Seattle Parks and Recreation officials were confused when they realized that the parking lot for the Queen Anne Bowl Playfields did not belong to them. The land actually belonged to Seattle Pacific University (SPU).
This was brought to Seattle Parks’ attention when Aegis Living, an assisted-living franchise, bought the parking lot from SPU. Suddenly, Seattle Parks discovered there would be no more parking for the Queen Anne Bowl, a heavily used park at 2806 Third Ave. W.
“There was nothing we could do,” said Donald Harris, property and acquisition services manager at Seattle Parks and Recreation, upon recognizing this blip. “We didn’t have any money to buy it back.”
But on Dec. 11, the Seattle City Council approved a land swap between Seattle Parks and Aegis so park users could continue to park in a lot.
‘Win-win’ for all
The reason for the confusion stretches years back.
In 1977, SPU bought the land. This was clear to the university, but for the last several decades, people parked on the land when using the park. Until recently, Seattle Parks assumed the lot belonged to the city.
Last year, the city noticed SPU had sold the property north of the Queen Anne Bowl, where the tennis courts were. This made city officials nervous, Harris said, but the park had other tennis courts, so worries were fleeting.
It was only last July when Aegis told the Queen Anne Community Council it had plans to acquire the land to put up more senior housing that city officials noticed their oversight.
“But Aegis didn’t have serious plans for the parking lot,” Harris said. “So we had an ‘aha’ experience: What if we did an exchange? Aegis realized they could get a few more units on their site if they worked a deal out with us and the community council.”
The swap was lifesaving for Seattle Parks. Because the value of the property is high, Seattle Parks could not afford to buy the entire piece of land at this time, making the swap their only choice.
Seattle Parks secured two of the six lots, which will accommodate 28 to 34 parking spaces, according to Harris.
Negotiations between the parks committee and Aegis were well received by the community council, Harris said.
With the land swap, Aegis can build 10 to 12 additional housing units.
“Aegis was pretty amiable and allowed the city to retain that parking space,” said Lily Rehrmann, legislative aide to Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. “The city feels positive in the value of the offer.”
The city will look for ways to buy the rest of the land.
Diana Steele, director of public relations at PRR for Aegis, said, “Everyone gets a win” with the swap.
“Had we not found a solution, all the parking spots would be gone,” she said. “This deal gives access to the parking lot and gives the city budget time to purchase the rest of it, which is very likely.”
One of two projects
Aegis Living is set to build two assisted-living facilities in Queen Anne: one on Third Avenue West and West Galer St., and the other near SPU at Third Avenue and West Florentia Street.
Since Aegis’ plans were introduced to the Queen Anne community, many neighbors have expressed disapproval about Aegis’ plan, especially for those near the West Galer location, where Aegis is pushing for a rezone permit.
As discussed in the multiple Queen Anne Community Council meetings held regarding Aegis, it was noted that the rezone permit will reportedly go through.
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