(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.