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How Tech Can Help Homeowners Navigate City Growth

Justin Shearer

As cities like Shoreline prepare for more development around future light-rail stations, there may be an opportunity to use technology to help navigate that growth.

Using an online tool called CityBldr, a group of Shoreline neighbors came together in November to sell their properties as one site to a developer. They were asking for $3.2 million.

The homes are in an  area that has been recently upzoned near the future light-rail station at 145th Street. The group has since made the sale. CityBldr CEO Bryan Copley said nine more groups are coming together to try to do the same thing.

Builders and developers often jump at the opportunities that arise when rezoning happens and most of the information people need to take advantage of new zoning rules is already public, according to appraiser and real estate expert Richard Hagar.

But tech like CityBldr can help level the playing field when it comes to making information accessible and showing people their options.

"They're able to look at the zoning, look at the current use of the house, sit here and point out and say there's opportunity for something to be changed," Hagar said.

Copley says his company's goal is to help cities deal with growth more efficiently.

But Hagar says there is only so much computers can do. For example, local governments always have the final say in what zoning will look like and people are often resistant to change, even if there's an opportunity to capitalize on it.

"Computers can point, but we still need humans to make the decision," Hagar said. 

A Seattle native and former KNKX intern, Simone Alicea spent four years as a producer and reporter at KNKX. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University and covered breaking news for the Chicago Sun-Times. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.