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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Children's Hospital makes deal for expansion

The Seattle PI has an account of a settlement agreement between Laurelhurst Community Club and Children's Hospital. The Laurelhurst Club, lead by community activist and attorney Jeannie Hale, had appealed the hospital's $1 Bill Master Development Plan, and won a Hearing Examiner decision last year. The Seattle City Council was to have made the final decision on the master plan, but this settlement will now allow the development to proceed with conditions favorable to the community.

This is a remarkable victory for the community and an example of what can be done, when communities act proactively and with clear strategy.


Seattle Children's Hospital, which has been mired for months in a bureaucratic battle over its $1 billion expansion plans, announced a deal Wednesday to let those plans go forward.

But in return, Children's will have a smaller expansion that it originally wanted.

The settlement, struck with the Laurelhurst Community Club, was presented to the City Council on Wednesday.

The deal is expected to pave the way for approval of the project. A city hearing examiner rejected Children's plans, so the hospital appealed to the City Council. The Laurelhurst Community Club had been opposing what Children's wanted to do.

Children's had warned that it would have to consider moving outside Seattle if it couldn't proceed with the expansion. After it appealed, Children's began a lobbying and advertising campaign to win approval.

Under the deal announced Wednesday, Children's will be able to build an additional 600 beds.

But Children's also agreed to:

  • Cut 275,000 square feet from its planned expansion of 1.5 million square feet.
  • Not expand across Sand Point Way Northeast. The hospital had intended to include in its expansion property it owned across Sand Point Way. Children's can still develop the property but has agreed to not cut down a grove of Sequoia trees, create landscape screening and build pedestrian and bicycle access to the Burke-Gilman Trail.
  • Not expand its boundaries into neighborhoods to the south, east and north of the hospital for 50 years.
  • Height restrictions. No more than 20 percent of the campus land area can be more than 90 feet high and no more than 10 percent of the campus's new boundary can be more than 125 feet high. No building can be taller than 140 feet.
  • Build a southwest parking garage underground.
  • Give $150,000 to the Laurelhurst Community Club.
  • Adopt many of the hearing examiner's recommendations.

The Laurelhurst Community Club withdrew its challenge of the expansion plans. In return, Children's has agreed to work with the neighborhood group on the expansion. The hospital will ask the city to appoint two people recommended by the neighborhood group to serve on a committee overseeing the expansion.

Scott Sunde can be reached at 206-448-8331 or

photo credit - Laurelhust Community Club and Children's Hospital
Captions - Children's Hospital site before and after proposed expansion, Laurelhurst arial view, Historical Postcard of Laurelhurst area overlooking Portage Bay

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