More microhousing for Avalon: 3268 SW Avalon Way, next to almost-complete building

March 26, 2014 at 9:04 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 43 Comments

Brand-new in the city’s building-permit application file: A microhousing building proposed for 3268 SW Avalon Way, next to the one that is being finished at 3266 Avalon, with the 35th/Avalon 7-11 on its other side. There’s a four-plex on the site now (top photo); documents available online say it will be replaced with what is described as a “new 7-unit apartment building with 56 sleeping suites.” The “7-unit” description would refer to shared kitchens – 8 sleeping rooms for every kitchen. A site plan on file adds one more line of description – a five-story building atop a “pedestal story.” At least one of the people listed on the documents visible so far, Randall Spaan, has been involved with other microhousing developments – including the one next door.

43 Comments

  1. So microhousing is essentially communal living, or like dorm living… a good place to start out when your income is low, and eventually people move into whole apartments. Commune living seems perfect for Seattle, where even Whole Foods Market can generate protests for not being liberal enough for some neighborhoods. Probably a boon for local restaurants and prepared food vendors, too. Win win for WS!

    Comment by Neighbor — 9:11 am March 26, 2014 #

  2. A quick search found this, which pretty much explains Mr. Spaan’s attitude and contempt of community concerns.
    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2012/09/19/leschi-property-owners-taunt-angry-neighbors-and-government-with-sign-telling-obama-to-kiss-our-booty

    Comment by RPH — 9:27 am March 26, 2014 #

  3. Not a win for anyone who parks on Avalon. I cant imagine that all 56 occupants are car free.

    Comment by WSDawg — 9:27 am March 26, 2014 #

  4. Why not try to make reasonable sized housing financially feasible? I would love to find out how the developers of these properties live. Do they get along without a car, share a kitchen, or live alone in a tiny pod?

    Comment by CE — 9:51 am March 26, 2014 #

  5. I don’t have a problem with the micro concept, but the execution produces a product that looks really cheap – almost an instant slum.
    Yes, it has to be cheap, but does it really have to look so much so?

    Comment by old timer — 10:09 am March 26, 2014 #

  6. Regardless of how many cars these occupants will own, there is one certainty. High urban density requires transit infrastructure to make it work.

    I propose that DPD be forced by the City Council to impose an immediate moratorium on additional housing units in WS until such time as there is a longer term resolution to our transit funding issue. And Prop 1 is nothing more than stop gap to prevent worst case scenarios.

    You just can’t let this stuff go on anymore with a shrug of the shoulders, dear City Council and Mayor. You have an office of Planning that should be TELLING YOU that you can’t support the density you already have permitted much less the hundreds of units that are looking to get in on it.

    Really, when will sanity kick in??

    Comment by wakeflood — 10:25 am March 26, 2014 #

  7. None of these new microhousing units will work for most families, with or without children. I’m frustrated that they are filling our neighborhood with what is, essentially, housing for a transient population. People will not live in these units for very long. They will be less likely to have a sense of belonging to our community and therefore will be less likely to value it and contribute to it. Families are vital to building and maintaining vibrant communities. These developers are most interested in microhousing simply for the profit they can make on it.

    Comment by Scooterista — 10:45 am March 26, 2014 #

  8. Yea more crap going up on Avalon. Two pieces of crap right next door to one another. I am assuming the tenants will be outstanding! This is out of control. The city council must go. It would be nice to see the mayor take some action on preventing this crap! I hope SPD will be placing more officers in West Seattle due to all of this crap going up. Furthermore, the infrastructure cannot support this crap. Why is West Seattle being dumped on to such shoddy development?

    Comment by buckwheat — 10:57 am March 26, 2014 #

  9. I agree Scooterista.
    Also, this is part of Agenda 21, which people should investigate if they are bothered by this sort of thing.

    Comment by CE — 11:06 am March 26, 2014 #

  10. to wakeflood’s point. the irony just struck me. it’s one department: DPD, department of planning and development. but, in this case, seems like planning is not talking to development. right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. make up your own analogy.

    fwiw, i lived in a place like this 10+ years ago, in the U district. was perfect for me as a grad student. don’t know if any UW students want to commute from West Seattle though. but yea, need some apartment bldgs to support families, but apartments big enough for that never seem to be affordable…. (ie, rent for 2+ BD apartments seems to be more than my mortgage payment)

    Comment by sam-c — 11:08 am March 26, 2014 #

  11. I bet this building won’t pay property taxes for the next 12 years either. The infrastructure (schools, transit, fire, police, etc) to support density simply will not follow without tax revenue.

    Comment by No Taxes Again? — 11:10 am March 26, 2014 #

  12. Neighbor, put down the Kool-Aid. Microhousing is the most expensive thing in town and far from being a stepping stone to a “whole apartment”, they are pushing reasonably-sized apartments and houses that much further out of reach. Suggesting that microhousing is but one of many choices everyone can make for themselves that they can easily upgrade out of at their leisure is naive at best. Most people don’t have several choices at their fingertips and simply choose the lesser option. People are working within the bounds of their pocket books and with what is being made available and with microhousing and luxury apartments being the main developments as of late despite the call for reasonably-sized affordable housing, rental houses and existing apartment rents have gone up significantly, pushing people out of the city, into a tighter financial situation, or INTO microhousing. From the average consumers point of view, I don’t see much “choice” there.

    Comment by CJ — 11:51 am March 26, 2014 #

  13. They should reserve the curb in front of these for the SWAT Warrant and Apprehension team.

    Comment by DTK — 12:16 pm March 26, 2014 #

  14. These are the exact same concept as the Soviet kommunalka.

    Except in Russia the apartment was ‘bez platna’ – without charge.

    So we’re getting soviet apartments at American prices.

    .

    The best of all possible worlds?

    Comment by transplantella — 12:26 pm March 26, 2014 #

  15. Rent for what is essentially a dorm room isn’t cheap..others in town rent for nearly $600, require advance pmts and proof of prior rental history with timely pmts, among other things. Google seattle apodments….eye-opening…….

    Comment by carole — 12:26 pm March 26, 2014 #

  16. The suspicion that microhousing somehow is appealing to transients does not seem to be borne out, and as for the warrant-serving officers, we see them show up at single-family houses far more often than apartments of any kind. Meantime, we’ve seen in promotion for other microhousing developments – they’re not cheap. New and small seems to trump old and bigger, for some apartment-seekers. The target market is young tech workers, some of the developers have been quoted as saying … I’ll have to look again for one of those links, which I think have been cited in recent discussions … TR
    .
    PS – Carole’s comment came in while I was typing. Subsequently checked CL, where a Footprint (they own the Delridge development and were branding the almost-done Avalon one … although the page subsequently semi-disappeared) is renting for $750 … http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/roo/4378823009.html

    Comment by WSB — 12:26 pm March 26, 2014 #

  17. Disaster waiting to happen if there is any type of medical or fire issues with these type of places. Feel bad for all surrounding neighborhoods of builds like this as their property values and livelihood’s are changed forever and not in positive way. As said above the most expensive rentals ever per sqft. and will have big effects on all other rentals. West Seattle is getting more expensive quickly.

    Comment by wetone — 12:33 pm March 26, 2014 #

  18. Yes, and putting these micro no-parking units near the end of the transit routes from downtown also makes sense (not)–The C can get full in the Junction, much less by Avalon. Ditto the rest of the buses once the new developments going up in the Junction are populated–and this is without service reductions that may come. A moratorium on all of these non-parking micro housing units. Glad I don’t own a home nearby–though at least your property tax bill should go down…

    Comment by JayDee — 12:41 pm March 26, 2014 #

  19. A lot of the issues mentioned are not necessarily based on fact and time will tell. You can bet that one is correct:PARKING Already a problem along Avalon and soon to get much worse. This is progress?

    Comment by marty — 12:46 pm March 26, 2014 #

  20. I recall a comment in the thread last week about a similar project btw. Morgan Junction and Ladro, where the poster said essentially “the city is not going to curb this type of development as it helps them expand their tax base”. I’m not a fan of what is happening in West Seattle so felt the comment was a bit callous, though it made sense. Thinking on it later, it struck me that there’s possibly a correlation between the Tunnel/bore project that has ground to a halt and is facing mounting costs, and this rampant development getting pushed through- someone is going to have to bear the massive overrun costs of the tunnel project, so there may be current incentive to keep development wide open. More density, w/o parking and public transit, plus no end in sight for tunnel construction and related traffic- WS residents’ and commuters’ special nightmare. Hopeful for a turn in this story.

    Comment by TM — 1:02 pm March 26, 2014 #

  21. thanks RPH for the story link about Randall Spaan, and the mansion funded by crappy apodments

    Comment by Diane — 1:10 pm March 26, 2014 #

  22. this reminds me of when the very controversial Conner Homes (now Equity) apt buildings were going through design review; I ran a search for Charlie Conner and found stories about how he pissed off neighbors on Lake Washington with his helicopter pad at his lakeside home; very similar; true colors revealed

    Comment by Diane — 1:18 pm March 26, 2014 #

  23. Agreed, WSB. It seems to me that a lot of the more concerned commenters are way out of touch with the reality of the rental market right now. $600-700 is a really affordable rate in the market right now, and if you’re a young professional just trying to get started out it could mean the difference between a new, clean place to live that’s close to work, versus a slightly bigger, much older, and much shabbier apartment somewhere out on the fringes of the city, or out in the burbs.

    Also, instead of freaking out about “transients changing the character” of our neighborhood, consider that the kids in all those WS families are eventually going to grow up. I don’t know about you, but coming out of college I didn’t have the cash to put a deposit on a house in WS, but I still wanted to live there as I considered it my home and community.

    Even for folks who are moving to Seattle from somewhere else (and many, many are), why not give them the opportunity to live in WS with us? The way to get people to have a sense of belonging and responsibility to their community isn’t to raise the bar and exclude people, but to provide more ways to join the community.

    Comment by MacJ — 1:28 pm March 26, 2014 #

  24. CJ, is it naive to speak from experience and going from a tiny $350/mo shared space to a large apartment to eventual homeownership? $600/mo is a lot less than a mortgage, is less than dorm rent (and UW isn’t the only university in town to which students commute), and a financially intelligent consumer who does not need a kitchen or large footprint when starting out could very feasibly rent one of these units, save up, and eventually graduate to an apartment or buy a house when they have adequate means or a family.

    Scooterista – is “transient” code for non-WASP? Just checking, because it seems like code for a certain group you simply don’t think deserves to live in our neighborhood. Renters really can contribute to a community, even if they don’t pay as much as you think they should in rent or occupy as many square foot as you think they should. It is a choice, especially given that these are priced such that they are not squatter dens. Maybe tenants don’t have families now, but that’s the beauty of micro-housing… you can graduate and move on when you need more space… for a family. It’s exhausting to hear all the neighborhood NIMBYs complain and reject every single development project as if it’ll be the end of WS. Things change.

    Comment by Neighbor — 1:35 pm March 26, 2014 #

  25. Also remember that DPD’s head was left at her post. It means our new mayor fully supports overdevelopment and Seattle wants to be the posterchild of ‘ahead of the curve’ in the Growth Management Act. Very proud of being at 400+ percent ahead of schedule instead of pre-planning.

    Already planning to move as the bridge is going to get undriveable in a few years time. I have better things to do than sit in traffic.

    Comment by Civik — 1:49 pm March 26, 2014 #

  26. They should reserve the curb in front of these for the SWAT Warrant and Apprehension team.

    .

    HUH?!?

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 2:01 pm March 26, 2014 #

  27. @Neighbor – you do realize that we are subsidizing these developments? We have a right to be “NIMBYs” when we are paying for it. I encourage you to read up on the Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program. A simplistic example might help you: let’s say there are 10 homes on a street each paying $1 a year into the fire dept. budget through property taxes. That’s $10 a year to protect 10 homes. Now replace one home with 25 micro-homes that DON’T pay property tax (except on land which might as well be zero.) Now you only have $9 a year to protect 34 homes. Apply this concept to everything your property taxes support. I can only speak for myself when I say that I don’t want my public services to degrade (as we are already seeing) and I don’t want to pay other people’s taxes.

    Comment by No Taxes Again? — 2:09 pm March 26, 2014 #

  28. Please note that I did NOT report this development as receiving or seeking the MFTE. I don’t know that it is, or is not – I just found out about it this morning by checking the city’s permit database, and what’s in the story now is everything I know, so far. Trying to get a current list – have not found it online so I’m contacting the Office of Housing.

    Comment by WSB — 2:20 pm March 26, 2014 #

  29. Update: Happy to see the city HAS (since the last time I checked a few weeks back) posted a list of MFTE buildings to its website:
    .
    http://www.seattle.gov/housing/incentives/MFTE_RentalBuildings_02-27-14.pdf
    .
    The Footprint Delridge microhousing project is listed. Neither Avalon microhousing project is listed. This might just be a list of completed projects that are participating, though, because I don’t see at least one almost-complete apartment project I’m pretty sure had sought it. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 2:24 pm March 26, 2014 #

  30. At least now I know the size banner I can ‘temporarily’ put on the front of my house/business.

    Comment by Erik — 2:27 pm March 26, 2014 #

  31. YES! More sardines for the sardine can formerly known as West Seattle.

    This is gonna be great!

    Comment by Jeffrey — 2:55 pm March 26, 2014 #

  32. wow; thanks for the pdf TR; I never knew there was a list like this available; and amazed at how few out of the entire Seattle stock of apts are on this list

    Comment by Diane — 3:07 pm March 26, 2014 #

  33. This is the first time I’ve seen this type of public-facing list. Every so often, a City Council committee is briefed, and the paperwork includes many more details – such as how many units, etc.

    Comment by WSB — 3:17 pm March 26, 2014 #

  34. I keep seeing people say $600-$700 month where ? The ones I have seen on Delridge started at $750. Closer to junction I’m hearing up to $875. I just wonder how many people will be living in each pod. Might have to kick my renters out and start renting rooms or I could just raise the rent and go with the flow :)

    Comment by wetone — 3:47 pm March 26, 2014 #

  35. The MFTE doesn’t actually go into place until after a building is finished, so my guess is that buildings under construction aren’t on there.

    Comment by Kgdlg — 5:49 pm March 26, 2014 #

  36. It’s not West Seattle anymore.
    It’s Mega-City One.

    Comment by JoAnne — 8:00 pm March 26, 2014 #

  37. Perhaps this is terribly naive, but why aren’t we requiring developers that build multi-unit complexes to pay a portion of their yearly profits or added tax to a transpotation (ie light rail link) /infrastructure fund that is exclusively for the use of West Seattle? I as a single family home owner would be willing to pay an extra tax for such a fund, and I don’t make a profit! In 5 years? with such a tax and maybe an added levy, we would have enough to build a train link.

    Comment by Shevome — 10:39 pm March 26, 2014 #

  38. Maybe I should rent some closet space. This is ridiculous.

    Comment by Nick — 6:45 am March 27, 2014 #

  39. Avalon the new Auroa Ave North.

    Comment by buckwheat — 7:30 am March 27, 2014 #

  40. Well, housing will certainly be affordable when all these apartment buildings come on line and there’s a sudden glut of rental housing. I do wish they’d not put two of these boarding houses right next door to each other.

    Comment by Amy Thomson — 9:32 am March 27, 2014 #

  41. Hideous and cheaply made. I have the misfortune of having to walk by this monstrosity daily. Very depressing.

    Comment by BWD — 10:58 am March 27, 2014 #

  42. microunits will not create a sudden glut of housing. rather family homes or apartments, (outside of highpoint and a few other deliberate attempts for families) are becoming increasingly rare. when all of these units come online there still wont be anywhere affordable for me and my family of five.
    little is being built for families and what is being built is fabulously expensive.

    these apodments are NOT affordable. $700-900/mo is NOT affordable for a person making minimum wage. and they do nothing positive for the rental market for families.

    Perhaps IF they were designed and built properly and actually affordable i.e $300-400/mo it could work but as it stands its a disgusting grab for money. hasn’t it already been penciled out that per sq ft apodments are $2-3 more expensive than ‘typical’ rentals. renters are paying more for less, while ‘developers/owners’ are making more for doing less.

    WoW. how can this ever be ok?

    with the multitude of apodments and apartments getting constructed in west seattle i wonder how many of them are bigger than a two bedroom? i feel within the next 5-10 years west seattle wont be so family friendly as it has been.

    Comment by Au — 11:00 am March 28, 2014 #

  43. let’s make sure we elect a city council member from west seattle who puts a stop to this run away building. the bus service cannot support this. trying to drive over the bridge during rush hour is a night mare.

    Comment by Michele — 2:58 pm March 29, 2014 #

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