Ballard residents John Duksta and Bruce Meyers are just two of many neighbors who are concerned about the new aPodment-styled apartment building being proposed on NW 58th St.
New microhousing development frustrates neighbors
Who’s going to live there? Where’s all the traffic going to go? Where are people going to park?
These are all concerns that are being brought up over a controversial new development at 1715 NW 58th St.
The building, which one could classify as an aPodment building, or microhousing, will have 43 one-bedroom units with shared kitchens for every eight or so units. No parking will be provided and there will be space for 12 bicycles. It will take the place of what was once a striking, old blue and pink single-family house.
Neighbors are shocked to see that what once housed a family will now house 43 people.
These aPodment-type developments have brought much controversy in the Capitol Hill, Eastlake and University District neighborhoods. Now, with a few similar projects landing in Ballard, neighbors are banding together to fight back.
“We’re going to end up with a mess in Ballard and it’s going to completely change the character of Ballard,” says Bruce Meyers, a neighbor of the project who hails from Arizona. “Who’s to say who’s gonna come and go in this space? I would say this neighborhood has been for generally quiet families.”
Meyers was in facilities planning in Arizona and has a degree in city planning, so he’s no stranger to city code. He said he found Seattle’s “lacking.”
Lately, he has been spearheading the movement against the 1715 project, which has culminated in an opposition-based website, www.stop1715.org.
Perhaps more than traffic, parking and the characters in the building, which elsewhere haven’t necessarily consisted of shady characters according to news reports, the No. 1 concern neighbors seem to have is the manner in which the project is being carried out.
If you ask Meyers, he’ll call it a “fly by night operation” in which the developer would swoop in to do a quick and dirty project. He and other neighbors believe that developers of aPodments, particularly of this project, are trying their hardest to find loopholes and abuse the land use code.
“These developers are going to find anyway they can to make a buck. … Frankly, I don’t think (the developer) cares about what happens,” Meyers said. “I just see the boom and bust we will have in Ballard is aPodments, and we’re going to have a glut of these things.”
With no design review and no public comment period, neighbors are not only offended, they are disillusioned about how much involvement they have.
“I’m really realistic that there’s very little that we can do (to stop this project,) but the objective is to make the Council aware that people are unhappy, and it’s spreading,” Meyers said. “I think some longtime councilmembers need to rethink how they interact with people, being glib with us and being unresponsive.”
In Ballard, the new aPodment scare has similar refrains to previous project booms such as condominiums and apartment high-rises. While this chapter is new, the story is the same: neighbors are concerned about the detrimental, irreversible changes these types of projects will have on the place they live.
“Nobody dreams of working hard, purchasing a house, just so they can live next to a dorm. This isn’t the American dream,” said David Torgerson, who has lived next door for a year. “We wouldn’t have purchased this place if we knew this was going to happen.”
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