Rooms with a view

July 22nd, 2008 by Ken

I’ve been following the fight over allowing taller buildings in downtown Olympia with bemusement and some interest.

Anytime the City of Olympia turns down a business, it moves to Lacey, where the city reaps the benefits of a new business, along with the jobs and the increased tax revenue.  What’s bad for Olympia is sometimes good for Lacey. 

So the fight among Olympia residents over the Larida Village Project and taller building  heights on the area between Budd Inlet and Capitol Lake drew my attention.

I wanted to know what the problems and concerns were regarding building heights and the restriction of the view.  Armed with maps, some idea of how high a seven-story building is, and good sunny weather, I started out.

I went to the strip of land in question and envisioned what such a building would look like and what a five-story building would look like from ground level, from someone walking along Fifth Avenue.

Then I walked along the shore of Capitol Lake, around Heritage Park looking back at the proposed buildings.  I walked the zig zag path up the hill to the Temple of Justice Building and looked back along Budd Inlet.

I even drove to the Thurston County Courthouse and took a look at what the buildings would look like from the courthouse hill view site.

I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about.  At street level, along Fifth Avenue, there would be some blockage of view.  But it didn’t make any difference how high the buildings were, all view is blocked from any building, even the old health department building blocks views from ground level.

As I walked along Heritage Park the buildings blocked less and less of the view and soon melted down into the overall view.  Attractive buildings would not cause any significant distraction of the view.

From the Temple of Justice site there was almost no blockage of the view.  The buildings disappeared.

The view from the Temple of Justice is stunning and a seven-story and five-story building would not distract from that view whatsoever.   And, from courthouse hill any new buildings constructed on the inlet just becomes part of the cityscape.

As far as I could tell, the Larida Village Project would not cause significant impact to the view corridor.

The bigger problem with the Larida Village Project is the fact that, once constructed, it would open the flood gates.  Dozens of other condominiums would be on the drawing board in a matter of months once the Larida Village Project is completed.

The view from downtown Olympia of Budd Inlet, of Capitol Lake of the Capitol Building is magnificent.  Once the first condominium goes up others are sure to follow.

And, that my friends is the real concern of those that want no growth in Olympia.  Those that want to keep Olympia’s downtown just a little funky business district have got to stop the Larida Village Project because once it starts, growth will sweep across the area and downtown Olympia as they know it will be gone in just a few years.

Posted in Business, Informational, The Real News

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