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Strobel family saga

Post by David Seago on Nov. 30, 2006 at 6:41 am with No Comments »
November 30, 2006 6:41 am

I had no idea that a prominent Tacoma family was involved when I set up a pro-con oped smackdown over eminent domain in the Nov. 22 Insight section. Only when I received the City of Burien’s side of the story did I learn that Robin Oldfelt (pictured), who wrote the opposing view, was a University Place resident and a member of Tacoma’s Strobel family.


Robert and Elsie Strobel, who both died in 1998, were well known for both business and civic activities in Tacoma. Robert Strobel was a successful Realtor and was a trustee at the University of Puget Sound for three years. The couple raised seven daughters in their South Tacoma home. Six of them attended UPS. The Strobels and all their daughters attended Lincoln High School, where Julie and Janet Strobel and I were members of the class of 1967.

This week I sent a follow-up email to Robin (Strobel) Oldfelt, who is the managing partner of the family company, asking whether the dispute with Burien was a matter of terms or whether the family simply wanted the Meal Makers restaurant to continue at

its present location. Click on Read More to find her response.

Following that is Robin’s report on the whereabouts of the Strobel sisters these days. I imagine they need the Tacoma Dome for family reunions.

The emphasis and underlying reason for “declining to sell” is that it is our property and it is not and has not been “for sale.” After having been in the family for 31 years plus, we want to keep it. We firmly believe in the right of private property owners to make the decision about if and when to sell.

We continue, of course, to be willing to develop our property, maintaining the Meal Makers Restaurant in its current location and conforming to the vision of creating a vibrant Town Square. (We have excellent architectural illustrations by BCRA which we tried very hard to present to the City but they wouldn’t give us a hearing.) We’re convinced that the City never approached us in a timely manner because it didn’t want us to keep our property. We truly believe that we could participate rather than having our property taken from us.

It is appalling to see the City maneuvering to oust us and Meal Makers in favor of another private party. The fact that the roads and “green” areas can be placed anywhere on a 10 acre rectangle but have been moved so that the road would go through our building does not suggest a City willing to work with long time property/business owners. The City has the ability, if it wins the eminent domain case, to simply re-draw the roads and green areas again to avoid our property and then sell it all to Urban Partners. There is no real “necessity” to take our property.

Here’s where the sisters are:

Sally – University Place, daughter and a son and 5 grandchildren

Betty – Austin, Texas, husband – Dirk Jameson, 2 sons and 4 grandchildren

Robin – University Place and Sweden with husband Sven Oldfelt, stepdaughter and grandson

Carol – Lakewood, widowed, 4 daughters and 2 sons, 5 grandchildren

Susan – Olympia, husband – Bill Markhoff, 3 sons and 1 daughter, 6 grandchildren

Janet – Portland, OR, daughter and a son

Julie – Reno and Napa, husband – Kosta Arger, 1 daughter and 2 sons

Editorial outtakes
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