By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“It’s going to be a good thing.”
We first wrote about it almost four months ago. The site holds an old house, hidden behind hedges and fencing, on the southwest corner of 42nd and Oregon, across the street from the almost-complete Oregon 42, across the alley from the Senior Center of West Seattle (where the Southwest Design Review Board will meet to consider the project at 6:30 pm Thursday).
The site also happens to be adjacent to one of the West Seattle Junction Association‘s free parking lots, which Capelouto has supported for decades as a longtime Junction retailer and stockholder in Trusteed Properties, the lots’ ownership.
4505 42nd is proposed for fewer parking spaces than units – as is allowed in the area because “frequent transit” is nearby – but Capelouto says everyone who needs a parking space will get one, because he has parking to spare in his first Junction development, just down the block. This project – proposed for 7 stories, 50 units, and 16 offstreet spaces – is less than a block north of 2009-opened Capco Plaza, built with more than 360 spaces for the 160+-unit Altamira Apartments and the building’s retail tenants, more than zoning required when it was built (and far more than would be called for today).
Before we get into more about the 4505 42nd SW proposal – whose design packet can be seen here – a little more about its developer.
Capelouto has been a Junction entrepreneur for going on half a century. His roots are in retail – selling apparel via Shafrans in West Seattle for decades – and he still has a stake in retail, two actually, with Capco Beverages liquor stores in two former state-store spaces, one (which is a WSB sponsor) in Capco Plaza, one in Issaquah. Though there were dour revelations late last year about a rocky time for some who took over former state-run stores when voters privatized liquor sales, Capelouto says his stores are doing well.
He learned retail from a brand famous for customer service – Nordstrom, where he put himself through college (Seattle University) by selling shoes every day. His boss, Bruce Nordstrom, told him to come in when he could, so he made his own hours, taking classes in the morning, working afternoons and weekends. “I used to be one of the highest producers on the floor – sold a lot of shoes.”
When the Nordstroms expanded into apparel, Capelouto got the chance to go into management: “That’s how my career in clothing began … I learned from the best and brightest and most innovative people.”
He took a chance when offered the opportunity “as a very young man” to buy Shafrans, whose owner, he said, had health problems. “I bought it in September and had a balloon payment in January. He didn’t think I could do it. … I loaded up the store with goods, ran promotions … we turned that inventory enough times from September to January to raise enough money to pay him off. He was shocked.”
His venture into property ownership came sometime after that, in circumstances that led him to make an offer to buy the Junction building where he has his office to this day, and that once held the Kress dime store. He sent a letter to the “national conglomerate” that owned it; they wrote back, said they couldn’t sell at the time – but, Capelouto says, a year later they contacted him to say they’d take the offer. The building was “way too big” for what he was operating with Shafrans at the time, so he reconfigured its spaces, including a men’s store and women’s store for Shafrans. “I’m just a little guy who started with nothing and accumulated things.”
Among them, the property at 4505 42nd, on a street that continues to redevelop, with not only Oregon 42, owned by San Diego-based ConAm, across the street, but another locally owned project, 80-unit 4433 42nd SW, a few doors north, which just finished its Design Review meetings.
Unlike some buildings with a relatively small footprint, this one isn’t all about the residential units.
(Proposed ground-level configuration of 4505 42nd, from the project team’s “preferred option”)
The ground-floor retail units will be a “focus,” says Capelouto, who describes SW Oregon as a “gateway” to The Junction, “and I think it’s important we have a very nice structure in there to represent The Junction, and bring more pedestrian traffic to help promote more commerce in The Junction.” The residents will in turn support the stores – “people shop where they live.” He expects the retailers will be three or four “mom-and-pop-type (businesses),” which could range from retail to services to even a restaurant.
And for those who wonder about the market for more apartments, Capelouto says Altamira down the street has had no problems – “we’ve leased the space quite easily … they are apartments but feel like condos, with granite countertops, high-end appliances, much nicer than a regular rental. That’s my style and it’ll be the same on this site.” He also mentions faster Internet service, which he says Altamira also has, so tThe units in the new project will be smaller; the design packet mentions a mix of studios and 1 bedrooms.
He believes new buildings and new residents are good for the community: “If you have zero development, you have decay … if we don’t grow, these old buildings that are over a hundred years old will decay. You need a mix of retail and restaurants and viable pedestrian traffic. That’s why it’s so important to have people who live here, who can walk back home – a lot of people want to go out for dinner, have a couple of drinks, get home safely, they don’t want to cross the bridge.”
Since the project is in the “early design guidance” phase, full-design renderings aren’t available yet – what you see above is the project team’s “preferred” version of the three “massing” (size and shape) options that will be reviewed by the SWDRB on Thursday. Capelouto says some brick is expected on the first level, with awnings and weather protection, and the property will “be giving three feet to make SW Oregon wider” – Capelouto notes he also dedicated five feet on SW Alaska for wider sidewalks, when Capco Plaza was built. They’re working on “lots of greenery” too, trees for the streetscape, plantings on a roof deck, including an edible garden. The Altamira roof deck, he notes, has had events from weddings to wine tasting, with up to 200 people in attendance. Power will be undergrounded.
A Zipcar space and secure bicycle parking is in the plan too. No name for the project yet. Groundbreaking is expected next year, and construction will last about 14 months, with the project likely to open in spring 2016.
“It’s a big investment in West Seattle, growing in the right direction. I really appreciate everyone’s support.”
WHAT’S NEXT: 4505 42nd SW goes before the Southwest Design Review Board for the first time Thursday night at 6:30 pm, upstairs at the Senior Center of West Seattle, which is at California/Oregon, steps away from the project site. As with all projects that go through the city’s Design Review program, there will be at least one more meeting, depending on how tomorrow’s goes.