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Originally published Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 7:47 PM

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Swedish to introduce new plans for growth

After plans to increase of its Cherry Hill campus raised concerns among residents in the surrounding Squire Park neighborhood of Seattle, Swedish Medical Center will propose different expansion ideas.

Seattle Times health reporter

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Swedish Medical Center, after facing criticism from neighborhood residents over a proposal allowing its Cherry Hill campus to grow higher and wider, will present new alternatives at a public meeting Thursday.

The specifics will be revealed at the public meeting, to be held from 6-8:30 p.m. in the James Tower on the campus.

To expand in the midst of a residential zone, Swedish must have a new master plan ultimately approved by the Seattle City Council, and these proposals are among the first steps in that process.

At a community meeting earlier this year, about 200 area residents mostly voiced concerns about the project’s size and its effect on the neighborhood, said Steve Sheppard from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

The original proposal involved increasing height limits on the campus or expanding beyond existing campus boundaries — or both.

Swedish says it’s planning only for the future and doesn’t have any immediate building plan.

Currently, the Cherry Hill campus, the former Providence Hospital site, is surrounded by single-family homes with 30-foot height limits. The campus covers the area between East Cherry Street and East Jefferson Street, and 15th Avenue on the west and 18th Avenue on the east, as well as the western half of the block between 18th and 19th avenues.

One proposal offered by Swedish in earlier meetings would keep the campus in its current footprint, but allow some buildings to be as high as 200 feet. A second alternative would also vacate two streets — 16th and 18th avenues between Cherry and Jefferson — and push the campus footprint south of Jefferson, west to 15th Avenue, east to 19th Avenue, and north of Cherry.

Swedish also wants to triple the amount of parking available on the campus.

Joy Jacobson, who lives in the Squire Park neighborhood surrounding the campus, said she hasn’t heard good reasons why Swedish needs to expand so much.

“What they’ve actually thrown out is a big fat number of square footage,” she said. “What I’m hearing, what I think everyone is so concerned about, is why is that number so big?”

Parking, for those who live in adjacent single-family neighborhoods, was an issue for residents, as was just the sheer size and scope of what Swedish appeared to be envisioning. Some said the tall buildings would block sunlight from their homes and gardens.

Marcia Peterson, Swedish’s director of strategic planning, said Swedish is out of space on the campus, which houses Swedish’s Neuroscience Institute and its Heart & Vascular Institute, as well as other services. It needs more physician office space, and has “bottlenecks around inpatient care,” she said.

Swedish spokesman Ed Boyle said with the population aging and growing, “the future for that campus will require some amount of growth.”

Bill Zosel, a Squire Park Community Council member, said another alternative might be for Swedish to reoccupy some of the space it sold to the Sabey Corp., which now owns 40 percent of the campus, including the Jefferson Tower and the James Tower buildings.

Bob Cooper, who has lived close to the campus for 26 years, said current codes governing master plans attempt to balance the interests of nonprofit hospitals and universities with the interests of neighborhood residents — but didn’t anticipate the involvement of for-profit companies such as Sabey.

“Now you have a different motivation operating with the inclusion of a for-profit developer partner.”

Sheppard noted that the plan would not give Swedish the right of eminent domain — condemnation — but would change height limits for any future building.

“If they buy homes, they could build high,” he said.

Carol M. Ostrom: 206-464-2249 or costrom@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @costrom

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