Equity Residential Junction project update: Demolition could start ‘as early as August 10th’

July 17, 2012 at 10:44 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 48 Comments

(2011 WSB photo looking southwest toward project site on Alaska’s south side, 42nd to California)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

With the remaining businesses on notice to clear out of the future Equity Residential two-building development site in the heart of The Junction by the end of this month, demolition could start days later.

We’ve been working for weeks to get an update directly from the site’s owner/developers, and finally have some new information.

The contractor for the 2-building project will be chosen within “the next week or so,” according to Chicago-headquartered Equity Residential’s spokesperson, Marty McKenna. He says two teams are “currently pricing the project.”

We had last reached him in January, not long after the company bought the property and project from Eastside-based Conner Homes. At that time, McKenna told us that they were expecting to break ground before year’s end, and he tells WSB now that they remain on schedule for that.

Under Conner ownership, development was proposed for the site at the turn of the millennium, but that stalled, until March 2008, when – as first reported here – that company revealed plans for the two-building project. It won Design Review Board approval one year and five meetings later, but after that, there was no public news about the project for two years. In 2011, we learned a group of neighborhood/business concerns had been negotiating with the site owner for more than a year, to reach an agreement (reported here) that allowed the project to go forward, with some of their concerns addressed, particularly regarding how the site will look and feel at street level. McKenna told WSB in our January interview that his company would honor that agreement.

The project received land-use approval a year ago, for – between the two buildings – a total of 196 apartments, about 25,000 square feet of retail space, and 271 underground parking spaces in a subterranean garage shared by both buildings.

At the time, Conner told WSB that construction would likely start this year. And then, just before last Christmas, came word they’d sold the site for $11 million.

The businesses on the site started moving shortly thereafter. The moves and announcements continued over the first half of this year, and remaining businesses told us that Equity had given them a July 31st deadline to be out. We have continued chronicling their plans (here’s our most recent report).

Now, the developer confirms work is expected to begin soon. But it won’t go immediately from demolition to excavation, according to McKenna, who explained via e-mail: “We are bound to install our utility re-routes prior to starting any building construction, but demolition could take place as early as August 10th.” He says the site will be fenced off about a week before demolition starts.

After that, he said, “The intent of the project is to break ground in the 4th quarter this year. At this point we have not landed on a specific date of the start of construction due to ongoing coordination efforts of our civil engineers and Seattle City Light, SDOT and the servicing utilities. … We have a phased permit with the City of Seattle applied for and several subordinate applications in the works with SCL, SDOT, etc. The Phase I permit technically is scheduled for issue around the 2nd week of October this year.”

We asked if “phasing” meant one building would go up before the other, but he says, no, “Both buildings will be built at the same time.” (No official name for the project so far, by the way.)

P.S. The project is widely expected to be under construction at the same time as the 4724 California building on the ex-Petco/now-Sound Ad Group building down the block; Sound Ad Group has a lease that only runs through October (and is renovating its new permanent headquarters at a smaller site on California SW north of Genesee). 4724 is still awaiting its second Design Review meeting; here’s our coverage of its first one, back in May.

48 Comments

  1. ick.

    Comment by Sean — 10:56 am July 17, 2012 #

  2. Hey, the zip lines got shot down, what about people putting the pressure on these high rise apartments?

    Comment by Rumbles — 10:59 am July 17, 2012 #

  3. I wish that would work Rumbles.

    Comment by WSratsinacage — 11:16 am July 17, 2012 #

  4. Enough with the apartment buildings in West Seattle….pretty soon we will be nothing but. Lets jam as many people as possible into the smallest of spaces. Enough already.

    Comment by Concerned — 11:21 am July 17, 2012 #

  5. RIP West Seattle Junction.

    Comment by B-squared — 11:27 am July 17, 2012 #

  6. enjoy the last summer/fall of sky in the junction

    Comment by Diane — 11:43 am July 17, 2012 #

  7. This high rise will only bring shade to this sunny corner of West Seattle. How gloomy!

    Comment by Westbird — 11:56 am July 17, 2012 #

  8. If they are doing the demo right away then how long will we sit with a hole in the ground?

    Comment by AN — 12:01 pm July 17, 2012 #

  9. I got a name for the project “the beginning of the end of the Junction’s charm.” Hopefully the construction will go quickly and not be too intrusive to the surviving businesses.

    Comment by huskydawg — 12:34 pm July 17, 2012 #

  10. It will be fine. If there wasn’t a demand for it then they wouldn’t build it. Do you prefer sprawl and traffic?

    Comment by Jim — 12:43 pm July 17, 2012 #

  11. So I have mixed emotions, first, sad to see the change in the junction, second, happy that many people will have a job for now doing demo and construction. Those people are people that could move to West Seattle and they will provide daily retail sales for the area, which is needed. I just hope that the building is quality, looks good, and has occupancy.

    Comment by coffee — 12:47 pm July 17, 2012 #

  12. yuck. are all the new apts. really going to be filled?? I fear that the retail rent will be too high for local small business owners to occupy these new buildings and the chain crapola will start to move in…

    Comment by ttt — 1:21 pm July 17, 2012 #

  13. I’m personally looking forward to more density around the junction. With higher density, we’ll be able to support more small businesses, restaurants, arts, and better transit into our neighborhood. We just need to make sure that it is handled well with an eye towards an accessible village.

    Now if only the extremely convenient 128 bus that runs from my home down there didn’t stop running at 9 pm…

    Comment by Jesse — 1:28 pm July 17, 2012 #

  14. zip lines from the Junction to Alki. now THAT would be fun.

    Comment by smokeycretin9 — 1:37 pm July 17, 2012 #

  15. For the record, this will only shade California during the morning hours.

    Comment by kgdlg — 2:05 pm July 17, 2012 #

  16. You don’t consider this “sprawl”–of the upwards kind??? You don’t think adding all those units won’t bring more traffic to the junction??? I’m sure not everyone residing there will have a car-but enough will as well as folks coming to visit there. But there is nothing we can do about it-except hope this will add to the vibrancy of West Seattle,by welcoming (hopefully) fun new businesses as well as helping to support existing ones.

    Comment by Anne — 2:20 pm July 17, 2012 #

  17. Does the Alaska Junction have the original sewer pipe or will these two mega projects require the city to replace it? I sure hope they do not need to dig up California Avenue to accomplish these two projects. We just got it done!

    Comment by Junction resident — 2:38 pm July 17, 2012 #

  18. If they keep tearing down local businesses, how is this going to bring more into the community. Like other comments the new locations will be too expensive for small businesses, and we will lose variety,and fun small shops where the owner actually knows your name. soon West Seattle will just be full of square boxes. :(

    Comment by PAMF — 3:13 pm July 17, 2012 #

  19. Guys, I hate to tell ya, but this probably won’t add fun new local businesses. Rent will be way too high for anything local. If you’ve watched what’s happened with other neighborhoods and their condos, the commercials spaces are usually filled with boring national companies plus one random frozen yogurt place. Just prepare yourselves for a tanning salon, a T-Mobile store, and something stupid like “FroYo A-GoGo”

    Comment by John — 3:48 pm July 17, 2012 #

  20. Yaaaaay. I love paying new higher rent..They’ll be finished with the new building before the hole even gets started.

    Comment by Jiggers — 4:04 pm July 17, 2012 #

  21. Cinnabon Cinnabon Cinnabon Cinnabon

    Comment by smokeycretin9 — 4:12 pm July 17, 2012 #

  22. I’m not particularly interested in seeing non-independent businesses either but just for fun, let’s take a look at what we have in the newest buildings finished around here, north to south, just from my memory, I might forget something.
    .
    Admiral Safeway – There’s a salon in the Element 42 building. The retail building on the parking lot has Menchie’s (national but local franchisees) and Umpqua Bank (regional, based in Portland), with two spaces open. Mural has Seasons salon, Fresh Bistro (West Seattleite-owned), and Wallflower Custom Framing (independent small business). Link has Bright Horizons (national), Breathe Hot Yoga (Seattle-based), Chaco Canyon CafĂ© (Seattle-owned, one of two locations). Capco Plaza has a physical therapy place, a tanning place, Petco (moved from the main street of The Junction), the liquor store formerly owned by the state and now owned by the building’s owner (longtime West Seattle businessman), QFC.
    .
    Kinda 50-50. We’ll have to do a field trip to some of the oft-cited burbs like Ballard. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 4:35 pm July 17, 2012 #

  23. Though I am bummed to see Rocksport close, I am happy to see development in the neighborhood. A refreshing change from the doldrums of a down economy and don’t feel it is the end of the Junction. It will be different thats for sure but, I am optimistic that tenants like Chaco Canyon and Fresh Bistro–cool, colorful local businesses that have taken spaces in nearby buildings that are similar to this–will call this place home.

    Comment by alkiobserver — 4:41 pm July 17, 2012 #

  24. well, we do live in an urban area, right? this should be expected to some degree. I’m not bothered.

    Comment by hipster! — 4:42 pm July 17, 2012 #

  25. I have to agree with Alkiobserver. The buildings that are getting torn down are very tired and have not bet kept up well (at least on the outside). I think West Seattle, specifically The Junction, has a good reputation and the ability to attract some fun new local businesses. I guess pricing will be the determinant, but I am hopeful.

    Comment by Heidi — 4:58 pm July 17, 2012 #

  26. While I love having a variety of restaurants to choose from I would really welcome some new retailers.. like you find in Ballard, Fremont. I worry that rent in these new buildings will be prohibitive. You always hear developers touting these buildings as having retail space .. But then rent is too high to attract the fun businesses to the community!

    Comment by Anne — 5:06 pm July 17, 2012 #

  27. The city’s planners are doing West Seattle a disservice by building density without having a solid timeline for a West Seattle LINK/Subway line. We need to build it NOW, not in 15-20 years. Let’s solve the WS Bridge commute once and for all: fifteen-minute one-seat rides Downtown that are easily accessible, relieve the congestion on our roads, that are green and efficient. Check out Seattle Subway dot org or on Facebook to get involved.

    Comment by cascadianone — 5:45 pm July 17, 2012 #

  28. Ah density….what a GREAT idea to stuff more people onto a section of land with extremely limited in/out access.

    Until our infrastructure is improved with multiple mass transit options in and out of West Seattle, these buildings are a bad idea.

    Comment by Harold Reems — 7:31 pm July 17, 2012 #

  29. @cascadianone – I think the downtown hub is a part of our problem with traffic in and out of west-seattle. It’s tremendously inefficient to use transit to go anywhere north or east of the city from here.

    And @Harold, it always is a chicken and egg problem. No riders means no funds for new routes, but no routes means no access for riders.

    Comment by Jesse — 8:37 pm July 17, 2012 #

  30. Mayor of Seattle said something that is bothering me. In talking about the growth of the south lake union area, me mentioned that there are 1200 new jobs in that area and that they are trying to get more people to move to Seattle by creating more jobs, and thus making this city a better place to live. I just dont think a city success should be based on becoming a bigger city. Its success should be based on how happy its citizens are. I think the same can be applied to the west seattle junction.

    Comment by Bill G — 9:29 pm July 17, 2012 #

  31. @Jesse- Transit is inefficient because it’s sharing the road with cars. With grade separation from our streets, running over a new crossing over the Duwamish, a Link line could resolve that issue. The same line can and should run out to Ballard and connect the entire west side of the city with downtown.

    We are still living in a car culture out here, but our roadways are maxed out and we just can’t fit more cars in the space we have- especially not downtown. The answer is the Seattle Subway. Keep our cars, keep our roads AND have a better option for many people to get in and out of our fine nieghborhood. Many other people will always choose to drive and they should be able to… but for the majority who are heading downtown in rush hour there will be a faster, easier and cheaper option than the car.

    Comment by cascadianone — 9:32 pm July 17, 2012 #

  32. We will not get better transit until 1) all these new buildings are filled up with new people and 2) more people take the bus. Everyone who complains about density needs to be willing to get out of their car and volunteer to ride the bus, then maybe we will have the political will and pressure to add a sound transit levy or ballot measure to add a west link. More people is only half the problem! All of us in single occupancy vehicles is he other half.

    Comment by Kgdlg — 9:36 pm July 17, 2012 #

  33. Ah the sweet screeching of apoplectic NIMBYs … :)-

    Comment by godofthebasement — 10:00 pm July 17, 2012 #

  34. I can’t believe this is happening!

    Comment by Cls — 5:11 am July 18, 2012 #

  35. Buses are not a good solution for people with small children in many cases. If I have a 2 year old and a five year old with me, the buses are a nightmare. The two year old needs a stroller for the long walking distances required to actually reach our final destination, thanks to the elimination of so many bus routes. Both kids require help to climb onto the bus, so I end up hauling them in by their arms while also managing a bulky folded stroller and diaper bag. There’s nowhere on the bus to stash the stroller which you are required to fold up while on the bus. People won’t move to allow you to sit in the more spacious seats in front with all your gear, so you have to herd and drag in order to reach a set of seats further down the bus. It’s awful!
    .
    Many parents who work also have to collect kids at childcare and afterschool care, so buses are often not a practical consideration for them, either. A housing and transportation plan that so strongly disregards the needs of families isn’t going to make for a healthy, thriving city. I mean, I’ll bet nearly everyone making these policy lives in a house in a neighborhood which is not jammed with apartment buildings and drives whenever it is convenient for them. Yet they don’t want me making the same chooses or having the same options. Argh!

    Comment by Scooterista — 7:20 am July 18, 2012 #

  36. I can’t wait for this project to be completed. More people living in the Junction can only be good for local businesses. Sad to see Rocksport go, but man, this presents a huge opportunity for someone to build a true sports bar in West Seattle. You’d have to screw it up pretty bad not to be an instant success!

    Comment by villagegreen — 10:03 am July 18, 2012 #

  37. This kind of thing makes me sick to my stomach. These are the projects that are done now and horribly regretted in 20 years. How many condo/apartment buildings have vacant spots below around the city??? Tons. This reminds me of what happened in Edmonds to “Mill Town,” the classy auto repair shop that my great grandfather built which was torn down and replaced with condos. And the bottom floor of the retail locations are still sitting vacant. Tired of developers who are in no way connected or attached to the charming ill’ towns they are putting high rises in… Very sad. Very sad indeed.

    Comment by Old School WS Girl — 10:20 am July 18, 2012 #

  38. This also makes me sick to my stomach…..The reason people love strolling our charming Junction is the feel of the small town vibe is has.I grew up in Seattle and have watched other neighborhood business districts transform and not in the positive way residents had hoped. I realize housing is an issue, but doubt we really need this many units and the problems they can potentially create. Why not build periferal to the main Junction, leaving the charm intact and not destroying the reason we come there in the first place! I fear this will ultimately hurt local businesses in the long run and then this community will be left with vacant monoliths and payday loan stores…Oh goody! Development may be necessary, but with true vision to the future and not disregard of the past and present.

    Comment by dancingkat — 1:01 pm July 18, 2012 #

  39. If I’d wanted to live in Ballard, I’d have moved there….

    Comment by Charles — 1:51 pm July 18, 2012 #

  40. I think this is the plan for the entire Junction. Many of the owners will do this type of development so it’s not just the ‘ugly’ buildings that will be replaced.

    Comment by huskydawg — 2:01 pm July 18, 2012 #

  41. First there were trees then dirt then a building. Then the building got old. Then it was torn down. And now a new building is going up. The cycle just continues over an over.

    Comment by boy — 2:55 pm July 18, 2012 #

  42. Too late. They had all the meetings for this huskydog. No one cared unlike with the zipline issue. Build..build. build away. Pave paradise and put a parking lot. Oh wait..they did that already and are doing it again. Now we just need a new swinging hot spot.

    Comment by jiggers — 3:11 pm July 18, 2012 #

  43. Jiggers, not true that no one cared. This project went through Design Review for a long time (all the links are in the story) and a lot of community activists put a lot of time into at least trying to make it something of a better project. And comparing development on private land to the zipline/Lincoln Park situation is apples and oranges … if even that close … Private land. Private project. Zipline was public land, public agency, private project. The Junction was zoned for buildings the size of this one more than a decade ago. Not saying that was good or bad, but that’s a fact, and the only way to stop it in the years ahead would be for someone to pursue downzoning. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 3:20 pm July 18, 2012 #

  44. Can they make it female residents only?

    Comment by Guy — 5:34 pm July 18, 2012 #

  45. Jiggers-They are NOT required to “put up a parking lot”–UNFORTUNATELY!
    Fewer and fewer parking spaces required with each new project permitted–housing or recreation. Look at the proposed arena! About 2,500 spaces for a 19,000 seat arena? HUH?!?!

    Comment by ARE YOU KIDDING? — 5:58 pm July 18, 2012 #

  46. Oh gawd.. You guys didn’t see the sarcasm in my post. I was quoting Joni Mitchell’s song Big Yellow Taxi…Pave paradise put up a parking lot.

    Comment by jiggers — 9:07 am July 19, 2012 #

  47. Jiggers-did see the sarcasm, always loved the song, just wish they “put up a parking lot.” Need LOTS of them all around town.

    Comment by ARE YOU KIDDING? — 7:20 am July 20, 2012 #

  48. Why would a new building be required to have enough parking for its residents? Everyone is supposed to ride their bikes in Seattle, right? Let’s eliminate what street parking exists in front of the building and put in more bike lanes.

    Comment by Alex — 10:44 am July 25, 2012 #

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