Developers have proposed a micro apartment complex in the Phinney Ridge-Greenwood neighborhood. But as the public comment process on their discretionary land use permit moved forward over the last month, dozens of PhinneyWood area residents came out in opposition to the project.
Property owner Tyler Carr of development firm Johnson & Carr applied for a discretionary land use permit earlier in February to build Phinney Flats, a four-story mixed-use building on 6726 Greenwood Ave. N. The building would consist of 55 one-room efficiency apartments — between 275 and 325 square feet each — two “live/work” apartments and 2,900 square feet of ground-level retail space.
The design, by architectural firm Skidmore Janette, does not include laundry facilities or parking.
The existing building at the project location on Greenwood Avenue North would be demolished by Johnson & Carr. The building is home to Ed’s Kort Haus bar and Stumbling Goat Bistro.
Stumbling Goat proprietor Angie Heyer announced on Facebook Aug. 4 that the bistro will close early, on Aug. 27.
The Phinney Flats project is currently under review, and city officials with the Department of Construction and Inspections recently held two public meetings for the development. A design review meeting was held at the Ballard Community Center Aug. 1.
At a July 25 public hearing in the Phinney Neighborhood Center, nearly 80 PhinneyWood residents came out to voice their disapproval of Phinney Flats.
Laura Parris-Reymore, the landlord of a six-unit apartment south of the proposed building, passed out fliers printed with photos she said came from similar “apodment” style micro-housing. The photos featured trash piled high in common kitchens (an amenity not included in the Phinney Flats design) and a close up of what appeared to be vomit on a corner of carpet.
“[This building] is certainly disturbing to me and to my tenants,” she said.
Parris-Reymore said she was concerned about environmental “contamination” from the building and ill health effects on area children, including a 3-year-old in her building.
Meanwhile, project neighbor Rob Willis said he just wanted to avoid prying eyes.
“They have two sets of windows that look right into my backyard on the first story,” Willis said.
Former Phinney Ridge Community Council president and area resident Diane Duthweiler has been particularly proactive in organizing disapproval of Phinney Flats and other high-density building projects, sending out mass emails with readymade talking points prior to public meetings.
Duthweiler said she worried about what Phinney Flats would do to the character of the neighborhood, comparing the style of its construction to “cardboard boxes flipped over with some windows in them.” She conceded that the building meets city code, but said she believed the existing code could be a “mistake.”
“Why are these strangers moving here more important than the people who already live here?” Duthweiler said. “I don’t see these people, who might only live in this building 12-18 months, I just don’t see them contributing to the neighborhood, or participating in the Phinney Ridge Community Council, or the Phinney Neighborhood Association.”
Residents expressed other miscellaneous fears, such as that tenants might turn units into Airbnb rentals, or that the lack of laundry facilities would indirectly cause dry cleaning businesses to produce more chemical byproducts.
Most critics were opposed to the building’s lack of parking.
Even if every building resident were car-less, many local bus lines were already “standing room only,” Duthweiler said.
Not everyone in the PhinneyWood area is against the project. One neighbor supporting the project was Blake Trask, who wrote to the Department of Construction that he believed the construction of efficiency units was important for increasing housing in the city.
“I applaud not including parking in the proposal because parking in new developments costs a lot of money … and also impacts pedestrian space by necessitating at a minimum one garage entrance,” he wrote.
Phinney resident and Phinney Flats critic David Baum said the project was only the beginning of what the neighborhood could expect, as a designated urban corridor under the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.
“This is just the tip of the spear,” Baum said. “There’s more coming.”