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Schmitz Park will expand, thanks to sale of a tear-down

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The old-growth preserve will grow, thanks to a Seattleite who opted to sell his property to the city

Licorice ferns on a big-leaf maple in Schmitz Park.
J Brew/Flickr

The old-growth forest preserved in Schmitz Park is getting another 5,000 square feet. The Seattle City Council voted to approve the purchase of a small parcel that fills in one corner of the park last week—currently a small, single-family home.

The house was owned by Bruce Stotler, 72. The Seattle Times reported that Stotler and his wife bought the home in 1980 for $74,000. Although its value was assessed at $473,000 in 2017, Stotler opted to sell the home to the city for $225,000—just enough to cover his expenses.

His only stipulation: He gets to live out the rest of his days in the home.

Stotler’s property is embedded in the southeast corner of the park along a dead-end stretch of Southwest Orleans Street, the only parcel on his block that’s not part of Schmitz Park.

The 2,000-square-foot home that sits on the parcel is a fixer: a two-bedroom rambler in need of many repairs. If it had been privately purchased, the Times speculates, it would have been a likely tear-down. While it’s zoned single-family, up to a three-story structure would have been allowed there—perhaps a luxury home overlooking the park.

Retired City Councilor Tom Rasmussen, who helped make the deal happen, recalled to the Times the case of Kubota Garden. The elaborate gardens were purchased by the city in the late ‘80s, but the city declined to purchase surrounding land. Residences were built there that crane over the park for the view.

The $225,000 used to purchase the property came from the Seattle Park District fund, approved by voters with the Parks Levy in 2014.