Economics/Class Relations

Seattle to buy land 103-year-old woman doesn’t want to sell



Seattle has another “Edith Macefield” refusing to sell her property.

An elderly woman has turned down the City of Seattle’s offer to purchase her prime, waterfront parking lot.

So, what does the city do?

The Seattle City Council voted 8 to 0 to acquire “through negotiation or condemnation” the waterfront parking lot that belongs to a 103-year-old Spokane woman.

Council members unanimously passed the 19-page ordinance Monday with no debate.

The city attorney is authorized to “condemn, take, damage, and appropriate” the property at 1101 Western Avenue. After “just compensation” the city will turn the land over to the Seattle Department of Transportation.

SDOT plans to use the lot to make up for the loss of street parking near the waterfront while the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project continues. After all, they note, “Central Waterfront is an important tourist destination, an integral part of the downtown transportation network, and generates significant jobs and economic activity, and as such the City is sensitive to the area’s access needs.”

The city does not appear to be as sensitive to Myrtle Woldson’s wishes. She’s the property owner who does not want to sell the lot between Seneca and Spring streets. She’s said no thank you to Seattle’s offer several times.

Republic Parking Northwest manages the 134-stall lot. Yes, the city is acquiring a privately-owned parking lot to create a city-owned lot.

Woldson’s property is worth about $5 million as is, but realtors say its developed value is around $130 million.

This isn’t about money to her. She doesn’t need it. Woldson is the daughter of Spokane railroad builder Martin Woldson. A few years ago she gave $3 million to restore Spokane’s Fox Theater from the Depression Era.

Myrtle reminds me of Edith.

Edith Macefield turned down $1 million for her Ballard home. An entire development – Ballard Blocks – popped up around her 100-year-old house when she refused to sell.

Before Macefield died in June of 2008, she willed her home to Barry Martin, a construction supervisor who became her friend. Martin sold the home in July of 2009 for $310,000 to Greg and Shauna Pinneo.

Originally, there were plans to elevate the house and keep it as a community event space. If that’s still happening, there’s no sign of that outside the sad, lifeless property.

The interior of house has been gutted. Plywood covers the building’s exterior. A higher fence blocks the property, and the porch light that Edith always had on is turned off or burned out.

Back to Woldson’s parking lot property, the ordinance giving the city the right to buy it will be in force 30 days after the mayor signs the legislation.


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