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Monday, November 26, 2007

Deputy Mayor Ceis, Vulcan Apologist.

posted by on November 26 at 15:29 PM

Erica’s got a story in this week’s paper that we’ve been chipping away at for a while.

It’s about the fast one Vulcan wants to pull—trying to rush through a land deal before the city hammers out its citywide zoning regulations—so they won’t have to meet all the public benefit requirements (extra height for providing affordable housing, for example) that come with new development. Vulcan’s trump card? If this deal falls through (and it will, they claim, if it doesn’t happen soon), the big-name tenant, Amazon, will split.

I was on vacation last week. And when I got back to town and picked up the paper, it was curious to find this quote from Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis in ECB’s story:

And both Ceis and Vulcan have said the company can’t wait for the larger zoning proposal because its potential tenant needs to move forward now. A two-month delay “could mean the loss of the proposal,” Ceis say. “That would be a real tragedy. This is a lot of jobs.”


When I did some initial reporting on this story, Ceis told me Vulcan wasn’t trying to play the Amazon card, and what’s more, he told me he agreed with the city council’s position that the city sould not grant extra height rights to the developer without getting public benefits in return:

He … said that while the developers are making “the same old arguments” against public benefit incentives (“the deals won’t pencil out”), they don’t have much of a case given that the council passed a incentive zoning for downtown last year and “there’s no shortage of cranes there now. It worked,” Ceis said.

After I saw his apologist quote this week, I looked up my notes from that conversation. Here’s what he said about the pending zoning overhaul:

“That makes sense to me. That’s the way it works. You get something. We get something in return.”

But now he’s singing Vulcan’s tune.

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oh come ON!

it's a 12 story building in DOWNTOWN FUCKING SEATTLE!!


Posted by Cale | November 26, 2007 4:05 PM


Whatever you think about "building it already" ... the point is: Deputy Mayor Ceis didn't want to "build it already" when I talked to him in August. He wanted to pass comprehensive zoning changes and let the public reap some benefits before giving the developer what it wanted.

He appears to have folded his hand since then.

Posted by Josh Feit | November 26, 2007 4:15 PM

Tim Ceis is only my second favorite rent-boy, this afternoon.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | November 26, 2007 4:44 PM

Maybe Amazon started playing the Amazon card a little tougher with Vulcan, so that a different flavor of shit's flowing downhill to Ceis suddenly. Given its business model, Amazon has to plan carefully around its fragility if consumer spending starts dropping even a little--last time it did they had to shrink but quick. If there's a downturn they'll find it cheaper to consolidate workerbees by going from two taller buildings down to just one, rather than still have multiple lowrises scattered over several blocks as with Fred Hutch.

Remembering how the public got itself well screwed on the Wright Runstad/PacMed deal that plunked Amazon on Beacon Hill in the first place, I'd be shocked if anything different happened from today's City Hall.

Thanks for the updates, Mr. Feit; time to email Hizzoner yet again.

Posted by tomasyalba | November 26, 2007 4:47 PM


What you don't know about zoning and land use would apparently fill several books.

Kudos to the Stranger for getting a density/development/corporate giveaway issue right, for a change.

Posted by Mr. X | November 26, 2007 5:15 PM

I for one am glad the Stranger is going back to the slog thru zoning applications that is the bulk of city work.

That's where the real stories are buried.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 26, 2007 5:29 PM

Mr. X, you forgot to tell him to go back where he came from (I love when you get all testy and xenophobic--it's so sexy!). Also, please find a way to misuse numbers on this one.

Just saw the other day how you argued that the growth rates bear out people's desire to live away from density--way to ignore the 500% growth rate for downtown, the 'hood in question. Perhaps you were too busy masturbating over photos of Emmett Watson and Knute Berger to notice the actual numbers.

Posted by don't lie | November 26, 2007 5:53 PM


Name calling aside, if you read my post, you'd see that that 500% growth rate for Downtown (ie - a population of 20,000) is a drop in the bucket compared to where the majority of growth is occurring throughout the region.

But thanks for playing...

Back on topic, Hallivulcan bought their SLU properties with open eyes and under the existing zoning, and it not the job of the City Government to maximize their profit.

Bonus round - you do know that spot rezones are illegal, yes?

Posted by Mr. X | November 26, 2007 6:24 PM

Anyone else think Tim Ceis looks a little like Andy Warhol?

Posted by Gidge | November 26, 2007 6:47 PM

". . . zoning applications that is the bulk of city work. That's where the real stories are buried. Posted by Will in Seattle"

Ha. The "real story" around here is the Sound Transit end game.

Odds are the the commuter service will continue along the Everett to Tacoma BN tracks. And the downtown-to-airport light rail service will start up soon enough. But the rest of what is now "Sound Transit," well, that is going to be nothing but a fond memory in a year. Other transit operators will be picking up the pieces the legislature doles out.

Posted by Whipple | November 26, 2007 9:13 PM

wanna fill me in x?


comprehensive zoning changes would rock, the problem is this city hardly knows what it wants. we need stronger planners with a great vision for seattle, not endless chit chat from mayor deputies who shove their cocks in front of developers to snag brownie points with voters.

in the mean time there are big businesses who employ many people in this region who need room to expand. would you rather see two shiny new 12 stories in bellevue?

can anyone tell me what would be lost with two 12 story buildings in south lake union?

Posted by Cale | November 27, 2007 3:10 AM

Indeed, in lieu of comprehensive zoning, I guess illegal spot-zoning for sale to the highest bidders only is the best way to get shiny new buildings in Seattle.

Because we've hardly got any building going on here now, as is--the downtown's a desert!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | November 27, 2007 9:41 AM

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