Multi-unit housing invasion transforms single-family space; Urban village concept leaves some residents feeling squeezed

Change has already begun in the neighborhood. A four-story building sits on the corner of Queen Anne and Galer.
Just south of that development, at 1409, a newly completed six-story multi-family building towers over Queen Anne Avenue.
Plans are under way for three more multi-unit housing developments on the block. Six-story buildings will replace aging structures at 1405 Queen Anne Ave. N. and 1400 First Ave. W. A four-story structure will spring up at 1414 First Ave. W.
Single-family homes seem to be a dying breed in the neighborhood. Longtime residents watch as multi-unit buildings replace houses, and not everyone is happy with the change.
"When we bought these homes, this was a first class residential neighborhood," said Virginia Carpenter, who has lived in the same house for 55 years.
Neighbor Donna Moriarty isn't opposed to multi-family buildings, but worries about the side effects of concentrated development.
Increased traffic in an already congested area is a major concern. With Saint Anne School in close proximity, children are often crossing streets in the area.
"It's very tough to get across Queen Anne (Avenue) now and feel like you're going to make it," Moriarty said.
Carpenter pointed out that traffic already backs up three blocks on Queen Anne hill during rush hour. She, like Moriarty, worries about the impact that the influx of new residents will have on traffic volume.
St. Anne Parish Administrator Frank Handler wonders if the parking garages planned to be built below each of the developments will handle all of the additional automobiles.
"With high rises, parking needs to be thought out," Handler said. "Parking is already so scarce in this area."
Developers aren't oblivious to neighborhood concerns.
Jens Muller of Driscoll Architects, the firm designing the 1405 Queen Anne development, pointed out that the six-story building would only have 10 luxury units.
"We could have put in 30 units," Muller said. "We want to make something that everybody is happy with."
Rather than cut down the large beech tree at 1405 Queen Anne Ave., architects met with the city arborist and agreed to alter design plans to save the tree.
The change means sacrificing square footage and a portion of below grade parking, as the developer must work around the roots.
In exchange, the developer received a small variance that would allow them to construct the back of the building 8 feet from the property line rather than the required 10 feet. The back of the structure will face a wall of another multi-unit building.
Although the neighbors appreciate tree preservation, many remain unconvinced that development is a good thing. Some are upset by the scale of the buildings, saying that six-story structures obstruct views and shadow surrounding homes.
Carpenter, who has already found part of her view blocked by the building at 1409 Queen Anne, worries that the value of her house will depreciate. She is also concerned about construction, which inevitably brings noise, dust and traffic to the neighborhood.
Virginia Lucero, owner of the former bed and breakfast at 1405 Queen Anne, left the neighborhood due to new developments and traffic. When the 1409 building was under construction, Lucero closed the inn for a few weeks because of excessive noise and dirt.
Last August, she sold for good.
"I was pretty much the last one to sell on that part of Lee Street," Lucero said. "It became a very noisy corner. It didn't meet the criteria for a bed and breakfast anymore."
Although residents may be unable to escape the side effects of new developments and construction, they can have some say on what those developments will look like.
Muller said that the developer and architects received neighborhood feedback for the 1405 development, and that saving the tree was a key concern.
A presentation on the development will take place at a Queen Anne Community Council meeting sometime in July. Muller hopes to ease concerns about traffic at that time.
Many residents are feeling squeezed by the onslaught of development.
"There's a problem with the urban village concept," Carrier said. "The neighbors are feeling that it's too much. We've reached the saturation point."
Comments on any proposed development can be mailed to DCLU, 700 Fifth Ave., Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98104, or e-mailed to
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