Story & Photos by Scott Schaefer

Demolition has begun at the old Herr Lumber/King Buffet lots on SW 160th near First Ave South for a new, 16,882 square foot CVS Pharmacy.

The main building of the new business will be located where King Buffet used to be – 137 SW 160th – with the rest of the lots set for parking.

According to a construction worker, a very old and historic Sequoia tree (on the left in the photo below) will also be cut down:
Curious about this large, historic tree, we reached out to

Highline Historical Society Executive Director Cyndi Upthegrove, who shared this information with us:

“I spoke a long time ago with one of the last remaining members of the family that homesteaded that property. She told me at the time that the tree had been planted in front of the original home. The family had a sawmill on Miller Creek back behind the (King) Buffet property. They did the original logging from about where 509 is now to Sylvester Road. The mother planted two sequoias that were brought from California in the front of the house and carefully tended them.

After the logging was completed the family platted the land, and sold it in parcels. She told me that the parcel that had the home on it had a Deed restriction in it that the trees had to stay. Back in the 70’s one of the trees – on the west – became diseased and was removed. The other one has had this ring of rocks around it for many many years, ostensibly to protect it. I had been told that the property had been difficult to sell because of the Deed restriction.

However, I have spoken with the city and they have told me that there is no sign of a deed restriction on the property – so perhaps an earlier owner had it removed. I am sorry to see the tree go. The City of Burien doesn’t have an ordinance to protect significant trees. Truthfully, that tree is worth more to me than an out of state pharmacy, but there is nothing to be done, except vote with my checkbook. CVS didn’t have to come before the Planning Commission for anything because the property was correctly zoned and they weren’t requesting changes. It will be interesting to see what kind of a neighbor CVS turns out to be.
I recall being told the tree was planted in the late 1800’s or very early 1900’s. I cannot tell you exactly. I don’t know that it is one of the largest, or oldest, but it does have a history that can be appreciated. Sequoias are not really common here and this one reflects early years of good care, though not recent good care. They live for a long time.

It’s too bad they cannot put a parking lot around it, rather than remove it.”

We also reached out to the City of Burien – a “Tree City USA” recipient for the last 13 years – and here’s what Community Development Director Chip Davis told The B-Town Blog:

“The City of Burien takes the retention of healthy, significant trees very seriously and has been working with the new property owner of this site since May of last year to mitigate the impacts associated with removal of the Sequoia tree. City staff have documented the Sequoia tree and will be providing the documentation to the Highline Historical Society for inclusion in their photo archives.

A publicly noticed Type 1 Land Use Review was conducted for the CVS Pharmacy last summer and the final decision was issued on September 16, 2013. In the building plans the owner identified the Sequoia as the only significant tree of the 60 trees located on the site to be affected by construction of the pharmacy building.

The owner has satisfactorily addressed Burien’s significant tree retention policies which require the retention of at least 5% of the significant trees currently located on commercially zoned project sites. All of the remaining significant trees are located on the southern portion of the site and will not be affected by construction of the pharmacy. As mitigation for the removal of the Sequoia, the owner will be planting a replacement Sequoia on the western property line and landscaping plans call for the planting of more than 60 Douglas fir, Maple, Crape Myrtle, Linden and Flower Pear trees in the new building and parking areas.”

Sons William (Bill), Gordy and their father Amos Herr in a photo taken at Burien’s Herr Lumber in the 1970s.

This site once housed Herr Lumber, and had previously served as a sawmill for many years prior to the family’s opening of the yard in the 70’s. It remained a working lumber yard until into the 1990’s, then sat empty until Diane and Lisa Herr opened a nursery in 2002.

As we previously reported, Herr Backyard and Garden Center closed in June, 2012.

The project is valued at over $2 million.

Here are some photos of the demolition work being done, taken Thursday, April 24 by Scott Schaefer:

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38 replies on “Demolition begins at old Herr site for new pharmacy; historic Sequoia to be cut”

  1. I’ll stick with Washington native Bartel’s. CVS is just another chain…not a hometown store. And, they really don’t need to cut that beautiful tree down!

  2. I sure hope the planners are addressing the traffic congestion that is already there. Between Andy’s gas station and the school, it gets crazy during certain hours. Now a pharmacy? And a CVS to boot. Boo. I think it is an odd location for a pharmacy and very sad that they would have to cut down that beautiful tree.

    1. You can thank “ex-planner thankfully” Joey Martinez for pushing this project through with no consideration of the impacts on the neighborhood by these corprate -astards.

  3. this is a great place for a Pharmacy, just down the street from hundreds for Doctors, and a quick place to stop as you leave the Hospital. I like Bartells too, But having shopped at CVS in other states I’m very much looking forward to saving money. As for traffic, this site will be better then getting in and out of Rite Aid and Walgreens. The traffic can be very bad on 160th heading west past Andy’s But most of that problem is when the mom’s pick up their kids next door! they stop in the middle of the street, if the first car would just pull in all the way, it wouldn’t block 160th. Once again sw 146th has 3 Pharmacys in 8 blocks between 1st and Ambaum. Blvd. Sw 160th will now have one………..

      1. Ron,
        I don’t think it was the moms.
        Since 20 objected and no one actually responded to any point you raised, I think it was just the single issue NIMBY mob whose minds are too narrow to comprehend the broader picture.

        1. Yep it’s the same group that vote’s down my comments you can tell when you have 8 thumbs down and 1 thumbs up and no replys but don’t worry you don’t want to be friends with them anyways trust me they will try to drain your bank account for stupid stuff like thousands of dollars for a 20 minute fireworks show that they will ask for even more money next year that if don’t participate you get dirty looks and whatever else they can do to make you feel like trash

  4. Oh great! Just what this town needs, another corporate low wage eyesore dealing out what you can purchase all over B-Town already. What’s next on the horizon, Walmart ?

  5. “reached out to”. Why do people embrace this corporate-speak? Why can’t they just say “contacted”? When it comes to clear, concise writing, fewer words have more impact.
    “reached out to”, sounds like stretching your arm out in a dramatic yet vulnerable fashion – palm up – then moving your fingers in an enticing fashion. Silly! It’s an effete phrase, and part-and-parcel of the emasculation of American society, I guess.

  6. This is TERRIBLE. If the tree is in the parking area, then obviously they don’t need to cut it down at all (as opposed to the tree being in the way of the huge, ugly building they have planned). In honor of CVS’s destruction of this much loved Burien landmark, I promise that I will NEVER enter their creepy discount monster pharmacy or spend one penny there, no matter what.

    1. Yes its sad for a big tree to go but how many trees were cut down to make your house, streets, or all of Burien? Its just part of life and that’s why they need to replace some.
      I don’t think people are going to complain about spending their tax dollars that all of ‘us’ will receive…now will you?
      If all of you could put this effort towards something meaningful, oh like all the crime we have here – Burien would turn around very quickly.

    2. “enter their creepy discount monster pharmacy or spend one penny there, no matter what.”
      Heh-heh, reminds me of and old Dean Koontz novel.

  7. Riteaid, Walgreens, Bartell, Safeway Pharmacy, Alberstons Pharmacy, Fred Meyer Pharmacy, that’s at least six convenient pharmacies in Burien. If the citizens of Burien don’t want this tree cut down, they simply cannot rely on their government to protect their interests. Your local government places the convenience of a national corporation high above the health and welfare of Burien’s citizens. You can vote with your dollars, though. If you refuse to shop at CVS, you can send them a message that they might pay attention to.
    If you do shop at CVS, then you are also sending a message: the corporation was right, and you would be happy to foul your own environment for a few pennies of perceived savings.

    1. I think it is a shame that the tree has to go but CVS seems to be operating within the rules so the problem is not CVS but the rules. If you want tighter protection for things of cultural, historical or environmental significance, work for them at the city, and lots of luck. I’ve been there, done that, and any additional restriction is fought vigorously under the “property rights” flag and the city is accused of taking peoples property, even when it is probably in their best interest in the long run.
      If you boycott CVS, as I recall, you are boycotting the only major pharmacy that decided it is not in their pro health mission statement to sell tobacco products. I guess it is not a baycott since you would be going elswhere for your smokes anyway.

      1. According to Consumer Reports, CVS is also one of the most expensive drug store chains. I plan to talk with my feet and NEVER set foot in that store.

    2. Albertsons doesn’t have a pharmacy, and the Five are on the other side of town, Having a pharmacy on the south end of town near ALL the doctors and Hospital is a great deal for Burien. All the people that go to the Hospital from other towns can now shop Burien before they leave the area. I’ve lived here more then 50 years and never heard a word about this so called special tree. Promote Recycling cut it down and plant a new one, before it falls over, Oh that’s right that’s want they are doing. I’ll bet within a year of CVS opening all the negative nels, shop there

      1. I think they were talking about albertson’s on 128th and 1st also your right most people are not really going to think about this tree when there in a hurry to get home and need to get there meds and find some overprice piece of crap electronic item that’s most likely going to break in week or two

      2. Ron, this species of tree can live for a thousand years if it isn’t damaged – long after the building they propose to build will be rubble in a landfill. We need a sense of perspective.

  8. Is this tree to big to move it and plant where there planning on planting the replacement and other trees. Also if they leave it where is it’s probably a safety issue they don’t want risk someone’s car getting smashed in a storm if that tree were to fall and not the fact there a evil corporation as some of you are thinking. And yes we have mini pharmacy’s but most take at least a hour to fill a prescription and if you happen to have wait at the er or your doctors office and deal there bs then have to wait at pharmacy for another hour or more when your sick or in pain another pharmacy closer to a so called hospital is kinda of a good thing it could speed things up a little so you can get home and get better sooner

  9. ‘Tree City USA’ ? LOL – What a JOKE !!!! One friggin tree of significance, and ‘Tree City USA’ can’t even save it ? LOL – What clowns.

    1. Yes indeed! City Hall needs to step up to the plate and begin to champion Burien’s quality of life for a change.

  10. Another pharmacy in Burien?? How much cough medicine and bags of candy does one town need? And didn’t Manhattan Drug just close down?
    The traffic issue is a no brainer. Anybody that goes near 160th between 1rst and 4th in the afternoon is taking their life in their hands.

  11. Neither the City nor CVS’s architect showed much imagination — with such a large site, the tree could easily have been designed around — it could even have been a feature!
    That said, I’m glad that some business will finally be occupying this lot which has been vacant for a long time, I am disappointed it is a drugstore and not something we’re short of such as hardware store, sports store, fabric/craft store or mixed-use development. Regarding traffic on 160th, why are parents picking up their kids at Sylvester? Surely these middle-schoolers can take the school bus or walk?

  12. Isn’t there was a perpetual covenant on the property’s deed protecting the tree? I thought that’s why the tree has survived past development. Here’s a link to CVS customer relations, The mailing address is:
    CVS Corporation
    Customer Relations
    One CVS Drive
    Woonsocket, RI 02895
    Let them know if they cut down the tree you’re not going to shop there. CVS is spending millions on this store, they probably don’t want to start off with a controversy. Speak up!

    1. Thank you for the contact information Jack. My letter is written and will be in Monday’s mail.

    2. Thank you Jack for supplying the phone and contact information. I did call this morning and want to relay that I was able to talk to a customer service supervisor in their corporate office by saying “store” then “agent” through their voice activated system. I let them know the importance, historical significance and unique nature of the tree and how upset many of us are at the prospect of its removal. They are immediately forwarding my appeal to find a way to save the tree to the correct individuals. I hope others are calling too. Strengthening tree preservation in Burien should be a high priority for a Tree City.

  13. CUT IT DOWN! LET IT BURN! Proceed with project. The druggies of Burien need another source for their drugs

  14. Shades of the 70s – I’m ready to chain myself to the tree. Sick to death of the senseless destruction of all that makes Burien unique. “Center of the Known World”? Ha. Sad that we can’t manage to demand that mega-corporations respect the communities they invade. I for one will not be patronizing CVS.

  15. I just drove by and it looks like they’re going to push the tree over with a big piece of equipment!

  16. You know who else liked to kill trees?…orks that’s right tree killing orks, and you know what the orks represented in the lord of the rings…think about it.Now think about all the cherry trees that were cut down along first ave…and by city hall….and on and on and on.

      1. I’m sorry I mixed up warhammer spelling with Tolkien spelling. But at least I did remember punctuation.

        1. sorry but I have I good feeling the both you need to spend more time outside and away from your dvd/blueray player and tv

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