Ballard is growing up, but do we want it to?

Dec 24, 2015, 8:58 AM | Updated: 8:58 am
As Seattle grows, many question if the new development will retain the character that makes the Eme...
As Seattle grows, many question if the new development will retain the character that makes the Emerald City unique. (MyNorthwest file)
(MyNorthwest file)

There is a line between preserving what makes a community great, and accommodating the people drawn to that community. Ballard is currently trying to find where that line is.

Henry Rosoff with KIRO7 reports that Ballard neighbors are growing nervous about a new building slated for the area that will be among the tallest in the community. And it could be the first of more, taller buildings to come.

“Ballard is one of the neighborhoods that has been designated a high-density growth area. That’s why you’ve seen all these condos go in there over the past couple years,” said KIRO Radio’s Feliks Banel.

“The idea is that you are not only increasing the density, but you are beefing up the services to support it … all those buildings are ground floor retail or restaurants and five or six stories of residences above,” he said.

The Olympic Athletic Club is one such building. Its owners wants to tear down parts of the building and erect a seven-story structure, adding 65 rooms to its hotel &#8212 but only parking for 28 vehicles. Down the road, another project is in its planning stages. That project aims to replace a two-story structure with a seven-story apartment building with 92 units. That apartment building hasn’t planned to offer any parking.

The parking issue is of particular concern for Ballard neighbors.

“That’s one of the issues down in Ballard, not that they are adding buildings, but that parking has become such a premium there,” KIRO Radio co-host Terry Holliman said. “They have nowhere for these people to park. If you are putting new buildings with new apartment complexes, and a new hotel &#8212 where are you going to put the cars at?”

Parking is one thing. But Holliman questions what will happen to Ballard with a new, taller profile.

“How does this affect the current people in Ballard? There’s some people that probably want to preserve their neighborhood,” he said.

“I never thought of Ballard as a sprawling growing community that we would see high-rises thrown up. I think of the locks,the Scandinavian community, Golden Gardens and Shilshole Bay. I don’t see big, tall skyscrapers.”

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Ballard is growing up, but do we want it to?