LETTER: ‘Proposed Apartments Will Attract Low End Renters…’

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To: Harbor Urban LLC

Re: Burien Town Square, Phase II Conceptual Design Package

Currently the Burien Comprehensive Plan calls for the phase II Town Square development to be mixed use units with permanence that provide a public benefit, become a focal point for Town Square and help focus on the arts, entertainment and regional attractions in the area (reference pages 2-48 to 2-52 and Section 19.15.025 of the City Zoning Code). We are not sure how your projected phase II apartment plan for this area has been allowed to advance to this level without an amendment to change the existing Comprehensive Plan. We (as citizens) have not seen this amendment brought forward by you or the city staff. The clear intent of the Comprehensive Plan was never to put in mediocre to low value apartment buildings into this area.

Mike Martin/Burien City Manager and Dan Trimble/Burien Economic Development Director have told the citizens that these will be “high
end” apartments in both construction and the amenities that are contained within them. However your plan dated September 14, 2012 (prepared by O’Connor Consulting Group, LLC and Compass Construction) does not fit this definition. Both this plan and the construction specs provided describe apartments that are not “high end” quality. The construction is mediocre at best and will decline rapidly with transient lodgers. The amenities do not exist within the structures. These apartments highly rely on the amenities that the citizens of Burien have built into the City proper such as the small park that immediately adjoins the City Hall and the library. Both areas are not adequate recreation space or facilities for hundreds of apartment dwellers. Additionally the businesses and recreation facilities that were to be on the bottom floor of the apartment complex do not exist. They have been eliminated from the design.

No one is going to rent in a supposed high end apartment building that does not have a high quality grocery store combined with it or immediately adjacent to it. There are absolutely no quality recreation facilities associated with the proposed apartments. This explains in part why the Town Square condos have not sold as expected. Within your proposed project there is no swimming pool, spa, extensive workout facilities, conference room, dance/exercise area, indoor recreation area and only a very questionable (per description) outdoor recreation area. Quality shopping and personal services areas are not contained in the complex or immediately adjacent to it. Currently the amenities that are being offered off site are a discount grocery store, Dollar Store, a pharmacy and a Staples. There are no “high end” restaurants in the vicinity and there is no entertainment/recreation in the complex or adjacent to it. In essence, these supposed high end renters you are going to bring in can go to the Dollar Store, be harassed at the transit center or watch TV at home. They will not rent in this area and there is no point in pretending this will happen. These proposed apartments will attract “low end” renters looking for cheap rent in Burien in a newer building. When the building ages there will be “low end” run down apartments in the middle of Town Square.

It remains questionable what the market in Burien will actually bear because new “high end” apartment units have not been built in the city. However, the apartment market in Burien does not appear to be robust. The higher end apartments that are mentioned in this plan on page 75 are not comparable to what is described in this plan for Burien. We have gone over to The Reserve and The Sanctuary at the Landing in Renton and they are not comparable to what is being described in this plan for Burien. The amenities both on grounds and off grounds far exceed what is being projected for the Burien Town Square Apartments. The quality of the interiors of the apartments exceeds what is being discussed for Burien. “High end” renters demand services that are contained in their living units and “high end” merchants immediately near by to serve them.

Since the proposed design does not meet these basic needs, we and many other Burien citizens are opposed to your project. Our first choice would be that you wait for the market to improve and then build additional condos to enhance the ones that have not sold. The second phase of condos should have the features and amenities that attract home owners and currently missing in the phase I condos. Both phase I and phase II condo owners should be able to share facilities with each other. The first floor business use should be developed based on what attracts “high end” renters or condominium owners to permanent neighborhoods. Recreation and entertainment must be key elements as well as “high end” food and service providers. We are not totally opposed to some “high end” apartments for Town Square but what you have proposed does not fit that definition. We believe that you know these are not “high end” apartments as you make your living doing developments.

We are forwarding this communication to the Burien City Staff as well as the City Council. We believe that this proposed phase II project for Town Square is not in keeping with the Comp Plan or the vision for the area. If undue pressure from the Burien government has forced you to adopt this plan, we think that it needs to be seriously rethought by both the City Council and the Burien City Manager. Informal media polls and citizen comments show the citizens are opposed to this kind of apartment development for Town Square.

Robert Howell
Robbie Howell
Chestine Edgar
Michael O’Neill
John Poitras
Linda Poitras
Debi Wagner

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61 Responses to “LETTER: ‘Proposed Apartments Will Attract Low End Renters…’”
  1. Jennifer says:

    I see you have found your new cause now that annexation has not passed. You are a group of elitist snobs. You do not represent the voice of the majority if this community.

    • Really? says:

      Jennifer, while you may not agree with what the letter writers message is, it appears that their message is a pragmatic observation based on research and actual site visits. We should realize that to have a comprehensive larger and viable condo/apt. and long range sustainable development that won’t immediate depreciate in value, overall population density must be there to support the necessary businesses that owners and renters need. Please, before dismissing these letter writers outright by throwing labels at them, try to interpret what their base message is. They raise some very solid points that we all should be discussing and analyzing.

    • John Poitras says:

      And you do Jennifer. .Not by a long shot you don’t.. Do you even live here? The VAST MAJORITY of real Burien residents want no part of building high density low quality apartments in town square.. That you support that puts you in a very small minority with personal agendas not congruent with a better Burien.

  2. jimmy says:

    ok every one save a copy of this for next november when these same people try to say they have no problems with low income people or if any of these people are in office or run for some spot in govment remember not to vote for them i know there are a lot people around burien that are low income do to problems with economy it seems like these 7 people just like to complain and want us to have gold cover roads and gated communities and million dollar houses and all be name barbie and ken or not live in burien if you don’t have these things sorry to you 7 but i just don’t see this working and your nonsense letters to the editor are just making people point at you and laugh so go ahead post your replys and if your lucky i might read them who knows

    • John Poitras says:

      Who cares if you read them on not Jimmy.. or Gordon Shaw or whoever you are..? You were wrong about annexation and you are wrong about this too.

  3. Lisa B. says:

    “Transient lodgers”? Ouch, that’s cold. There are many valid points to this letter, but they are a bit obfuscated by the elitist language.

    This is gonna get interesting. I will be standing by the sidelines watching with my Dollar Store cheese puffs and my Grocery Outlet wine…

    • Debi Wagner says:

      You are confusing the definition of transient as impermanent, which perfectly describes renters, with your own idea that it describes a person which it does not do in this context.

    • Debi Wagner says:

      You are confusing the word transient with your own idea of a person rather than its true meaning of impernanence. There is absolutely nothing elitist about this discription as it is correct in this context and is applicable to anyone renting a dwelling. And it was not the authors of the letter who described “high end” apartment use for this development but rather the city of Burien. It was they who first entered the discussion with the idea of attracting a certain “type” of dweller to this location. If you go anywhere to view “high end” apartments you will find the amenities described in this letter and note they are not present here either in the vicinity of the proposal or in the design.

      • Jennifer says:

        Debi, please it is elitist! And the meaning was very clear, I am tired of the propaganda you and your group is always pushing. I feel that we have an amazing community with solid leadership. I am sorry you don’t feel the same way. I guess since you can no longer campaigne against the 3rd runway and annexation this will be your new topic.

        • Nona says:

          Jennifer.. I think most people would prefer to have “elitist” neighbors as you put it rather than “white trash” who will attract more crime to a city that already has too much crime.
          Maybe when you are on the wrong end of that you might change your tune?

      • Lisa says:

        I am not confused at all. Referring to renters as “transient lodgers” is insulting. But then again, if I could only turn off Mr. Howell’s voice in my head as I read the letter maybe I wouldn’t offend so easily (I usually don’t)…

  4. sure whatever says:

    Building apartments in that location is absolutely asinine given that the present condos are empty and will remain so with this nonsense. Get some better options for shopping/dining here in Burien. Turn that lot into an extension of the park. There are alot of us who go to West Seattle or downtown because Burien only has one or two options. Funny how wanting a broader range of shopping/dining opportunities makes one elitist. While the above letter may seem harsh, it was your Mayor that touted this development as “high end.” Yet there are no options for those he seeks to occupy both the condos and proposed apartments.

  5. Ivan Weiss says:

    Doesn’t it stand to reason that the more people move into this space, the better it will be for business in Burien? Do the signers of this letter have something against building the local economy?

    • Lisa B. says:

      I’d have to agree with you. We’ll never be a West Seattle or a Downtown (of which I am grateful), we don’t even have enough people to keep Burien businesses going anyway, look at all the vacant store fronts as it is.

      • othersideofthetracks says:

        I`m not going to get into it here but Burien has a tendency to chase business` away Lisa.
        Been there, done that,

      • sure whatever says:

        No one said we should be like downtown or West Seattle. That isn’t possible obviously. A few more options would be nice so one needn’t always head out of Burien however.

    • Teresa says:

      What do you care Ivan.. You don’t even live here… and equating low end apartments with improving the economy is a really off the wall argument.

  6. POLLMASTER says:

    My “Informal media polls” say that your a bunch of idiots

  7. Coverofnight says:

    When I read this letter, I’m seeing a concerned group of citizens that are acting in the public’s immediate and long-term best interest for the city. Yet, the first three comments are the typical liberal attacks from the haters that will go after the messenger(s). Thank God these individuals helped to save us from annexation and not let this council get away with their self-serving agenda. These apartments and the questionable resolution to the Town Center properties are another example of power-hungry elitists who will do what they want come he!! or high water and ignore the loud voices of the community they are supposed to represent (I hope Jennifer and jimmy are paying attention…if they’re not too high…).

    It seems that our local government is simply a microcosm of what we see happening at the federal level with inept decisions and a total disregard for the hard-working taxpayers. As with those true patriots that want to save and maintain the greatness of this country for future generations, locally, these seven individuals want to also ensure that the economic growth and vibrancy of Burien will be there for our children as well. We are being offered an unacceptable substitution, yet the pot-smoking, same-sex, God-less liberals will simply let this council run roughshod over them and take it in the backside.

    As for Lisa B. with her cheese puffs and wine…….you don’t have the munchies, do you?

    • Lisa B. says:

      LOL no, I’m strictly a wine gal, one glass a week. Not nearly enough to keep the Burien economy going.

    • Hotrodgal says:

      “…yet the pot-smoking, same-sex, God-less liberals will simply
      let this council run roughshod over them and take it in the backside.”

      Coverofnight, I sure wish you would log onto fox news instead of
      shoehorning your personal prejudices down the throats of the
      rest of us every time you post.

      Lisa B… Atta girl, don’t let him goad you!

  8. jjgreive says:

    The thought that anyone would write such a letter is is an insult. “Low End Renters…” Did you really write that?
    I know the geographical location of this noise. Renters and landlords have rights and are welcome members of our community, unlike the extremely noisy few that complain CONSTANTLY. To call a renters low end is elitist, and an embarrassment to the good people of Burien.

  9. Ivan Weiss says:

    Doesn’t it stand to reason that the greater the number of people living in or near downtown Burien, the more business local merchants will do, and the more businesses will open to serve the new residents? Do the signers of this letter have something against building Burien’s local economy?

  10. Uh oh says:

    Could not agree more with the letter. It would make more sense to turn that space simply into a park and gathering space for the community. The simple fact is burien has more section 8 housing per capita than most any other city in the state. The low rent apartment building was one of the reasons burien became a city in the first place.

    The whole reason the town square was built was to change the perception of burien and revitalize the downtown core by providing it with a central gathering place. Bur real change will happen in burien with less not more apartments. Mike “the great” Martin needs to start taking the section 8 housing out like he did with Lora lake. There are about 15 more complexes like it that can go. And when they do watch what happens to crime and the perception of burien.

  11. Lee Moyer says:

    We like nice places to eat and shop and give the staff of these establishments nice condescending smiles but we certainly don’t want decent affordable housing where such people to try to integrate themselves into our Pure Burien Core Cartel by actually living in our neighborhood.

  12. Jeff Upthegrove says:

    Wow. What a disgusting letter. Shameful that these people share our community. Gross.

    • may says:

      Jeff Upthegrove, who are you working for? You are not part of the “group” thats involved in real estate? right? …..What a joke. Most of the Burien City Council is.
      It must really hurt when someone speaks the truth, You should ask Mike Martin about Imbelloni (chaep construction) in San Francisco. I hope it rigs a bell to him.

      Here is an article from Ripoff report:
      Joseph Imbelloni is a crook. He has been building properties in the Bay Area with many problems (primarily low quality, questionable construction). We are planning on suing him for the construction of our residences (class action lawsuit). He’s been in charge of a few projects in the San Francisco Bay Area and right now has a pending lawsuit for construction defects.

      If you encounter any property built by Imbelloni Construction, do not buy it. He’s also a belligerent individual with an inflated ego. Total jerk.

      • John Poitras says:

        May … Thank you for your comment .. Please consider sending it to the Highline times and West Seattle Herald. People need to know this about Imbelloni Construction.
        Its hard to believe Mike Martin is not aware of this also and if he is, then what does that tell us about our city government?

    • John Poitras says:

      Its unfortunate that we have political hacks like you that have their own personal agendas that have nothing to do with the future well being of Burien.. You supported annexation and now you slander the good folks that wrote this letter which only makes common sense. You are a pathetic empty suit.

  13. Jennifer, all name calling aside, this discussion has been going on for a long time. Before the Town Square Condos were built it was discussed. That is why we have condos instead of apartments at Town Square. The recent poll on the B-Town Blog shows the overwhelming majority of the people poled is against apartments being built in Burien Town Square. There are plenty of other places in Burien for apartments.

    • Jennifer says:

      To be honest there was no name calling. I realize that this has been an ongoing issue I do follow the news of burien as i have lived here my entire life. I will say however a poll on a blog does not represent the entire voice of our community.

    • Ivan Weiss says:

      I have said it before and I see I have to say it again. No self-selecting poll on a blog is in any way, shape, or form a representative sample of public opinion at large. Those who say it is are plain flat-out ignorant, and are promoting ignorance. The more you do that, the less credible you become.

      And before somebody tells me to butt out of this discussion because I “don’t live in Burien,” guess what? I SHOP in Burien, every chance I get, because for me, driving into downtown Burien is easier and quicker and more hassle-free than driving anywhere else in Seattle or even Tacoma, other than West Seattle. And the parking is free.

      I buy clothes in Burien, I buy shoes in Burien, I buy groceries and office supplies in Burien, and I dine out and drink in Burien, more often than in many other places where I could do these things.

      So you people who cry “Oh, booga booga, APARTMENTS!” as if people who lived in them were carriers of the bubonic plague or something, aren’t doing a damn thing to help Burien prosper, because the more people who live in downtown Burien, whether they rent or own, are better for local businesses. Deny that if you can.

      • Eaton B. Verz says:

        “So you people who cry “Oh, booga booga, APARTMENTS!” as if people who lived in them were carriers of the bubonic plague or something”

        Naa.We don’t think that about them. ….People from Vashon on the other hand……

  14. TcB says:

    I think the overall idea behind not wanting apartments in this space, the “Boardwalk and Park Place” of the revitalized downtown space, is that it’s just not worth it to build apartments (no commercial stores like first envisioned either). Think about it. These building will be here for 50 years. Let’s build it right the first time or leave it a park until it can be properly utilized. And for my part, I didn’t even read the letter, so I can’t speak for any of the contents. I just know I support Condo.Commercial storefront development.

  15. Hotrodgal says:

    IMHO, the entire existing complex should have been turned into ALL office and high-end retail space rather than even scr*w with the whole condo mess. And, why our city government isn’t still urgently trying to entice new professional commerce is beyond me.

    I do agree that if Town Square can’t be brought inline with the quality envisioned by our previous wishes, then no further development should take place until it can. Personally, I’d just a soon see the vacant parcel be used for free public parking until it’s needed for another relevant use.

    As for the other bickering about apartment dwellers by the bloggers here… stereotyping is not only distasteful but is indeed a form of discrimination. FYI, “Renter” does not always equate to a low life population. If we had high-end employment opportunities, we would have high-end renters. There are many people out there who prefer to lease close to their employment without the shackles of ownership.

  16. VERY TIRED says:

    So…these NIMBYs would rather have a vacant building in the middle of town?

    Rent the damned things and get it over with.

  17. ed says:

    Just build a movie theater there, at least that would generate some revenue and give entertainment that all could enjoy

    • Debi Wagner says:

      Im with you ed. i think a lot of people have wanted a theatre there for awhile now. Why does the developer and council always crush that idea? A theatre might even attract buyers for the condos and businesses in the retail spaces! So might a hotel, a charter, university satellite or an office building. If the cool chain model is true Burien should be able to easily attract businesses. I just don’t understand why anyone would argue in favor of such a low desireability use when Burien so badly needs attractions and entertainment?

  18. Joey Martinez says:

    The level of incorrect information in both this letter and comments is disheartening. By simply attending public meetings you would know much of this is incorrect. What is truly sad is that within this circle are council members who are complacent in the spread of this incorrect information.

    The project is still officially at a standstill but the developer is putting together a recommendation based on their and other research. Once that research is completed then the community can decide what we want to do.

    The Burien Comp plan calls for multi-family housing in the downtown core. It doesn’t specify condos versus rentals.

    The current proposal includes private and public amenities. The current proposal includes ground level residential units that will be convertible to commercial units when the market can support that. The current proposal includes a Public/Private art space.

    Right now the Downtown is at a catch-22. The higher end retail and entertainment we all want and crave won’t be built out until we develop Rentals or Condos downtown. Developing Condos won’t make sense without that higher end retail and entertainment.

    The choice will be simple. Do we, as a community, go for the current plan or wait a DECADE or more to further develop the downtown?

    If we turn those parcels into parks then they will stay as parks. Can you imagine the public outcry of ripping out the grass to develop?

    I’ve inquired about the theaters. At this time a movie theater would require at least $4 million in tax payer subsidies to build.

    If you’d like a copy of the publically available information on the current development please e-mail me at “[email protected]”.

    And lastly, as a daily user of public transit at the Burien transit center, I’ve never been harassed.

    Joey Martinez

    • TcB says:

      I could wait ten years. It was a parking lot for over forty.

    • John Poitras says:

      Already running for city council Joey? I do attend council meetings and its disheartening to read a comment from a potential candidate that is so misleading and twists reality.
      Btw .. It was not clear from your comment Joey but are you for or against building these apartments in town square? How about taking a stand one way or another?

      • Coverofnight says:

        Joey always takes a stand………he stands in the way of truth!

        • PanderBear Jack says:

          I get the Karl Rovian distract and blemish style attacks from teabagger CoverofTaint but from self professed “Progressive” John Poitras?

          John, don’t vote for the kid if you don’t like what he says, oh wait forgot, NOT REGISTERED to vote.

          Elizabeth2 – With an attitude like that I suggest you not go to the happiest place on earth – Disneyland. Last time I went there was a fight and people were hurt. The point is that whenever people are around STUFF happens. What is your solution? That we bulldoze the transit center?

          • TcB says:

            True dat..I do find it strange that someone with such a strong voice remains unregistered for voting…we need strong progressive voters in Burien. John, you should register.

          • elizabeth2 says:

            @PandaBear Jack – I think you mistake the intent of my comment. I happen to LOVE Disneyland and I am actually an eternal optimist.

            However, someone like Joey saying he has never been harassed at the Transit Station implies that “hey, guys, it is fine and dandy, nothing to look out for”.. Joey is a big young male and anyone with half a brain might think twice before harassing him.

            It does NOT follow, however, that some females, people with smaller builds, less intimidating looking people might and do get harassed.

            My point is that just because Joey says it ain’t so does not mean it ain’t so! There are many many people who do not enjoy the physical safety he feels and that is something we all need to consider and remember.

    • elizabeth2 says:

      @Joey about the Transit Station. Happy to hear that you have never been harassed…try telling that to the man beaten there on 25 October this year…or the girl someone tried to rape after assualting with a brick in April.

  19. Coverofnight says:

    “…At this time a movie theater would require at least $4 million in tax payer subsidies to build.”

    WTF???!!!!!! Joey, I thought BHO was the liar-in-chief, but you’re beginning to make him look like an amateur! A 12,000 s.f. theater is estimated (with union labor, too) to cost only $1.7 million to build……and that’s a private enterprise! When did Burien get into the cineplex business? What the he!! is this subsidy stuff about? You truly are “Joey Moretaxes”….but I’m beginning to wonder if you’re soon to be known as “Kickback Joey”!

  20. TcB says:

    I always get the feeling that people get confused between developers and the city. I see a lot of people saying, “the city should just build more shops or theaters..” Etc. Don’t get the two confused.

  21. othersideofthetracks says:

    “Mike Martin/Burien City Manager and Dan Trimble/Burien Economic Development Director have told the citizens that these will be “high
    end” apartments in both construction and the amenities that are contained within them.”

    Umm, don`t they already have enough empty units in Burien. I don`t care if you call them condos, units, apartment whatever. The bottom line is, They are empty.

  22. Frances says:

    I think high end apartments will help downtown, right now all there are in Burien is old out of date places.

    I just wish they would build good high end apartments that I could buy in a few years when I can buy a place to live.

    Not all of us can afford to live on Lake Burien. I would agree with these people maybe, if we had a nice park on Lake Burien

    • John Poitras says:

      Frances.. The current plan does not implement anything close to high end apartments.. Reread the letter it was researched thoroughly.

  23. TcB says:

    I know, “lets” build high end apartments on 153rd. That street gets no love. I mean, look at all the empty storefronts on 153rd. Excuse me, I’ve got to run down the hill to do all my shopping at Southcenter. Why can’t Burien keep these businesses running?

  24. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    This video will help get those “high end” apartments rented in town square for sure.


    go to 1:30 on video and enjoy.

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