Relocation assistance applied for by VOA quite after the face (many residents had already left by the time it was requested). Residents getting pushed out without adequate support.

DPD would need to grant an exception for some of the parts of the Goodman plan. This should now be allowed, considering the history of the developer, the VOA, and these tenants so far.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:49 PM

Another speaker. Homeless, Real Change vendor. You can get a lot of stuff when you’re homeless, but it’s hard to keep. And too much gets heavy. But I work hard. Can’t keep a spot, because panhandlers start to gather around. Safeway in U-District is cited as a spot where the drug users get more money than he does for his work.

Society should care more about our people. Used to be a longshoreman. Can’t do that work anymore, can’t pay to get injuries fixed. We need places like the Theodora.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:45 PM

Shelly Cohen, with Real Change. Used to work for the housing authority, now uses it himself.

From what I’ve heard, you (DPD) have some time because of the lawsuit to hold off on decision making. There’s also concern about following rules. Sounds like a government authority has the opportunity to stop or modify these plans, and allow these people to get the housing they have lost. The wait lists are unbelieveable right now. Go for these possibilities.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:42 PM

Speaker now is homeless herself. Is currently “living under a bush” a few blocks away. Walked into the RECC for another reason, and started listening to the speakers here. Was five years from retiring in her career when everything went sideways in her life and now she has not worked in 14 years. Looking through the other side of the window now. Understands the plight.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:37 PM

Oh hey, Roger Valdez. City does not keep track of when these covenants run out. Write to councilmembers, Senator Frockt, and work on changing this.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:33 PM

Susan of the Theodora Rescue Committee. Homeless herself (lost construction career after being injured when rear-ended by an insured motorist. Does not wish her experiences on anyone.

City spends money “cleaning up” homeless camps and destroying people’s only possessions, instead of spending this money on housing these people, supporting them.

Does not want to see the Theodora name given over for other reasons. These residents have given so much, and worked so hard, and deserve a place to be as they age.

I pack all my belongings on my back every night. I know what it’s like to try to sell a newspaper to people who don’t think you exist. Affordable housing is going extinct.

It is dangerous out there on those streets. I have been beaten, robbed, and raped out there. And how we’re putting seniors out there? We are worth more than a condominium. [Big applause here.]

We are your neighbors, we are human beings. Together we make a community. We can’t just throw away people. We need this place. So that the next people who have something go wrong in their lives, they have a safe, affordable place to live.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:26 PM

Next speaker worked for sheriff’s office, became disabled while on another job. Could not believe the state of things for the disabled, once he became one himself. Goodman plan is designed to make money off the property, do nothing for the people who need the place.

There’s a great tall housing authority building up on Beacon Hill. Great views, too. The city CAN make these decisions.

We can increase housing, we can support the disabled and the homeless. This property is important? Then make it big, make it better. Help these people.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:22 PM

Another speaker. Capitol Hill resident. Time and time again, city says save this type of housing, and then capitulates to developers in the end. How often does DPD fall for these tricks? Look between the lines, DPD. If it’s not Goodman, it’s another developer. Feels like the whole process needs to be shaken up. Communication between these groups is terrible. The process is terrible.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:17 PM

Resident of 34th, back of the Theodora block.

Concerns are parking, traffic, condition of the building.

109 units, parking spaces in the high 50s. Bryant Heights project has lower amount of parking.

Traffic flow on 34th. Entrance to a garage under buildings in the Bryant Project on 34th. And add to that any new Theodora residents…traffic.

Condition of the building. Bad. Needs upgrading.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:14 PM

Wedgwood resident who walks to the library with her 5 1/2yo twins. Family sees Debbie all the time, and ask questions like: What is it like to be blind? How can we help her? Speaker struggles with answering those questions, is not sure how to help, but did come tonight to speak.

Mentions Bryant Heights project (old Children’s Home property). MANY more people headed into the neighborhood. Has the developer taken this project next door into account? Trees also going down there.

Heart goes out to everyone in this room.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:10 PM

[Sounding like an argument for apodments with parking, keeping in mind other present housing grumbling points.]

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:09 PM

Next speaker (resident) thanking Carly for her correspondence about his comments and invitations to meetings and such.

Theodora started out in 1912-ish has a house for women, rebuilt in the mid-60s for low income seniors, veterans and the disabled. There is a need.

Building was designed to be efficient (small rooms, shared eating area). Interior needs to be upgraded, but the model is still good.

People aren’t planning for the future anymore. They’re planning for today.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:04 PM

Jonathan Grant, director of Tenant’s Union. Thanking those that came, including Councilmember Nick Licata and the Real Change contingent. Laws, rules and codes to make our city a good place to live. Debbie (blind resident from earlier) walks as far as NE 125th Street because she knows the area. Changing the building will make it hard for these folks to live in this community.

Goodman has violated code over and over. And has given different numbers out regarding affordability of the new units (also conflicting with numbers that VOA has supplied.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20148:00 PM

18 year Theodora resident. I live in a good place, a safe place. Anywhere else I would move to would be less safe.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:58 PM

72yo Lee Blackton. Disabled. Thinks Goodman’s plans are terrible. Citing the parking piece again (an SMC says one spot per unit, plan calls for less). Folks will have more than one car and will take up much street parking in the neighborhood.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:56 PM

Timothy Dowd, resident and on the rescue committee. Fair housing lawsuit filed in federal court. DPD shouldn’t make a decision before that piece is settled. Tree plan looks more like a logging operation.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:52 PM

Another speaker with the Tenants Union (president, I believe): Race and Social Justice initiatives being ignored here. Instead of making the problem of homelessness work, make it better.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:51 PM

Another speaker (identified self with a socialist group here tonight and a member of a local union): We live in a capitalist system, and you have no capitol, so you’re out. I’m strong and healthy, and I want to help people who aren’t. Boeing got $199 million back on their 2013 taxes. Government says they don’t have the money for more support. People deserve that benefit, not corporations.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:48 PM

Disabled vet speaking now. Lived there since the mid-2000s. We cannot let this happen. We are not statistics, we are human beings. We deserve support. This is taking such a toll, and we’ve paid enough.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:46 PM

Another: Housing is a human right.

[Crowd certainly pro-Theodora and passionate, but not ruckus or anything. May change if we see a pro-redevelopment speaker step up, but that hasn’t happened yet.]

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:42 PM

Another speaker: We need housing for real people. If you’re [said to DPD folks] not here to protect these people in this day and age, I don’t know what we’re doing.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:40 PM

Federal Way Real Change vender: The senior housing wait list is now longer than the Narrows Bridge! Losing more shouldn’t happen. Repeats refrain of misinformation spread by Goodman regarding change of status of the building and notification of public meetings being insufficient.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:37 PM

Peter Metzger just spoke. I was off taking pictures. One of his comments was about all the trees Goodman plans to take down in their plan (held up the plan). Then talked about the dwindling tree canopy in Seattle (held up the newspaper; tree canopy story was front page today, I believe).

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:32 PM

Denisha Powell, lives in Capitol Hill, wearing Tenants Union shirt. Picking out bits of the plan that are inadequate or misinformed the residents/neighborhood. Not enough parking was one.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:30 PM

Don. Used to live in Theodora (8 years), married, moved out. Community would lose if the Theodora left. We have enough wealthy people in Seattle as it is. Let’s help the homeless with this place. Can’t do that with Goodman and VOA.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:28 PM

Public comments begin.

Debbie Brewer speaking first. 27 year resident of the Theodora. Blind. Theodora would do better with someone else running it as low income housing. Serves a need in the neighborhood. Debbie knows the neighborhood well (has to!), and moving would be a hardship.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:25 PM

Jerry: Trigger issue for a lot of people seems to be the change of use for the inside of the building [from low income housing to private apartments).

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:24 PM

Jerry explaining how permitting works, in general. Show DPD plans, we issue the permit (for normal, smaller projects like home additions and such).

Application for new Theodora project would change the interior and add an addition. Project is big enough to require DPD to do more review of the plans and gather information on the impacts of the proposed plan.

Part of that information gathering phase for larger projects is to ask for public comments. Land use code says have a meeting, get comments. Review comments, make a decision (adverse impacts to be mitigated are such and such). Decisions can be appealed.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:20 PM

Tenants Union of WA State folks also here.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:19 PM

DPD guy: I’ve never had a meeting start with a song or chant before. (Jerry Suder, Carly Guillory are the two DPD reps here tonight – spellings fixed now)

Meeting happening because we (DPD) received a petition to have this meeting.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:16 PM

Lots of Jess Spear signs, “Save the Theodora” t-shirts, a few folks from Real Change (thought I saw the seller who’s usually outside the View Ridge PCC).

Song now, before the meeting starts, to the tune of “Yesterday.” Excerpt:

“Why we had to go, I don’t know, they wouldn’t say
They did something wrong now I sing against the VOA”

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:12 PM

Crew from KIRO has arrived as well, and the crowd size as at least doubled.

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:12 PM

Crowd that marched down from the Theodora has arrived (walked down the NE 65th Street sidewalk with chants and songs — “Hey hey, ho ho, GRE has got to go” was one.)

Rebecca Nelson August 14, 20147:04 PM

In the stage room now at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center. 22 other folks here so far, including a crew from KOMO 4.

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