If you’ve driven by the city-landmark former Fire Station 37 and noticed a new sign, here’s what it’s about: The city Finance Department is recommending the City Council approve plans to sell the building at 35th and Othello, since the city has no further use for it. It was vacated when Engine 37 and its team moved into their new, larger station a few blocks south last October. This recommendation triggers a 30-day comment period before the Council moves ahead with the process of putting the site on the market. But this process actually started nine months ago (here’s our report from July), so there’s already a fair amount of information on what the city expects might happen. Ahead, how to comment, as well as what sort of interest the city has already received:
Documents sent around by the city (the links are here) note that the site’s potential is limited because the zoning is single-family (5000 sf). The early phase of the process, last summer and fall, did result in some expression of interest, summarized by the city as:
While one person questioned the landmark designation and did not agree with the determination that the old fire station should be preserved, a couple of responders thought the property should be held until the real estate market improved. Ten (later expanded to 12) different parties proposed a private or public use for the facility, including private homes, museums and/or community centers, art gallery and/or performance space, etc.
That’s taken from a report you can read here, which later got even more specific. From this report:
… FAS received two specific proposals from nonprofit groups with a 501(c)3 designation. Sustainable West Seattle proposed that the property be used to provide a range of community services, including but not limited to a satellite tool library, community seed bank, and office space for neighborhood councils and small community groups, and public meeting rooms. This proposal may require City funding for implementation. Puget Sound Group of NW Painters proposed acquiring the property for its headquarters, including an art gallery, art workshops, office space, visiting artists and archives. This group would propose to purchase the property at fair market value. In addition to these proposals, FAS was contacted by a range of other nonprofit groups interested in the property; potential uses included two museums, and community centers targeted toward a range of different demographic groups.
…The most likely buyer of the property would be interested in developing this property into a single‐family residence. FAS received four specific proposals in 2010 to use Station 37 as a private residence. Several of these proposals envisioned Accessory uses in addition to the residential use, including but not limited to storage for fire memorabilia, a coffeehouse or café, day care, tutoring services. Some of these are generally permitted as Accessory uses or Home Occupations; others may not be permitted in single‐family zones.
Apart from residential uses, FAS received two specific proposals for private commercial ventures – a dance studio/performing arts space and a glass studio/hotshop/gallery with rentable office space. These commercial uses are not allowed in single‐family zones. A purchaser could seek an Administrative Conditional Use permit from the Department of Planning and Development under the provision for use of landmark structures, but would be required to demonstrate that it was not financially feasible to utilize the property for single‐ family use. FAS has received a number of other inquiries regarding the availability of the property for various types of commercial use.
(The glass-studio proposal was from Avalon Glassworks; we checked with them and they’re no longer pursuing the idea.) To see the “community letter” with information on how to comment (May 18th deadline) on the plan to sell the station, go here. The city does not currently plan a public hearing/community meeting on the ex-fire station’s fate, but has left that open as an option if at some point it seems warranted. The Council is expected to take up the subject of the station’s future as soon as June.
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