A Shoreliners view of Harbor Square

By Samuel Bess | Aug 10, 2012

Editor:

More than a year ago, I began planning to relocate (downsize) from Shoreline to Edmonds.

I established a financial profile with a well established institution in Edmonds, and cultivated a sound reputation with them.

Some months back, I was sent by reliable referral, to a local real estate firm and began a dialogue with a representative there in Edmonds, planning for a tentative move in the spring or early summer of 2013.

As I became more enamored with the shopping and restaurant venues, the walk-ability of and the scenic vistas of Edmonds, I also became aware of an intense dialogue about a place called Harbor Square.

Edmonds at first seemed a beautiful goal; but is it now a bridge too far?

I have read some of the letters to the Beacon editor about this project.

Clearly, selling the redevelopment sizzle attempts to cover up what sounds like heart felt perceptions of visions of what some of the residents have come to love that makes Edmonds what it appears like to them today; yet these feelings in their genuineness are being put down or being ridden over rough-shod. And why might that be?

It is now apparent to me that someone stands to make a lot of money from this project; the redevelopment of Harbor Square and the adjoining property referred to as the Old Safeway complex now largely dominated by the antique dealer, a small restaurant, some Diamond Parking at $140. per month, and perhaps the Indian restaurant on the north border.

So, I asked myself who these folks or agencies were that stood to make a ton of dough and at whose expense it would be made. I see that the Best Western hotel, the Harbor Athletic Club, a number of single story office spaces, Las Brisas restaurant, would be immediately impacted.

Knowing that the Best Western hotel is a local franchisee, that the Harbor Athletic Club is a private membership corporation, the Las Brisas is relocating to 5th Avenue, and the rest of the office space is leased or rented, then it seems logical that the Port stands to gain the most from redevelopment agreements because the Port owns the property rights.

The same can be said for the property just north of the Harbor Square acres.

Tonight, I took a lengthy walk to see what impacts, visually and economically and aesthetically could be anticipated from a five story complex of mixed usage located where Harbor Square and the property north now exists as it is.

As one approaches the ferry ticketing lanes from the south, one immediately sees from Pine St. that even a three-story development would occlude the scenery to north Puget Sound from some distance away.

From the Marsh north border to  Main St., with any development of two or more stories, no sight of the Sound would be available, not even peek-a-boo West or North.

Across the street are two and three story residential units with lanais and decks clearly designed with views in mind. Those views would go away.

How does development make those residential property owners whole having been deprived of their view?

From Main St. up to 4th Ave  and south to Pine St., a five-story impact would almost obliterate any Sound perspective for residentials east of the ferry ticket lanes., and who would make those folks whole?

How will you offset their real estate depreciation? Once the building height caps are reset, they will then be reset over and over again on precedent.

The construction will likely clutter up the lower area for many years leaving ugly scars; limiting tourist visitations, Senior events, restaurant dinners, Ferry walk-on and off pickups, Diving retail sales, and add construction debris, dust and heavy trucking and heavy traffic for many years until the project is reasonably done.

And, who will replace that lost ambiance during those years? And, when the second set of rails arrives, if you thought rail noise was something today, just hold on to your coal dusted caps when at least 18 or more trains per day rumble through.

Remember, all that glitters is not coal dust, just sparkle in Port eyes.

This is not about Port ideology. It is all about making money and the Port stands to make a lot at someone else's expense.

I now look at what I might see coming; coal trains by the dozens, double track delays at ferry loading and unloading, a general decay of the neatness, and the kitchieness that says Edmonds, going south all for "change," that some will make a big buck at the expense of many, a projected dirty construction miasma that will impinge upon all Edmond's residents, and a Port that seems to be insensitive to the residents that put the Port into power.

I am discouraged, and now ask myself why at this point in my life, should I invest in a community that appears not to be able to command it's own destiny, and a Port that appears to be insensitive to the community to whom it owes it's primary allegiance.

It seems the Port horses have bolted the barn for greener digs, or as they say afloat; boys, we may have some loose cannons. Local comments heard are less gratuitous!

 

 

Samuel Bess

Shoreline

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