Charlestown Court to be reviewed again for possible landmark status, with demolition/development proposal pending

June 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

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(Historic photo from King County Assessor; 2008 photo by WSB’s Christopher Boffoli)
In 2007, facing demolition for site redevelopment, the Charlestown Court apartments at 3811 California SW were nominated for possible city-landmark status. In a process extensively covered here, the Landmarks Preservation Board ruled in 2008 that it didn’t qualify. A new development proposal preserving the building’s facade subsequently emerged – but the recession hit, and it was never built.

Five months ago, we discovered a new demolition-and-redevelopment proposal in the early stage of public review – this time, to tear down Charlestown Court and build eight townhouses. And now, another twist: Visiting the city Landmarks Preservation Board website for research on an unrelated story, we discovered that Charlestown Court, a Tudor-style brick fourplex built in the 1920s, first will be reviewed again for landmark status, and a hearing is coming up this month.

In a conversation with WSB this morning – before the official notice of the nomination came out – Erin Doherty from the Landmarks Board explained that the documentation was submitted pre-emptively by the owners/developers, as it was likely that as part of the review of their demolition/development proposal, they would have been required to do this anyway – the process is explained in this city document. A new review is required because the last one was more than five years ago.

The first hearing before the Landmarks Board is set for its meeting on Wednesday, June 18th, at 3:30 pm, on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown – here’s the official notice. The full nomination document can be seen here (though it’s dated April, Doherty tells us it had been under review for the past few weeks and actually just went online yesterday). The meeting notice has information on how to comment before the hearing.

12 Comments

  1. I absolutely hate all of the new construction. Flat roofed boxes that basically go up overnight. No character or charm at all. Beautiful old construction continues to be ripped down for some box. BLECH.

    Comment by coffee — 2:20 pm June 4, 2014 #

  2. Seems like any building on California Avenue over 50 years old is being demolished. Sad.

    Comment by marianne — 3:45 pm June 4, 2014 #

  3. very good news

    Comment by Diane — 4:42 pm June 4, 2014 #

  4. Catherine Barker (from the Admiral neighborhood group) deserves major kudos and credit for all the work she put into the original landmark application

    Comment by Diane — 4:48 pm June 4, 2014 #

  5. i wish they would stop trying to tear everything down and put up those horrible looking condos

    Comment by w.s. maverick — 5:47 am June 5, 2014 #

  6. We love those little apartments! Would love to see them saved!

    Comment by theercs — 6:06 am June 5, 2014 #

  7. In my opinion, a landmark that is not well-maintained doesn’t deserve to be protected, particularly if it is not a distinctive example of a genre.

    Comment by JTB — 8:21 am June 5, 2014 #

  8. @JTB -

    Let’s hope you make it past 50 and are perfectly maintained or else someone might want to tear YOU down…..:)

    Comment by fauntleroy fairy — 8:44 am June 5, 2014 #

  9. Fauntleroy fairy – ouch that was a tad mean- JTB has a point in that the place is pretty darn run down. At some point, it is more expensive to fix – brick is not a no maintenance building material. You cannot get EQ insurance at any price if it is structural brick, and if it is wood frame construction, the brick facade is not insurable.

    Comment by WestofJunction — 12:06 pm June 5, 2014 #

  10. I would love to see these apartments preserved. They reflect the charm of the 1920s beautifully. A mix of old and new buildings along California will help maintain our sense of neighborhood and community, and help preserve our unique WS personality.

    Comment by wssz — 1:14 am June 6, 2014 #

  11. keep them up! No more tacky, ill-built townhomes, please.

    Comment by highland park resident — 1:11 pm June 6, 2014 #

  12. They’re pretty, but having lived in old apartments I bet they’re no fun to live in, especially if they’re competing against new units with modern conveniences like double paned windows and multiple power plugs per room. The rent they can ask will probably only go down, which won’t encourage any sane landlord to maintain them well, leading to further decline. Sometimes you just have to say goodbye to an old building.

    Comment by MacJ — 4:44 pm June 18, 2014 #

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