6917 California SW developer meets neighbors; see the future no-offstreet-parking building’s ‘identical’ twin

December 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 50 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The developer planning to build a 30-unit, no-offstreet-parking building in Morgan Junction says it will be a duplicate of a 30-unit, no-offstreet-parking building the same architect designed for a North Seattle site.

After Mark Knoll explained that last night to about 30 people who came to hear from and talk with him about 6917 California SW (map) – the plan first reported here two months ago – we took a field trip today for a firsthand look at the “duplicate” building.

Ironically, we discovered, that building (same architect but different owner/developer) in Roosevelt is directly across the street from a big parking lot.

The lot has more than 150 spaces open to the public (but not free), and its streetfront is in turn lined with free public parking (mostly diagonal). The Roosevelt building also is a few blocks from a planned station for Sound Transit light rail, something West Seattle currently can only dream of.

More on that building and its context later in this story. First, what Knoll told, and heard from, those in attendance last night at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center:

The meeting came exactly one week after something of a preparatory meeting at which attendees learned how development rules got to the point of allowing buildings without parking in some places. We recorded it and published the video in this story. Knoll’s remarks to last night’s meeting indicated he had watched it; he offered compliments to Morgan Community Association and Concerned Morgan Junction Neighbors for the information it had included.

Most developers, he said, wouldn’t do what he was doing, standing in front of a skeptical if not hostile crowd to talk about an unpopular plan. The contention voiced in comments, meetings, and petitions ever since the plan became public was summed up in what someone wrote on the city-placed sign not long after it went up:

And yet, last night’s meeting was downright genial.

“This is a different kind of meeting,” as Morgan Community Association president Deb Barker put it at the start, and that was borne out. Barker is a retired land-use planner; while she did not work in Seattle, she spent years on the city Design Review Board here, and is now a fixture at its meetings, offering informed comment on many projects. She and MoCA communications officer Cindi Barker (no relation) have led the group’s facilitation of information regarding this project and city processes.

And so, by invitation, since he couldn’t be at the meeting last week, Mark Knoll faced the neighbors last night.

He is a Magnolia resident who runs the West Seattle-based company Blueprint as its CEO. Blueprint’s main business is financing development and, as explained on its home page, providing development services, with almost 50 West Seattle projects on its current slate. But this project, Knoll told last night’s meeting, is one he plans to hold for his own “portfolio.”

“I’m super-sympathetic to concerns about parking,” he said early on, showing drawings of the project in North Seattle at 838 NE 69th (map), Pladhüs Apartments (described on its own website as “micro-suite living”), that he described as basically “identical” to what he is planning to build in Morgan Junction.

Knoll said the apartments there are – and that his here also will be – studios with “a Murphy bed that comes with the unit, and pretty high-end finishes throughout, pretty much (what we would put in) townhouses that we do.”

Rent would be likely around $700, he said, pronouncing that “affordable for a person making about $15/hour … a price point that Seattle has a huge demand (for) so this fulfills a big demand we have in Seattle for lower-rent housing.” He reiterated later in response to a question that his job as a housing developer is to “meet demand. … In Seattle we have a huge demand for more affordable apartments.”

Knoll insisted that in order to enable that level of rent, “the price is no parking.” This is the first project he has developed like this; “my company typically finances projects like this.”

As noted in our original story, adjacent lots will include a separate project with townhouses and single-family homes, but Knoll contends he has “scaled back the project a little bit” from what would have been possible if he had “maxed out” the lot. He talked about some of the many projects he’s developed around West Seattle – from The Junction to Morgan Junction (primarily live-work buildings that you have likely passed many times, in the north end of The Junction, 5200 block of California, California/Graham) and beyond.

The building, he said, would be three stories, ten studio units per level, with a hallway down the middle, two accessible units on the first floor, two sets of stairs. Two units on each level would face onto California.

“Is there an on-site manager?” asked an attendee. “We haven’t made that decision yet,” said Knoll. “Typically a building of this size might or might not (have one).”

He reiterated that these are not “aPodments,” aka microhousing – each unit has its own kitchen, and will be about 300 square feet, “small little studios.” There are laundry areas, but the accessible units each have their own laundry so the residents don’t have to use the stairs.

A large fir tree on the alley side of the project will be preserved, according to Knoll. He promised “we’re not going to dig so close to the tree that we’re going to break the roots,” though he didn’t know if an arborist had been consulted.

Knoll clarified in response to a question that he is going to own this particular property but the townhouses and single-family homes to the north will be sold for someone else to own. He said that the site probably could be developed with up to 70 units but he chose not to max it out. He also said his previous projects on California all provided more parking than zoning required. “This is geared to people who don’t own cars … (but) I can’t guarantee that people who live here won’t own a car.”

It’s all about what the market wants, he elaborated.

“As a developer, I’m competing with all these other buildings that are being built in West Seattle. You’ve all seen the cranes? … I think the market’s going to decide who rents in here, and if they have a car they are going to have choices better than mine (with) a parking spot.” He also insisted “these are one-person units.”

“We have a transportation problem in Seattle, in West Seattle, I’ll be the first to admit it … We need a light rail, a tunnel, like the one they have in Capitol Hill, that comes right down here. … Everything that happens down here is going to affect parking. The overlay doesn’t require any of the businesses to provide parking (either). … I’m not here to argue that putting more people into Morgan Junction isn’t going to put pressure on parking. It’s going to.”

“So, are you willing to help us mitigate that?” asked an attendee.

No direct answer. Knoll suggested there might be a bit of room behind the building for cars, but said he is not allowed to include that in the plan. The townhouses and single-family houses to be built next door WILL have parking, he confirmed. He also said this is the only property he holds right now on California.

What ensued, by request of an attendee, was a recap of how development rules and zoning got to the point of urban villages where “frequent transit” access meant some development could be done without parking. This was recapped in last week’s meeting (WSB coverage here, including video).

MoCA’s Cindi Barker stressed that when the neighborhood plans come up for revamping, “we need all the neighbors at the table” to talk about where the community should go.

Knoll was asked if he really thought the units would go for $700. If they were on the market right this very moment, he said, yes, but “the market sets the rent, I don’t set the rent,” he said.

His “one person per unit” contention was challenged: “Do you think people are going to live alone in these units for the rest of their life?” he was asked.

He suggested that he didn’t think anyone would live in a unit like this “for the rest of (their) life” and briefly recalled his college days with roommates living in relatively cozy quarters.

The question came up again: Does Knoll really think residents will be people without cars? He repeated that he thought people with cars would not choose to live here. But what if it’s the only place they can afford? someone asked, in not so many words. There was no easy answer for that.

One attendee wanted to know if there was really no chance the building would be higher than three stories. Nope, Knoll reiterated. And he said there are no “departures” (exceptions) from zoning being sought. He repeatedly pointed to the renderings of the North Seattle building, saying, “It’s going to look just like this … As a developer, I don’t like departures. I don’t like to (ask for exceptions from) the code.”

“Could you have a covenant that your tenants not have cars?” asked one attendee.

“I don’t even know if … restricting people’s rights, would be legal,” Knoll replied.

“You’re targeting people without cars.”

“I’m targeting people looking for $700 a month apartments.”

“Are you doing anything to draw (tenants without cars) in?” asked another attendee, wondering about bike parking, room for shared cars, etc.

Knoll said he could look into those features.

The rent – $700 or whatever (“approximately …that range … if we were renting right now,” Knoll clarified, not committing to that amount) – will include utilities.

“Housing and transportation are two different issues,” Knoll said again, contending his responsibility is to provide the former.

And again, the process by which the City Council approved the “no parking required if frequent transit available” changes was brought up by MoCA’s Deb Barker – in other words, if you think it should change, take it to your elected officials, who can do something about it.

Cindi Barker then mentioned the Comprehensive Plan Amendment process coming up in 2015, at which time an amendment could be proposed saying “You overdid it (in terms of making parkingless-ness possible) … at some point we might be able to switch it back a little bit.”

One man said that actually they might not be able to discriminate against couples or families if they chose to rent one of these small units, but could say “no vehicles” just like they can say “no smoking” or “no pets.” However, as people spoke up to say around the room, while he could say “no vehicles on the property,” he couldn’t control what people did outside.

Local civic advocate Diane Vincent pointed out that units like these elsewhere in the city are actually going on Craigslist for $900 and higher – and Knoll said yes, in North Seattle, rents are much higher, and “there’s no supply of this type of housing, and there’s huge demand.”

“The market sets the rent, so they may be higher, that’s for sure,” Knoll acknowledged. He said he “prefer(s) one-year leases” rather than month-to-month.

What if an elevator were included so the building could be geared toward senior citizens? one attendee asked.

Knoll basically said “no” – noting he “doesn’t have any experience with senior housing.” He hasn’t much experience with apartments, either, he acknowledged, saying that Blueprint handles mostly single-family and townhouse financing, and has only done one other**apartment building.

“Would you consider offering a free bus pass as an incentive to rent?” Cindi Barker asked.

“As long as everybody goes onto all the blogs and (comments that), ‘Gee, Mark Knoll is not such a bad guy after all’ for each bus pass,” Knoll joked in response.

He also said that he hopes “someone” is studying the effects of parkingless buildings being built around the city, like this. One attendee said that she had heard of a Portland study that two-thirds of the tenants in parking-less buildings own cars.

Deb Barker asked about the front of the building. “What about residential amenities such as a place to sit? A table around the tree area?”

“Sure,” Knoll said, “as long as it doesn’t become a public thing where people come who don’t live there …”

“What are your fencing plans?” she pressed.

“I don’t have a specific landscape plan,” Knoll replied.

While reiterating that the building would have “the same finishes we put in $400,000 townhouses” such as 6025 and 6075 California on the north side of Morgan Junction, he promised the landscaping plan wouldn’t be perfunctory: “I don’t just put a bunch of beauty bark down and call it a day … The stuff I’ve built, I’m proud to drive by and say ‘I built that.’ That’s why I’m here tonight. That’s what I do.”

And yet, asked about storage space, he acknowledged, “I don’t know how anybody can live in a unit this small!”

A few minutes later: “Did you ever think, if a building like this was built in your neighborhood, what your concerns would be?”

“I think about that all the time … I care. That’s why I’m here. There aren’t a lot of developers who would show up to a meeting like this.”

“We know you care. Are there any concerns we’re missing?”

“You’re pretty thorough,” Knoll laughed.

Talk turned briefly to the houses to be demolished on the site. He said that the houses to be torn down are in bad shape – one where birds were kept has feathers and other debris; the two “had drug paraphernalia everywhere,” he noted.

Back to the apartment building to come: What about the design – does it really fit? he was asked.

“I was hoping we were going to get through this without (that question),” he said. “… The younger demographic that rents these units, this is the design they like.” Same for the “modern” houses that are proliferating on teardown sites, he said. “Ten to one, people are saying they want a modern house over a traditional bungalow … the overwhelmingly popular house right now is the modern design; that’s what the market is asking for.”

Are you going to allow pets? he was asked. He wasn’t sure, saying he would have to talk to the “management company,” though “as a landlord I would rather not have pets.” Morgan’s pet population was mentioned by Deb Barker at that point. (The location, it should be noted, is within a few blocks of a pet-merchandise retailer and pet boarder/groomer.)

“If this is a done deal, could you be sensitive about your outdoor lighting?” a woman asked.

Another question went to what color it might be painted, and Knoll said he would leave that decision “to someone else.”

Next Thursday night, 6917 California is the subject of another meeting, to be convened by the city in response to a citizen petition, to take comments on State Environmental Policy Act-related concerns, including traffic and noise. That meeting will be at 6:30 pm December 19th at the Senior Center of West Seattle in The Junction (California/Oregon).

Now – back to that building in Roosevelt. Knoll said so many times that 6917 would be “identical,” we thought a visit would be worthwhile before we wrote this report.

To get a sense of the area – in comparison to the Morgan Junction site of Knoll’s project – we consulted a colleague, Rebecca Nelson, who edits and publishes Ravenna Blog nearby. She even counted the parking spaces in that big lot across the street, and told us the Calvary Christian Church within view of Pladhüs is a popular place for community meetings.

It’s down the block, at the south end of the aforementioned parking lot, which, as the sign shows, offers monthly parking.

The apartment building itself is between what appear to be single-family homes to the south and newer multi-family construction to the north.

The one thing we couldn’t do was look inside – it’s a security building, and we had no contact with tenants. The Pladhüs website shows floor plans; interior photos – even one through a window overlooking that parking lot – are on the architects’ website. There’s a bike rack out front and a small concrete patio by the back door, adjacent to the waste containers:

According to a property-management website, Pladhüs rents range from $795-$1190; nothing is listed as available now, but one 202-foot studio is shown as available starting in early January at $965. Again, the developer of the Morgan Junction project says he has no involvement with this other than hiring the same architect who, he said, suggested using the same plans.

In comparison, if you’re not familiar with the 6917 California SW neighborhood, there are no paid public lots anywhere nearby. Street parking is all parallel; multi-family buildings across California have garages. Transit includes Rapid Ride C Line a few blocks away at California/Fauntleroy; the 22 goes by on California currently, but is slated for deletion next June unless funding is found to replace the expiring state “mitigation” money related to Highway 99 work.

50 Comments

  1. Wow, WSB you do great investigative work. The parking & transit availability In the north Seattle project knoll is comparing it to is great for those tenants and surrounding community. This is BS that this type of development is allowed in this area. Downtown, sure, LOTS of transit options… Sure. But WSea. Come on, citizens of WSEA we need to organize to get out city’s development codes back in order!!

    Comment by Me mama — 10:21 pm December 13, 2013 #

  2. “Typically a building of this size might or might not (have one)”? What kind of answer is that? Most of the things he said as reported here sound pretty shifty. Not happy.

    Comment by GenHill1 — 10:32 pm December 13, 2013 #

  3. Great reporting. Thank you so much for attention to this issue. I am not against development but this project seems so random for this area. The transit situation is not really great nor are amenities comparable to North Seattle or even Alaska Junction. Too bad.

    Comment by Hello — 11:24 pm December 13, 2013 #

  4. It is articles like these that make me so thankful for WSB. We are so very lucky to have such a resource in our neighborhood. I was just thinking of all the stories covered and hot stories broken by WSB. One of my favorites was when the Rotary totem pole was stolen in broad daylight. Didn’t the theft even get traffic control provided by the police while the crime was in progress?? The crime would have gone undetected for who knows how long until WSB got involved. Whatever happened to that guy, anyway?!?!
    .
    I guess my point is that WSB is such a resource for our community on all sorts of issues, including all of the development going on in the area. I commented on this project to the city awhile back because WSB provided the information so I could get involved. Thanks WSB for all you do.

    Comment by ACG — 11:32 pm December 13, 2013 #

  5. “no parking” but across the street “monthly parking available”
    .
    Tracy you are a great reporter, thank you.

    Comment by dsa — 11:37 pm December 13, 2013 #

  6. am I the only one who thinks that building in Ballard is downright ugly?

    Comment by JanS — 11:40 pm December 13, 2013 #

  7. omg; I had to wait on pins & needles for hours since you posted a teaser about this story, and you did not disappoint; thank you

    Comment by Diane — 12:02 am December 14, 2013 #

  8. Anyone know if they are asking for the Multifamily Property Tax Exemption?

    Comment by Molly — 12:57 am December 14, 2013 #

  9. I think I should put in a plan for a 7 story parking garage that can stack 40 cars on each deck and it’ll be valet parking only. $20 / day per car. Maybe I put it right next to these new places that are not allowing people to park in designated spots. I’ll be rich, just like the developers!

    Comment by Mike — 1:41 am December 14, 2013 #

  10. The website of this project’s architect makes it clear that they aspire to the very worst of hipster Brooklyn circa whenever it was at its most annoying. That’s irrelevant, of course, but I would think that there is very limited appeal to housing that’s basically a crash spot way out in Morgan Junction. West Seattle really isn’t a destination for young people, and the options for getting back and forth to the entertainment and employment hubs are limited and declining. I guess we’re becoming Queens to Seattle’s NYC with the mass transit options available 3 days after 9/11.

    Comment by Alphonse — 1:46 am December 14, 2013 #

  11. Jan; it’s not in Ballard; it’s NE Seattle; Roosevelt, Ravenna; I would agree, do not like the exterior; but I LOVE the interiors
    ~
    Molly; I’m pretty sure he said no to MFTE

    Comment by Diane — 2:59 am December 14, 2013 #

  12. Great coverage from WSB. Ballard was ruined by developers. We got priced out and found a great home in West Seattle to raise our family. My parents live across from this building parking is already tight. This needs to be stopped it will only damage the look and feel of this community. I love how this developer lives in Magnolia and is now going to ruin West Seattle with this horrible no parking structure to fill his pocket with more money. Shame on you developer I dont think you would feel the same way if this was across your house in Magnolia. Your crazy rent for a closet space is absurd. Grinch! Save West Seattle!

    Comment by Save West Seattle — 7:47 am December 14, 2013 #

  13. Instead of picking on this developer, who is trying to provide affordable apartments, let’s try and improve transit. It’s a fact that younger people and people on lower incomes need decent housing, and if his small apartments serve that need they will get rented. Also, if W. Seattle is to remain a vital community we need young people who have the energy (and some remaining disposable income) to patronize its bars, restaurants, and services. People like living in Capitol Hill b/c they don’t need cars — but they pay a premium for apartments. What if West Seattle had affordable apartments and still the neighborhood charm we know and love — but we got better transportation options? Maybe instead of pick on this guy, we ask the city to hurry up with the viaduct and stop leaving W. Seattle out of rail and other plans… And we make sure there’s plenty of Car2Go and Lyft etc. I know a lot of people young and old who choose W. Seattle and don’t have a car — many are self-employed and rarely leave the isthmus. Yes, most of these renters may have a car at some point, but some comments assume that just b/c your rent is cheap your approach to your neighborhood is, too, and that’s just not so.

    Comment by 10 years in W. Seattle — 8:43 am December 14, 2013 #

  14. Some other things this developer can do to make the project innovative: Offer discounted relationships to things like coworking, fitness facilities, and also participate in “on-time rental payment” programs that help younger people build up their credit histories, bike-share program, etc.

    And what I meant above about cheap rent is that just b/c it’s cheap rent doesn’t mean the people in the bldg. won’t actually spend time partaking in W. Seattle. We could use a little Gen Y around here, no?

    Comment by 10 years in W. Seattle — 8:46 am December 14, 2013 #

  15. I’m 27 and overwhelmingly prefer a classic bungalow style to ugly modern boxes. According to this guy I’m in the minority!

    Comment by Greta — 8:55 am December 14, 2013 #

  16. Just to comment on 10 years west sea posting about Lyft as option for the carless…… Currently the Sea. City Council is trying to place heavy restrictions on these companies (uber , Lyft) effectively forcing them out of business. The cab companies are lobbying hard to shut them down stat.

    Comment by Hello — 9:10 am December 14, 2013 #

  17. Ditto Greta…”ugly modern boxes!”

    Comment by dancing kat — 9:17 am December 14, 2013 #

  18. Props to Mark Knoll for meeting with the community. Not a bad guy, but a poor project that has not been completely thought out since so many questions could not be answered. I wonder how Mr. Knoll would like to have this building in his Magnolia neighborhood – that was one of the unaswered questions.
    IMHO the one in Ballard looks shoddy. Do people really want the box buildings or is it that when something is said often enough people start to accept and believe it?

    Thank you WSB – great job Tracy!

    Comment by BornInWestSeattle — 9:44 am December 14, 2013 #

  19. This Developer wants money plain and simple. 700.00 to 1000.00 to rent a small box starting and don’t forget rents can increase if greed increases. I agree we need better transportation but at this time we don’t have that in West Seattle. He will ruin this neighborhood with this project but I am sure he loves his garage and parking spots for his guests in his Magnolia home.

    Comment by Save West Seattle — 10:01 am December 14, 2013 #

  20. Wow, the high rents for such tiny apartments astound me. The pictures of the apartments are interesting. I would probably be too lazy to fold my bed into the wall every day to make space for a living area. And they don’t show where the table and chairs that are where the bed is go when the bed comes down. The motto to be happy with less is great, but I feel that it’s most likely more about “cheap” rent than enjoying rearranging your furniture daily so that you can make room for the bed.
    .
    A good friend of mine used to live on that block on NE 69th, and while the lot across the street is huge, it is pay parking, and there is little free parking on the actual street, since you can only park on one side of it. There are views of Mt. Rainier across the parking lot, and the area does have many amenities, including new bike lanes on Roosevelt for easy carless commuting to UW or downtown.

    Comment by dcn — 10:54 am December 14, 2013 #

  21. Save West Seattle, rent increases. Simple as that. My experience in apartment living has shown me that every new lease increases rent, even if wages stagnate. They’ll even price you out of the apartment and then rent it to someone else for less.

    Renting a place is generally a game of upward pressure until you move out.

    Comment by Civik — 10:58 am December 14, 2013 #

  22. 10 Years in W. Seattle – thank you for that. Spot on.
    .
    Here’s the challenge, it’s incredibly expensive to have parking. I read in The Atlantic Cities that it’s around $250 extra per month in hidden costs for each parking spot in a new apartment. http://www.theatlanticcities.com/housing/2013/12/how-cost-other-peoples-parking-drives-your-rent/7862/
    .
    We’ve got a couple issues. One is transport options to here, so I’m HUGELY grateful for the energy coming from West Seattle Transportation Coalition right now. Thanks guys!
    .
    Another issue is affordable rent for younger people or those on working class wages. This is a real need, and shouldn’t be brushed under the rug. A reasonable number of apartments without parking make sense for people in their 20s.
    .
    So how does the city balance all of this? I dunno, I’m glad I’m not an elected official. I appreciate the ability to build less parking, but wish it came after we had better mass transit. Please, please, please bring light rail here. I think that’s the answer.

    Comment by JVP — 11:08 am December 14, 2013 #

  23. BorninWestSeattle and Save West Seattle == Both of you are right on. Magnolia, through good lawyering, got out of the urban village over-development debaucle. If this developer thinks his project is so great, then build it in the Magnolia neighborhood, not WS. Morgan Street Junction is looking good these days but can have the quaintness disappear by this development and others like it.

    Comment by Seattlite — 11:10 am December 14, 2013 #

  24. Mobility in/around West Seattle is difficult and maybe getting much worse due to inadequate transit service. And parking is complicated and getting harder to locate. Nonetheless, this study analyzing parking in the urban environment from Sightline Institute is one in their series on parking that may help to evaluate the multiple consequences of how we built our shared community:

    http://daily.sightline.org/2013/12/12/how-is-parking-like-a-sandwich/

    Comment by Jumping in here — 12:09 pm December 14, 2013 #

  25. Light rail? Probably not in a lot of our working lifetimes; it’s years down the road. And where are we going to the park-ride lots – light rail won’t come to our doorsteps. I’m afraid it will be like Central Link, just eye candy for all the people who live between it’s few, and distantly spaced stations.

    Comment by G — 12:15 pm December 14, 2013 #

  26. Knoll sounds like a salesman trying to come up with good best fit answers for the questions asked, I commend him for the being their though. A couple Q&A I liked “Did you ever think, if a building like this was built in your neighborhood, what your concerns would be?”

    “I think about that all the time … I care. That’s why I’m here. There aren’t a lot of developers who would show up to a meeting like this.”

    I think what he is trying to say is ” Yes I am building here in W/S because I can and I don’t want these type of projects in Magnolia ”

    The following statement also tells me that the rents will be much closer to $1,000.mo than $700

    ” But this project, Knoll told last night’s meeting, is one he plans to hold for his own “portfolio.”

    People need to realize these are not cheap rentals. Per sqft they are the most expensive types of rentals in Seattle with big profits made from them. It will have a trickle down effect on every rental in this area as more and more of these types of buildings are built and that is higher rents for all. The only one to blame for all this is our great city of Seattle government as they are the ones that allow it, just as they are the only ones that can stop it.

    Comment by wetone — 1:22 pm December 14, 2013 #

  27. Belated thanks to the commenters who offered kind words. After 30+ years as a journalist, the least I can do is try to think of the next step in the story. While covering the meeting Thursday night, hearing Mark Knoll saying so much about the “identical” building, it was obvious we would have to go at least get a photo – the building was too new for there to be a completed view in the Assessor’s Office files on the King County Parcel Viewer site, a source of exteriors sometimes. (I’m adding a couple more to the story.)
    .
    To ACG’s mention of the infamous totem-pole theft … we were the first news organization to report it, and we pursued a couple of different angles, but the original credit still goes to the late Lori Estep, a wonderful West Seattleite gone too soon, who called us one day four years ago because her son Ian noticed the pole was missing – as we pursued inquiries, the Rotary had heard about it too, and did some sleuthing; in fact, right after the Rotary Children’s Holiday Shopping Spree that year, co-publisher Patrick Sand went along as two Rotarians went on a sleuthing mission WAY far out in a rural area. This month marks our sixth anniversary of doing this fulltime and that remains one of the most memorable stories we’ve covered. It also highlighted the continuing importance of phone calls, e-mails, texts, other messages … http://westseattleblog.com/contact – thanks! – TR

    Comment by WSB — 1:48 pm December 14, 2013 #

  28. wetone – well said!
    Jumping in here – interesting article, but shallow. Additional factors that should be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to:
    (1) The cost of on-street parking is financed by ALL property owners, not just the apartment building owner(s) via rent from tenants.
    (2) Cost to small businesses in the area when customers are unable to locate parking.
    (3) Wasted gas and increased pollution caused by people driving around trying to find a place to park.
    (4) Administrative burden on city resources enforcing parking ordinances or other complaints. City resources are already stressed.

    Comment by BornInWestSeattle — 2:18 pm December 14, 2013 #

  29. Perhaps one solution is ceasing human reproduction that put rabbits to shame.

    My mother was born in 1917 and still lives. 100 years before her birth, there was VERY LITTLE development in West Seattle. Or elsewhere in the “new land”.

    I take this griping with a grain of salt. But, I do plan on getting a Range Rover franchise for West Seattle. Time to cash in. ROFL

    Comment by Genesee Hill — 4:15 pm December 14, 2013 #

  30. It already takes two lights to get through the intersection. This will make it impossible!

    Comment by Natalie — 6:18 pm December 14, 2013 #

  31. thanks WSB for another interesting article.
    when I was younger and poorer I lived in a tiny studio apartment in Cap hill. that bldg had about 5 parking spots for 35 units. but this is not cap hill…..
    regarding the nearby residents that are upset about the lack of parking. is the parking along CA restricted in any way, like 2 hour parking? It is interesting that there aren’t any RPZ zoned parking like there is in other areas of the city. (is there?) if it got real crazy, I imagine the residents on the nearby side streets could go to the city and ask for that, and the permits would be limited to the people on those side streets. so in that instance, the people in this new bldg. couldn’t park for extended time in front of the single family areas. there isn’t a ton of parking in that area, but it isn’t impossible. on a weekend day, you may have to drive around a little if you are going to stella ruffingtons, the café, or little gym for example. then on a recent weekday, I noted that all the on street parking on Frontenac was taken from California to Fauntleroy (except for 1 spot) but, I don’t live there, so I don’t know what it’s like all the time. maybe the teachers/ employees at Gatewood need to park there during the day.

    Comment by sam-c — 7:36 pm December 14, 2013 #

  32. That building looks like Soviet-era design! Ugh.

    And 9 out of 10 want a “modern” house instead of a bungalow? Does not match up with what I hear.

    An elevator would make all the units in that building accessible. And there are younger people who need wheelchair/elevator access, too.

    Comment by LivesInWS — 8:09 pm December 14, 2013 #

  33. Sam-c is right when she notes that Gatewood school employees take a lot of parking in the area. It is much easier to find spots on weekend or during summer / spring breaks. RpZ will put pressure on the other side of Fauntleroy , but will help the businesses.

    Comment by Hello — 9:17 pm December 14, 2013 #

  34. Thank you to developer, Mark Knoll, for his straight forward, thoughtful and intelligent discussion. I live directly across the street from the soon-to-be built apartment complex and have real concerns about the limited parking. After hearing Mr. Knoll, I feel more comfortable and confident about his plans. It was disappointing that more people were not in attendance. Had the audience been the size of the group meeting at The Kenney [Dec. 5th], I feel that concerns expressed would have been ameliorated by the overview and the question and answer portions of the Dec. 12th meeting.

    Comment by Madalyn Mincks — 11:25 pm December 14, 2013 #

  35. Knoll insisted that in order to enable that level of rent, “the price is no parking.” …. that should read “the price is no parking – except for all of the parking I am stealing from the neighbors in the community that I don’t have to live in.” If this guy is so worried about people making $15/hour his company wouldn’t be earning $1.3 million in just the last quarter, which he brags about in his company report. This city shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing people who make millions of dollars a years. Make them contribute their fair share.

    Comment by Gatewooder — 2:01 pm December 15, 2013 #

  36. I have an idea. Let’s insist that Mark Knoll live in this mousetrap for a year – no car allowed. Let’s also build one right across the street from his Magnolia home.

    Modern is great when it’s well designed. This is just UGLY (as in 1970 strip mall hideous), and the parking issue was barely addressed – except for Mr. Knoll’s admission that parking in the area would be negatively impacted. Come June, getting on a C-line will be like catching a ferry on Labor Day weekend.

    Comment by enid — 2:10 pm December 15, 2013 #

  37. “this is the design they like.” Same for the “modern” houses that are proliferating on teardown sites, he said. “Ten to one, people are saying they want a modern house over a traditional bungalow … the overwhelmingly popular house right now is the modern design; that’s what the market is asking for.”

    Thank you, Mad Men, for bringing back the swanky stylings of the rat pack era. Coulda done without the ugly buildings we said “bye, bye” to half a century ago. Thing about boxes: They’re cheap and easy to build. But I won’t miss this period of imitation when it too passes, again.

    Comment by pjmanley — 3:11 pm December 15, 2013 #

  38. @ Gatewooder; thank you for pointing out the significant 2013 profit of Blueprint (where Mark Knoll is founder/CEO)
    ~
    I spent some time yesterday searching through Blueprint, including their news tab; biggest alert; Blueprint is THE sponsor/only listed funding behind “Smart Growth Seattle” (very deceptive name) which is a paid lobby group pushing microhousing, no parking, small lot development, density at any cost; Mark Knoll knows exactly what he’s doing; this group is very savvy at finding code loopholes and advocating for code changes for their benefit; and their group is highly “lawyered up”; this is the same group behind the much reported story by wsblog re small lot (1 house) broken into 3 lots (to build 3 houses); see wsblog’s Benchview story where neighbors have paid something like $50k so far for attorney to fight this group
    ~
    every project in every neighborhood on their website in this same box-type modern, all townhomes and single-family; I found it curious that this micro-housing project is NOT on their website

    Comment by Diane — 5:41 pm December 15, 2013 #

  39. Just crap and more crap. Knoll should be the first one trying to change the development guidelines for Magnolia to allow for this crap to be built there. Looks like crap, will attract crap, and will cause crap to happen in the neighborhood. Sad…

    Comment by buckwheat — 9:18 pm December 15, 2013 #

  40. http://grist.org/cities/how-is-parking-like-a-sandwich/

    an interesting article, if only for the fact that they claim Seattle apartment bldgs. have TOO MUCH parking. this is in reference to Seattle:

    “Meanwhile, government rules (along with many other factors) spur developers to build far more parking than their tenants use. Ultimately, the costs of this parking insanity fall hardest on renters — particularly those who don’t own cars.”

    ???

    Comment by sam-c — 8:45 am December 16, 2013 #

  41. oh, oops, looks like someone already linked this article, sorry

    Comment by sam-c — 9:21 am December 16, 2013 #

  42. Great comments with some good talking points.

    Kudos to Mark Knoll for his reasonable project and openess to attend the meeting.

    I could not agree more with points made by 10yearsinW.Seattle, and JVP.

    Don’t hate on the developer for his understanding of the deficiencies in the zoning and desire to maximize his ROI.

    Like it or not, Transit Oriented Development is here to stay –with or without functioning transit. If the density is built, the transit can follow. Unfortunately, I agree with the comments that our transit options are inadequate and light or heavy rail will be tricky.

    The larger issue is not the lack of parking for this project, but the neighborhood incompatability of projects as a result of poor planing (lack of vision) by our elected city council representatives.

    Comment by Morgan_Joe — 1:14 pm December 16, 2013 #

  43. I hope he does’t paint it blue like the one in Ballard (gross). Please paint it a stone color so it won’t look so out of place.

    Comment by Gyngersnap — 3:33 pm December 16, 2013 #

  44. But this project, Knoll told last night’s meeting, is one he plans to hold for his own “portfolio.” What, like he cares about it beyond making him money?“Having completed our first month as a real estate investment trust we are pleased with the continued strength of our earnings, which increased by 18% compared to last year, and the strong growth in our loan portfolio, which increased by 33% over the same period,” said Mark Knoll, CEO of Blueprint.
    When are we going to stop com modifying to such the extreme our basic need for shelter? Basic needs shouldn’t be up for excessive profits. $700 and up to rent a micro unit is not affordable.
    When is enough enough?

    Comment by au — 10:01 pm December 16, 2013 #

  45. I’m not a developer, but, umm, he’s not a subsidized housing builder using grants and HUD money to build a property, so, umm, yes, he’s *allowed* to make money on a development as a for-profit company. Again, I don’t think you can lard all the problems West Seattle has — poor transportation servicing, a growing crime problem, the heinous traffic-clogging RapidRide buses — on a developer of a 30-unit apartment building. And indeed, getting Car2Go (which is not under city challenges like Lyft) or making sure it’s available would be handy. So, what’s your better idea — make $1000 apartments in the hinterlands of N. Morgan Junction that include parking, then see no one rent them b/c they could have a $1000 apartment without parking on Capitol Hill instead? Have any of you rented a place lately or scanned the rents? $700 is incredibly cheap for a newly constructed building and actually is affordable. And to those who think it isn’t, how many of you are renting out a room or mother-in-law in your home for that or less? Zero? Thought so.

    Comment by 10 Years in West Seattle — 7:05 am December 18, 2013 #

  46. What I’m saying is that we should use this project as a lever to get better transit, rather than whine that everyone in W. Seattle needs a car b/c our transit stinks. That’s like saying everyone needs a prescription b/c they’re too lazy for preventative health measures like exercising.

    Comment by 10 Years in West Seattle — 7:06 am December 18, 2013 #

  47. Studies done in Portland show that vehicle ownership for apartment dwellers remains pretty much the same whether the building has on-site parking or not.
    ~
    I respect the fact that Mark Knoll met with the community. His remarks indicate he didn’t know what to expect. What he found is reasonable people who asked good questions, voiced their concerns graciously, and asked for a good fit with the existing neighborhood. Mr. Knoll can now put faces and names to the people his project directly impacts.
    ~
    Everyone knows the city is responsible for zoning and building standards, and the county is responsible for providing public transportation. People need to stop whining about others voicing their concerns and opinions. West Seattle is known for many things, but it is not the center of the Marxist world, pitting the working class against the capitalist.

    Comment by BornInWestSeattle — 9:55 am December 18, 2013 #

  48. Go to the top of Queen Anne.
    All new development and recently built apartment/condo buildings there are brick.
    There was some attempt to maintain an iota of charm and fit to the neighborhood.

    This Mark Knoll building in N. Seattle is alarmingly cheap looking. Like a future tear-down. In Miami.
    Powder blue, yellow and white. Really?
    The “market” may be asking for modern design but that shouldn’t mean a Golden Girls apartment building circa 1985. No organic materials?

    Come on DESIGN REVIEW BOARD. Good design doesn’t have to cost more or look like this box – West Seattle deserves better.

    It shouldn’t be ONLY about money and stuffing people into neighborhoods.
    We are the ones living for years with the aftershocks of development like this.

    Comment by crappydevelopmentinWS — 2:52 pm December 18, 2013 #

  49. CDIWS – Two notes – 1. just to recap, while Mark Knoll says his building in Morgan Junction will be of identical design to the one in Roosevelt, he said he doesn’t own and didn’t develop that one (which so far, public records bear out) – it just happened, he said, that the architect he was working with for the project here said the plans from that project that would fit this site too. 2. Re: Design Review Board – neither this project nor the one in Roosevelt requires/required Design Review, so regardless of what you think about their other decisions, no board members had anything to say about those colors or materials. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 3:19 pm December 18, 2013 #

  50. I appreciate the background info. on Knolll’s group. Personally, I would like to see this project go away. It’s not coming from the right place and that’s made very clear by the arrogance behind Knoll’s comments. I am all for intelligent development, but this is not it. There should be parking, period! I loved the discussion of whether or not tenants could have pets, considering the pet businesses in the area. His response showed his total disconnect very clearly. The fact that this property will steal parking from these dedicated and community oriented local businesses is not okay. It also irks me that he is using the $15 wage as an excuse to build these hideously ugly boxes, while giving a completely slimy answer as to a guarantee of low rent. Judging by the Ravenna spot, rents WILL go up, if they even enter “the market” at his quote (and they won’t) to begin with. These developers say whatever they feel is necessary to fund their projects. He wants to build place he’s proud to drive by? The arrogance and disconnect are absolutely astounding. They pretend to care and we pretend to believe them.

    The answer is no!

    Comment by i'mcoveredinbees — 1:16 am December 20, 2013 #

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