Neighbors alongside Swedish Medical Center: Cherry Hill are not sleeping well. They are spending many evenings a month meeting in small groups, and hours of their time trying to motivate neighbors, who are unaware of the waking giant in their midst. The giant is a medical center, a “Major Institution”, which has applied for a “Major Institution Master Plan”, or MIMP, in order to increase the size of their campus by nearly 100%. MIMPS are meant to allow Major Institutions to grow larger than for-profit businesses are allowed to, in residential neighborhoods. The idea is that Major Institutions, like schools and hospitals, benefit the surrounding neighborhood and the city, at large, so the zoning of certain areas is waived to allow the beneficial institution to expand. This is the idea. The reality, in this case, is different because a for-profit corporation is pushing this development.
We need to go back a couple of decades to see how this ‘Major Institution’, became a front for a corporation. A couple of decades ago, The Sisters of Providence Hospital, at the time, sold nearly half of their campus to the for-profit developer, Sabey Corporation. The sale was necessary because Providence couldn’t fill their hospital beds with patients. There was no need to expand at that time, quite the opposite. The egregious thing about this expansion is that the hospital, as a care-giving, doctor-visiting-patient-in-room sort of thing is not what is growing. What is being proposed are doctor’s-office towers, research facilities, and laboratories. In other words, support facilities. Swedish: Cherry Hill would not be the only facility benefiting from these support businesses. These would be rent-paying, medical-retail businesses, filling the office towers as for-profit tenants in a for-profit scenario on the property that was once a care-giving-doctor-visiting-patient hospital. Sabey Corporation is taking advantage of the MIMP process and trying like hell to build enormous office towers in the middle of Seattle’s oldest, residential neighborhood. We are trying to stop them.
We are trying to stop them because, if their plans are realized, the whole of our neighborhood, just south of Capitol Hill will be destroyed. It will happen slowly until these 110-year-old Victorian homes will be a distant memory; along with tales of how one used to be able to drive from Ezell’s to the freeway in ten minutes. The current Draft Environmental Impact Statement for this MIMP clearly states that intersections, that are, currently, passable by traffic, will become impassable. Traffic in and out of our neighborhood will be at a standstill. Pollution will rise, pedestrian traffic will suffer, beautiful homes will be sold and razed for a larger ‘Medical Center’ footprint, crime will go up, more home-owners will sell. It’s formulaic.
There has been a lot written and a lot of talk, lately about developers having their way with Seattle. This is one more reality episode of “Developers Gone Wild”, and they are drunk with power. We are over here in The Hood, fighting for our homes, for our streets, for our air-quality, and for our sanity. We are extending an invitation to our neighbors on The Hill to take an interest in our struggle to keep corporations out of the MIMP process, to hold Swedish: Cherry Hill to livable heights, bulk and scale of development as befits this venerable neighborhood. Come to a meeting of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee as they try to sort this thing out with Swedish and Sabey. If you have a free evening this Tuesday, September 30th, come on down and check out the action. It’s getting good. You won’t be disappointed.