West Seattle development: Recycling before redeveloping

When demolition equipment dug into the century-old house at 4526 41st SW (map) on Thursday, it wasn’t the start, but more like the end to the process. To find out more about the forthcoming four-townhome project, previously mentioned here last September, WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli talked with owner/developer Zoran Brlecic (below left), who lives across the alley:

Christopher reports:

He said the house was built in 1907 and that they spent months dismantling and giving away whatever could be re-used, including the back deck, which was meticulously disassembled over the course of a week before being hauled away. Zoran says he thinks the house may have been one of the first on the block to convert from coal to burning gas. The house’s gas furnace from the 1950s was still in good working order before it was removed.

Zoran and his wife left their native Croatia just a couple of years before the war broke out in the ’90s. They immigrated to Canada, where they were able to get work visas and then later got refugee status. Ultimately they moved to Ohio and then to Seattle. Zoran says that if this goes well he plans to continue developing properties. He said this property is being built green with a number of features to control water run-off from the property. They hope to have the project completed in nine months.

It went through the “streamlined design review” process; the informational packet remains online. When it’s done, Brlecic told Christopher, he plans to move into one of the new units.

9 Replies to "West Seattle development: Recycling before redeveloping"

  • wetone March 22, 2013 (8:50 am)

    Another group of same vintage houses (3) @ 2514 55 th sw. Alki area will be replaced with 11 rowhouses. Master use project 3014675. Every time I go for a walk I find 1 getting torn down and replaced with 2 or more.

  • datamuse March 22, 2013 (9:44 am)

    This recycling of building materials and fixtures seems like such a good idea. A lot of my friends have gotten what they need for renovation projects from places like Second Use, for way less than what they would have cost new–and the used stuff often has more character.
    I like that Brlecic plans to live there, too.

  • DTK March 22, 2013 (12:46 pm)

    What’s to come? A three story box (literally) without any architectural integrity towering over adjacent property casting them into permanent shade. Oh, and a massive Ham Radio tower as a cherry on top. Thanks Seattle Department of Planning and Development, who will green light anything no matter what the community has to say as long as the developer can pay their fees.

  • sgs March 22, 2013 (1:54 pm)

    Yes, developers, give us some balance by building houses with pitched roofs and not just the flat top boxes.

  • cjboffoli March 22, 2013 (2:09 pm)

    DTK: In my opinion, the other multi-unit building that Mr. Brlecic built six years ago on 40th (replacing a decrepit garage) is one of the very best on the block. It not only demonstrates plenty of architectural integrity but good taste and does not follow the same path as the cookie-cutter “faux-Craftsman” structures so common around it.
    With this new property, Mr. Brlecic seems to have put a great deal of thought into incorporating environmentally sensitive building materials, designs that will help control water runoff from the property, and to how he can reincorporate trees and plantings into the lot. So I think it is unfair to paint all developers with a broad brush. The fact that this builder is a resident of this block and will be residing in this new property certainly is worth something.
    So much of our built environment in West Seattle is ugly and I wish people would be more critical of those landlords who neglect their properties instead of those who are doing something to improve our neighborhoods. This little 1907 house certainly had its time. But for the past several years it has been an empty, rat-infested foreclosure. Providing four new residences, within walking distance to the Junction urban hub is a good thing for the neighborhood and for West Seattle.

  • DTK March 22, 2013 (2:51 pm)

    Chris – I really hope you are right. But I have seen the renderings and if accurate this development will not be appropriate for the surrounding property and the neighborhood. What is proposed resembles an office building that you would see on California. And yes, I am personally vested in the outcome of the building because of my location. Does that make me a NIMBY? Perhaps it does, but I am all for the redevelopment of West Seattle within reason and when decisions are made that reduce the quality of life and property values of surrounding neighbors it becomes apparent that once again the almighty dollar trumps common sense.

  • cjboffoli March 22, 2013 (4:21 pm)

    DTK: I think that bad taste, car worship and design-by-committee are higher on the list of problem factors for new development in West Seattle than pure greed. And I always struggle with the constant complaint of what is “appropriate” for the surrounding properties. Too many people around here are locked into a mindset that unless something new resembles everything around it then it is wrong. And that we must arbitrarily commit ourselves to one architectural style based on decisions made by people who are dead now. Personally, I think there is room for architectural diversity in our neighborhoods. I think people need to get used to the fact that we’re living in a growing city and not a static suburb. As long as people want to move to Seattle there will be a need to better utilize living space and that means denser development and fewer early 20th century houses surrounded by oceans of lawn.

  • DTK March 22, 2013 (5:16 pm)

    Chris – You misunderstood my post. It is not a particular form of architecture that is of concern. Perhaps my point can only be made after completion. Let’s hope everyone is pleasantly surprised.

  • derrick March 22, 2013 (6:59 pm)

    never build anything, not even right next to the junction!!!!1!!! rage! It all must stay forever! run-down houses, empty lots, all of it!

    I don’t get the people complaining on this blog about every development that goes up in west seattle. you realize that the place you live in was built at some point, right?

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