Equity Residential’s West Seattle project: December demolition

November 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 62 Comments

(Looking toward the California/Alaska corner of Equity Residential’s project)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

More than a dozen empty storefronts have sat at the Junction’s most prominent intersection for three months now, vacating by July 31st as ordered by their final landlord, the site’s future developer.

At the time, owner/developer Equity Residential said demolition to make way for their two-building apartments-over-retail project at California/Alaska could start as soon as mid-August.

Now it’s November, and nothing’s happened yet. So what’s the holdup, you might wonder? We wondered too and had been asking for information for a while. Today, we finally obtained it, meeting for the first time with executives from the Chicago-based corporation’s Puget Sound team to get the answer – and other project updates.

First, the answer to the biggest question: They expect to start demolition at the end of December, after Christmas. The permits were granted just last week, so they could start sooner if they wanted to, but they say they don’t want to have construction starting amid holiday shopping and festivities.

(2011 WSB photo looking southwest toward project site on Alaska’s south side, 42nd to California)
The site hasn’t been entirely idle. Bradley Karvasek, an Equity vice president, explains that they emptied the existing buildings early because of asbestos abatement that had to be done, and that they weren’t certain how long that would take. There’s also been utility work around the site.

Once they do begin – Karvasek says starting at the end of December would still allow them to achieve their goal of a fourth-quarter start – the demolition itself will take about a month.

(East building – from roughly the same angle as the photo above)
The project went through Design Review under its previous owner, Conner Homes, finishing the process in 2009. It now includes 206 apartments between the two buildings and 17,000 square feet of retail – they’re hoping for “local retailers,” says Karvasek, who will complement the idea of a “third place for residents.” The underground parking garage, which will be shared by the two buildings, will have about 211 spaces, which includes residential and business parking.

Speaking of parking, they are arranging for an offsite parking lot for employees to use during construction. That’s in response to a frequent complaint from Junction residents during some of the projects over the past few years – that construction workers have been parking in nearby neighborhoods, leaving residents and visitors with nowhere to park. The site they expect to lease for parking is on 42nd, just north of Capco Plaza (the Altamira Apartments/QFC building). Then once the project’s own garage is “built and approved,” they hope to have it available for employees, since the 42nd site won’t hold every team member’s car.

42nd south of Alaska will be where most construction activity is focused, says Karvasek: “We want to do our best to minimize the impact on California (SW) – we don’t want to have to work (from) that (street) if we don’t have to, so most of the activity is going to take place on 42nd.”

Construction will last about two years; the contractor has not been chosen yet, though. While the two buildings will basically be built simultaneously, the west one – which is smaller – is likely to be completed first, with construction on the east one continuing for a few months at the most beyond that. They’re thinking the project will use one crane, but that’ll be up to the not-yet-chosen contractor, so the possibility of two cranes has not yet been ruled out.

As Equity had reiterated earlier, they are honoring the community agreement that paved the way for approval of the project’s alley vacation – using what is technically city right-of-way below the north-south alley as part of the parking garage, though the alley will continue to fully function at the surface. They met recently with the parties to that agreement to discuss its details and introduce the development team.

They don’t have answers yet to some of the questions we asked. For example – the project doesn’t have a name yet; they don’t know yet what the rents will be; they’re not expecting to have a project-specific website until a few months before they’re ready to start leasing. But, asked about amenities planned for the building, they eagerly rattled off a list from rooftop deck to dog wash to storage for more than 60 bicycles (plus public bike racks for shoppers/visitors).

The project is financed and the development team shook their heads vigorously when we asked if there was a chance of anything stalling once it begins, like “The Hole” (ex-Fauntleroy Place/future Spruce West Seattle) a few blocks to the northeast.

“We build for the long term; our intent is to hold this project for the long term,” Bradley said. “(We will) deliver a product that’ll be great for the community.”

Right now, Equity is working on (or finishing up) projects all around the larger Seattle “community” too – from Market Street Landing in Ballard to 320 Pine on Capitol Hill to a South Lake Union project. They recently won a National Association of Home Builders award for Red 160 in downtown Redmond.

If they do indeed begin demolition at the end of December, it’ll be almost exactly a year after they bought the West Seattle site/project for $11 million.

62 Comments

  1. Hoping for local retailers, eh? I bet the prices won’t reflect that hope. Sad development for the junction.

    Comment by odroku — 4:37 pm November 1, 2012 #

  2. Great loss for WS…. Nothing fair and equitable comes from big businesses who don’t about community.

    Comment by Kathi — 5:42 pm November 1, 2012 #

  3. At least they are waiting until AFTER Christmas– junction could have been a shoppers & retailers disaster! Lets all do our best to shop locally this holiday season — could be a mess for awhile after.

    Comment by Anne — 6:00 pm November 1, 2012 #

  4. That is an extremely unappealing structure to look at.

    Comment by Harry Reems — 6:15 pm November 1, 2012 #

  5. I was so enjoying last Sundays outing in the Junction and I was thinking how the daylight on the street and the charm of the atmosphere are soon to be a thing of the past. Relics, like me I guess. To bad there seems to be the need to obliterate the character and essence of a neighborhood in the name of so called progress. Soon our little shopping area will resemble Belltown. Hope those same problems don’t come with that too. Density unchecked and not well planned eventually can equal urban blight…

    Comment by the dancing kat — 6:55 pm November 1, 2012 #

  6. how are we supposed to be able to get around West Seattle with all the multi-family units that are being added?

    We’re quickly becoming Ballard.

    Comment by Rhonda Porter — 7:10 pm November 1, 2012 #

  7. Yup…I saw this happened to Ballard and now it’s showing up in West Seattle. Ugly tall and blocks out the sun. The neighborhood will pay with traffic and parking problems.

    Comment by MSW — 7:42 pm November 1, 2012 #

  8. These guys are lame! The WSB always likes to reference Red160, but the fact is, it’s retail storefronts have been empty for years and so will this lame project.

    Comment by LN — 7:44 pm November 1, 2012 #

  9. I can’t tell from the picture, but where is Rocksport in there?

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 7:46 pm November 1, 2012 #

  10. LN, you may be confusing us with some other site. I’ve never heard of, much less mentioned, that project before (checked the archives to be double-sure). Equity reps brought it up today. We often ask developers for examples of their work, because some readers like to take a look. Have no idea what its retail situation is. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 7:52 pm November 1, 2012 #

  11. Rocksport is midblock. The 2011 photo looks at the corner where AAA was – Rocksport was two doors to the right.

    Comment by WSB — 7:54 pm November 1, 2012 #

  12. WSB – Maybe you should follow up on other Equity sites and check how long the retail has been vacant?

    Comment by LN — 7:58 pm November 1, 2012 #

  13. Too bad the economy is so sucky.
    That would have been a great spot for condos.
    The apartment rents would probably cover the P&I on a mortgage, but who wants to borrow and who wants to lend?
    Anyhow, let’s hope all the residents in all the new buildings will be enough to give impetus to new retail for all these new retail spaces opening up.
    Could be interesting – could be a disaster.
    Stay tuned.

    Comment by old timer — 8:10 pm November 1, 2012 #

  14. All I keep thinking about is how much harder it’s going to be for me to score a seat on RapidRide after 300 new tenants move in ..

    Comment by Marcus M — 8:23 pm November 1, 2012 #

  15. West Ballard. Sad. :(

    Comment by West Seattle Roller — 8:30 pm November 1, 2012 #

  16. I hope there are at lease 2 parking spaces per unit.

    I moved to west seattle after my lease ended with Equity Residential. They requested a substantial rent increase (well over fmv), so we moved. I’m not a fan.

    Comment by stephen — 8:37 pm November 1, 2012 #

  17. What a disaster in the making.

    Comment by raybro — 9:11 pm November 1, 2012 #

  18. Overdevelopment ugly is what I call it. The residential areas close to this development and the Fauntleroy development will suffer too. Insufficient parking, roadways, transit to accommodate all the tenants will be a problem. If the right retail is attracted and can afford the rent, that could be one plus. Rents will be high in order to maintain the grounds and building.

    Comment by Seattleite — 10:20 pm November 1, 2012 #

  19. Is there anyway that we, as a community, can make this stop? Or at least have some sort of control or influence of how our neighborhood of West Seattle is developed?

    Comment by Rhonda Porter — 10:21 pm November 1, 2012 #

  20. Very sad development for West Seattle.
    Ugly Ugly Ugly.

    Comment by justme — 10:22 pm November 1, 2012 #

  21. Do developers ever take into consideration how their ‘idea” fits into the existing neighborhood? Holy sh$3! Yeah that is really what the junction needs, fits in seamlessly. What an absolute disaster…

    Comment by noplacelikehomeWS — 10:44 pm November 1, 2012 #

  22. Ok, I’m going way against the grain and saying I think it looks nice.
    .
    I hope the construction will employ local workers.

    Comment by Lura Ercolano — 11:05 pm November 1, 2012 #

  23. For those truly interested: Looking to the past might provide some context:
    .
    http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/npi/plans/wsj/Section3.pdf
    .
    It’s just one section of the Junction Neighborhood Plan. But it’s when the groundwork for what is happening now was laid.

    Comment by WSB — 11:26 pm November 1, 2012 #

  24. What if it became an office building? Wouldn’t you like to go to work in the Junction? It can’t be too late to change its use.

    Comment by J — 12:27 am November 2, 2012 #

  25. I work across the street and the dust and dirt are going to kill me. I guess our vitamin D will be lost too… I am highly sensitive to dust and cement to a point it literaly shuts my organs down. Joy things to look forward to, but the growth will help my business to grow. Watching all the changes the past 20 years has been fun, but hope this doesn’t kill me in the interum:( Well my kids can take over then… Thank you West Seattle for all your Love and Support through the years and this will hopefully be good at least a few more bodies and parking spaces and possibly with a West Seattle flair.

    Comment by Gilbert — 2:00 am November 2, 2012 #

  26. As a new convert to West Seattle (been here a year), I don’t see an issue with adding density. This is a great area and hopefully new neighbors won’t diminish whats great about WS.

    Comment by EdSane — 2:03 am November 2, 2012 #

  27. SCREEE!!!
    Personally, I cannot wait for 200 apartments with adjoining retail space to show up in the block. I bet the storefronts will be affordable and offer a variety of goods and/or services West Seattle residents will find useful – bringing with them a sense of community and well being.The people that reside in the apartments will most likely be an interesting mix of diverse cultures that already thrive so freely in West Seattle – immediately becoming a vibrant part of……….

    You don’t know me, but I consider myself pretty good at sarcasm and I can’t pull this off. Sorry.

    Comment by Sherman Potter — 4:31 am November 2, 2012 #

  28. Stephen,

    There are 206 Units and 211 parking spaces to be shared with residents and retail.

    If everyone has a car, thats 5 parking spaces for retail customers/employees.

    Of course you need to realize that in the [St]utopia of Seattle, the assumption is that the majority of the residents will live and work within walking distance, take the bus or bike. The shoppers that come to the junction will arrive by bus, bike or foot.

    Seattle building code DO NOT require a 1-for-1 resident/parking ratio. In some cases they don’t require any, depends on the distance from a transit hub.

    All I know is that my trips to the junction will be fewer and further between when this ugly building is completed and occupied.

    Comment by Ex-Westwood Resident — 7:03 am November 2, 2012 #

  29. Although I’d like to be wrong, I’m almost willing to bet all the ground floor “retail” space will be occupied by accounting, legal, or other businesses that will make walking past these buildings as boring as it is to walk past most of the other newer apartment buildings in the Junction.

    Comment by artsea — 7:29 am November 2, 2012 #

  30. What happened to the trees in the original idea? What about a cafe with outside seating? Looks like they are taking the cheapest route they can to build this! Apparently, they think West Seattle is not worth the effort or expense.

    Comment by Trying! — 8:44 am November 2, 2012 #

  31. This sucks.

    Comment by AM — 9:01 am November 2, 2012 #

  32. Trying! and anyone else – this is a building-only rendering. Some developers (like another one we just met with this morning, story later today) provide art with all those details … some do not.

    Comment by WSB — 9:13 am November 2, 2012 #

  33. Density is a good thing for vibrant communities. More people in the area support your businesses, increase diversity, and increase tax revenue. And focusing the urban development near civic cores with transit systems is proven good practice. For those of you that yearn for yesteryear, stop whining and move to Tacoma.

    Comment by M — 9:19 am November 2, 2012 #

  34. yeah- with respect to what the rendering shows and Trying!’s comment about outdoor seating. Isn’t that what the design team trotted out for the proposed ‘public benefit’ for the alley vacation? seems like the design team/ developer got off easy!!

    Comment by sam-c — 9:28 am November 2, 2012 #

  35. You people crack me up!
    -
    I like it, and I whole heartedly welcome the new neighbors and businesses that this will bring to my neighborhood.

    Comment by godofthebasement — 9:51 am November 2, 2012 #

  36. I’m a sad new resident. I chose WS over Ballard for many reasons, but mainly the community feel and (former) easy use of public transportation.

    Comment by Chris W — 9:52 am November 2, 2012 #

  37. Art won’t bring the sunshine back. This is just the start of what developers want to do in and around West Seattle. Building design and set backs would help. But developers are going to build as much as the city will allow them and thats the problem. It is the city government that allows all building period and responsible for current property usage. If you want things to change you need to vote those people out. When you have a government that spends like ours this is what happens. It’s income for the city, tax income. I keep seeing the reference as like Ballard but it will most likey be worse as Ballard has a few more options for ingress and egress. I just don’t understand how people are going to get to work or if they have medical problems and have to get across town ? With all this retail space going in how are they going to be successful ? high rent, no parking, people can’t get to because of traffic. You can build all you want but if people can not get to work to make money they are not going to spend. Maybe we will get lucky with all the people moving in these new units and they will be retired or independently wealthy and not be using the roads. Manhattan

    Comment by wetone — 10:37 am November 2, 2012 #

  38. Quoted from the agreement:

    ‘Landscaping on SW Alaska Street will be designed to integrate with the Junction Plaza Park across the street.’

    Hmm, not much room for this in the drawing?

    Comment by Trying! — 10:38 am November 2, 2012 #

  39. godofthebasement-just what kind of businesses do you think might occupy this structure–as well as the one at the old PETCO site & the one at 42nd & Oregon –they all tout “retail space on the ground floor”. I am not at all confident that they will be able to rent out many retail spaces-with anything that will bring/sustain business in our junction. I welcome new neighbors-and truly have my fingers crossed that some great new retail shops will bloom here-
    this is a done deal so time will tell.

    Comment by Anne — 11:01 am November 2, 2012 #

  40. 10 years ago I picked West Seattle for its village like charm, laid back atmosphere and the fact that people with strollers, dogs and joggers were not afraid to be out on the side walks at any given time. I guess their isn’t much money to be made by contractors in preservation, but I don’t like much that we are all at the mercy of their deals so to speak with out much to say about it that is taken into account anyway.

    Comment by cj — 11:30 am November 2, 2012 #

  41. I can’t believe they are putting this monolithic, shadow-casting behemoth of a mega-plex in the heart of our West Seattle motherland. The gall of these corporate, fabric ripping, soul stealing bozos! Who do these alien overlords think they are? I bet you anything they’re from Ballard. I hate Ballard. I bet they’ve never tasted locally grown zucchini, walked an art walk or seen the tears of an orca before. I dunno… this kinda proves rich people are evil.

    Comment by Angry Hippie — 11:32 am November 2, 2012 #

  42. I’m thankful Seattle is a growing city. Sure there are drawbacks, but you have to look at the big picture. If a city is not growing then it is dying.

    Comment by skeeter — 11:56 am November 2, 2012 #

  43. I know you are thinking it, so, EVERYBODY…1…2…..3….

    WELCOME STARBUCKS TO THE JUNCTION!

    Ugh.

    Comment by Michelle — 12:05 pm November 2, 2012 #

  44. No matter what the development is all you whiny West Seattlites boo and hiss. I’m excited about having new businesses move in. They’ll have a better chance of survival with all the new residents. And come on, have you been not Ballard in the last 5 years? It’s fantastic! Best restaurants and shops in the city and median home prices 100k more than WS.

    Comment by a happy west seattlite — 12:18 pm November 2, 2012 #

  45. SSDD

    Comment by Todd — 12:58 pm November 2, 2012 #

  46. Starbucks is BIG coffee. Just another mega-corporation that covets resources so the people of Ballard (and the world) can drink their pumpkin spice lattes while sititng on soft leather couches made from some cow-baby’s mother. How do Ballard people sleep at night… seriously!

    Comment by Angry Hippie — 1:00 pm November 2, 2012 #

  47. hey-happy west seattleite-just as I asked above-WHAT new businesses are you expecting to move in? Over & over we hear about these new constuctions having retail space on ground level-to make the idea more palatable I think-but the question remains–like what? Do you think the retail spaces would be big enough for lets say-a small GAP or OLD NAVY? Perhaps a Fireworks or Paper Source? Or maybe not even a major name-more like some of the shops at U Village-The Confectionary or Pasta & Co.?Do you ever hear names like that mentioned??
    I love the great shops in Ballard-but most of them are not in a large building like this or the others planned in the junction.These buildings are in prime locations-I wonder what the rents will be like? I have lived most all my 60+ years right here in WS & seen many many changes & have embraced most of them-I do think growth is good-but does that have to mean a-just build it & they will come mentality? As I mentioned before-all 3 projects in the junction are a done deal-they’re happening whether we like them or not. I am hoping for some fun, creative ideas for those retail spaces that will enhance our junction.

    .

    Comment by Anne — 1:04 pm November 2, 2012 #

  48. We have two Starbucks in The Junction (Safeway and QFC). Also had a standalone in Jefferson Square within the past few years (didn’t last, Sprint is there now). Just a datapoint. Meantime, if you are hanging out on this thread, please consider going over to give your opinion on a newer story asking your thoughts about a parcel that the city may buy for parkland – a parcel that is zoned like much of the heart of The Junction for 85-foot development. http://westseattleblog.com/2012/11/city-park-across-from-big-project-what-do-you-think

    Comment by WSB — 1:17 pm November 2, 2012 #

  49. Since it’s such a prominent spot in the junction…you would think these architects would put some STYLE into their buildings!! Maybe a small classy cafe on the main corner? with A nice grand stoned courtyard with a fountain feature, big airy palm plants with big comfortable chairs for outdoor seating (for those nice summer days)…a good focal point of the main intersection. I think it would be nice.

    Comment by soupcha — 1:44 pm November 2, 2012 #

  50. Density IS a good thing, but only for communities with adequate access and infrastructure. Unless the West Seattle Bridge becomes 6 lanes in each direction, cramming more people into West Seattle defies logic.
    And public transit isn’t much help, because Metro is actually reducing service to West Seattle. Why not build something like this where the infrastructure can support it?

    Comment by Harry Reems — 2:19 pm November 2, 2012 #

  51. Throw current lease holders out by July 31st saying they will, start demo in mid-August. In reality they get a demo permit at the end of October and now won’t start demo until the very end of December. Now they claim they “emptied the existing buildings early because of asbestos abatement that had to be done”. Has anyone seen that? I am taking everything this developer says with a grain of salt (you do remembert the hole don’t you).

    Comment by KT — 3:02 pm November 2, 2012 #

  52. Anne – thoughtful comments, thanks. To keep the Ballard analogy going, I would hope that we could attract Jax Joon curio-type shops or Blackbird-type high-end clothing shops or Palm Room-type plant/terrarium shops, etc. There are also all the businesses that were once there, but were forced to move out. I would think some of them would love the opportunity to move back into the best retail area WS has to offer. If WS is going to invite more residents via high density living I believe that entrepeurs will come to serve (and make money from) them.

    Comment by a happy west seattlite — 3:28 pm November 2, 2012 #

  53. ugly, ugly structure that wont stand the test of time… and I’m afraid the only retailers that will be able to afford it will be big chain stores. Yuck!

    Comment by WS concerned parent — 9:23 pm November 2, 2012 #

  54. We gave up the Rocksport for this! The junction will never have a place as big, family friendly,and reasonably priced with great live music ( Child, Hells Belles) again. Shame on the developer who emptied all those stores, only to let them sit vacant for months and put people out of work. Who were the owners of these properties that sold to the developer anyway? This is the start of ruining the junction!

    Comment by rocksportfan — 11:49 pm November 2, 2012 #

  55. Rocksport fan: The property previously was owned for more than a decade by Conner Homes, an Eastside-based development company, which planned the project and took it through Design Review, and beyond, before selling it to Equity Residential.

    Comment by WSB — 12:12 am November 3, 2012 #

  56. Cant wait to see rats running around all the local restaurants like when the last building was built on that street.. no way to stop it, but i wouldnt eat in the junction til the rats are hidden again.. YUMMY!

    Comment by aw — 7:15 am November 3, 2012 #

  57. To the commenter about The fabulous restaurants in Ballard: They are all housed in the historic section on Ballard Ave not in the new construction buildings. Only chain stores can afford those leases. I hope that they think about truly affordable rents/leases for independant business.

    Comment by diane — 9:24 am November 3, 2012 #

  58. Too many people on the footprint of one block. Already trucks block the alley and we can’t get in or out of the Mural garage without waiting 10 minutes or circling the block. So the contruction will be based on 42nd? Yippee. Now we won’t be able to get out or get to the Safeway. More noise, more people, less light, less air, more ugly buildings — oh boy, can’t wait.

    Comment by Don't Build This — 5:32 pm November 3, 2012 #

  59. I just assumed they would have had some idea what the rents would be before they went through with the project. They’re not telling? This was penciled out long ago. Purchase price plus cost of development and no idea what your revenue will be? Please.

    Comment by Dale — 4:18 pm November 4, 2012 #

  60. Looking forward to charging the street level with more people. I’ll take some increased inconvenience for cars to get some added people on the sidewalks.

    I’ve only been in WS for 4 years but my impression is that people generally have a destination on California Ave and don’t walk/window shop on it as much. This could be a move to start changing that.

    Comment by Sean — 2:44 pm November 5, 2012 #

  61. To the anti-density crowd:

    I suggest that you visit Detroit or Cleveland or Baltimore, there you can witness first hand what a dying city feels like. There has been almost zero new construction going on there during the “boom years”, just abandonment and decay. it is beyond sad.

    Locally, the city, county and state all have passed Growth Management as well as comprehensive growth plans over the past 2 decades. All of the policies channel growth into already urban areas, mostly in the form of condos, apartments, and townhouses.

    This did not just occur. Some of these codes are 20+ years old. Moreover, Seattle has been a growth
    hot-spot for just as long and the new development shows up in places like Ballard, Fremont, Capitol Hill, etc. One of Seattle’s biggest appeals recently is the compact urban character of the city, as opposed to places like Phoenix or Atlanta that sprawled into huge low density metros.

    West Seattle is going to change. Traffic will get worse. Holding onto some romanticized ideal of what it was like when we grew up here or first moved here is just pointless yearning and will only lead to more bitterness. There are plenty of smaller slow growing communities in the northwest that have charming “seaside village” neighborhoods and will never experience the growth booms that West Seattle will. The decision to leave shouldn’t be that hard if condos/construction dust/ lack of sunlight has made life that unbearable.

    Comment by Paul — 5:52 pm November 5, 2012 #

  62. I second Paul! This is a city…and for a city like this to grow, we must grow vertically. Gone (or going) are the days of taking your car everywhere…People who live in cities want to live close to businesses, walk to shops and take mass transit. In order for Seattle to continue to thrive and grow we must build up and obviously focus on our inter-city transit system. If you don’t like traffic take a bus or move somewhere more rural, because it’s not going away….Maybe one of these decades WS will finally have a train…or monorail…or something to that effect…

    Comment by Eric — 6:53 pm November 5, 2012 #

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