• April Fools' land use signs spark conversations on Seattle development

    By: Natasha Chen

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - A Capitol Hill artist made five fake notices of proposed land use signs to place at popular Seattle locations on April Fools’ Day, to make a statement about the aggressive development he feels is changing the character of the city.

    John Tingley, who goes by the moniker “Tinglr,” said his installation art is called “The Joke’s On Us.”

    Each sign declared a different project was underway. Click here to see all signs. 

    On a sign at Pike Place Market, he wrote that there would be a “mixed use condo/retail structure including the first of its kind subterranean Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s connected with the new SR-99 tunnel named Cash Hole Foods. With a little room left over for a Pike Place Farmers Market Museum!”

    Tingley said he wanted to “make everybody think twice about how much development we’re approving in this city, how quickly it’s going up, and what it’s really doing to change the city of Seattle, the personality of Seattle, the heart and soul of Seattle.”

    People stopped along Pike Street to read the sign in front of the Cha Cha Lounge.

    The words struck a chord with Nate Berendz.

    The sign he read described the new project as “another f—king concrete box. Maybe we’ll dress it up with some corrugated siding. What’s that ‘you say?’ ‘Not another boring eye-sore!’ That’s too bad. This is the most cost-effective way to build and you know we’re gonna get ours.”

    Berendz said, “I feel like I see a sign, two weeks later I see a hole, two weeks later I see some new condos…I think it’s a statement that this neighborhood is being covered by concrete boxes.”

    At Cal Anderson Park, a sign announced a project called “Entitlement Land,” with a Starbucks Frappuccino fountain and Tom Douglas restaurant called Serious Dogg. It would be protected by Amazon.com security drones.
    Jonathan Ross, who said he reads real land use action signs frequently, said, “You know you’d always see, like 54 units! No parking proposed.”

    Ross said he found the sign to be a great April Fool’s prank. While the timing was right, Tingley said it was meant more as an art piece.

    At the bottom of each sign, Tingley wrote that it doesn’t matter what anyone says. The builder will continue anyway.

    Ethan Phelps-Goodman, who created Seattle in Progress, a website and app that tracks construction in Seattle, said the part about not having a voice isn’t true.

    He said, “That’s just one thing I wish people understood more, is how much power they have over development in the city.”

    Tingley said that statement was meant with sarcasm. He said he hopes people seeing these signs will decide to make themselves heard.

    “I’m not opposed to change. If you’re not changing, you’re not growing. However, change too quickly, gentrification, can be a big issue,” Tingley said.

    By the end of the day, almost all signs had been taken down.

    KIRO 7 reached out to Starbucks, Amazon, Tom Douglas, Vulcan Real Estate, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, the Space Needle and Seattle Center for comment.

    Neither spokesperson at the Space Needle or Seattle Center said they took down the sign.

    The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department said their staff removed one sign from Cal Anderson Park, because it looked so real it could confuse people.

    The companies we contacted did not respond before the story aired.

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