LETTER: ‘No Apartment Buildings in Burien Town Square’
To the Editor of the B-Town Blog
NO APARTMENT BUILDINGS IN BURIEN TOWN SQUARE
“The community’s vision for downtown is an attractive, clean, safe and vibrant place that is welcoming to people of all ages. A friendly place where you can walk between the good mix of shops. Downtown will have a special look, created by a cohesive physical theme and design guidelines that emphasize quality, permanence, individuality and uniqueness within the overall urban fabric. Overall, downtown Burien will be a destination-the comfortable and welcoming, fun and lively heart of a great small town.”
This is taken from the Burien Comprehensive Plan and Section 19 of the Burien Zoning Code. It calls for townhouses and condos. I do not think that moderate to low value apartment buildings fit this vision or code. Yet this is what the City Council and the City Staff are working on behind closed doors to put in our Town Square. First we were told that a developer had come to the city and made an offer on the lots and that was why the Council was voting to buy the lots back and resell to this developer. The Council voted to buy the lots back and the current landowner threatened to sue.
Now we are being told that the city may agree to let the current owner keep the lots and change what can be built on them. Again the plan seems to be moderate to low grade apartments with no shops or businesses below them. Burien has thousands of apartment units just like this right now.
Apartments bring transient populations, higher crime rates and lots more children that put added stress on the school district. Apartment dwellers come and go quickly and have no sense of permanence because they do not own the property. Apartments tend to have inadequate park and recreational space for residents. If these apartments are allowed to be built in Town Square, our Town Square Park will become the overflow park for the apartment dwellers and will quickly run down from over use. This kind of development is not quality, unique or special. It is just another ghetto space. I and a number of Burien realtors feel that this will devalue the land in Town Square and spell the doom of Town Square as a quality, special and unique district of the city.
Currently Burien has more than its share of these low value apartments and there are lots of vacancies. I am asking that the City Council not allow these apartments with no shops below to be built. Burien needs to stick to the standards, vision and ordinances that were originally developed for Town Square, and the Council members need to follow the Comprehensive Plan. There are many great uses that can be built on those lots that WILL bring economic development to Burien. Citizens asked that condos and quality businesses be put on this Town Square land.
Now the Burien City Manager/ Mike Martin and the City Council are trying to ignore the City’s Comprehensive Plan and sell off our vision for apartments. Burien citizens need to speak out against this and protect the future quality of Town Square.
The Comprehensive Plan-pages 2-46 to 2-59 states that, ”The City should encourage and support locating distinctive, quality developments within the downtown area that are consistent with the character established by this comprehensive plan.” The city staff needs to get to work and accomplish this vision and not try to get us to settle for less.
In my opinion the Burien Downtown Comprehensive Plan Vision for 2020 is the best “Vision” the city has ever had. If you would like to read it (link here), scroll to bottom of page and select chapter and select chapter 2, “Plan Policies” of the Comprehensive plan. Go to pages 2-46 to 2-59.
If you would like to investigate the excellent uses for the Burien Downtown Commercial Zone (DC) LINK TO then select title 19 zoning code, then Chapter 19.15. Use Zone Charts, then scroll down to Section 19.15.025.5 Down Town Commercial Zone (DC).
– Robbie Howell
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