Kemper Freeman’s Motivation

Bellevue Transit Center, c/o Oran

Bellevue Transit Center, c/o Oran

There’s no question – Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman Jr. is a smart cookie as far as real estate goes. The question for me has always been – why doesn’t he support light rail, when it would do so much for his properties?

For years, he’s fought East Link light rail extension. He fought it in 2007 in Roads and Transit, pushing that only the road projects be funded, even going so far as to run his own “End Gidlock Now” campaign (his spelling). He fought 2008′s Mass Transit Now. Today, he’s funding anti-light rail candidates in Bellevue City Council races, and he’s suing the state to stop light rail to Bellevue, claiming use of the I-90 center lanes is unconstitutional.  More after the jump.

Ironically, his fight against Roads and Transit resulted in no RTID funding for highways when Sound Transit came back to the ballot alone.

Now that Proposition 1 has passed and Sound Transit 2 is funded, he can no longer effectively fight the collection of revenue for Sound Transit overall, so his Bellevue City Council tactic deserves a closer look. There’s something very interesting that Publicola pointed out: If these City Council candidates win, they’ll try to force Sound Transit to build light rail on the other side of I-405 from downtown, in the old BNSF alignment.

This isn’t cost effective, of course. The dramatically lower ridership would actually result in a higher cost per passenger (and per passenger mile) – yes, even when getting all that cheap right of way – than building a tunnel in Bellevue.

So what’s the benefit to Freeman here? A potential agreement between the city of Bellevue and Sound Transit would be required to fund a tunnel in downtown Bellevue, and this agreement would come with a Bellevue tax package – if he can fight that, it means lower taxes for his properties. Tunnel construction in downtown snarls access to his existing properties.

Light rail in downtown also just doesn’t offer Freeman much benefit. He only has two properties left to develop in downtown Bellevue – the Safeway site, and a potential high-rise attached to Bellevue Square. These developments will likely happen before East Link is complete, many blocks away from potential downtown stations. It’s going to be hard to permit more high-rises past those, as downtown Bellevue traffic is projected to congest massively with much more construction. That congestion wouldn’t really change with light rail – light rail would just give a lot of people a way to opt out.

Light rail in the relatively undeveloped BNSF corridor, though, does offer him a benefit. Both Freeman and Kevin Wallace, one of the city council candidates he’s supporting, as well as their business partners and friends, could profit handsomely from developing east of I-405. Using light rail as a tool to spur development in auto row makes a lot of sense – at least, it makes a lot of sense if you ignore public benefit, and just want to give a handout to developers.

So while I always hear the question – “Why does Kemper Freeman Jr. fight light rail?” – there’s a reason. It just doesn’t help him – he’s already built most of what he can. He makes ideological arguments about freedom and prosperity because they resonate with voters, he makes comments about the “type of people” he wants at his mall, and I’m sure his ideology informs his decisions, but his actions do make sense to his bottom line.




Comments

  1. Jojo says

    http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20050424&slug=jdl24

    Kemper is fighting light rail because he equates rail with poor people. And you can see how he looks down upon them in the article above. Even if rail brought more customers to Bellsquare, he doesn’t want THAT TYPE of customer.

    “Freeman was quoted in a newspaper story saying, “When you walk through the [Southcenter] mall, the way the customer dresses just to shop there — the light blue and pink hair curlers, the shoes that flop, flop, flop along — it’s a completely different customer.”

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      But that argument doesn’t really justify his actions. You don’t sink tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into fighting something because you’re racist. You do it because it affects your bottom line. These arguments he makes help him convince racists to agree with him, but he wants them to agree with him to help his bottom line. It just may happen to line up with his personal ideology.

      • NJL says

        I agree with you that there are likely real estate issues at hand, and that he wouldn’t spite his bottom line merely out of racism, but I don’t think racism and his bottom line are necessarily at odds. I think Freeman believes, maybe not totally irrationally, that rich white Eastsiders will shop somewhere else if a lot of “those people” start showing up at his mall.

        On the other hand, I don’t think that East Link is going to cause such a huge influx of Seattlites to start shopping at Bellevue Square, when light-rail will better connect them to other options. I think he is more concerned that more Eastsiders will go to Seattle to shop.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        I think you’re quite right that his racism might go with his bottom line.

        I don’t think that the people using the train from downtown are going to be lower income than the people he already gets. That seems to be what he’s worried about – but Seattle downtown is expensive to live in, and homeless folks aren’t spending $2.50-$3 on the train when they can hang out on a bus.

      • lazarus says

        I wouldn’t assume that everything KF does is driven by rational thought or pure economics.

        I remember reading a story once somewhere about KF. Apparently there was going to be some sort of a developer’s or Chamber of Commerce tour or something with a lot of other VIP’s. When it came time to take the site tour the vehicle showed up and it was one of those big luxury tour buses. KF refused to get on – he wouldn’t ride a bus period, he felt it was beneath him

        Along those same lines, I worked for several years with an extremely well educated, very accomplished, older gentleman who refused to have anything to do with any form of recycling. I once asked him why and he said, “I don’t sort garbage!” The very concept made him angry.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Oh, I don’t think everything he does is driven by rational thought or economics. But in the past, when we’ve talked about his ideological bent, we often get the response “But that doesn’t make sense”. This argument helps satisfy the people who don’t believe that everything he does is driven by his ideology. :)

      • Milo says

        “You don’t sink tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into fighting something because you’re racist. You do it because it affects your bottom line.” –

        Sadly, I think you’re mistaken on this. And it could be both motivations intertwined, too.

    • Martin H. Duke says

      A charitable reading of that quote is that he thinks his customers are racist, not that he’s racist himself.

      I’m glad Ben didn’t go down that road in the post.

      • Squints says

        I know someone who is a young, Beaux Arts-born-and-bred employee and accolade of Kemper Freeman and he very much ascribes to the idea that light rail should be stopped because it will bring a “bad element” into Bellevue. I have no problem believing that xenophobia and snobbery very much outweigh rational thought in Kemper Freeman’s case as well.

      • publicadministrator says

        So a property owner who takes far reaching preemptive steps to limit public access so his tenants and customers are less likely to be shopping around people they deem undesirable isn’t practicing racism or classcism himself.

        By that distinction if back in 1955 that white man had already been seated on that Montgomery bus and he denied his seat to Rosa Parks, but stood for the white lady who got on at the next stop, he himself wouldn’t be racist he’d only be enforcing bus rider policy and established societal norms.

  2. short-sighted says

    Kemper is short-sighted. Bellevue has changed drastically, just in his lifetime – most of that change having to do with him and his family. Downtown Bellevue is a handsome place, and he is rightly proud of it, but it is evolving from a bedroom community into a major city in its own right. With a major city come major infrastructure needs, and transit becomes something for everyone – not just a way of getting cleaning ladies to their job assignments.

    For the sake of his family, his city, and his legacy, he should be supporting link running into downtown Bellevue, for it will certainly become gridlocked without it, given the rate of growth. And transit or not, it’s going to become more “urban”. There’s no way around that.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      Oh, I agree – actually, I think it will become gridlocked with or without it.

      He just doesn’t make as much money on light rail in downtown.

    • Transit Voter says

      I’m still amazed at the wide acceptance given to NOT serving the downtown Bellevue retail core, which centers on Bellevue Way in the same way that downtown Seattle centers on Third Ave. No way would Seattle have accepted a transit tunnel off on the edge of downtown, so why does it have so much traction in Bellevue?

      No, I’m not referring to the I-405/BNSF corridor; that’s obviously ridiculous. I’m concerned that the 108th and 110th avenue corridors being proposed also shortchange the retail district. It’s a LONG walk from there to Bellevue Way, which, yes, is to Kemper’s liking, but sure’s hell not for most of the rest of the retail community.

      Can’t anyone over there see far enough into the future to DEMAND that Bellevue Way be served??? There’s a tired little strip mall on the west side of Bellevue Way, just east of the Downtown Park — an ideal location for a station. The northwest entrance would serve Bellevue Square and the southwest entrance would serve Old Town. North/south buses on Bellevue Way would have direct connections to rail. It’s just too obvious. Yes, a tunnel would be required, but given the form that Bellevue is taking, and yes, given the future that so few seem able to see, a tunnel is the only way; just as it was/is in downtown Seattle.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Unfortunately, we’re well past that. 108th serves the most people, though.

        We just don’t have the money for a tunnel, and Bellevue doesn’t have the political will to run rail through residential Bellevue Way.

      • alexjonlin says

        Yeah, although the retail core is around Bellevue Way, a large majority of transit trips are commuter trips so it makes more sense to serve the dense office/condo area than the retail area. That being said, it would be awesome to have a people mover/streetcar/prt/some other kind of little transit between the Bellevue TC station and Bellevue Square.

      • Bernie says

        What’s wrong with Shank’s Pony? It’s a 10 minute walk. Transit in this country is never going to work if people insist on curb to curb service everywhere they want to go. But if you need to be driven there’s always the 271 and the Bellevue Circulator should be running in the next year or so. It’s funded and the city staff has made a route recommendation to the Transportation Commission.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Define “insist”. Different percentages of people are willing to walk different distances and wait different amounts of time. Just treating it as all or nothing will not help you understand how to build a transit system that gets you the best ridership for your dollar.

      • Mickymse says

        Aren’t we learning now from the mistake of saving money by not tunneling through the Rainier Valley? Or not properly preparing the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel?

        We no longer have the excuse of needing to save money in order to get the system/project started/built.

        If we don’t have the money necessary to do East Link properly, then we either need to wait until we do or we should shorten the project and extend it further later.

      • Chris Stefan says

        Central Link as-built is better designed and higher capacity than a majority of the light rail lines that have been built in the past 30 years.

        We need to not let the perfect become the enemy of the good enough.

        After all if money was unlimited why didn’t we build a metro system with 100% grade separation, automated 10 car trains, and 75mph running between stations?

        As it stands Bellevue is either going to get an at-grade alignment with stations at Main and 112th, 108th & 110th at 6th, and 12th at 405; or a tunnel alignment with stations at Main & 112th, 110th & 4th, and 118th & 8th.

        As for shortening the line it simply doesn’t make sense to build East Link without going all the way to Overlake Transit Center.

      • Transit Voter says

        Ben, the 108th alignment “serves the most people” only if we’re resigned to having just one station in downtown Bellevue. Makes as much sense as Metro telling Seattle that they needed only one station in downtown, at University Street, which by itself would have “served the most people”.

      • alexjonlin says

        Well, four or five times as many people work and live in downtown Seattle as in downtown Bellevue, and it’s going to stay that way. It doesn’t really make sense to have more than one stop.

      • Mike B says

        God forbid you’re asking the average American to look into the future and beyond their own selfish intentions.

  3. Shopper says

    Freeman says that Bell square and Southcenter are two different clientelle, but look at the anchor stores:

    Bellevue Square – Macy’s, Nordstrom and Penneys.

    South Center – Macy’s, Nordstrom and Penneys.

    Or Northgate, for the matter: Macy’s, Nordstrom and Penneys

    It doesn’t seem that different to me… A mall is a mall.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      The volume of sales and average sale at each are different. A Southcenter Nordstrom purchase is likely, on average, smaller than a Bellevue Square Nordstrom purchase.

  4. Andrew Smith says

    I’ve made a similar argument to what you’ve got here, so I obviously agree. But it’s also worth considering the prestige aspects of having the tallest buildings on the Eastside. If light rail causes Bellevue to do an upzone, Kemper would no longer have the tallest buildings in Bellevue.

    So it’s not just that it won’t benefit him. It’s that it’d benefit others at the expense of his pride.

    • says

      I think it’s unlikely that any time in next 20 years we’ll see Bellevue relax the 450 foot height maximum. If I remember right the long drawn out Bel-Red upcharge will limit building height to 12 stories. I doubt any rezone of auto row will allow buildings to obstruct the “Beautiful View” from City Hall.

      • Chris Stefan says

        Well even covering auto row with two or three story buildings will be a dramatic increase in density.

        12 story buildings is probably about right for Bel-Red and auto row as well.

  5. Erik G. says

    Don’t forget how the land for Bellevue Square was assembled!

    Kemper’s Daddy got the Seattle press riled up about the “Yellow Peril” after Pearl Harbor and encouraged the Japanese-American farmers who owned farms in the area to be rounded up and put in camps.

    Kemper Freeman Sr. then bought the land at a heavy discount.

    And Profited!

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      Yeah, I didn’t want to bring that up, but if he keeps going, we might need an op-ed.

    • says

      Do you have any references for how “Kemper’s Daddy” assembled the land for Bellevue square? There’s logic there, but I’d love to see the history in something reasonably reputable (Times, PI, etc…)

  6. Jeff says

    The most upscale large mall I’m aware of is not Bell Sq but Ala Moana in Honolulu (they actually have Nieman Marcus!). It’s also a giant hub of bus service on Oahu, and will be served by their rail line sometime in the distant future. Its an upscale mall regardless of the bus service. Bell Square would be also remain a high end mall even if light rail went through downtown Bellevue. However, Bell Square seems to, and always has, had pretensions far above what it actually is, and this started WAY before I can even remember (which would be back as far the early 1960′s).
    Routing light rail up the BN right of way is a ridiculous thought. Why would you build light rail and AVOID the second largest center of employment in Washington State? Kinda like when they built Metro in DC and skipped Georgetown . . . in fact that seems like a good analogy on several levels.

    • Mike Orr says

      Neiman Marcus is in the Bravern. (Next to the transit center!)

      Neiman Marcus was previously in Westlake Center, but that store underperformed and was closed. According to a former employee, Westlake had the same problem that’s now being ascribed to Southcenter: fewer customers willing to pay $75+ for high-end versions of things.

  7. Mike B says

    Just cut East Link and focus on regions within the ST taxing district who are a little more eager to see progress and ready to be big boys. Ballard and West Seattle probably don’t give a damn if its in a tunnel or not, they just want something that isn’t 15th, 45th, or the West Seattle Bridge.

    • Andrew Smith says

      I think most of the Eastside is very eager (see here). It’s just there’s a politically connection opposition that has deep pockets.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      If we didn’t have the subarea equity rules, we’d be looking at spending all the North King money in ST3 out in Woodinville.

    • Kenneth Parker says

      Please quit confusing Kemper for Bellevue. The majority moved don’t agree him and Bellevue is within it’s rights to tax itself for a tunnel.

      If Kemper lived in Ballard, you’d be arguing to cut Ballard off.

  8. T. Chen says

    Would the anthropologists among us–the experts on the races–please explain to me what race of people is known to wear light blue and pink hair curlers and flopping shoes?

    To me it sounds like Freeman is talking about the type of people who climb out of bed and head to the mall. He obviously prefers the type of folks–who tend to be wealthy–who put a lot of expense and effort into their outfits. These type of folks are likely to be good customers for Nordstrom and the expensive stores.

    • Joe G says

      True that. I think they mean hes a classist. Is that right? Any way you know what I mean. The mall is a coffin any way.

    • Chris Stefan says

      There is far more history than that one quote with Kemper Freeman Jr. to show racist tendencies. Certainly he is quite classist, to a degree not normally considered acceptable in society.

  9. T. Chen says

    Classist is pretty easy to infer from the statements. Racist is a whole ‘nother thing. I think calling someone a racist is a pretty serious charge and I am opposed to cheapening the meaning by throwing it out there as a general pejorative term, sort of the way some of Obama’s detractors throw out fascist and Nazi.

    I am serious though in my original question: What race pops in the heads of these people calling racism when they hear flopping shoes and light blue hair curlers? Maybe it’s because I’m not a mall person, but this image calls nothing to mind with respect to a racial stereotype.

      • Max says

        During the first Sound Move campaign in 1995 (which included East Link) a fairly effective whisper campaign was started on the Bellevue side of the lake. The scare tactic used a scenario of thieves and gang members hopping on light rail at the Rainier Ave station, and taking the train to rob wealthy Bellevue residents.

        No mention of skin color back then, either. But it was obvious what the rail opponents were trying to do. And, it was obvious what color the supposed thieves and the supposed victims were.

        During the Save Our Valley lawsuit years, conservative Eastside forces capitalized on race once again, helping to fund the legal action, and foment charges of “rail racism”. Dialogue went like this: the north end got a tunnel, and they got at-grade. Which was supposed to indicate discrimination.

        Indeed, to this day, the wealthy enclave of Surrey Downs utilizes racist undercurrents in their anti-East Link activism. They love to print stories about urban Portland gangs preying on suburban Portland residents…and guess how those criminals get out to Gresham?

        So, in Ben’s defense, while we don’t like to talk about racism’s presence in politics, it certainly plays a role. The people who use racist tactics are just a lot more subtle about it now.

      • T. Chen says

        Certainly racism adds to the potency of fears of urban youths assaulting decent middle-class folks, but that doesn’t mean that fearing violence related to transit systems is not a real fear or legitimate concern.

        High profile stories, like the hate crime where five black youth assaulted a white woman on the Portland MAX certainly play on racial fears, but represent a real problem. We know there is too much crime, sexual harassment, and anti-social behavior on Metro buses. I think so far ST has done a good job keeping Link safe, and that will be important in overcoming the arguments of Kemper.

        But again, the fact that some Eastside groups play up fears, which may manifest in racism in the minds of some receivers of the message, does not prove Kemper is a racist. I think we need to be careful in the pro-transit community to only make charges we can back up. That’s how you build credibility.

      • MauiMe says

        T Chen: your defense of the gated white flight community mentality is understandable.

        But here’s a hypothetical for you and John Jensen: if it turned out that the land Bell Square sits on was seized from Japanese strawberry farmers who were interned (for no good reason)…would you still think it’s ok to shop there? Would racism still “not play a role” in all of this? Don’t worry – Dad probably won’t read your answers.

        Grandpa Freeman sought and acquired some of the most prime raw land in this state for the purpose of passing on his wealth and his “values” to later Freeman generations. Now that Freeman Jr is using his inherited wealth for a particular end, it’s curious that several people here are willing to write the whole thing off, and distinguish Jr.’s right wing ideology from Sr.’s right wing ideology. What, was Karl Rove’s visit to Kemper’s office a couple years ago not enough for you? Does the guy need to write a check to David Duke to un-dim the bulb above your heads?

        Almost 15 years ago, I remember reading about a man on Bainbridge Island who had renounced his grandfather’s racist anti-Japanese political activism. See, his grandfather had done just what Miller Freeman did: got the ‘Japs’ removed, and then got their land. At least this guy had the morals and the guts to come out and admit that what his descendent had done was wrong.

        I spent some time tonight trying to find a similar statement from Kemper Freeman Jr. But all I see is Kemper speaking of his idyllic childhood, a time when “things were right” in the world: the powerful “chosen ones” knew their (inherited) roles. And the powerless kept quiet. Luckily, we have moved past those days. But some elements of society still cling to them.

        Whitewashing history might make some people feel less uncomfortable about their own views and lineage – but you can’t use an eraser to right the wrongs of the past.

      • T. Chen says

        I didn’t defend the “gated white flight community.” I said the public has some legitimate concerns about violent and anti-social behavior on METRO and on the Portland MAX. It’s mostly ordinary working class folks and women who get the harassment, not affluent old white folks from the Eastside.

        Second, if using Bell Square is illegitimate, then using much of the land in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico etc. is illegitimate as it was often seized from previous owners/occupiers. Racism would have played a role in the creation of Bell Square, but that is not the same as proving that Kemper is a racist. He may very well be. At the least he probably has some cognitive dissonance about his fortunes. It would not be the greatest surprise in the world if he were a racist, but calling someone a racist is a serious thing to me. You don’t do it loosely and without solid evidence. That’s the reasoning of the dimwitted: e.g. “Obama’s dad was a Muslim so therefore he’s a Muslim! Obama lived in a Muslim country, so he’s a Muslim.”

      • Mike Orr says

        “The scare tactic used a scenario of thieves and gang members hopping on light rail at the Rainier Ave station, and taking the train to rob wealthy Bellevue residents.”

        And it’s totally bogus. Gang activity is a business. Given that a bus conveniently runs from Rainier Avenue to Bellevue, would gang members turn up their noses at riding it if there’s money to be made? Likewise, are they so enamored by rail that it would suddenly occur to them to expand into Bellevue after it was built? That’s nonsense. And many gang-bangers own cars anyway.

      • John Jensen says

        It is ridiculous to bring up internment camps in the context of the light rail discussion. You ask if Bellevue Square is illegitimate. Does that mean light rail through former Japanese farmland is illegitimate too? Let’s not even bother with this line of discussion. America and its cities have tainted histories.

        It’s not that the conversation is uncomfortable, or that I’m afraid of the conflict here, but:

        * Kemper Freeman Jr. simply cannot be held accountable for actions taken well before he was born. I think it’s an interesting piece of history. It’s one that is difficult to reconcile with a region we’re mostly proud with. But it’s plain to me that this torture history has nothing to with Freeman himself nor his disdain of public transit.

        * In trying to ascertain racial motives, commenters have made significant leaps and have linked “whisper campaigns” from 1996 to non-existent whisper campaigns today. (The most damning quote I’ve seen from Freeman was plainly talking about “white trash,” not gangs or any sort of implied racism.)

        * Attacking the person and his motives, rather than their arguments, is ad-hominem. We do not allow that in our comments. Ben’s original post did not attack Freeman’s motives, but merely tried to ascertain them. The discussion has moved beyond that.

        Frankly, I think the easiest answer about his motives is that he is a strong Republican and is against government spending. And like most Republicans, he overlooks highway spending.

  10. says

    Accusations of racism and talking about Japanese internment camps are probably not appropriate discussion topics on a transit blog. Let’s keep it adult here.

    • Andy says

      Let’s keep it adult here.

      Yes, if there’s one thing I hated in elementary school, it was all the schoolyard talk about Japanese internment camps. </sarcasm>

      John, you have a fear of conflict, and you worry a little too much about doing anything that might fit with some right-wing stereotype. Sometimes you have to make some people uncomfortable, and just live with that.

      The fact is that urban planning issues in the United States have been greatly affected by racism — consider redlining, “urban renewal” in mostly nonwhite areas, and continuing problems about unequal access to services. This issue, to be sure, is a much, much, much smaller one. I’m still not convinced that Freeman’s level of racism is much greater than that of the average rich person in this reason.

      Asking whether someone may be a racist, may, in some situations be an attempt at slander. In this case, however, we’re already talking about “Kemper Freeman’s Motivation”, and in the context of a few damning quotes, it’s possible to have a rational discussion here without becoming some sort of stereotypical politically correct hyper-sensitive left-wing wildly-unfounded racism-accusing character assassination plot.

      Relax, John, and stop calling us children.

      • says

        Wow, ring my gong! The issue of redlining is almost totally undiscussed today, but it has huge implications. The possibility of TOD is going to be much different in a neighborhood that was redlined than it will be in a neighborhood which was never denied fair access to financial goods and services.

      • Chris Stefan says

        Yep redlining on the one hand and restrictive covenants “no Negroes, Asians, or Jews” on the other have a really nasty legacy. Much of this can be seen today in the built environment of the country as a whole.

        While I don’t know to what extent Kemper Jr. was involved with restrictive covenants his father and grandfather were big fans. He and his family certainly have profited handsomely over the years on fear of the poor and the “other”.

    • MauiMe says

      Lee Atwater was defended as a “good man” who was “not a racist”, despite the whole Willie Horton thing. It took a deathbed confession for Atwater (Karl Rove’s hero) to admit he was toying with white flight suburbanite fears for political gain.

    • John Jensen says

      The difference between Bellevue Way and BNSF alignments have absolutely nothing to do with racism or internment camps in the 40′s, as far as we can tell. It is inappropriate and immature to create the allusions unless that is any evidence for the connection. (There isn’t.)

      We don’t allow ad hominem attacks in our comments and I’m not asking for feedback on this point.

      • Andy says

        Take a look at the last paragraph in the post. The question raised there is “Why does Kemper Freeman Jr. fight light rail?”. One opinion advanced above is that it might be because Freeman believes that helping to limit the number of nonwhite people near his properties helps keep the property values up. As evidence to support the possibility that Freeman would even consider such thoughts acceptable, it has been brought up that Freeman inherited his empire from those who made it publicly known that they’d prefer white people in Bellevue.

        The bigger problem, John, is that usually when blog admins delete “ad hominems”, they’re referring to posts attacking other commenters personally. I’m now worried that some of the posts you’ve deleted as “ad hominem” could be because you felt some post got too personal about some public figure, who are rightly subject to much more scrutiny than a random individual posting a blog comment.

  11. Gordy says

    Way back when Kemper started to build on his empire in the mid 80′s (which he inherited), the city did something unthinkable: they tried to get developers like Freeman to pay for mitigation.

    That meant paying for sidewalks – something Kemper fought tooth and nail.

  12. mike says

    perhaps kemper despises light rail not because it will bring ‘poor’ people in, but rather entice other developers to crowd out his babies (ugly as they may be)

  13. poncho says

    I think of Bellevue being a lot like Buckhead in Atlanta… a wealthy suburban community with tall office and residential towers and high end shopping malls. Obviously there are some big differences as far as demographics between Atlanta and Seattle. Buckhead has several MARTA stations and a pretty decent ridership of “its residents” on the rail system. But I also get the sense some of the developers and commercial property owners in Buckhead have a bias against MARTA and some of the perceived people who ride it… in fact in the Atlanta some say MARTA stands for “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta”.

  14. John Cox says

    Kemper Freeman is one of the last of the idealogues that formulated public transit policy in the 30′s through the 60′s. Automobiles and freeways are associated with our improvement as a civilisation and therefore must be thought of as forward thinking. People who ride transit, according to people who think like him, are by nature backward, waiting for the golden age of the freedom of the open road to come to thier lives.
    We can see how history has shown this idea to be quite false, but not before our cities were gutted and wonderful transit systems and systems which had a lot of potential were ripped out.

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