West Seattle development: Junction ‘micro’ apartments planned

March 12, 2013 at 11:06 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 51 Comments

(Photo from King County Assessor’s Office website)
On the west edge of The Junction, the site of that little brick office building at 4535 44th SW is proposed for a new apartment building, 4 stories and 31 units. Here’s the project page on the city website. West Seattle-founded Nicholson Kovalchick is the architecture firm on the project, according to a preliminary site plan filed with the city that uses the term “micros” to describe the project (here’s more on the “micro-apartments” trend). The information on file is very preliminary so there is no mention of parking plans; it appears from an online notation that the project will go through the design-review process, though no meeting date is on the schedule yet. (Hat tip to DJC for first word of this.)

51 Comments

  1. ATTENTION small business owners in the Junction; please make your voices heard regarding housing expansion in the neighborhood without adequate parking provisions. I often choose to eat/drink/shop in West Seattle because I live here and want to support neighborhood business. HOWEVER, I find myself choosing other places based on ease of parking.

    Comment by memyselfandeye — 11:21 am March 12, 2013 #

  2. Where in Seattle is parking easier to find than the Junction? Geez.

    Comment by datamuse — 11:32 am March 12, 2013 #

  3. what is so attractive about this housing option is that many people choose to live here without a car, choosing rather to use their feet, bus & bikes. I think this is a wonderful concept & look forward to seeing its success.

    Comment by soccer — 11:33 am March 12, 2013 #

  4. And before folks chime in to complain about how terrible transit is in the Junction, I’d encourage anyone who can to attend the Ballard light rail/streetcar expansion open house tonight at Ballard High, 5-7PM and show support for that project and encourage it be designed for rapid expansion to West Seattle.

    Getting light rail stops on Avalon and Alaska will improve life for everyone in the community, as well as make these ‘transit centric’ apodment-type developments really practical.

    Comment by Van — 11:47 am March 12, 2013 #

  5. Datamuse try finding parking around dinner time in the Junction in under 20-30 mins.

    Comment by Dave — 11:55 am March 12, 2013 #

  6. This microapartments concept sounds like a dorm. Gross.
    I’m definitely for more affordable apartments, but this sounds like a dream come true to a developer more than the resident justifying “it fits their lifestyle.”

    Comment by smallgirlbigtown — 12:04 pm March 12, 2013 #

  7. Dave: it has never taken me more than ten.
    .
    I can see why nearby residents might get peeved about side streets filling up, though.

    Comment by datamuse — 12:09 pm March 12, 2013 #

  8. Sounds more like something that should be Downtown rather than West Seattle…but oh…are they trying to make West Seattle like Downtown?

    Comment by Bonnie — 12:12 pm March 12, 2013 #

  9. I love the idea of smaller apartment complexes, but this would never work for me. I do wish more affordable options for renting existed near the Alaska junction since prices keep rising so fast in this area. Over $1200 for a studio/1 bedroom is insane.

    Comment by Courtney — 12:21 pm March 12, 2013 #

  10. These apartments go for $400-600 a month, just the right price for younger people, people getting restarted in life, and the working poor. I’m glad you can afford to live somewhere more expensive, but for some of us, these “gross” dorms allow us to stay in the city.

    Comment by dustyhawk — 12:23 pm March 12, 2013 #

  11. I never ever have trouble finding free parking in the Junction, any time of day, near my destination. To say otherwise is absurd. And when I say “near” I mean within a few blocks. For god sake, there are free parking lots lining the streets behind all the commercial businesses in the Junction. FREE! Now, if these parking lots go away, I think that it is a different story, but come on, please call a spade a spade people!

    Comment by kgdlg — 2:37 pm March 12, 2013 #

  12. What everybody needs to take into consideration are all the ‘other’ projects in the development phase. For example the 144 apartments that are going in on Oregon and 42nd. Also the development where Rocksport & super supplements was. Oh and what about the old Petco location. Those are all in the ‘works’. It’s all too much for our little West Seattle to handle.

    Comment by DeAnna — 4:03 pm March 12, 2013 #

  13. This will attract more transient residents with absolutely nothing invested in the community.
    .
    West Seattle continues to be raped by greedy politicians and developer.
    .

    Comment by JoAnne — 4:05 pm March 12, 2013 #

  14. DeAnna – as soon as we can spare an hour, we’ll be updating our West Seattle “development in the works” map. It passed 2,000 units in the late December update http://westseattleblog.com/2012/12/west-seattle-development-mapped-2000-planned-units-2 and several new projects have been announced since then. Such as – everyone interested in Admiral development, remember that the Design Review hearing for 3210 California SW is coming up Thursday night. I may need to put a Development tab in the navigation bar, come to think of it …

    Comment by WSB — 4:22 pm March 12, 2013 #

  15. Equity is full of it. They kicked the Rocksport out 8 months ago, but said they were going to start demolition in late August last year. Baloney! I bet that place stays empty for two years now. Kapiche!

    Comment by toodles — 4:25 pm March 12, 2013 #

  16. What a ridiculous idea! West Seattle used to be a great community with a town-like feel. Now developers who have no connection to the community are turning it into apartmentville for transients who can live in 500 sq or less! What about building homes for people who want to buy a home, become a part of the community, and live their lives in West Seattle? Even reasonable sized condos would be better than overbuilding the apartment market as apartments do absolutely nothing to add stability to a community.

    Comment by Commenter — 4:29 pm March 12, 2013 #

  17. I can live in 500 square feet or less – but I would not consider myself a transient. I have been here almost 12 years and would love to stay here for life. But jobs in West Seattle pay rather poorly – I have worked for as little as $9/hour and lived very frugally in order to pay rent on my 1-bedroom apt. AND still have some money to spend at local businesses. I do not own a car and walking is my primary form of transportation. This form of housing would be a godsend to me – a middle-aged, overeducated but underemployed, non-partying, very quiet little woman who surely would not destabilize this community.

    Comment by Last53BusRider — 5:50 pm March 12, 2013 #

  18. Really? Apartment dwellers are “transients?” The hyperbole of some posters is hilarious. People choose apartment living for all types of reasons. Just because someone doesn’t own where they live doesn’t make them any less respectable a citizen or less invested in their community. Look at ownership rates in other big cities. Seattle, and West Seattle, isn’t Mayberry. And it never was. Cities change, and we need density to preserve our resources. And I say all of this as a homeowner.

    Comment by JRR — 5:55 pm March 12, 2013 #

  19. Love it.

    No need for this “Mini” apartment project providing parking as there is plenty of parking a couple of blocks west. You know. The single family residences just west of the development.

    If everyone in the new mini-apartment drives a Mini, what is there not to love?

    Comment by Mini — 6:00 pm March 12, 2013 #

  20. Also, everyone starts as a renter unless you have circumstances such as:
    -You don’t leave your parents’ home until you have saved for your own (in my case, that would have been age 33)
    -You inherit at a young age
    -You made a lot of money at a young age
    .
    We got here in 1991 in our early 30s and rented a Beach Drive condo for two years. Transients? We then bought the house we’ve been in for 20 years.
    .
    There are true issues in the density discussion – but saying the people who will move into the apartments are not the kind of people you want in our community is not one of them.

    Comment by WSB — 6:12 pm March 12, 2013 #

  21. WSB, aka, TR:

    Many folks hate density. It causes their commute to Sam’s Club in Renton, and Costco on 4th, to take longer. Get onboard, TR.

    hehe

    Comment by Mini — 6:40 pm March 12, 2013 #

  22. I don’t have money and can’t afford to buy a home, but don’t stereotype me as a transient.

    Comment by toodles — 7:40 pm March 12, 2013 #

  23. If there is mass construction of more living spaces be they apodments, apartments, or condos, please, please give us more transportation infrastructure to move these extra people around. But I’m afraid the city and the county will put their hands up and say “I’m sorry there’s no money” or “Move” or some other useless answer that leaves us with the mess to contend with by ourselves.

    Comment by East Coast Cynic — 7:45 pm March 12, 2013 #

  24. Before you say how what a “wonderful option” these are for residents, please read the COMMENTS section on the above link (http://mayormcginn.seattle.gov/micro-apartments-affordable-transit-friendly-options-for-city-dwellers/). These are poorly built “slums” for people who can’t afford anything else. They benefit the city and the developers, NOT the residents. I found the comments of of “Joe” and “sue corcoran” particularly enlightening. Renters do not want to be “transient” but when we are being forced into inadequate housing, I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t turn tail and run as soon as they could get out of these conditions. I will pack my little family of 3 into a studio apartment before I would consider one of these &, from the sounds of it, at a cheaper price too!! (As a side note to some of the comments, we are not transient just because we are renters – we’ve rented in West Seattle for almost 10 yrs and will stay as long as we can afford it.)

    Comment by PJP — 8:22 pm March 12, 2013 #

  25. yes please put a development tab up, thanks !

    Comment by anne — 8:24 pm March 12, 2013 #

  26. can we not bring up that these will probably be built by non-union using contractors?

    Comment by pilsner — 8:43 pm March 12, 2013 #

  27. Y’all are making me want to sell the house I’ve owned in West Seattle for 14 years and move.
    .
    Transients, indeed.
    .
    More transportation infrastructure sure would be nice, though.

    Comment by datamuse — 9:08 pm March 12, 2013 #

  28. More transport options are nice but what does a family that has small children and not a lot of time to get to places supposed to do? I don’t know what time those people who don’t have issues finding parking but every time I go for dinner, it is getting really hard. Each time I swear I won’t come back. Every new developer should be required to provide parking. Not everyone can take the bus.

    Comment by Steph — 9:42 pm March 12, 2013 #

  29. Development for the sake of development leads to “the hole”, and the SE corner of Alaska / California sitting for months waiting for something to happen. Locally owned businesses have been lost, luckily some relocated, but who will be able to afford the commercial rent (that is a local business owner) when the project is actually done? Will it sit with vacancies like the spaces near the Admiral Safeway? (east side of the building)

    I do like that this project has local roots- there is potential that conscientious thought has and is being put into this project. I need to see more concrete info before I really come to a conclusion, but I wouldn’t want to live in a space this small.

    As a long-term renter (with aspirations of buying some day when i can afford it) I would avoid this project like the plague. Car or no car.
    I have been in my current apt for 5 years. Why? Because I like it. If an apt building, owner / landlord / mgmt. is crap there is more turn-over. I have lived in a crap studio apt (in another city) and could not wait for my lease to be up so I could find a decent place. The prop mgmt co was useless.
    If a place is good, there will be long-term renters who stay. One of my neighbors has been in this building for about 16 years. There is turn-over but it isn’t very often.

    Here’s a thought…
    I may as well find a homeowner who wants to rent a small part of their yard to me. I’ll buy a shed from Home Depot for $1300, rent a porta-potty, maybe a generator, solar panels and call it a mother-in-law apt. (I am for being eco-smart, and I’m not knocking the use of solar energy at all)…just trying to make a point. Not ALL development is smart and the first thing to come along might not be the best option. Would YOU want that next door to your house? Probably not.

    Parking in the junction is ok most of the time, but sometimes you do have to be patient to wait for someone to leave to get their spot. It will get worse.

    Comment by Ames — 11:24 pm March 12, 2013 #

  30. Raising my hand to ask WSB why my comment was deleted. Why? I really am curious where other apodments are located in the city and what the actual rents are? Are they fully occupied?

    I remember the Queen Anne apt. I lived in for 13 years!!! It was my fave place I ever rented: 350 sq ft. 1 bedroom with kitchen and view of WS $325/month. A million years ago, but A total funky city pad . It was perfect for a struggling single person. I never used my car. Yeah, that was when I was a happy transient renter :) saving for a house down payment and walking/bussing everywhere.

    Comment by westseattledood — 11:27 pm March 12, 2013 #

  31. Hooray for density!!! These apartments are the perfect solution for many, including myself 20 years ago or not too far in the future. As for parking, you people must be kidding. Parking near the junction is simple…if you’re willing to walk your lazy a$$ a few blocks. Smile and quit whining.

    Comment by Jim — 11:32 pm March 12, 2013 #

  32. 170 square feet? Sheesh, what will I do with so much space? Bye bye car!

    Comment by steve — 11:33 pm March 12, 2013 #

  33. WSD, haven’t seen any other comments by you on this topic, approved or unapproved. Just checked the spam filter, rescued a couple non-spam comments from others but didn’t see anything by you in there either, dating back through 300 spam comments to 8 am today. Regarding other apodments – I hadn’t been paying much attention but it seems to be a recurring subject at http://capitolhillseattle.com – one of the “boarding house” projects on Avalon also seems to be coming in as a “micro-apartment” under some docs I just started reviewing this afternoon; I’ll write about it tomorrow if I can distill the info coherently – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:42 pm March 12, 2013 #

  34. Just looked – lowest starting rent I could find on a quickie search is $585…BUT that includes utilities w/ISP. Unbelievably low cost for living in this expensive city.

    Most bldgs seem located near transit – light rail. And there are a number by the UW. This make tons of sense. Seattle does Tokyo! Oh, don’t panic negative nellie. I jest .

    But I surely do not want to live in a city, or neighborhood, where young people cannot survive.

    These are a good thing. Some cranky people need to get a new “line.” You know who you are.

    Comment by westseattledood — 12:13 am March 13, 2013 #

  35. PJP: now, that concerns me a lot more than the “transience”, real or imagined, of the residents; if they’re poorly built and unpleasant to live in then they won’t have many takers, affordable or not.
    .
    Micro-apartments can be pleasant; my sister-in-law lived in one for awhile as a new professional. Of course that was in Hong Kong…

    Comment by datamuse — 1:09 am March 13, 2013 #

  36. Spooky, WSB. The comment has reappeared…..

    Comment by westseattledood — 1:10 am March 13, 2013 #

  37. just looked at this story couple hours ago, and my comment that was posted around noon re moratorium on apodment/micro-apts had disappeared; now it’s back; interesting that westseattledood saw the same thing happen to his comment

    Comment by Diane — 2:18 am March 13, 2013 #

  38. I agree with you JoAnne 100 percent. Just another box development we don’t need.

    Comment by J — 5:07 am March 13, 2013 #

  39. @PJP Thank you for including the link to Mayor McGinn .gov post. Yes, I especially found Joe & Susan Corcoran’s post enlightening. I am inclined to agree that this is a developers -work- around. And, I see were the transient concept comes in, no kitchen, bad credit, no parking . . . poorly constructed . . . etc

    Comment by Bettytheyeti — 6:31 am March 13, 2013 #

  40. I see this (and the ridiculous wine fight) as more West Seattle-ites resisting any change to anything, and yelling at those who don’t fall on their side. I agree there seems to be too much development without the support of transit and roads, but now no matter the project, everything is up in arms. The only exception I have seen is the Whole Foods project. Because the west side of West Seattle needs another grocery store.

    Comment by jedifarfy — 8:10 am March 13, 2013 #

  41. Oops, the reappeared comment has disappeared once again. Used three browsers to check that, TR. Diane says same for her comments. Something is up with the spam system.

    Comment by westseattledood — 8:19 am March 13, 2013 #

  42. The “rack ‘em and stack ‘em” mentality of the city and developers leads to a decrease in quality of living. It’s been proven over and over again.

    Everything that was once lovely about WS is going, going……gone.

    Comment by fauntleroy fairy — 8:36 am March 13, 2013 #

  43. The last thing West Seattle needs is more apartments of any size. There are more apartments bringing in more people with cars, and there has been zero change in infrastructure to support any of this rapid ramp up in population. I agree with the person who said home ownership is preferable to an island full of renters. This isn’t Manhattan, after all…

    Comment by Seattlite — 9:27 am March 13, 2013 #

  44. What a sad end to a cute little building! I’m so happy not to live near Alaska Junction as the crowding will make that area unlivable in the next 3-5 years. I’m also happy to own a home and not have to live in 180 sq ft.

    Comment by SadWSResident — 9:36 am March 13, 2013 #

  45. “House” does not necessarily equal “homeowner”, Seattlite. Unless those rentals on my block in Highland Park are just figments of my imagination.
    .
    Believe me, it’s brutally evident that this isn’t Manhattan. Manhattanites are way friendlier than much of this thread. (They complain about development about as much, though.)

    Comment by datamuse — 11:00 am March 13, 2013 #

  46. @PJP: I clicked on the link you suggested–thank you for providing it. I can’t believe what I saw there. Not only did the “apodment” look depressing, the cost for the square footage seems high–almost like gouging, actually. Once again those who can afford it the least seem to pay more. Sad.

    Comment by Ms. Picky — 11:01 am March 13, 2013 #

  47. Re “home ownership is preferable to an island full of renters”
    ~
    I am appalled by some comments in this thread, at the outright discrimination against renters, and statements that suggest homeowners are the only people worthy of living in West Seattle
    ~
    I am a lifelong renter who is more active in community than 99% of West Seattle
    ~
    it’s a fallacy that all renters are transient; many cannot even afford to ever get away on vacation; and btw, the rent I paid for the house I lived in 7 years in Seaview, and now another 6 yrs in apt in Belvidere, has made it possible for the owners of these properties to be the transients, traveling, wintering in 2nd homes, living off the rents we pay in their properties
    ~
    I wish I could afford to be a transient; I would much prefer that to ever being a homeowner
    ~
    for some, renting is the only choice; some of us rent by preference
    ~
    this particular style of apts (micro/pods) is marketing to the not-rich, which is the majority; we need more options like this
    ~
    and btw, about half of Seattle’s population are renters already; soon we will be the majority; living here longterm, contributing to community
    ~
    sure wish I could afford to rent in Manhattan; I’d move there in a flash
    ~
    even better, I would love to rent both, a micro-apt in Seattle and Manhattan; maybe also in Chicago, Miami; all for less than owning a house; and why should I need a big house if most of my time is spent out in community?

    Comment by Diane — 3:05 pm March 13, 2013 #

  48. I have to say I’m disappointed in seeing the labeling of people using these types of units as transients and somehow less worthy of a home. These are incredibly efficient and cost effective solutions that are great for cities where the cost of living is always rising, but the jobs/wages aren’t following proportionally.

    That said, the location of West Seattle isn’t appropriate. In theory the micro unit caters to the recent graduate/low income resident that fits the criteria of a)Little to no income and subsequently b) Fewer “large” possessions, namely a vehicle. By that definition, you want to give them good access to the working center of the city so they don’t have to drive and are close to job potential. Not saying you can’t use transit, but commuting at $5/day is only slightly cheaper than paying for parking/gas if you know where to look. And so, to ease commute, or to reach urban amenities that are now further away, not to mention people tend to own vehicles more often than not anyway, odds are someone moving into these units will have a car. Which has been the chief complaint of Cap Hill residents neighboring these complexes. The sudden influx of vehicles has put a stranglehold on their parking. WS isn’t nearly as bad as Cap Hill, but with the rash of new construction, it’s easy to see fears of things going that way.

    Oh and to those who think these are cheaper units, the costs per square foot tend to be equal to or higher than a standard apartment. That’s why developers love them.

    @ WSB: I’m curious, NK Architects seems to be the go-to firm for West Seattle, despite having moved out now. With them receiving so many projects here, has anyone asked them if they’ve developed a vision for the area that they are designing to? I know the client’s desire for profit drives the end result, but with their roots here, some members maybe even living here, and the number of projects in key areas, I would expect that they should have design goals in mind to preserve the character of West Seattle.

    Comment by Eli — 8:02 am March 14, 2013 #

  49. Eli, I wonder if the idea is that people who work locally but maybe can’t afford a larger place will live in them? Not saying that that’s what’ll happen, mind you.
    .
    I’m just thinking of people like, for instance, my neighbors’ daughter, who has a job in WS but it doesn’t pay enough for her to live on her own.

    Comment by datamuse — 1:20 pm March 14, 2013 #

  50. Datamuse that’s of course a good possibility. I didn’t mean to omit that. And if indeed they serve that function then that’s great. I should rephrase and say I’m commenting more on the fact that the micro unit concept was developed to facilitate urban infill. I just don’t know how well it will succeed in what I guess you could consider a more suburban area.

    Comment by Eli — 4:23 pm March 14, 2013 #

  51. Look at the history of these type of projects or any other high density lower rent builds in residential areas and tell me where it has been good for the surrounding areas ? When built in a residential area property values go down from the many issues that come along with these projects. Builders build these for one reason only PROFIT income for investment. Very bad for residential areas like west seattle that were never designed to have it’s population doubled do to the infrastructure we have.

    Comment by wetone — 10:06 am March 15, 2013 #

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