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May 15, 2017

A neighboring property owner objects to width of Selig tower

  • Jack Nikfard has appealed Third & Lenora's design approval to the city hearing examiner.
    Journal staff reporter

    Rendering by Perkins + Will [enlarge]
    Martin Selig’s 36-story tower, called Third & Lenora, has been pre-leased to WeWork and WeLive for offices and apartments.

    For 26 years, the Nikfard family has owned the corner at 2001 Third Ave. where it operates Swifty Printing.

    Next door to the north is Sylvia Odom's Place, a low-income apartment complex operated by Plymouth Housing Group. Just north of that, at https://goo.gl/maps/Md4gJ4Mm9LF2" target="_blank">2301 Third, is the site where Martin Selig plans to build a 36-story tower called Third & Lenora.

    The tower has been pre-leased to WeWork and WeLive as flexible offices and apartments. The project has gotten a DNS and recently received conditional design approval, but no permits have been issued.

    Jack Nikfard has appealed Third & Lenora's design approval to the city hearing examiner. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 28 at Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Ave.

    At issue is the tower's width. Nikfard says that city code limits the width along Third to 120 feet. Selig's site measures about 180 feet along Third.

    The developer purchased the 19,440-square-foot site in 2014 for $16.8 million.

    The plans by architect Perkins + Will clearly indicate a 178-foot-wide tower. It is designed to fill the lot, though the bulk is reduced above the 12th floor with setbacks and a central bay.

    Here's how Selig's plans cite city code: “The maximum facade width for residential portions of the building above 85 feet parallel to the Avenues shall be 120 feet or 80 percent of the lot width, whichever is less.”

    Nikfard also cites that same code.

    However, in describing code departures, Selig's plans state, “The lot width is 240 feet; 80 percent of lot width is 192 feet.”

    Wait, you may ask, isn't the lot width 180 feet? That's the basis for Nikfard's calculations and appeal.

    However, Selig's plans incorporate Sylvia Odom's Place into its chargeable floor area. Plymouth Housing Group and Selig recently signed a development rights covenant to that effect. The plans, as opposed to the design proposals, include the Plymouth Housing Group's property in all calculations.

    Plymouth Housing Group has 60 feet facing Third, and that plus 180 equals 240 feet of frontage. Eighty percent of that allows the 178-foot-wide facade, using Selig's math.

    Nikfard claims that “All four design proposals made available for download to the public before the meetings made no mention of the ‘tower width' departure request.”

    He writes, “I believe the process of granting the departure was less than transparent. The omission of the departure from all design proposals denied the public the chance to comprehend the magnitude of the request. A mere oral mention during the third meeting was not adequate for the public to understand compliance with a very complex Land Use Code.

    “Once understood during the fourth meeting, public input was put aside. Lastly, SDCI meeting reports only made mention of it after the fourth meeting, by which time, it was deemed too late for public discussion. As a result, the building will be in considerable excess of code and will permanently sacrifice views, solar access and a proportioned skyline for the benefit of the general public.”

    The Nikfard property measures almost 13,000 square feet. The family paid $1.5 million for it in 1991. Under current zoning, it could be developed with a tower between 240 and 400 feet.

    Sylvia Odom's Place opened last year, with 63 apartments for formerly homeless people, who pay a maximum of 30 percent of area median income. Plymouth Housing Group supplies supportive services for those residents.

    Odom helped found Plymouth in 1980. She died two months after her namesake facility opened, at age 84.

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