South Lake Union private park to be developed

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by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 10:33 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 2 at 11:17 PM

SEATTLE -- One of the last park spaces in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood is slated for development by Vulcan Real Estate.  The land, located along 9th Ave N between Denny Way and John St., is an interim use park and privately owned.

Two alternatives for the 2-acre site were presented to Seattle's Design Review Board Wednesday night.  Both include turning the land into large office or residential towers.

Right now, the land is a green space, with a popular basketball court included.

"This is probably the best place to play for free in the city," said basketball player and Amazon employee Raeder Smith.

Smith said he understands why a land owner would want to develop the property, but suggests there are few other parks in the glass and concrete canyon that has become South Lake Union.

"If we take this away, that's just one less spot down here that's like that," said Smith, "If anything, they should change what's down here instead of just developing it."

University of Washington Professor Jeff Hou doubts there is enough green space in South Lake Union to begin with.

"In a downtown environment, where it's dense and a lot of people work and life, it's important to have open space," said Hou, "If you look at the southern end (of South Lake Union) near the Denny Triangle, it's probably not enough."

The irony, Hou points out, is Vulcan Real Estate's owner, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, originally planned to turn most of South Lake Union into green space.

The controversial Seattle Commons were put to voters twice, and failed.

"Those communities are nevertheless being displaced because of new development coming in," said Hou of Seattle Commons opposition.

Vulcan Real Estate representatives at Wednesday's Design Review Board meeting declined to be interviewed.  Plans with the city are still in the preliminary stages.

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