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Originally published Monday, July 12, 2010 at 2:53 PM

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Selig now proposes office building next to sculpture park

Developer Martin Selig has scrapped plans for a controversial 14-story apartment building next door to Seattle's much-praised Olympic Sculpture Park and proposed a seven-story office building there instead.

Seattle Times business reporter

Developer Martin Selig has scrapped plans for a controversial 14-story apartment building next door to Seattle's much-praised Olympic Sculpture Park and proposed a seven-story office building there instead.

But the downsizing hasn't quieted the project's opponents.

"We're saying, 'Martin, you can build a building, but you've got to play by the rules,' " said Sylvia Skratek, who heads the homeowners association at a neighboring condominium.

While zoning for the site allows 125-foot residential buildings, it limits commercial buildings to 65 feet. Selig has asked for an exception for his building, which would be at least 91 feet tall.

The property, at 3031 Western Ave., is on the sculpture park's northern boundary. It's now occupied by a two-story warehouse used as a garage.

City planners approved Selig's 14-story apartment project last year. The Alexandria Homeowners Association, the group Skratek heads, and another organization appealed, arguing the building was too big for the neighborhood and would ruin views from the park.

The Seattle Art Museum, which developed and owns the 4-year-old sculpture park, was not among the appellants.

Earlier this year, a city hearing examiner ruled in favor of the project's opponents on procedural grounds and ordered Selig and the city to start over. But when Selig resubmitted his apartment design to the city's advisory Downtown Design Review Board — which had approved the project earlier — members this time expressed concerns.

"For some board members, the building simply loomed over the park," a city report on the board's March 9 deliberations says. Members agreed its height should be trimmed.

Selig said Monday that his new design accomplishes that, and also eliminates apartment balconies on the building's south side, overlooking the sculpture park, that some had found troublesome.

"This is what they wanted at that last design-review board meeting," Selig said.

But Skratek said any office building should comply with the existing 65-foot height limit.

The board is to consider Selig's new proposal July 27. Even if the project wins city approval, Selig said, he has no plans to start construction anytime soon.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or epryne@seattletimes.com

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