Development bad for neighbors

To the editor,
My wife, who manages our small business, and I have been losing sleep over the monstrous four-story development proposed at 564 E. 2nd Ave. We were only aware of a Planning Commission meeting regarding the Reynolds and Associates project shortly before it happened, and based on city staff recommendations to deny the project, assumed we would simply have to show up to represent our interests. In hindsight, especially after the project was granted a continuance, we wish we had presented a fuller case regarding the impact of the proposed development on Amaya Natural Therapeutics, which may very well be devastating.
Concerns that affect our business especially include the loss of business during a massive construction process. We offer several thousand massages a year and support nearly 20 employees. Many people come to our business to relax and enjoy the outdoor sanctuary we’ve created, which includes a hot tub, cold plunge and sauna. We cannot imagine that people will want to come in during a very loud, ground-shaking construction process. We believe it may represent upwards of a 75 percent loss in business during the totality of the construction phase. Beyond this, we lose a tremendous amount of value going forward, as our business relies on the enjoy-ability of our tub area and back yard. We believe the change in view, sunlight, noise and privacy will constitute an ongoing financial loss of business for our establishment.
Relative to the large tree along our fence line that in the summer offers dappled shade to our garden while allowing partial sun in the remainder of the yard, and full sun to the yard in the winter when its leaves are down, we are rightly concerned that it would not survive the construction process.

Also, on the proposed north side of the project that looms over our property, there are at least nine windows and a stairwell that look directly into our back yard and compromise the privacy of our clients.

I am not sure who grants permission for trespass during the construction process, however as a business we do not wish to offer an easement for this, as the impact to our well-being is so great. We in no way wish to support the development of something that undermines our very survival as a business. We know Reynolds and Associates has suggested there would not be need to cross onto our property as they feel they could build the entire development from within their property lines. However, I cannot believe that the construction process would not represent an extreme danger to our clients, whether from falling construction debris or accidental human errors, especially as it abuts our property line.

Although we understand that the City has targeted this area for development and has generously allowed for developers to expand the existing infrastructure of the block in line with the desires of elected government officials (who often represent real estate and architectural interests), we cannot stress how important it is to approach these changes with sensitivity to the existing property owners and established business owners in the neighborhood. By placing a large development of this type in the middle of the block, Reynolds is dramatically affecting the values of neighboring properties by overshadowing them, and in essence is forcing the hand of his neighbors to consider selling out, as they witness the loss in value of their investments. To manipulate the value of existing interests by forcing development without any consideration of the impacts to the quality of life for his neighbors is unethical.

We understand that he may desire to undermine his neighbor’s property values in hopes of developing the entire block and seems to be applying aggressive strategies to this end. However, for the city to not carefully represent the concerns of its citizens relative to such behavior seems incredibly distasteful. If our elected officials are shaping planning policies with an eye to future growth, who represents those in the community with historical interest in their properties? Approaching such blatant gentrification with care and consideration seems the ethical responsibility of our city government.

PS: If you would like to comment about the project at 564 E. 2nd Ave., you can contact Community Development Planner Vickie Vandergrift or Planning Manager Scott Shine. Public comments are welcome. 

– Don Lewis, owner, Amaya Natural Therapeutics