by Michael R. Allen
All three of these buildings in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood are owned by McEagle Properties-controlled holding companies and were destroyed by brick thieves this year or last. The rubble piles remain, one almost mockingly surrounded by cheap plastic construction fencing. Those residents of JeffVanderLou considering whether or not the owner’s NorthSide project is a good deal for their neighborhood have this evidence to consider. What else? Residents can learn more at Wednesday’s meeting of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Commission, at which the NorthSide project will be considered for a $399 million public TIF subsidy.
The records of these properties show that two were not vacant very long before being destroyed, and that residents had tried to get the vulnerable buildings secured to prevent what happened. The two destroyed houses on Laflin are just a half-block north of Vashon High School. Many students walk this street before and after school, passing unsecured and dangerous rubble in open foundations. The present conditions violate city public safety laws.
Don’t get the wrong idea — most of JeffVanderLou does not look like this. Most buildings are occupied and there are always children playing in the streets as well as adult pedestrians. That’s why these open foundations are such a big problem. Hopefully we don’t have to wait until the developer has state tax credits in hand to get these nuisances cleaned up.