Another future teardown

April 15, 2007 at 8:23 am | In Development | 36 Comments

Two of the latest lots slated for denser development are saddening us a bit, not because of the future development, but because of what’ll be going away. Both are on Cali. One will take much longer to explain, so we’re working on that for tomorrow; today, a shorter yarn: 3811 California SW, not far south of Cali/Charlestown (which might need its own districtlet name with everything proposed there – CalChar?), sold in February for just under $1 million, targeted for an apartment building with “street-level retail,” where the wrecking ball would be taking out this distinctively designed 1920s brick fourplex that we remember first admiring from a Charlestown Cafe window. The picture doesn’t entirely do it justice; take a look next time you drive by, before it’s gone:

3811cali.jpg

36 Comments

  1. Just a few days ago as I went past this site I thought to myself, gosh, I hope that building, and its tenants, do not get whacked. Ouch, how misguided and naive am I?

    With some reservations and exceptions, I am mostly in favor of the infill town-home/condo/apartment development that is occurring around the entire city. However I am disturbed when a building such as this beauty is set to receive the destructive claw of a track-hoe.

    It would be most encouraging if NK Architects and Omni Builders could pull together a version of the project located at 2920 Alki Ave, just west of the old Alki Market and now Cactus.

    The 2920 project was done in the late 80′s and instead of destroying all aspects of the once charming building on the site, the developer saved the brick facade of the old building and was still able to add additional housing units. I am pretty sure this project won an award from the American Institute of Architects.

    Comment by Mike — 10:18 am April 15, 2007 #

  2. I really don’t get it, that people seem to conform to the opinion that high density is a good thing. How is it a good thing when there is no adequate transportation infrastructure to handle high density. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. It’s a shame that they are allowing the destruction of these beautiful structures. Oh well Less char, more density yahoo.

    Comment by flipjack — 11:08 am April 15, 2007 #

  3. and, of course, what happens to the displaced people? They seem to be lost in the shuffle, finding affordable housing harder and harder to get. So many things in our society seem to broaden the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots”…it’s a shame this is happening. I love those old buildings that have more character than anything that is built new these days.

    Comment by Jan — 11:52 am April 15, 2007 #

  4. West Seattle is losing all of it’s charm. There should be some regulation as to what can be torn down and what can’t. And, if something is torn down, it must have character when it’s rebuilt (but, how do you recreate that?). This sucks.

    Comment by Rhonda Porter — 12:31 pm April 15, 2007 #

  5. Times are changing whether you want to or not. The new QFC on Alaska is going to be a multi-use complex with retail,condo’s and offices. I’d rather have them knock down old structures than knock down trees. I’m all for density.

    Comment by Jiggers — 1:24 pm April 15, 2007 #

  6. I figure if high density bldg is going to take place (whether or not I like it), I’m all for mixed-use bldgs. I wish many of these bldgs weren’t so ugly and styled in a soon-to-be-dated way. But seeing that these apts are to be torn down literally makes me sick! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed them on a walk or driving by and thought about how interesting they are. It seems to me that there is fast becoming litlle balance in interesting/old architecture and new construction.

    Comment by K — 2:18 pm April 15, 2007 #

  7. Meanwhile, the old burned out, graphitti’ed, and waste of space Shucks Auto Supply STILL sits waiting to be torn down for how many years now???????????????
    Whatever.

    Comment by Todd in Westwood — 4:07 pm April 15, 2007 #

  8. I have lived in WS (disignation not for newbies less than 50 years residense)for 50 plus years. I cannot fathom what you CLOWNS are mumbling about.

    Why do think we have good restaurants, and lots of things to do/see/enjoy? Because we are re-doing an old,staid,crumbling, piece of Seattle that had 2 restaurants in the whole place? Those were Engs (tell me where it was, and what it served) and the Benbow Inn.

    Yeah, the GOOD old days.

    Comment by don — 4:57 pm April 15, 2007 #

  9. Don, well said….I nominate to tear down that old hamm building what a dump that piece of_ is. But on the other hand, If you can keep the building in decent looking shape like the one Verite coffee is in, then its alright. But if you’re going to let it rot and stink up the sidewalks get rid of it.

    Comment by Jiggers — 6:37 pm April 15, 2007 #

  10. Hate to tell you this but the city thinks the Hamm Building meets landmark criteria:
    http://web1.seattle.gov/dpd/historicalsite/QueryResult.aspx?ID=552

    Comment by Administrator — 6:42 pm April 15, 2007 #

  11. This is just criminal. Those brick apartments are among the most distinctive and lovely vernacular structures along the entire stretch between Admiral and Alaska. Density is good, but why tear down the good stuff and leave the junk? Everything graceful and charming in West Seattle is at risk from developers whose greatest sin is not greed, but profoundlym astonishingly bad taste (are you listening Omni?)

    Comment by JD — 8:53 pm April 15, 2007 #

  12. Omni is leaving behind some of the most poorly designed newer single family homes that have been built in West Seattle. Can you say big, big box with no character?

    Lets at least hope that the architects at NK can deliver a good design to Omni and that Omni then doesn’t go running in the wrong direction and build some faux-Crapsman style structure.

    PS – Don, those canned peas that were served at the Benbow were just horrible, but the Monte Cristo was good:)

    Comment by Mike — 9:13 pm April 15, 2007 #

  13. Oh btw it’s worth noting that the architects for this project (the post’s original subject) have their offices in the historic building that Jiggers nominates for teardown.

    Comment by Administrator — 11:28 pm April 15, 2007 #

  14. You can also add the demise of the 4plex at the corner of California and Seattle in North Admiral. No more of those Alice in Wonderland shrub sculpturing. Now will be scheduled for 5 townhomes. There goes the enighborhood.

    Comment by HulaHands — 8:03 am April 16, 2007 #

  15. Density is good. It’s true we need the transportation infrastructure to support it. Blame your elected officials for not addressing this years ago. I don’t want to hear about monorail or other public votes. The “leaders” we have had need to lead instead of constant public opinion poll.

    I wonder how many commentors on this forum have lived in West Seattle for more than 20 years… We had a lot of the same debate back then. A good number of folks complained that the WS bridge ruined West Seattle. Well, I don’t think anyone would really want to go back to the days prior to the WS Freeway, back when the Junction was boring as hell and the best place to eat was Charlestown Cafe (known as Websters back then and it was further south on California Ave.).

    Growth is unavoidable. It can either be funneled into the city as higher density or to the suburbs as sprawl.

    As I have stated many times, it is our leaders’ jobs to stand up and make some tough decisions and get us moving!

    Comment by Eric — 8:15 am April 16, 2007 #

  16. Well I’ve had it .. someone can buy my house and deal with all the BS that comes with living 100 feet from the deathstar trench. I see merits of development but this is over development with no transportation plan to boot. BS! I know I am not alone is my feelings from what has been posted above.

    Comment by Todd — 8:29 am April 16, 2007 #

  17. Luuvley lunches of years gone by. Vann’s was more a man’s lunch place. The Menu was lady friendly, my mother would take my grandmother there for lunch. After the Luck Toy moved to the Junction we would eat there. And none of this weekly eating out nonsense. Goodness me.

    “Do you know how much ground round I could buy at Skoogs for the price of one McDonald’s hamburger?”

    I favor the street friendly facade reuse school of architecture. The Alki condo that uses that looks good.

    The little green huts on California next to Kumon Learning could use a boost. Poor little dwellings need some TLC.

    When I go out walking, I look at falling apart homes and buildings and wonder what the future holds for them. Will there be TLC? Will a giant faux stuccoed place with recurring damp replace it? Will it be another bank?

    Comment by Gina — 9:15 am April 16, 2007 #

  18. Many talk about the benefits of density, I agree to a point .. just an observation – 90% of these condos going up have no restaurant or retail so how can the community benfit form all this so call great density (ie restaurants and retail)? California Ave cannot be widened, nor can the bridge or many other arterials. I think we are “dense” enough. I think we are at a turning point in Seattle. I have lived in Boston and DC, both cities have subways and buses, etc (public transportation) and I would pick the traffic in Seattle any day of the week. I think that is the strongest point I can make. The reality is people love their cars whether we have good public transportation or not. Seattle is getting in line to be just as gridlocked as DC or Boston, and no I didn’t just move here..

    Comment by Todd — 10:00 am April 16, 2007 #

  19. Yeah I agree, You have to be dense to think density is good. Guess I’m not dense enough. If you want density move to Bellevue.

    Comment by flipjack — 10:52 am April 16, 2007 #

  20. Hey flipjack–Is knocking down trees and expanding into prestine wilderness to pour concrete a better thing to do or knock down current structures and rebuild them on the same spot? Maybe I’m not normal and have a convoluted way of thinking, or just haven’t had my daily cup of joe yet.

    Comment by Jiggers — 11:48 am April 16, 2007 #

  21. There are plenty of places to live in the metropolitan Seattle area without having to knock down trees or exisiting structures in W Seattle. Checkout winderemere dot com ..

    Comment by AL Koholik — 2:08 pm April 16, 2007 #

  22. Lot’s of activity on this one…
    And I have to admit that I had same initial reaction to the redevelopment of those nice brick apartments at 3811, but…
    After speaking the the architect, the building sustained substantial damage from the earthquake in Feb 2001. Plus, the owner of the building (maybe multiple owners) didn’t take good care of the property. Now, I don’t know all of this to be absolute fact, but I don’t have any reason to doubt it.
    So, taking this unfortunate info, mixing it up with all the other info (beautiful building, great architectural example, etc), I come up with a decidedly mixed opinion…
    Do you invest the money and time into the existing building, or do you rebuild? A tough one, for sure. And not a slam dunk either way.
    Maybe it can be the future home for the Charlestown Cafe? (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)
    Mark

    Comment by MW — 2:08 pm April 16, 2007 #

  23. Jiggers.. No I’m not for knocking down trees and sprawling into the wilderness at all.(they’re doing that anyway..look at Issaquah.) Lot’s of trees get knocked down when they take old trees out with the old buildings.
    I wouldn’t mind more density in the city if there was decent mass transit.
    You must not have to commute to work or are retired, because if you needed to commute from WS to anywhere else in this traffic jammed city you would find that it’s a royal pain in the arse and is only getting worse with the rate of rapid OVER DEVELOPMENT compared to the simple-minded lack of leadership in getting Seattle’s mass transit out of the 18th century and into the 21st century.

    Thank you Mayor Gridlock and your brothers who are developers.

    Comment by flipjack — 2:11 pm April 16, 2007 #

  24. If this our city leaders wern’t boneheads you would have seen the Monorail be put up instead of QFC on Alaska. Of course if I recall, the no votes shot down the project. I love it when people complain about transportation problems but don’t want to pay for it. Money doesn’t grow on trees.

    Comment by Jiggers — 5:48 pm April 16, 2007 #

  25. Has anyone pointed out that the housing being torn down is already somewhat ‘high-density?’ It bothers me that affordable housing is being torn down to make way for more 500k condos that just add to the big problem in Seattle – overpriced housing in the city and a lack of a strong transit system for those that need to commute because they can’t afford a 500k 1 or 2 bedroom condo in-city. I wish the city leaders would step up and DO something about the real problems instead of spending time working on things like 240 million dollar bike trail plans.

    Comment by K — 8:23 pm April 16, 2007 #

  26. Good point K. An observation on the 3811 deal .. One can make out the newer condo just to the left in the photo above .. I think there was a building just as historic in it’s place before it was bull dozed.

    Comment by Todd — 7:20 am April 17, 2007 #

  27. Todd, My recollection of the building to the South of 3811 is that it was not of any historic or what I would consider architectural value. I believe it was a single story, hipped roof, basic multi-plex built probably in the fifties.

    Granted, it was probably a reasonably priced place to rent an apartment.

    Comment by Mike — 5:18 pm April 17, 2007 #

  28. Thanks Mike. I think I can picture it now.

    Comment by Todd — 7:28 am April 18, 2007 #

  29. I am one of the tenants in the beautiful brick building mentioned above and I feel the need to address a couple of points mentioned earlier. First, our previous landlord/owner was Barney Brush, a lovely albeit quirky fellow who is probably known to long-term WS residents. He took IMPECCABLE care of the building while he was alive. And in regards to earthquake damage I can tell you a couple of bricks fell from the chimney and my living room window sticks sometimes but that’s the only damage I’ve experienced. When the new owners introduced themselves to the tenants, I asked them what they planned to do with the building and they told me point blank they had no plans to tear it down. Additionally, they lacked the cajones to let us know in advance what was coming down the pike. Imagine my surprise to find a Proposed Land Use posting on the front lawn the other morning. We’ve received the usual public notices from the city but to date have not heard one peep from the property owners. This really breaks my heart. Not that I’m being displaced, but that this beautiful building will cease to exist. And believe me, it has as much charm and character on the inside as the out. It’s such a shame.

    Comment by Displaced — 10:26 am April 24, 2007 #

  30. Sorry to hear that Dispalced. It’s a shame and there are a lot of people who feel for you despite being shouted down on this blog. I have been called uneducated, ignorant, didn’t do my homework etc .. Wish there was something I could say or do to help.

    Comment by Chet — 12:23 pm April 25, 2007 #

  31. Wow, no notice or communication from the owners except for a lie. Why, if they thought what they were doing was a positive change, would they lie to you about tearing the place down?
    Ahh, I hope there’s a development in Hell for developers like this to spend eternity in.

    Comment by flipjack — 12:54 pm April 25, 2007 #

  32. Displaced, I sympathize. I live in the West Ridge Park on Delridge. We fell in love with it and broke a lease up north in order to move in. We heard rumors that it might be sold and go condo, but the office would deny it. Then I found on the DPD page that a permit had been issued for conversion and we need to move. I’d have a lot more respect for the process if they were honest about it. We’re moving out next month, but our area won’t be converted for about 9 months. I hope there are some protections so that they don’t rent the place to another unsuspecting person who will have to move in less than a year and has no idea it’s going on.

    Comment by WSRenter — 1:23 pm April 25, 2007 #

  33. Thanks for the kind words everyone. And actually, WSRenter, one of the units was just recently rented out. Haven’t had a chance to ask my neighbor what they were told prior to moving in though. I don’t have any kind of blanket opposition to development but it really makes me angry that someone deliberately bought this unique and beautiful little architechtural jewel for the sole purpose of destroying it. To replace it with what? More characterless condo vomit.

    Comment by Displaced — 2:56 pm April 25, 2007 #

  34. Dear Displaced, that sucks! I’m trying to think of a word for the owners who sold and the developers … unscrupulous comes to mind. Devoid of scruples; oblivious to or contemptuous of what is right or honorable. I wish there was something the average citizen could do to stop the plan to create a deathstar trench between (now Seattle ST) and Othello along California Ave. Obviously, I think people should be allowed to make a buck since this is a capitalistic/market economy after all but something about the way this went down, stinks.

    Comment by Todd — 3:01 pm April 25, 2007 #

  35. I wonder if there is any way to track how many West Seattle families have been displaced from development?

    Comment by Rhonda Porter — 4:50 pm April 25, 2007 #

  36. 5/2 – Don’t know if anyone is still monitoring comments on this topic but for what it’s worth there will be a meeting with the design review board on Thursday 5/10 at 6:30 in the Community Room at SW Webster .. you know the place where so many DRB meetings have been held since so many buildings are being knocked down to build condos.. This beautiful apartment building is most likely next. “Thanks”

    Comment by Todd — 9:07 am May 2, 2007 #

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