Shoremont update: Building may be moved instead of demolished

March 10, 2008 at 12:53 pm | In Development, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 63 Comments

shoremontdoomed.jpg

The design/build firm that recently bought the Shoremont at 57th/Alki (map) — and the neighboring house, which it’s reselling — is looking into saving and moving the building. That’s according to Chris Pardo at Pb Elemental. He tells WSB, “We have been in discussions with two building-moving firms; one is looking at the possibility of moving the existing building to Whidbey Island. The Shoremont has a brick facade rather than structural brick, so it seems feasible for them to move the building.” Pardo says that’s what Pb Elemental would prefer to do, but if the move doesn’t work out, he says, “We also have a few firms, including ourselves, interested in reusing the brick on the new project and nearby developments.” In addition, he sent us this rendering of the five-unit development they’re proposing at the Shoremont site (more details in this previous report):

pbproject.jpg

Pardo says his firm hopes to start construction by “late spring” and finish by early next year.

63 Comments

  1. The new building that they are planning to build is certainly very ugly. No appeal at all

    Comment by Bob H — 1:30 pm March 10, 2008 #

  2. i like the Shoremont better.. couldn’t they save at least the facade at it’s present location?

    i know i shouldn’t complain to have two such choices… history or green… but i really want both!

    Comment by JoB — 1:31 pm March 10, 2008 #

  3. This building is so pretty. It’s ashame that they plan to get rid of it.

    Comment by ABC123 — 1:32 pm March 10, 2008 #

  4. Damn, I thought bad early 70′s dead-tech, post-modern was gone for good. Looks like it is making a comeback. Where’s the whimsical fun? Maybe it will look better than the rendering.

    And before people starting hating on the haters, first please understand the difference between being critical and being negative.

    Comment by Aidan Hadley — 1:46 pm March 10, 2008 #

  5. It’s great that they’re looking into relocating the Shoremont instead of just demolishing it, but I have to say that new building they have planned for the location is quite ugly.

    Comment by DG — 1:51 pm March 10, 2008 #

  6. The buildings don’t look very appealing to me at all either. Maybe the real things will be nicer than the drawing.

    Comment by westseattleite — 2:05 pm March 10, 2008 #

  7. I don’t care about the haters. I think this thing is pretty freaking ugly.

    Comment by hiss — 2:18 pm March 10, 2008 #

  8. well, I’m pretty sure they’re trying to showcase the view from that location. If I were living there , I’d probably love those big windows looking at the water, the mountains. Yes, it’s a shame that the Shoremont won’t be there, but it’s great that they’re trying to preserve the building.

    Comment by JanS — 2:21 pm March 10, 2008 #

  9. How to put a fishbowl in an office park, Exhibit A.

    Comment by Keith — 2:41 pm March 10, 2008 #

  10. are those a pair of bodyless arms in the top floor window of the Shoremont!? could it be the ghost of Shoremont future?

    Comment by dq — 2:51 pm March 10, 2008 #

  11. Oh my, that will be an ugly building.

    Comment by Bonnie — 2:51 pm March 10, 2008 #

  12. What’s with the 1950s convertible at the curb?

    Comment by Alvis — 3:09 pm March 10, 2008 #

  13. Looks like the science building at my old college. That’s not a compliment, no matter how many hours I spent there.

    Comment by LA in the Junction — 3:13 pm March 10, 2008 #

  14. Ok, that new one, butt ugly comes to mind right away. If we have a design review board, they are sure sleeping on this one.

    Comment by Paul — 3:21 pm March 10, 2008 #

  15. At a minium, can’t anyone be creative enough to incorporate the Shoremont into the design, blend into the neighborhood. That rendering is horrid.

    Comment by rjm — 3:52 pm March 10, 2008 #

  16. If I had a New Building that looked like that one, I’d shave it’s a*s and teach it to walk backwards.

    Has the architechural firm ever even been to Alki?

    Comment by Ron Burgundy — 3:54 pm March 10, 2008 #

  17. One of the firm’s executives is an Alki resident. Also, wrt Design Review, they don’t have jurisdiction on a development this size.

    Comment by WSB — 4:15 pm March 10, 2008 #

  18. The Shoremont is classic architecture. The rendering of it’s replacement is atrocious. It looks like a office building. Surely the architects could come up with a way to incorporate the Shoremont’s brick facade into a unique creative livable Alki apt/condo HOME.

    Comment by WSMom — 4:35 pm March 10, 2008 #

  19. When I saw the planned structure, I thought “Wow! Alki’s getting its own public library!” Only this one is modeled after the one I went to in junior high school…in the mid 70′s.

    Comment by Westwood Charlie — 4:45 pm March 10, 2008 #

  20. Whoa that’s an ugly fishbowl. The views of the volleyball nets are great, sure, but glass tends to be seethru in both directions, no?

    Comment by pinkhouse — 4:51 pm March 10, 2008 #

  21. Wow, that does look just like my high school; built in 1970 too.

    Comment by CandrewB — 5:43 pm March 10, 2008 #

  22. Someone actually paid money to an “architectural firm” to come up with that? It looks more like the USPS parking garage on 4th and Lander, or the newer Metro parking garage on 6th and Royal Brougham.

    Comment by PSPS — 6:36 pm March 10, 2008 #

  23. “design/build” means the architects, land owners, developers are all the same firm.

    Comment by WSB — 6:44 pm March 10, 2008 #

  24. maybe someone should ring up PB and have them look at what the community has to say about their plans…..

    Comment by Paul — 7:07 pm March 10, 2008 #

  25. Way to go Pb, deface the image of Alki. Shame, Shame on you.

    Comment by Dave — 7:27 pm March 10, 2008 #

  26. Usually I’m in constant disbelief at the whining, complaining tone toward EVERY new t-2-t etc receives here on WSB.
    ~
    This time I’m joining the chorus and sign me up for a solo. That round 1 seems so far beneath other Pb efforts.

    Care to try again. Please.

    …do it for the children…

    Comment by batugly — 7:46 pm March 10, 2008 #

  27. Well, fwiw, I kind of like the proposed building.
    Yes, it does have a certain solid air about it, almost like a library or science building, and in 70 years, when it’s time has come to go, the ‘neighborhood’ will be upset at losing it’s “carefully modulated masses” and it’s “classic proportions” as well as it’s “bold early 21st century styling cues”.

    It’s all relative and I’ll be dead, let’s hope something changes before I am.

    Comment by old timer — 8:05 pm March 10, 2008 #

  28. If they can’t relocate the Shoremont, it would be nice to re-use the bricks in the new project. The older bricks would add a nice texture and make the new building seem less institutional. Personally, I like the more modern design concept. I prefer this over faux-craftsman townhouses any day. And landscaping will help.

    Comment by SLK — 8:13 pm March 10, 2008 #

  29. Two words: UG LY. And absolutely no curb appeal in a pedestrian environment; just brick boxes with what looks like metal doors on to the sidewalk.

    It couldn’t get any more pedestrian-unfriendly than that. It says: “I am a fortress against the riff raff on the sidewalk. I can see over your heads, I am above you.”

    Ugly, elitist, and hostile. What a great addition to Alki. NOT.

    Comment by acemotel — 9:30 pm March 10, 2008 #

  30. also don’t understand the parking meter. Is this a 1960′s proposal that got dusted off?

    Comment by acemotel — 9:32 pm March 10, 2008 #

  31. “Damn, I thought bad early 70’s dead-tech, post-modern was gone for good.” What does that mean in relation to this design (it is neither “dead tech?!, nor “post-modern}. Or, what does that mean at at all?
    “This building is so pretty. It’s ashame that they plan to get rid of it.” Who is the “they” here? Could it be all of the previous owners that rented it for years without updates and sold it without restrictions for the highest price , or the realtors who marketed it and sold it as a tear down to get the highest price, or the tenants who did not pony up to buy it themselves? No, of course not. The “they” seems always to be architects/builders, the very people devoting their time and money in hopes of a reasonable return with no guarantee.
    Housing, contrary to some WSB posts does not improve with age. Assuming that the building is structurally sound without termite, carpenter ant, dry rot or mold is naive. Perhaps this is the only building on Alki sands that has not suffered expensive foundation cracks or settling (but I doubt it}. A building of this era is thoroughly contaminated with lead (paint and water pipe solder, drain pipes), asbestos (flooring, insulation, construction materials & flue pipes) and perhaps mercury (light switches $ thermometers). It was constructed before seismic regulations and before Alki was labeled as a “liquification area” and may not do well when the “big one” shakes. Of course, construction of that era had no environmental concerns and energy efficiency was not a factor. The walls, ceilings and floors are probably not insulated. Other modern elements such as ventilation and fire escape regulations are likely “grandfathered” and not up to current codes. I wonder how many dedicated parking places the old building has as compared to the new proposal?

    Comment by John Nuler — 9:57 pm March 10, 2008 #

  32. Mr. Nuler, I understand your comments about the inefficiencies of older construction. There are about 8-10 dedicated parking spaces behind the building, BTW. But you should know as well as anyone that it is possible to construct green, safe and also attractive modern structures that blend in to their environments. These buildings (or one building, I can’t tell) present a blank brick wall facade to the sidewalk, an environment that is pedestrian and social. If we could see this structure from the perspective of the pedestrian or driver, we would see nothing but a blank wall; no visual interest besides the angles of the corners. I don’t think this face is appropriate in any human residential structure, and especially not in a neighborhood with abundant natural beauty. The question is not whether a new building is better or worse than an old one. The question is why does the new building have to be so ……….no other word for it………..ugly?

    Comment by acemotel — 11:14 pm March 10, 2008 #

  33. My first thought on seeing the proposed building was how gross it looks. Then I see that my feeling is shared when checking out the other comments. It’s totally out of character with the neighborhood. Yuck!

    Comment by Will on 56th — 6:36 am March 11, 2008 #

  34. I totally disagree with the above comments. I think this new building will be a great transition from the gold coast of east alki to the commercial district and the repair shop next door. This building fits its context more so than the house built behind it.

    Comment by Dell — 7:15 am March 11, 2008 #

  35. I love the new design. I think integrating part of the old building into the new design is fantastic. Based on all Pb’s other projects I am sure this will be a great addtion to our neighborhood!

    Comment by 56th two — 7:57 am March 11, 2008 #

  36. I agree, I think its fantastic and alot better than anything else lining Alki Ave.

    Comment by Dell — 7:59 am March 11, 2008 #

  37. Office Park.

    Comment by Al — 9:06 am March 11, 2008 #

  38. This proposed development is a lot better than a lot of projects that are now littering Alki. Developments’ that were designed and built so poorly that they are coming back on the market as an entire apartment building instead of being sold individually as condos. There is also enough craftsman fee simple homes already diluting the neighborhood just off the beach thanks to Cobb and others, I think this modern design will actually be something people are going to want to live in opposed to the vacant old brick building that sits there now and other projects that can’t find a sale to save their creditability. There are some comments on this blog from people who are trying to “save Alki”…well those people should walk North down Alki Ave SW towards Harbor Ave SW and see that it is already too late. This will be a great addition to the neighborhood. I also think most developers wouldn’t even waste their time trying to move the building which says a lot about their presence of mind. People…stop harping about positive changes to the area there is plenty of other things out there that require such attention.

    Comment by Alkipropertyowner — 10:36 am March 11, 2008 #

  39. It’s really unfortunate that the Shoremont is going to be torn down. I’m sure it has it’s fair share of problems with poor insulation, mold, no modern day conveniences, but it’s a beautiful building. I’m disappointed to see an opportunity for renters to get a slice of waterfront go away for multi-million dollar townhouses that only a few can afford. I can appreciate the architectural design of these new homes, but tear down an ugly building, not a great brick one with so much character.

    Comment by CMP — 11:10 am March 11, 2008 #

  40. acemotel brings up a good point about the curb appeal in this design, which I would describe as “none.” I wonder how the architects/designers would defend it? Even if they repurpose the bricks, it’s still essentially just a long brick wall.

    .

    Perhaps they could install some sort of memorial plaque that sets the scene: “These bricks were previously used in a classic and eye-appealing way.” The wall itself will come with a built-in message of its own: No loitering, no trespassing, private property, we don’t know you, you don’t know us, keep moving, nothing to see here, go away.

    Comment by Keith — 11:22 am March 11, 2008 #

  41. CMP: Based on the size of the site I don’t think the units will be that big and therefore I tend to feel that they will be under a million dollars.

    Comment by Alkipropertyowner — 11:49 am March 11, 2008 #

  42. Keith: you dont have to travel far to see new brick walls all over the place in much uglier buildings…besides it is a rendering and most likely subject to change. In looking at the building it isn’t even structural brick but an old brick facade that covers up an ugly old building.

    Comment by Alkipropertyowner — 11:51 am March 11, 2008 #

  43. Brand new construction right across from the beach? I’ll be surprised if they aren’t pushing a million dollars, even if they are small.

    This city is losing what little character it had with all of this new development. Why is it that San Francisco can manage to maintain the originality of their neighborhoods but Seattle can’t? Tear down the ugly to replace with uglier, but don’t get rid of the good stuff like the Shoremont and the great Craftsman homes that are now gone.

    Comment by CMP — 12:24 pm March 11, 2008 #

  44. CMP: Seattle’s character will always remain intact through old, beautiful, well maintained buildings with architectural significance and integrity. The Shoremont is a neglected building in a prime location and based on what I have seen from Pb Elemental (www.elementalarchitecture.com) I don’t think the new units will look ugly at all.

    Comment by Alkipropertyowner — 12:36 pm March 11, 2008 #

  45. We were in SF last spring break and there’s a ton of new construction in the areas by the Presidio and other near-the-water zones … even denser than what’s being proposed around here. Just a data point. Not sure what was there before, though, to that part of the point.

    Comment by WSB — 12:37 pm March 11, 2008 #

  46. If this five-unit development is replacing five or six ? apartments in the Shoremont, it’s not really an issue of density, is it? It’s a matter of pride and profit and ego, without any consideration for the community. To impose these prison-like structures on one of the most beautiful natural environment in the city is a crime. I keep coming back to the barren facade fronting the pedestrian and defy anyone to find anything attractive about it.

    Comment by acemotel — 12:37 am March 12, 2008 #

  47. It reminds me of the secure housing for sexual offenders on Spokane Street.

    Comment by acemotel — 12:41 am March 12, 2008 #

  48. No accounting for taste. I suppose after imposing these “prison-like” structures, the builders will sentence buyers purchase and live in these units? Maybe acemotel can reference any prison with floor to ceiling glazing.

    Comment by baba nulu — 8:28 am March 12, 2008 #

  49. acemotel: there is a lot worse developments littering alki…wouldn’t you say?

    Comment by Alkipropertyowner — 9:37 am March 12, 2008 #

  50. Alkipropertyowner: NO. There are no developments on Alki Avenue designed with such ill regard for the pedestrian. There is NO place on Alki Avenue fronted by 10-12 ft. brick walls, continuing for what, 50 ft? My comments refer to the experience of the pedestrian, not to the rendering from a distant location.

    I understand that the intent is to discourage pedestrians on that side of the street and to provide a sense of security for the hapless buyers who will shell out 1-2 million for each unit. (keep them safe from the “gang” kids and hoi polloi) The design is for one purpose only, and that is to sell units, regardless of the effect it may have on the attractiveness of the area. Do you find the facade attractive, approachable, interesting?

    Go walk right in front of the sexual offender housing on Spokane Street to get a feeling for the pedestrian’s experience this development will emulate.

    There’s no limit to greed. It’s a crying shame that greed and selfishness trump community and connections in that beautiful environment. Thank god the beach is public, and untouchable, even if the bunker mentality will live right across the street.

    Comment by acemotel — 10:55 am March 12, 2008 #

  51. baba nulu, no accounting for taste, for sure. I am not talking about the experience of the buyer, he is very well protected. I am speaking of the experience of the pedestrian, who will not see the “floor-to-ceiling glazing” as he walks on the sidewalk.

    Comment by acemotel — 11:02 am March 12, 2008 #

  52. acemotel: ill regard for the pedestrian? Are you kidding me right now. What is currently there a work of art? No a brick facade…much worse that what you describe as represented in a falling apart apartment building. Keep in mind that what you are bashing is a rendering of what the project might look like…I don’t know much, but at least I know that. Yes I do think the design is approachable, it looks like the developer is doing nothing to cut off the project from the sidewalk…there are no laws about using grade and if they want to cut into the site to add a bonus room to help them make the units more attractive to the potential home buyers that is their right…this is America, who are we to stop other people for making money. They are doing everything by the book and if they have the balls to take the risk then more power to them. Honestly if it was about money they would probably make more money converting the current building…maybe it is more about making something fresh and current.

    Comment by Alkipropertyowner — 12:10 pm March 12, 2008 #

  53. Ace –
    I have an idea. Why don’t you find the money to buy the property from the current owner and redesign the project. These are no more uninviting than the totally unnecessary service station across the street or every old beach house that has 3 cars parked out in front. Driving down Alki almost every new building the residential starts on the second floor. From a street presence stand point would you want to be looking at people two feet away from you while you’re eating with your family at the kitchen table? I’d blame City of Seattle for not making this a commercial zone that would have allowed commercial on the ground. I think the fold away walls are awesome. I wish I could live in a house on Alki with views like that at any price. I think the 70′s brick feel comes from the possible reuse of the brick which would be paying honor to the Shoremont. This would be the first building Pb has done to ever use brick.

    Comment by Standard Hotel — 12:44 pm March 12, 2008 #

  54. Standard Hotel: I have my own developments. I am not interested in buying that property. I do however have rights as a community member to comment on projects that affect the built environment where I chose to spend my leisure time. The rights of the property owner trump my rights to comment, but I do have that freedom. Part of our social contract is that developers have some concern for the external aesthetics of a project. Are you involved with the development co? …… you seem to know this is the first project using brick. It is possible to provide visual interest on the ground floor without inviting the public in to the resident’s dining room. I have spent all morning on a project enhancing a concrete facade on ground level. I know it can be done. If you find a brick wall attractive, well, I can’t convince you otherwise. If you are involved with this company, you will be defensive about that brick wall. But I don’t have to agree.

    Comment by acemotel — 1:52 pm March 12, 2008 #

  55. I live close to the Shoremont and the water table is about 5′ underground. The bottom floor in the model is probably parking as it is for the waterside condos further to the east. Multiunit new buildings have to follow the Alki parking overlay of 1.5 parking spaces per unit. I am not sure if this is true here as there was an attempt to rezone to 5 or 6 single family lots on the original apartment building lot. But one needs to price the units high enough to justify the cost of land and building in a liquifaction zone they probably will have 2 parking spaces per unit and hence a bottom floor of cars.

    Plantings could go a long way to calm the blank wall look. Even to “duplicate” the Shoremont enterance look around the new doors or the bottom floor exterior.

    Comment by Will on 56th — 5:22 pm March 12, 2008 #

  56. Yuck! That is all.

    Comment by Mary T. — 5:30 pm March 12, 2008 #

  57. Acemotel,
    I would love to see those examples of your work. Maybe you could share some of your developments as a reference for attractive, street-thoughtful design.

    Comment by baba nulu — 9:33 pm March 12, 2008 #

  58. Ace –

    I agree that you have a right to comment. I think it might be more constructive to suggest how you might change it as it seems you have experience building, I think you could possibly have some very good suggestions. I would suggest also that the currently level of the windows on the building will be as high or higher than fold away walls. The shoremont already greets the street with windows that srart at or above eye level for some. Maybe the fact that the building might get closer to the street may add to the brick wall feel but I think the brick wall feel might already be there.

    As far as knowing Pb’s projects, I’m just a modern loving real estate agent that follows what they do because at this point nobody short of Pb has been bringing the right elements of exterior and interior modern design and floor plans at prices that aren’t custom dream homes (even though some of there single families have been in the $1M+ range but not unattainable to the speculative buyers in the appropriate places).

    There are one offs all over the city by other builders and/or architects that are great but you never see them even come on the market because there are so few. I’m just glad to see Pb continuing to push the envelope on Modern speculative development in Seattle.

    I look forward to walking through these when they are finished, I’m sure I’ll be amazed once again. Anyone that hasn’t been in one of there projects yet I’d encourage them to do so, I don’t think this early rendering fully conveys Pb’s projects.

    Comment by Standard Hotel — 12:20 am March 13, 2008 #

  59. Here’s an interesting article on another controversial Pb project, this one on Queen Anne:

    http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=532069
    .

    The point of Pb’s projects seems to be in giving Seattle neighborhoods some sort of wake up call or reality check. Whether that is received as a slap in the face or an artistic breath of fresh air is, like all artistic endeavors, subject to interpretation. But it’s interesting to note from this article that Pb’s Queen Anne project actually won awards for striking such a drastic difference with the surrounding style and established character. Meanwhile, the majority of the neighbors hate it.
    .

    Here’s an excerpt from the article:

    “Unfriendly,” “harsh,” “stark,” “unwelcome,” “stunned”—this is the language of xenophobia. Sterling Residence is alien, strange, not a part of the “community.” It is uncouth (in the older sense of that word), the other, the event that disrupts long-established certainties about the neighborhood, the institution of the family (“it looks like an abortion clinic”), and the meaning of the city (“this home may be appropriate in a different context”). However, Jennifer Geist, the neighbor, admitted to me on the evening of my surprise visit that the architectural hatred and rejection was not universal, not “100 percent.” Her brother-in-law loves Sterling Residence for the very same reasons it won an AIA prize: It snaps the monotony of the street and presents a fresh opening to something new in the neighborhood. And because the snap is so sharp, so clear, in the context of Queen Anne, the AIA jury used it to send a loud message to the rest of Seattle: Snap out of predictable architecture.
    .
    The statement I find most interesting here (and most open to debate) is about “the language of xenophobia.” Sure, it’s the neighbors who are actually speaking in such terms. But doesn’t architecture speak in its own way and communicate something through its design? Which is more xenophobic: architecture designed to disrupt, or the reaction to it?

    Comment by Keith — 11:23 am March 13, 2008 #

  60. Thanks for the story link, Keith. Very interesting. It appears their design style is xenophobic. The exteriors are intended to keep strangers away. The interiors are only for the initiated. It is certainly a fortress style. The look is interesting, for sure. But welcoming? no.

    I appreciate your comments SH. Frankly that brick wall would really have me stumped, but fortunately, it’s not my problem! I am not a designer anyway. But I would not fund something that is not approachable – in that environment anyway. Also, it’s hard to tell whether the wall is below grade, i.e. is there a step down? and what’s behind it? Is it a garage that enters from the alley, or is it part of the house, with stairs and room(s)? My comment basically is just that I don’t find that massive brick wall attractive or welcoming or approachable. Landscaping can go a long way absent any design help.

    and baba nulu, your interest is flattering. But this post is not about me, it’s about something that affects us as West Seattle residents. Anything else is totally irrelevant.

    Comment by acemotel — 1:42 pm March 13, 2008 #

  61. alki doesn’t have a unified style–it is a mishmash of a century of building, and that gives it its character.

    When the Shoremont was built the neighbors probably complained about the 2 story brick box amongst the cottages and how it didn’t fit the neighborhood and the evil people who were going to be living there (renters! good god!). Now we love it.

    A fortress on the ground floor/glass above. Summertime in alki is messy, so a little psychological protection seems appropriate. meanwhile the pedestrians will be looking into the units, admiring the resident’s artwork, not the ‘massive’ brick walls (‘massive’ really? seriously? Isn’t that what the shoremont is now, with some windows punched in there?).

    I like the Shoremont, but I like to see the change/evolution of the neighborhood as well, and this new project could be so much worse.

    Some more soulful rendering would probably help.

    Comment by crwth — 7:12 pm March 19, 2008 #

  62. RE: Comment by Keith, I don’t think the house featured in stranger refelects any of Pb’s other works in Seattle. It seems quite different then their other work and probably client driven. I have walked through maybe five of their projects, and they are the nicest and most friendly homes I have seen in the past five years.

    Comment by Jung — 12:03 pm March 28, 2008 #

  63. [...] is fully permitted for demolition (though on a slightly more uplifting note there’s a chance it may be moved). To add more drama to the building’s history, news broke todaythat developer Pb Elemental [...]

    Pingback by VintageSeattle.org » Alki’s Shoremont Apartments -- High-Res Blog Visualizing The Emerald City's Past — 12:21 am October 14, 2008 #

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