(The triplex and houses at the future project site – 4441, 4437, and 4433 42nd SW)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Another Junction apartment project has emerged.
This one, called Junction Flats, has a few differences from others in the works.
One, the project proposed to replace a triplex and two houses in the 4400 block of 42nd SW (photo above) – across from Hope Lutheran – will be four stories high.
That’s the maximum allowed for that block, explains Brandon Nicholson, the West Seattle architect/developer who is part of the ownership group. And that itself is another difference, Nicholson told WSB when we contacted him to ask about the project – it’s West Seattle-owned, unlike most of the other projects now in the pipeline. “We’re not builders or flippers – we’re a group of local West Seattle people (developing a building) that we all intend to keep for a long time” – even the financing (40 years) underscores that, he says.
We found out about Junction Flats when its tentatively scheduled Early Design Guidance meeting turned up on the city website.
The meeting is set for 6:30 pm January 10th*, Senior Center of West Seattle, less than a block from the project site. (*1/9 update – it’s now listed as 8 pm*)
Nicholson says they’re still working out details, with Early Design Guidance more than a month away, but expect the building will have about 70 apartments – could be a bit less, could be a bit more. Though it’s in the “transit overlay” zone and therefore not required to have any on-site parking, it will have an underground garage, he says. They’ll use market and existing-parking studies to determine how many stalls they’ll need to build.
The 40-foot zoning, he explains, is somewhat transitional – if and when the parallel block of California is redeveloped, for example, it has a 65-foot limit, same height as 42nd at the site nearby where a California-based company is currently building Oregon 42 at the southeast corner of 42nd/Oregon, while California south of Oregon in the heart of The Junction is zoned to 85 feet. (You can see the area’s zoning on this city map.)
If the process moves at the expected pace, Nicholson says construction is likely to start in the first quarter of 2014.
By the way, for those who worry about an apartment glut – we’ve documented more than 1,500 units in the works for West Seattle, and that’s pending an update adding projects including this one – Nicholson would disagree. “We’re just making up for what we should have been doing in the past three or four years, anyway,” while the economic downturn put construction mostly on hold. “We’re probably going to see two to three years with a lot of apartment building, and then taper back to normalcy.”
The building is good news for renters, eventually, he contends, since right now the vacancy rate is low and rents are high. His firm is completing a project on lower Queen Anne, where he says, “We’ve been advertising for a week (and) have had 17 inquiries with just a website and a sign. People are really out there looking. It’s going to fill quickly.”
And if an apartment glut does result, Nicholson expects some condo conversions to follow, as was the case in the middle of last decade, just before the economic bust.
But back to Junction Flats – he says the challenge right now, as they get ready to see the Design Review Board, includes “debating the future context of the street,” and how the building should be designed in order to fit into that future context. He believes the block in question, all single-family homes now except for the Ginomai arts center on the north end and a house converted to a business at the south end, will be completely redeveloped within a decade or so – and Junction Flats, as the first project, will set the tone.
Again, the city website labels the January 13th Design Review date as tentative – we’ll let you know if there’s a change.