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102-story Seattle skyscraper plan deemed a 'hazard' to aircraft

(CNN)With skyscrapers reaching higher each year, it seems the sky's the limit -- unless that sky is full of airplanes. That's the problem facing developers in Seattle who have had plans to build a mighty 102-story tower rejected by authorities. Their proposal for a super tall office, apartment, hotel and retail skyscraper in the city's downtown represents a "presumed hazard" to air traffic, says the Federal Aviation Administration. ( More...

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Peter Sommer 5
The article got the FAA proposed height reduction wrong. It says it would need to be 499 feet, but other articles are reporting 965 feet which makes much more sense, since the building would be very close to the Columbia Tower.
matt jensen 2
Better to find out now, then halfway thru the building process
744pnf 1
ken young 1
THat's like telling a sunbather to sit under a UV light in their living room.
The entire point of taller skyscrapers is to put the biggest number on the height.
Its an ego thing.
Pileits 2
Putting up a building this tall in a KNOWN earthquake zone is just crazy. Deny the building permit before it is to late.
joel wiley 6
Now, Now. You know they have to make it tall enough to stick up out of the mudflows when Mt Rainier erupts.
LGM118 2
There are regulations on new structures - the building would need to be built to code regardless of height. Fault zones don't preclude tall buildings, just poorly built buildings.
Alan BigSky 1
My thoughts exactly. Born, raised and having lived many years in the greater Seattle area tells me Miami-based Crescent Heights has too many sun tanned investors that don't have a clue.
Mike Mohle 2
Put it right on a fault line, won't be in the way long!
A- The FAA declaring a building's height exceeds safety limits is not new to this city...the current tallest building (and next door neighbor to the proposed tower) ran into this very same issue when it was built. In fact, to meet height guidelines they had to reduce the height of Columbia Tower by 49 feet from the original plans. As the developer had already leased space on all floors they got creative and reduced the height of most floors by about 6 inches.

B- The Seattle skyline is an obstacle for both SEA-TAC and KBFI-Boeing Field so this is a completely sensible ruling...if you disagree, look at a map before you post. It's a valid concern, not government meddling or Port of Seattle peddling to the FAA.

C- The 499 feet height limit is a standard Seattle DPD zoning limit, which means any development approved for going above that height incurs a "bonus" payment (which is then used to pay for in-city low-income housing, btw). The current height of Columbia Center is 967 feet.
AWAAlum 1
I live in Seattle, and I've read news reports alleging the building will not receive approval due to the city's proclivity to earthquakes. We'll see.
joel wiley 1
It may hinge on the dependability of the leases the developers took out on the politicians responsible for the sign-offs.
Richard Frey 1
This happens almost every time a new "tallest" building is proposed in a city. I don't know the specifics of this, but it is not unusual, upon appeal, for the FAA to grant permission, revise their charts and move on. Sometimes the erection cranes are the problem because they will be 100+' or so taller than the building even if they are temporary.

The FAA is a LOT easier to deal with on these issues than the military.
kurt1000 1
It is hard to tell what really happened with a case unless you are following it at the time.

The FAA’s OE/AAA website: only shows the latest determination.

There are a lot of cases. At that web site, in the column on the left side, select “Circle Search for Cases” and put in your favorite airport and see what comes up.

In cases I have been involved in the developer and the FAA went back and forth with the developer modifying the plans until the FAA gave a “DETERMINATION OF NO HAZARD TO AIR NAVIGATION”. If you look at that case now you would have no idea that happened. And even though the building is not a hazard the FAA may well mark it on the charts.
Tom Lull 1
OK the plan but only if the developer and his entire family are required to live on the top floor.
lynx318 1
And be forced to watch Towering Inferno at least once a week.
Paul Smith 0
... With an unreliable elevator!
LGM118 -1
The FAA butting into urban planning like this is yet another case of the tail wagging the dog. The airports essentially are there to serve the needs of the Seattle region, not the other way around. If Seattle, as a city, favors a particular development plan, then it absolutely should be within their rights to do that. Too often we're seeing the FAA dominate urban planning by essentially having this "safety veto" where they can shove their wish list down cities' throats by simply saying that a plan they don't like would negatively impact "safety." I hope Seattle has the courage as a city to move forward with their urban development plans.
Alan Dahl 5
Plenty of us here in Seattle agree with the FAA’s determination. Flights south into Boeing field fly right along the shoreline and we don’t need the flight path to become as dangerous and convoluted as Lindbergh Field in San Diego is. If the developers aren’t satisfied with building “only” as tall as the Columbia Center then there are dozens of other developers who would be willing to step in and take their place.
kurt1000 0
The FAA has no zoning authority. It is within the right of the developer/zoning authority (city?) to go ahead and ignore the FAA determination. The only recourse the FAA has is that they give a lot of money to airports and the nearby Seattle airports will loose out to other airports in regard to grants.
Ian Wright 4
It seems people responding here have something against FAA making any attempt to fufill its obligation to maintain air safety in the skies above America. Or maybe I'm mischaracterizing their comments?

I woukd ask though, who else is watching out for the millions of air passengers and crew, not to mention the integrity of all the cargo, flying into SeaTac every year? And that doesn't even include any other local air traffic? Who keeps a watch on air safety for Seattle and SeaTac now?

Should the FAA abandon this role and not comment upon what its aviation experts have deemed to be the case? Should that apply to all other regulations it attempts to enforce?

Would you, for example, now say it has no right to regulate drones flying I'm the vicinity of SeaTac because it impinges on the rights of local residents to exercise their God-given right to the Freedom of the Skies as Americans and the Federal government has no business butting into local matters?

Do you really think the FAA just wants to dictate, like Big Brother, to the poor local citizens of Seattle just because the evil Feds want to show they're the boss and usurp the powers of local government or maybe just mess with them for fun?

As to the local economy and SeaTac being there to serve its needs, not the other way around: exactly. The airport, who's northerly approaches are significantly affected by the downtown area, brings a tremendous economic benefit to the whole surrounding region. Why do you think it was built and is sustained by that community in the first place? Perhaps we can also forget any support provided by the state and federal governments to its continued efficient and safe functioning?

Of course, Seattle and every other local government in the country, could employ its own expertise in this field. Yes, wouldn't that be so affordable, very good value for money, a nice boost to those needing higher city taxes, and a great way to provide jobs for less capable professionals because of the increased demand for expertise in the face of limited supply nationally?

Or perhaps it is better to take a few elements out of the planning equation - like safety - and let the downtown developers and financially motivated parties have at it in any given case, regardless of the consequences to everyone else. Who needs protection by means of all these stifling laws and regulations anyway? Yep, "not the public or aviation industry" seems to be the message here.

As usual, we have a clear case of, literally, "Heads in the Clouds" driven by myopic and mindless political philosophy rather than a meaningful, measured, practical perpective.

It's not as if they won't get a building there anyway...


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