WHEN A SMALL wedge of land by the Duwamish River changed ownership in 2019, some South Park neighbors started to worry about the future of eight rental houses that have been part of the landscape for decades.
Their worries intensified recently, when some tenants moved out and two of the homes were torn down.
Jennifer Scarlett (center in the sketch) is among a group of affordable-housing advocates who have started a demolition watch to stop the wrecking ball from destroying the remaining residences tucked between South Rose Street and South Orr Street. Standing beside her are other neighbors backing the preservation of the dwellings, an increasingly rare example of affordable single-family homes in Seattle.
But the houses, which sit on King County land, are unlikely to stand much longer.
The houses’ current owner, Jeff Carnevali, the CEO of National Products Inc. (NPI), a local fabrication company across the street, writes via email that his company outlined a proposal in 2019 that would remove the homes and develop “expansive green space” in their place, with sound-mediation barriers. Tenants originally were given six months’ notice to vacate, but that was extended by six months, and then by another year when the pandemic hit.
Carnevali says that while that proposal remains the current plan, he has been in contact with King County regarding a possible land rezoning that would replace the lost low-income housing, create additional green space and address parking-space requirements for his growing business.
Neighbors who have seen NPI’s footprint in the neighborhood expand over the years say the loss of these houses represents another chapter in a long history of industrial encroachment into the community.
There were six houses remaining when I visited, and Scarlett already had been parking her car at the entrance to this vacant home to block access. Nonetheless, its demolition was underway at our magazine deadline. “We are still fighting,” Scarlett posted to the South Park Seattle Neighborhood Facebook page on April 1.