Saving the Shoremont: New owner ‘really just liked the building’

March 29, 2011 at 11:50 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 42 Comments

The latest Land Use Information Bulletin from the city brought word that the proposal to renovate the interior of the Shoremont Apartments on Alki is proceeding – it’s been determined no environmental review is needed. You’ll recall the twin apartment buildings were once proposed for demolition, to make way for an ultra-modern development planned 3 years ago; then foreclosure led to new ownership. This morning, we talked for the first time with new owner Dennis Schilling, who tells WSB he bought the Shoremont because he has “always liked small brick buildings … I thought (these) were pretty interesting.” More about his plans, ahead:

“I do apartments, and occasionally, I buy one and try to fix it up,” Schilling told us during our phone conversation. “The goal is to pretty much leave them (as they are) as much as I can, to the extent the city will let me do that.”

That does not mean leaving the 88-year-old apartments at 2464 Alki SW in their current state of neglect. Schilling says he is hoping first to “get a roof on” the building, and in the meantime, he is going by frequently, and taking care of some of the exterior problems. Just a few weeks ago, he says, he and his wife and son were there pulling blackberry bushes and doing some other cleanup; he says he hopes to get a dumpster onto the property soon, for more cleanup.

Inside, he has “to bring everything up to current codes … (including) earthquake compliance.” That means some exterior changes on the rear side of the buildings: “Some windows will disappear on the back because they are too ‘open,’ we need to have some shear wall, if the building moved” in case of a quake.

And as the applications we’ve noted suggested, he wants to change them back to what they were originally built as, two four-unit buildings (some years back, two of the units in each building were consolidated into one), and then they will be rented out.

As for a timetable: “Everything has been turned in to the city right now,” though the review process is not a speedy or simple one, but he believes the city “want(s) this to happen as well.” Schilling adds that he’s hoping they will “let me get going sooner rather than later.”

He reiterated that he’s not in this particular project to make money: “This is not a high return; if I make anything on it, it’ll be 20 years” in the future. “I really just liked the building.”

And if you have any ideas for it, Schilling said, he’s “open to input.”

42 Comments

  1. LOVE a developer who is interested in renovating an old building! Too many are so willing to tear down and put in condos…

    Comment by Julia — 11:58 am March 29, 2011 #

  2. yay! I loved living in the upper west apt some years ago.

    Comment by Amy — 12:10 pm March 29, 2011 #

  3. I’ve always liked those buildings and am excited to hear the owner is interested in preserving them. They have so much more personality than what we see being built today.

    Comment by CJ — 12:14 pm March 29, 2011 #

  4. Dennis is a hero! You cannot stop progress but we need to keep some of the old and this building could once again become a standout beauty! Cheers to you and your family Dennis on this project!!!!!

    Comment by Babs — 12:21 pm March 29, 2011 #

  5. Dennis, I do hope you get a nice return even if it’s a long term proposition. That building really contributes to the ambience of W. Seattle and Alki. Thanks for preserving and upgrading it – you’re a mensch.

    Comment by Jake — 12:39 pm March 29, 2011 #

  6. Yes! Thanks to Mr. Schilling fore saving this classic building! I have a soft spot in my heart for brick buildings as well. :cool:

    .

    Hope permitting and everything goes as quickly and smoothly as possible!

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 12:40 pm March 29, 2011 #

  7. I am so relieved to hear that this fabulous building will be saved! It was disheartening to think that yet another (badly designed?) modern condo would take it over. Kudos to you Dennis Schilling!

    Comment by nlm98106 — 12:40 pm March 29, 2011 #

  8. Yea!! This is such a cool building and we are slowly losing that old world character that makes W. Seattle so lovely! I love to hear of a developer who appreciates interesting architecture and is trying to keep it alive. I hope everything goes well for this plan. I’ve always hoped someone would save that building!

    Comment by Jeri — 12:59 pm March 29, 2011 #

  9. yea! yea! yea! so happy to hear it!!

    Comment by Fiona — 1:32 pm March 29, 2011 #

  10. Brick? The first buildings to fall during a great earthquake are brick. Looks and ambiance may be cool, but I would not want to be in it or near it when the ground starts shaking.

    Comment by D. Wulkan — 1:41 pm March 29, 2011 #

  11. Yay for keeping character in the ‘hood!

    Comment by AJP — 1:44 pm March 29, 2011 #

  12. And I just really like Dennis for liking this building!

    Comment by valvashon — 1:48 pm March 29, 2011 #

  13. Straw is much more flexible than brick. Let’s build a replacement from straw! Oh wait. . . . . .how does straw hold up to wind and wolves? Maybe we should use wood for a replacement! Oh wait. . . . . wood burns. Way to go Dennis – it’s a cool building – don’t listen to the naysayers.

    Comment by 2 Much Whine — 1:57 pm March 29, 2011 #

  14. I thought I was going to make it through an entire “development” comments thread without a single complaint. Who could be against fixing up an eyesore and keeping the original charm? But alas, “D. Wulkan” is here to keep us all honest.

    Comment by james — 1:59 pm March 29, 2011 #

  15. I am so happy to hear this. I love that building and appreciate any developer who is willing to renovate over tearing down. Yay!

    Comment by ellenater — 2:24 pm March 29, 2011 #

  16. I am SO glad to hear this!!!! Yeah!!

    Comment by Westside J. — 2:35 pm March 29, 2011 #

  17. I’m a fan of that building too.
    Way to be a preservation hero Dennis!

    Comment by westseattledood — 3:03 pm March 29, 2011 #

  18. So glad to see this building is staying. My wife and I always thought this building would make a great B&B.

    Comment by Chris — 4:02 pm March 29, 2011 #

  19. This is great news! Can’t wait to watch its progress. (Dennis, do photograph the project — and keep notes — we need more books about saving iconic buildings–especially in communities like West Seattle!

    Comment by charlabob — 4:15 pm March 29, 2011 #

  20. Ask for volunteers to help with the yard clean-up.
    It’s a neat building.
    Folks care about it and the neighborhood.
    As to those in fear of the ‘earthquake’,
    believe me when I say,
    if it is your time, you’re gonna go, earthquake or not.

    Comment by old timer — 4:20 pm March 29, 2011 #

  21. Way to go, Dennis. I’ve run by this building almost every day for the past 9 years and I’m thrilled that it will retain it’s charm and character. Thank you for honoring the building’s story and preserving a bit of Alki’s history.

    Comment by pumpkin — 4:25 pm March 29, 2011 #

  22. HOOORAY FOR DENNIS!

    Comment by AG — 5:06 pm March 29, 2011 #

  23. What a great story! Thanks to you and your family for saving this building.

    Comment by lg — 5:37 pm March 29, 2011 #

  24. My personal vision for this property would be to do something like a mini-McMenamins – a small cafe/pub downstairs and a few hotel rooms upstairs. That way the public can enjoy the historic property, and visiting friends would have a fun place to stay in the neighborhood. With the water-taxi/shuttle, it would even be good for downtown access. Of course, that’s an entirely different type of business operation.

    Comment by jed — 5:42 pm March 29, 2011 #

  25. I just noticed the Shoremont a few days ago when I was walking through that area, and I thought “Oh, it looks like it’s going to be torn down. What a pity.” This story has brightened my day.

    Comment by Amanda T. — 5:57 pm March 29, 2011 #

  26. 2 much whine, I agree with you, though straw in a highly compressed form makes for an excellent building material. High R factor, non-flammable, good sound insulation, quickly renewable (usually trash) resource.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/jul/13/straw-houses-balehaus-bre

    http://www.strawbalehouse.com/strawbale.html

    Comment by dawsonct — 6:02 pm March 29, 2011 #

  27. Thank you, Dennis.

    Comment by Genesee Hill — 6:03 pm March 29, 2011 #

  28. Oh yeah, and as a kid in the 50s, I always hoped new construction/remodeling would include a candy store. I hope you plan on opening a candy store, huh?

    Comment by Genesee Hill — 6:06 pm March 29, 2011 #

  29. Dennis – Thank you so much for doing this!!! That is awesome to save an old building and I would have done it myself if I had the money. You rock! (big hug)

    Comment by Glenda — 6:16 pm March 29, 2011 #

  30. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! It is such a beautiful building, and I am so glad to hear that you respect and appreciate the older buildings that have a great deal of character.

    Comment by jude — 6:27 pm March 29, 2011 #

  31. Excellent. What a great building.

    Comment by guy — 6:48 pm March 29, 2011 #

  32. Wonderful to hear! There are two great programs (special valuation and federal investment tax credits) to help offset the costs of rehabilitating old buildings. The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation can help with guidance on both of these. Check with their field director Chris Moore.

    Comment by Spencer — 6:50 pm March 29, 2011 #

  33. Genesee Hill – just noticed your comment. My dream is to open a candy store in West Seattle – we should join forces.

    Comment by Glenda — 6:56 pm March 29, 2011 #

  34. Dennis you are like the shoremont, unique in your own special way. Thank you for safe-keeping what’s left of our beautiful & historic architecture. I wish there were more people like you who cared about craftmanship & charm over ugly & cheap. Looking forward to seeing the building updates & the gardens. Good luck!

    Comment by westbird — 7:19 pm March 29, 2011 #

  35. Oooh. I love the Shoremont. Dibs on a unit when it finally opens up?

    Comment by Josh — 7:21 pm March 29, 2011 #

  36. How wonderful! I love this building and it is so refreshing to see someone purchase an old building because they appreciate it – and not for its land value. They don’t build them like this anymore. Thank you to Dennis for your vision.

    Comment by Mati B. — 7:22 pm March 29, 2011 #

  37. Thank you Dennis!!!!!

    Comment by Cclarue — 9:37 pm March 29, 2011 #

  38. This is such good news! I drove by there a couple of weekends ago with a friend visiting from California and I was a bit embarrassed because she had been raving about how cool it was in Seattle with all the old houses/buildings and eclectic architecture (she lives in Silicon Valley). I assumed they were going to be torn down like so much of West Seattle to make way for mixed use condo development. It really makes me happy to see a piece of West Seattle saved after hearing about Charlestown Cafe closing today…

    Comment by Ladyblahblah — 10:36 pm March 29, 2011 #

  39. This is great!

    Thank you.

    Comment by 55thAlki — 7:34 am March 30, 2011 #

  40. Yippee. I am so glad it is being saved. I was so sad when I thought it was going to be torn down. I LOVE vintage homes and buildings.

    Comment by Gini Johnson — 9:42 am March 30, 2011 #

  41. Cheers to Dennis. And, as someone who walks past the Shoremont daily, a special thank you for clearing the sidewalk!

    Comment by kirsty — 12:51 pm March 30, 2011 #

  42. Totally agree, jed! I’ve dreamed of turning it into a hotel with a bakery/coffee shop, but beer would be even better.

    Comment by Kathleen — 1:33 pm March 30, 2011 #

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