Seattle Children's growth plan gets City Council's OK
The Seattle City Council approved a Seattle Children's hospital plan Monday to more than double the size of its buildings over the next 20 years, following terms of a compromise with the Laurelhurst Community Club.
Seattle Times staff reporter
After two years of conflict and compromise, Seattle Children's hospital got the go-ahead from the City Council Monday for a major expansion of its campus on Sand Point Way Northeast.
The phased build-out, which could take place over 20 years, will allow the hospital to enlarge its emergency room and double both its square footage and number of beds.
At the same time, the council adopted provisions of a February agreement between the hospital and the Laurelhurst Community Club which trimmed the height, size and visibility of its buildings. The campus will grow to 28 acres from 22 acres.
"This is a big win for the kids of the region," the hospital's chief administrative officer, Lisa Brandenburg, said after the vote. "We are a region in need of additional inpatient beds. Just last week we had to turn away children again because we were full. We have had that problem consistently over the last year."
Brandenburg said the hospital hopes to begin construction of the first phase of expansion early next year, with new beds and a new emergency department opening in 2013.
Representatives of two affordable-housing advocacy groups, the Seattle Displacement Coalition and the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, said it wasn't clear whether conditions set by the City Council would require the hospital to replace apartments and condominiums slated for demolition with equally affordable homes elsewhere.
"The council's decision leaves us in a position of contemplating whether or not we need to take legal action to enforce the comparable-replacement requirement," Displacement Coalition Coordinator John Fox said.
The council gave Children's a choice of either replacing the 136 housing units or giving the city $10.9 million toward replacement units.
Under the master plan approved by the council, the hospital plans to buy Laurelon Terrace Condominiums for $93 million — a price it puts at more than twice market value — and replace it with the hospital's tallest buildings, up to 140 feet.
Under Children's agreement with the Laurelhurst Community Club and conditions set by the City Council:
• The hospital can add nearly 1.3 million square feet to its existing 846,000 square feet of buildings. The added space will accommodate up to 350 additional beds.
• Forty-one percent of the campus must be kept as open space, and setbacks from the property line would be increased around much of the campus.
• Children's dropped plans to expand across Sand Point Way and agreed not to expand into residential areas for 50 years.
• The portion of hospital employees who commute solo by car must be reduced from 38 percent to 30 percent by the time the hospital has fully built out.
The council approved the hospital's master plan 8-0, with Bruce Harrell recusing himself. His wife, Joanne, is a regent of the University of Washington, which supported the expansion.
City Council members didn't debate the merits of expansion, noting they were acting in a quasi-judicial role. Sally Clark, who as chair of the council's Built Environment Committee developed much of the language, said it was "a balancing test" between meeting the hospital's medical mission and the concerns of its neighbors.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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