Horse farm tucked into corner of Seattle may be destined for housing development

The property on a Southwest Seattle hill is up for sale for $7.6 million, and a developer could conceivably build about $13.5 million worth of houses on the site.

Nestled on the hillside above South Park is Seattle’s very own horse farm, a bucolic setting where you can see the bustle of downtown but the only sound is the buzz of the birds overhead.

Yes, Seattle has a large horse farm tucked into its city limits, complete with dozens of stables, a riding arena, gardens and even a resident three-legged cat that sometimes rides the horses.

But soon this chunk of Hidden Seattle will likely be paved over, replaced with about two dozen pricey homes.

The longtime owner of the property, Dr. Jean Nokes, began buying up the 4.2-acre site in West Seattle 47 years ago. It was just below her childhood home in what is now the Highland Park neighborhood, but was then just a few homes and dirt roads.

She and friends built the stables and arena and boarded a dozen or more horses at a time at what they call Falconridge Farm.

Now in her 70s and no longer riding, Nokes says she is no longer interested in taking care of the property. Last month she put it up for sale, asking $7.6 million.

She wants to sell it to someone who will keep the equestrian farm intact. But the area is zoned for 19 to 23 single-family homes, each across large 7,200-square-foot lots.

So far only developers — more than a dozen of them — have come calling.

“I couldn’t be more sad,” she said Monday as she strode across the field where, as a young nephrologist, she once used her car headlights to light the field late at night so she could practice her riding after a long shift at Group Health Cooperative. “The people who have been there almost always call it an oasis. Several neighbors are in tears about it.”

“It would be a shame to have this place all go away,” Nokes said.

Jean Nokes locking up a corral where only two horses remain. The farm at one time had as many as 32. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

She hates the idea of selling to a developer but says it’s time to pass the land on — particularly with the property needing about $40,000 in work — and she isn’t willing to let it go for a substantial discount to keep the farm intact.

The developers are lining up because it’s so rare to find a large lot left in the city where building prized single-family homes is allowed. It’s among the biggest plots on…

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