A developer’s attempt to subdivide a 6000 square foot property into separate lots in advance of building a new home in its (former) backyard has caused a stir on Blaine Street. Residents learned of the project’s permit application last week and promptly sent a letter signed by 26 neighbors to DPD and city officials asking for the project to be put on hold for further review. Specifically the letter asks DPD to clarify how a lot zoned as ‘Single-Family 5000’ can be subdivided into two “substandard” sized parcels without public notification or comment. On Monday a DPD Stop Work order was posted for the property’s existing home.
Residents are concerned that the plan to have two full-sized homes on two very small lots will negatively impact the street. Blaine is one of Montlake’s most characteristic streets, known for its well-crafted, architecturally eclectic homes. The neighborhood is also very close-knit, as evidenced in their rapid response to this anomalously scaled project.
The builder, Soleil Development, has an interesting resume of several dozen “Built Green” residential projects throughout the city. Their work ranges from progressive modern to neighborhood conformity, depending on the context. The drawings included for the permit application on Blaine show a three-story house with a gabled roof, projecting sheds and overhanging eaves. To be fair, its basic architectural form doesn’t exactly seem out-of-character for the street.
However, what does seem out-of-character are the small, subdivided lots, now with two homes covering a disproportionately large footprint on each property. While this kind of dense housing is, and will likely continue to be, the trend in Seattle, a lot of people feel that Blaine should be one of the last places where such a thing can be done.
This issue again raises the need for Montlake to have a neighborhood urban plan to help manage its inevitable densification. Density is as inevitable now as light rail is at Husky Stadium. A good neighborhood plan could identify architecturally significant areas like Blaine as historic (to start, see John Decker in the April Flyer) but also relieve pressure on such areas by identifying other places (arterials? the business district?) where density might be more agreeable. Either way, new ideas are needed now more than ever to anticipate and direct new development.
An email was sent to Soleil for comment. Will update upon response.