The Seattle City Council approved purchase of a West Seattle teardown abutting Schmitz Preserve Park for less than half its assessed value. Its 72-year-old owner didn’t want another megahouse there.
You could understand if Bruce Stotler got a little emotional, his eyes welling up, at Tuesday afternoon’s Seattle City Council meeting.
Council Bill No. CB 119169, the bill about his home, was coming up for a vote by all nine council members. It was approved 9-0.
His story was told in Monday’s Seattle Times.
The city is buying Stotler’s West Seattle property at less than half its $473,000 assessed value, for $225,000, so it becomes part of Schmitz Preserve Park.
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Stotler, 72, lives on a 5,000-square-foot lot on the southeast edge of the park with his two dogs, a couple of terrier mixes called Scout and Nellie.
Sure, Stotler, who has no near relatives, could have sold his property. Then what?
His modest residence is a teardown.
You know what even a teardown fetches in Seattle these days. In 2016, a toxic West Seattle house deemed too dangerous to enter was sold for $427,000 as a teardown. A new, 2,845-square-foot, four-bedroom home was built on the site and sold this past June in seven days for $1.2 million.
“A megahouse. They would build as big a house as they could,” Stotler says.
So Stotler offered the property to the city, as long as he could live out his days there.
His home is right on the corner of Southwest Orleans Street and 51st Avenue Southwest.
On that side of the block there is no other structure except his home. The rest is the park.
At first, Seattle Parks wasn’t interested.
It gets $2 million a year from a 2008 levy to spend on land acquisitions, said Chip Nevins, the agency’s adviser in charge of acquisitions.
He said the priority for that money was for “urban villages” such as near the Mount Baker light-rail station.
But Stotler had some West Seattle residents who got behind his dream.
There was former council member Tom Rasmussen. There was the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. There was Vicki Schmitz Block, 77, the oldest living member of the Schmitz family who still lives in West Seattle.
And there was Councilmember Lisa Herbold, another neighborhood resident.
“It took a year to get the Parks Department to purchase it,” she said about Stotler’s home.
“As a member of the bureaucracy,” she added, she fully realized “it moves slowly” and that “we talked about a new lens to look at this through.”
But it all finally happened.
One less potential megahouse.
One more bit of green space.