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Petitioning the 61st and Phinney development

Some neighbors concerned about environmental and quality of life impacts of a proposed four-story mixed use building where Roosters, Daily Planet Antiques, Chef Liao and Phinney Ridge Cleaners now stand, are circulating petitions asking the city for a public hearing on the plan.

Organizers Roger Ball and Sandy Lemlich are saying the development is a bad idea, arguing in part:

A neighboring property, now a Zeeks Pizza, was a dry cleaner in a former life.  As far as we know, a site investigation was never conducted for the presence of perchloroethylene (PCE, or tetrachloroethylene), a solvent once commonly used by dry cleaners.  The proposed project is adjacent to this old dry cleaning site and includes the digging of a parking garage, a deep hole that may reach PCE containing ground water, and thus releasing PCE into the air.  This potential release of PCE into the air may endanger neighbors and anyone else around.  Therefore, it is requested that a study including collection and analysis of groundwater samples for the volatile compound, PCE, be conducted before the project is approved. 

What makes Phinney Ridge such a desirable place to live is its location near downtown and the zoo but also the amenities such as the restaurants and interesting stores like the ones that would be torn down to make way for this project.  The restaurants, Chef Liao and Roosters, an interesting store, The Daily Planet, and a currently operating dry cleaner, Phinney Ridge Cleaners, are all well loved businesses that help make Phinney Ridge a wonderful and convenient place to live.  What has happened with other condo developments in the area is that the ground floor retail areas are either empty or contain expensive and often under-patronized retail spaces.  This does not help the liveability of the neigborhood. 

The real estate climate has significantly changed since this project was first proposed. The sale of condominiums in the past year in this neighborhood has dropped significantly (-55.8% since November 2007; Seattle Times Real Estate Section, Sunday, December 14, 2008). Condo sales in adjoining areas were down by much higher percentages. Therefore it is likely that if this project is approved and goes forward, either the existing building with successful and interesting businesses will be torn down and the lot left vacant, or worse, the hole for the parking garage will be excavated and the project abandoned with a deep hole left for the neighbors to deal with, as is currently the case with several other projects of this type in North Seattle. Either alternative is unacceptable. Based on the above information, there is no need for the proposed project to be built in our neighborhood.

Expect to see fliers in the neighborhood encouraging people to visit the businesses to sign the petition. The orignal comment period was set to close 12/24, but was later extended to 1/7. Organizers are told it’s now been extended to 1/21.