FOLLOWUP: Madison Development buys PCC West Seattle site, ‘exploring possible ideas’

May 26, 2015 at 1:22 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

1:22 PM: Exactly two months after we reported on the potential sale of the Admiral District site where PCC Natural Markets-West Seattle (WSB sponsor) has long been located, the sale has closed.

(WSB photo from March)
The buyer, as suggested by the documents we found in city files in March, is Madison Development Group, whose project Spruce (apartments and gym) just opened on the east edge of The Junction, three years after they completed Element 42 (also mixed-use) in The Admiral District. The purchase completion was confirmed today in this statement from a spokesperson for Madison:

Madison Development Group purchased the property located at 2741 California Ave SW on May 21, 2015 from its previous ownership, Development Services of America – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Services Group of America. We’re excited about this opportunity to expand our presence in West Seattle … We’ll begin exploring possible ideas for the site and don’t have immediate plans for any redevelopment.

The statement didn’t mention the price, but it’s shown on the county website as $5,750,000. The spokesperson confirmed that the purchase includes the parking lot, which is shown in county records as covering 29,000 square feet, while the store is 17,000 sf.

We have a request out to PCC for comment; no reply yet, but PCC CEO Cate Hardy (a West Seattle resident) had told us at the time of our March report that the store’s lease runs “through most of this decade” and that they had expected at the time to be introduced to and start talking with the site’s new ownership. It’s zoned NC2-40, which allows for mixed-use (residential/commercial) development with a four-story height maximum.

3:22 PM: A spokesperson for PCC says they have nothing more to say right now beyond what they told us in March.

See Áegis Living’s 4700 SW Admiral Way early-stage design plan

May 24, 2015 at 9:51 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

That’s the “early design guidance” document for Áegis Living‘s planned retirement center at 4700 SW Admiral Way, providing the most details yet on what the Redmond-based company plans for the former Life Care Center site. We first reported in November 2013 that Áegis had bought the site, and subsequently reported more details about the project over ensuing months, including this February 2014 report. According to the project page on the city Department of Planning and Development website, no public meeting is planned for the project because it’s going through “administrative design review,” which means the review is done by city staff without involvement of the Design Review Board, though written public comment is solicited and accepted. The document now available online summarizes the project:

The proposed project will demolish the existing structure and construct a new Aegis community composed of approximately 48 Assisted Living apartments and 32 Memory Care apartments.

Both the Assisted Living and Memory Care units will be grouped into smaller neighborhoods that focus on community activities and dining as well as events with the other neighborhoods. These spaces will include dining, living rooms, activity rooms, and a cafe – all of which are distributed throughout the building which will activate various portions of the façade. Outdoor gardens and terraces will be provided, allowing residents to have access to the outdoors.

The proposed project will be a three-story wood structure over a one-story concrete parking level. The terracing of the building and the utilization of the natural site grade will present a facade more in line with a two- to three-story structure at the adjacent street levels on SW Waite and SW Admiral.

A covered drop-off area will be incorporated along the driveway on SW Admiral Way for resident use. The front entry will be in close proximity to both bus stops along SW Admiral. Visitor vehicle access and staff parking will be accessed off of SW Waite Street.

If you can’t see it in the full design document by architects GGLO, embedded above (which also can be accessed on the city website here), this is the massing (size/shape) option described as “preferred”:

Perhaps of more note than before, due to the Admiral Way Safety Project discussion, 36 offstreet parking spaces are proposed for the building – mostly in a garage, with its entry off SW Waite. Also of note from the design document: “The proposed project aims to use a stucco facade in keeping with the client’s vision of a Mediterranean oasis.” And: “For an urban neighborhood the site has an extensive tree canopy. On site there is a steep slope with a dense ravine of trees on the south corner. This large stand of trees will be preserved and there will be limited disturbance of the steep slope areas.”

HOW TO COMMENT: According to the city website, the official notice of this will go out on Thursday (May 28th), and that will start a two-week comment period, through June 10th. You can get a jump on that by e-mailing comments to the assigned planner, Holly Godard, at, referring to project 3017747, 4700 SW Admiral Way.

West Seattle development: Charlestown Court comes down

May 22, 2015 at 4:49 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 81 Comments


4:49 PM: Twice nominated, and rejected, for city-landmark status, the Charlestown Court apartments across from the ex-Charlestown Café are coming down.

Townhouses will replace them, as we’ve reported previously.

5:40 PM: We’re adding images and backstory. Video:

And – thanks to Bryce for the tip that demolition was under way; unexpected at 4 pm on a Friday going into a long holiday weekend. This site has been on our watchlist for many weeks, and we’ve driven by daily to check for signs of impending teardown, but hadn’t been by today, until that tip.

Back in 2008, with a different demolition/development proposal pending for the site, the city Landmarks Preservation Board rejected a bid for landmark status, saying basically that it was nice-looking but not “special.” The proposal to replace it with a four-story apartments-over-retail building was scrapped later that year, and a new proposal emerged, one that would have preserved its distinctive facade:


(2008 NK Architects proposal incorporating Charlestown Court facade; eventually scrapped)
A land-use permit was granted in early 2009 but the project stalled in the economic downturn, and the apartments remained status-quo until early 2014, when we discovered a new teardown-to-townhouses proposal in the city files. Here’s the concept in the files, from architects S&H Works – 4 buildings, 2 townhouses in each one:

Last summer, as part of the process, Charlestown Court was again considered, and rejected, for landmark status. That cleared the way for the project getting under way now.

SIDE NOTE: Its block is about to have a whole lot of building going on – it’s across the street from the former Charlestown Café, with live-work and townhouses slated to fill that site, and a few doors down on the west side of California, demolition is expected soon at 3829 California, with a 29-unit apartment building to replace it. While demolition was under way to the north, we noticed firefighters training in the now-vacant building:

ADDED 9:54 PM: Sent by Jackie (who has also mentioned this in the comment section):

We saved the azalea, though! The kindest operator and my neighbor, who owns the truck, helped get it up and out of harm’s way. Thank you, Cajun Excavating! You made our day.

Meantime, we went back before sunset to see if the south side of the building had been taken down since we left; it had.

West Seattle development: Design Review date for 35th/Graham mixed-use building

May 21, 2015 at 3:41 pm | In Development, High Point, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

A Southwest Design Review Board hearing is now set for the mixed-use building planned on part of High Point’s most prominent undeveloped site, at 35th/Graham.

We last mentioned it here eight months ago, when it surfaced in the city’s online files. The outline on the project page hasn’t changed much since then; it now describes “a 4-story structure containing 89 residential units, 8,500 sq. ft. of office space and 1,500 sq. ft. of retail space located at ground level. Surface parking for 98 vehicles to be provided.” The “site plan” dated last month shows an L-shaped building stretching across all of the currently vacant 35th SW frontage, from the corner of Graham northward. The parking entry would be on the east side of the building. The rest of the sprawling site is still set for residential development – most if not all townhouses – but only the mixed-use building is involved in the Early Design Guidance meeting that’s planned for the SWDRB’s next meeting, June 25th at 8 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle. (As reported here on May 5th, the 6:30 pm project review that night is for the CVS drugstore project at 4722 Fauntleroy Way SW.)

UPDATE: SolTerra planning 125-unit, LEED Platinum building ‘Perch’ at 1250 Alki Avenue SW

May 20, 2015 at 12:25 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 18 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

ORIGINAL 12:25 PM REPORT: In a routine check of the city’s online files, we’ve found the first new triple-digit-unit development proposal in a while. This one’s on Duwamish Head, a 120-unit proposal planned for seven parcels, five of which currently hold single-family homes.

The project address is 1250 Alki Avenue SW [map] but the early-stage “concept” shows it stretches to 1262 Alki SW.

An unusual point: This is on the drawing board as a mixed-use building, with retail space included. That area of Alki Avenue has long been strictly residential. The early-stage information also mentions underground parking, and describes the building as 120 units and 4 to 6 stories, while also saying it’ll have to go through Design Review (no date yet). However, the “conceptual site plan” on file outlines:


Documents show the property as in the midrise zone, which the city says allows “limited commercial uses.”

The development team is listed as Seattle-based SolTerra and Portland-based Design for Occupancy Architecture. County property records show that Solterra bought the property from three separate owners in February and March, for a total of more than $5.3 million. It’s described on its website as a six-year-old firm that began “as a residential solar, living wall and green roofing company.”

2:11 PM UPDATE: We’ve just spoken with Melinda Milburn at SolTerra to get more information.

No rendering yet, she says, because design is in the very early stages. But SolTerra, she explained, is just starting to build sustainability-focused apartment projects – all designed to be certified as LEED Platinum, including “living roofs” and solar arrays. She says the company is “changing the way development works by hiring architects and contractors and all the Pieces under one company … everybody works together and you can build more efficiently.” Then, she explained, SolTerra will continue to own and manage the buildings.

This one, they’re planning to call Perch – “the idea is, to find your perch – to provide unique views to the tenants.” The sustainability features, she says, will help keep the units more “cost-effective and affordable.” The design features, she says, will ensure it’s a distinctive building that’s “not a box.” (The underground parking will meet the Alki code, she said – 1.5 spaces required per unit.)

As for the retail – Milburn said it’ll be “small.” A little store? Coffee shop? Restaurant? We asked. Something like that, she agreed.

Depending on how the permit process goes from here, they aren’t expecting to start construction until early 2016. While they already have a couple buildings in Portland, she said, they’re growing into the metro area here – where their Seattle offices are in SODO, near the West Seattle Bridge – by breaking ground on a building in Newcastle next month, and then one on Capitol Hill.

West Seattle development notes: 2626 Alki application, & more

May 14, 2015 at 1:04 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

We start with news from along Fauntleroy Way:

FAUNTLEROY/JUNEAU DEMOLITION: Within the past week, the teardowns to make way for the 5915-5917 Fauntleroy Way SW townhouses/rowhouse development have happened.

ANOTHER FAUNTLEROY CORNER ROWHOUSE: Rowhouses are popular on Fauntleroy. An early-stage filing proposes a six-unit rowhouse with five on-site parking spaces for 5601 Fauntleroy Way SW, right across Findlay from a relatively new rowhouse.

And from today’s Land Use Information Bulletin:

2626 ALKI AVENUE APPLICATION: 14 residential units, 5 live-work units, commercial space, and 23 parking spaces comprise this project, which isn’t done with Design Review yet but has filed for its Master Use Permit – that’s why a new city sign has just gone up on the west side of the site. (Here’s our coverage of its second Design Review meeting last July – no date yet for the third and possibly final.)

5608 23RD SW: This Land Use application proposes building a new single-family house in an “environmentally critical area” (ECA).

4564 53RD SW: This notice announces city approval of permission sought to build a three-story house in an ECA.

PUBLIC COMMENT OR APPEAL: The notices linked above all include links to information on how to reach DPD if you’re interested in either of those options.

@ Junction Neighborhood Organization: Spruce developer says ‘thank you’; City Light & Parks on unused sites

May 13, 2015 at 11:18 am | In Development, Neighborhoods, West Seattle news | 24 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

What for years was “The Hole” is now, for some, “home.”

Last night, the developer of Spruce (3922 SW Alaska), Tom Lee from Madison Development Group, was among the guests at the Junction Neighborhood Organization‘s monthly meeting. He wasn’t officially on the agenda and didn’t have a presentation, but did answer some questions and offer a few updates:

*With one tower open and another expecting its “certificate of occupancy” soon, 30 apartments already are leased. (Which might explain the moving trucks we spotted while photographing the site this morning, above. Unless they are for …)

*LA Fitness, the project’s sole commercial tenant, is expected to “soft open” this Friday, Lee said he’d been told, provided it passes its last few inspections, including one that will allow the club to fill its pool.

*JuNO’s suggestion of a dedication for Lezlie Jane‘s plaza artwork out front (featured here Sunday) might be possible when “all the improvements at the corner” are done in a month or so.

Lee told JuNO he was there mostly to say thanks: “Thank you to everybody for being patient with us – it’s been a long project, a sore thumb in West Seattle for a long time, but it’s very close to being finished now and we’re excited that it’s almost done.” (His company bought the site/project for $32 million in October 2011, three years after the project stalled under previous ownership and its previous name Fauntleroy Place.)

Also at JuNO – a discussion about City Light property:

Click to read the rest of @ Junction Neighborhood Organization: Spruce developer says ‘thank you’; City Light & Parks on unused sites…

Next Design Review Board meeting set for CVS at 4722 Fauntleroy

May 5, 2015 at 10:03 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

The Southwest Design Review Board‘s calendar has been empty since its last meeting in mid-April, but now that’s changed: The second review for West Seattle’s first CVS drugstore is on the schedule, for 6:30 pm Thursday, June 25th. It’s another Early Design Guidance meeting, since board members had enough concerns and critiques to not allow it to pass that stage the first time through, back in March (WSB coverage here; official city report here). Despite the site being zoned for 8 stories, the drugstore is proposed as a single-story, one tenant building (the land also will be rented, and the project team says the height limit is part of the lease), with 49 parking spaces. The June 25th meeting, which includes public comment, will start at 6:30 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle in The Junction.

West Seattle development notes: Whittaker’s 1st crane; Harbor Ave., Beach Dr. projects

April 27, 2015 at 11:29 am | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

Four development/land-use notes so far today:

FIRST CRANE @ THE WHITTAKER: As previewed last week, the first of two tower cranes planned for The Whittaker on the east edge of The Junction is going up today. It’s on the south side of the project and when we went by around 9:30 am, the installation operation was centered off the street at 40th/Edmunds, with no additional traffic effects except for some intermittent truck maneuvering. We’ll be checking back on it for an update later. This makes three cranes currently working in West Seattle, with the one at Broadstone Sky on the west side of 40th/Edmunds and the 4435 35th SW project.

ADDED: Above this line, our photo from noontime; below, a midafternoon photo courtesy of Eddie:

No date yet for the north-end crane.

1201 HARBOR SW: From today’s Land Use Information Bulletin, the city has approved the land-use permit for a 4-unit rowhouse at this location (map) in an “environmentally critical area” (ECA). That opens a 2-week appeal period; the LUIB notice includes links to the decision and information on appealing.

ALSO ON HARBOR SW: The construction-permit application is in for 3005 Harbor SW (map), a six-unit apartment building; that’s two fewer apartments than were planned when this project was first mentioned here in early 2014.

6001 BEACH DRIVE: Further south along the West Seattle shore, applications are in to demolish the single-family house that’s currently at this location (map) and build a replacement. The same project also has filed a land-use-permit application, because it’s in an ECA; that application says the house will have “surface parking for five vehicles.”

West Seattle development: 1st Whittaker crane next week

April 21, 2015 at 9:30 pm | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

Thanks to LB for noticing that tower-crane base installed at the site of The Whittaker (4755 Fauntleroy Way SW), and sharing the photo. Crane arrivals are of interest for a variety of reasons, from traffic effects on installation day(s) to the draw of spectators, so we checked with the project team: The first of its two cranes is set for installation Monday-Tuesday of next week (April 27-28). More details to come; no date yet for the second crane. Meantime, in case you’ve been wondering – Whole Foods Market remains the only retailer confirmed for the project, which also includes 389 apartments and 594 underground parking spaces.

West Seattle development: What’s coming down & going up

April 20, 2015 at 10:29 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 24 Comments

Development notes and updates – nothing major, but of interest to several neighborhoods:

40TH/OREGON: Demolition day today (thanks to Eddie for the tip) for a house mentioned here in November – a stucco-and-tile house more the type you’d expect to see in Southern California. Here’s the photo we ran then:

(WSB photo, November 2014)
The crew at the scene told us that salvagers removed the roof tiles before demolition. The house’s 4,600-square-foot lot is slated for construction of two single-family houses and two townhouses.

LAND USE APPLICATION FOR 4515 41ST SW: Not far from there, the memory-care facility proposed at 4515 41st SW has officially applied for a land-use permit, which opens another comment window – the notice from today’s Land Use Information Bulletin explains how. The project still has at least one more Design Review meeting ahead – no date yet; here’s our report on its most-recent review.

3112 SW JUNEAU: Also from today’s Land Use Information Bulletin, an application to build a three-story house on a smaller-than-usual parcel – this notice also includes information on how to comment.

4464 23RD SW: This early-stage proposal in the land-use files seeks a permit to “cluster-develop 4 single family homes in an ECA. Due to potential wetlands, steep slope, and potential landslide ECA’S we propose to reduce setbacks equivalent to cottage housing per 25.09.260. A future Unit Lot Subdivision would be submitted.” (ECA = Environmentally Critical Area)

STREAMLINED DESIGN REVIEW FOR 3215 CALIFORNIA: Across the street from the 3210 California megaproject, the old commercial buildings are vacant now, and one section of the future redevelopment is in line for “streamlined Design Review” – no meeting, but public comments will be accepted. It’s 3215 California SW, four townhouses and two live-work units. While its “design packet” isn’t available on the official DR site yet, you should be able to download the 26 MB PDF here.

4111 DELRIDGE WAY SW: Full details aren’t in the files yet but there’s an early proposal for a lot-boundary adjustment here – the site is on record as three lots – and a site plan showing the 106-year-old house there now is to be demolished, along with garages and driveways.

OTHER NOTES: Demolitions/replacements that recently showed up in city files: 5956 38th SW, 97-year-old house just sold & to be replaced by a new single-family house … a demolition permit is sought at recently sold 8443 12th SW, with “existing structures” to be removed and a permit sought for a new house, as well as a lot-boundary adjustment … 4103 Delridge Way SW (not far from a project mentioned above) has a demolition permit application and a note about two single-family houses to be built.

(P.S. – WSB development coverage is archived here, reverse chronological order.)

‘They listened’: 7520 35th SW eye-clinic project makes changes, passes Design Review at third meeting

April 17, 2015 at 1:36 pm | In Development, Sunrise Heights, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

(Renderings by PB Architects)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The planned Clearview Eye Clinic at 7520 35th SW won approval from the Southwest Design Review Board last night, after major design changes in response to previous critiques.

“They listened, hard,” observed fill-in board member Jill Kurfirst, who also had filled in during an earlier meeting on this project, “and hit it out of the park.”

The board still had suggestions, of course. Here’s what they saw, and how the meeting went:

Click to read the rest of ‘They listened’: 7520 35th SW eye-clinic project makes changes, passes Design Review at third meeting…

West Seattle development: Ex-Charlestown Café; 23rd/Findlay houses

April 6, 2015 at 11:31 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 6 Comments

Two West Seattle development-related notes today:

CALIFORNIA/CHARLESTOWN: Thanks to those who messaged us to say crews are on site at the former Charlestown Café site again today, continuing deconstruction work that started last week. No heavy equipment on site at last check – this part of the work is being done by hand – but we’re checking with developer Intracorp to see about the timetable for full demolition of the four-years-vacant building, which has been ravaged by tagging/graffiti vandalism at an increasing pace. A 27-unit complex, split between townhouses and live-work units, is planned; we noted its land-use-approval decision four weeks ago. ADDED 1:03 PM: Dan Swallow from Intracorp replied to our question: “Current activity is abatement. Actual demo and heavy equipment will be end of April/early May.”

HOUSES ON SLOPES: Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin has two notices for single-family houses proposed in the 5400 block of 23rd SW (map). The notices are out because, the city says, building on these sites would require a variance of the city’s Environmentally Critical Area rules regarding “steep slope buffers,” and each one says, “This comment period may be the only opportunity to comment on the environmental impacts of this proposal.” The notice for 5462 23rd SW is here; for 5456 23rd SW, here. The comment period is open for two weeks, until April 19th.

West Seattle development: New mixed-use project; 9 more notes

April 2, 2015 at 1:07 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 49 Comments

Starting this roundup of West Seattle development notes and updates – a new mixed-use project on the southeast edge of The Junction:

MIXED USE AT 4801 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: This is the site on the southwest corner of Fauntleroy and Edmunds, formerly a parking lot and now headquarters to operations trailers for The Whittaker, the 400-apartments-plus-Whole Foods-and-more project across Edmunds. We just found the online site plan and early-stage proposal for a plan with 7 live-work units fronting Edmunds, 2 ground-floor commercial spaces under 9 apartments facing Fauntleroy, and 21 more apartments on the south side of the site, with 6 offstreet vehicle-parking spaces and 6 bicycle spaces. The site is zoned NC3-40; architect is David Foster; notations suggest this will go through Design Review. Last May, we reported on an early-stage proposal across the alley, on the former preschool site at 4800 40th SW; it doesn’t appear to have advanced in the system since then, but records show that site and this one were sold together back in February for $3.5 million.

6416 ADMIRAL WAY: A boundary-adjustment proposal is in for land along Admiral Way on Alki Point, between 64th and 65th. It would create three sites of 3,725 square feet each, and a fourth at 18,270 square feet. While no building-permit requests are in yet, the documents in city files indicate two houses fronting Admiral will be torn down.

3054 63RD SW UPDATE: Also toward the west end of Alki, construction work is about to start here, with the existing structure here torn down two Fridays ago – thanks to Daniel for the photo:

Online permits say two townhouses and a single-family house are on the way.

3015 60TH SW: Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin includes notice of a decision approving subdividing one development location into eight lots. As is standard, the notice opens a two-week period for anyone who wants to appeal.

3811 CALIFORNIA SW: Demolition-permit reviews are completed for this brick 4-plex considered (and rejected) twice for landmark status. 8 townhouses are planned, and the lot-subdivision proposal is in.

Also from the demolition-permit files – permits recently granted or in the works:

3008 63RD SW: Demolition permit sought for a single-family house, to be replaced by six townhouses and a house.

3838 59TH SW: Demolition permit sought for a single-family house to be replaced by two rowhouses.

1529 44TH SW: Demolition permit is issued for this triplex, with four townhouses planned to replace it.

3219-3221 CALIFORNIA SW: Demolition-permit filings are in for these commercial buildings. Townhouses and live-work units are planned, as previously reported.

4011 53RD SW: Demolition permit for a house, though nothing’s on file about what if anything will follow.

West Seattle development: Project possibly ahead for PCC site

March 26, 2015 at 4:50 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 59 Comments

(WSB photo)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Will the PCC Natural Markets (WSB sponsor) location in West Seattle be the next Admiral District supermarket site to be redeveloped?

Making a routine check of city permit applications, we discovered a very-early-stage plan suggesting a new building is being contemplated for much if not all of the 2749 California SW site, where the current store and its main parking lot are.

But what it will be is too soon to say, as well as how/whether it will proceed.

One of the two documents in the public city online files so far suggests that the proposal is coming from Madison Development Group, the developer that is currently finishing Spruce at the Fauntleroy/Alaska corner once known as, when it stalled under previous ownership, “The Hole.” Kirkland-based Madison bought that site at auction and is completing a project with about 200 apartments plus an LA Fitness gym. Madison also built Element 42, the mixed-use building on the east side of the redeveloped Admiral Safeway property.

As for the PCC site:

We’ve been researching this for several days now. Before we found the document listing Madison as the prospective applicant, we inquired with PCC’s media-relations department, asking whether an expansion might be in store for the market, which opened in 1989 and underwent interior remodeling four years ago.

The reply came from Cate Hardy, the West Seattleite named CEO of PCC back in January. “We recently became aware that our landlord is in discussions about the possibility of selling the site where our store is located. We do have a current lease that is in effect for the next several years.”

We hadn’t realized that PCC didn’t own the property at California/Stevens; records show the landlord is Development Services of America, another of the companies owned by the late Tom Stewart, who had been headquartered in the West Seattle Corporate Center before moving to Arizona.

We continued rooting around for info and contacted PCC CEO Hardy again to clarify that whatever is in the works so far, it wasn’t a PCC-proposed project. She subsequently told us, “At this time, we have not been brought in to any conversations with the potential future owner, so do not have any real insight in to their plans or timing. Our lease is in place through most of this decade, and we would certainly hope and expect to be part of West Seattle well beyond that. We anticipate an introduction to the new owner in the near future, and will look forward to conversations with them about how best to ensure that West Seattle is well-served by PCC Natural Markets for years to come.”

We’ve reached out to Madison’s principals for comment; no reply yet. The “site plan” page in the online file shows only the most rudimentary of outlines for a possible new building covering the footprint of the current one plus most of the parking lot; Hewitt Architects is the firm listed as applicant, and the online file carries notations about a request for “paid zoning coaching” plus an expectation that any resulting project would require Design Review. The site is zoned NC2-40, mixed-use development with a four-story height maximum.

We’ll continue to keep watch.

Southwest Design Review Board doubleheader, report #2: 44th SW Studios advances to 2nd round

March 20, 2015 at 2:11 am | In Development, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(‘Character rendering’ of design option 3 – in the full-size version, the red lines point to text boxes)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The first West Seattle microhousing project to go through Design Review made it out of the first stage of the process in its first try on Thursday night.

Most of the concerns voiced about the 44th SW Studios project at 4528 44th SW in The Junction had to do with whether the building could be shrunk a bit in order to more creatively inhabit its site. (See the design “packet” here.)

In the end, the board voted unanimously to let it advance out of the Early Design Guidance stage:

Click to read the rest of Southwest Design Review Board doubleheader, report #2: 44th SW Studios advances to 2nd round…

Design Review Board doubleheader, report #1: West Seattle CVS sent back for second round of Early Design Guidance

March 19, 2015 at 8:11 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

In the first of two Southwest Design Review Board sessions tonight, the early-stage plan for the proposed West Seattle CVS drugstore at 4722 Fauntleroy Way SW was sent back, with the project team told to try again.

Key concerns included the fact that the project team hadn’t brought three truly distinct shape/size/siting options for the board to review, as required, and the fact that the one siting option would appear from the Fauntleroy/Alaska gateway nearby as if it were floating in “a sea of parking.” The entirety of the discussion, from public comment to board discussion, was underscored by the awkwardness of this 1-story building being on the drawing board for an urban, rapidly densifying area and a site zoned for much more than this project would bring – even though the early design does include some “plaza” area and could accommodate a food truck as community members had hoped. Pedestrian safety all around the site was also a key concern. (See the design proposal in the “packet,” here.)

Here’s how the meeting unfolded on the way to the “try again” decision:

Click to read the rest of Design Review Board doubleheader, report #1: West Seattle CVS sent back for second round of Early Design Guidance…

Neighborhood Conservation Districts to honor history? Next step includes 3 meetings, one in West Seattle

March 19, 2015 at 4:32 pm | In Development, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

(From the Seattle Municipal Archives, 1900 photo of store in 1600 block 44th SW)
Last fall, we reported on Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s study of whether Neighborhood Conservation Districts might help some areas work to keep some of their character, even in a time of growth and change. Now, he’s taking the next step – public meetings to find out if neighborhoods are interested in the idea. One of those meetings will be in West Seattle next month. Here’s the announcement:

Does your neighborhood have strong character that should be preserved, but isn’t eligible or appropriate for historic district status?

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is holding a series of Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) public meetings to gather resident input about establishing a program in Seattle. NCDs can be best described as a hybrid between Seattle’s Landmark Review Districts and our Design Review Program where unique neighborhoods can help dictate architectural style, square footage requirements, or other design elements.

Learn more & share your perspective:

· West Seattle, April 7, 6:00 p.m., High Point Center, 6920 34th Ave SW

Wondering how this relates to yesterday’s announcement about a “historical character survey” of The Junction? That *could* be a preface to a special district, although, as Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director Clay Eals replied when we asked a related question during yesterday’s briefing, creating a district would mean going through a “political” process – while the survey, for starters, has no strings attached.

West Seattle development: Preview Thursday Design Review projects – Junction microhousing, CVS – & other updates

March 18, 2015 at 10:00 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 14 Comments

We start this roundup with a preview of tomorrow (Thursday) night’s Southwest Design Review Board doubleheader at the Senior Center of West Seattle:

WEST SEATTLE CVS, 6:30 PM AT DESIGN REVIEW: First up will be the Design Review debut of 4722 Fauntleroy Way SW, the proposed CVS drugstore that turned up in city files in summer 2013. It’s a one-story, 12,200-square-foot building proposed with a drive-through and 49 parking spaces; the “packet” prepared for the meeting notes that the land is being leased with a stipulation that it not be developed to the full zoned height (8 stories). Above, the “preferred” massing (size and shape) – looking southeastward over the site – shown by the architect, Schemata Workshop. See the full packet here.

44TH SW STUDIOS, 8 PM AT DESIGN REVIEW: This project – first noted here in November – is also debuting at Design Review, and the “packet” prepared for the meeting shows it’s being designed as microhousing: 6 stories, 58 units, described with the city’s new term, “small efficiency dwelling units,” replacing a two-story eight-Since it’s the Early Design Guidance stage of the process, the board will be focused on its massing (size and shape); below is the “preferred option” as listed by the architect, Alloy Design Group.

See the full packet here.

Now, from reader tips and permit files, among other sources:

3829 CALIFORNIA SW: Thanks to Ted for the tip – a fence (the type that usually precedes demolition) is now up around these brick multiplexes. This site hadn’t been on our radar for a while because the apartment building proposed here seemed to have stalled; the site had gone up for sale shortly after passing Design Review in summer 2013. The planned 29-apartment, 29-parking-space project still has open demolition/building permits, through next year.

6315 42ND SW: This single-family house in Morgan Junction has been proposed for demolition for a while, but its replacement plan has changed a bit. Now six townhouses are proposed. It’s expected to go through the “streamlined Design Review” process – no public meetings, but there will be a chance for public comment.

3310 HARBOR AVENUE SW: An old industrial building at 3310 Harbor SW just north of the West Seattle Bridge has an early-stage land-use proposal described as demolition and replacement with a new three-story self-storage building.

Happening now: Triple demolition at Junction Flats project site

March 18, 2015 at 10:52 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

While Junction leaders were gathered at Husky Deli to launch a survey of the area’s historical character, another development project was ramping up just blocks away. Thanks to Sally and Carl for sending photos from 42nd SW in The Junction, just north of SW Oregon, where three houses are coming down at the Junction Flats site, weeks after the demolition equipment was brought in and parked in the houses’ front yards. This is right across the street from Hope Lutheran School, which has provided an audience of sorts:

It’s been more than a year since Junction Flats finished going through Design Review.

The 4-story building is planned for 80 units (all apartments except for two live-work units) and 52 off-street parking spaces.

How much transit = no need for parking? Mayor says he’ll vet new proposed ‘Director’s Rule’

March 16, 2015 at 3:36 pm | In Development, Transportation, West Seattle news | 47 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Mayor Murray promised today that his office will review the proposed development-rule change regarding transit availability and offstreet-parking requirements, formally known as Department of Planning and Development Director’s Rule 6-2015, before it takes effect.

We wrote about this week before last, before the comment period closed. First, here’s the proposed rule:

We asked the mayor about this during a wide-ranging conversation at City Hall today, his first in a series of planned meetings with “neighborhood press” (the invitation was sent widely; along with WSB, journalists from and the Capitol Hill Times were there – photo above – we’ll have a full report on the entire event tonight).

The West Seattle-based group SeattleNERD. (Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development) contends the proposed rule runs counter to what city Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner said in her ruling last year on their appeal related to an on-the-drawing-board development at 3078 Avalon Way SW. SeattleNERD’s official comment is in this letter:

Note Tanner’s observation (see section 15 in her conclusions) that the distinction would have to be changed by legislation – in other words, by a new action the City Council. But Director’s Rules don’t go through the Council; the mayor noted in our conversation this morning, however, that the buck stops with him, since departments such as the DPD report to him, and so that’s why it won’t go forward without mayoral review.

This also is becoming a campaign issue; City Council District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) candidate Lisa Herbold sent a news release saying she also has sent a letter to the DPD, saying in part:

I believe that the City Council did not intend for the DPD to interpret the Land Use Code in this way, and that the department should instead follow the Hearing Examiner’s December 1, 2014 decision. Further, the proposed rule will unnecessarily and unjustifiably reduce parking availability as West Seattle moves towards finding ways to make transit service more reliable, frequent, and consistent.

Read her letter in full here:

That is the point many have made here – while the ultimate goal of less car use and more transit use is supported by most, this area does not currently have the volume and range of transit, even with what Proposition 1 funding is about to pay for, to enable car users to renounce private-vehicle use en masse and eliminate the need for new parking to accompany new residential units.

So what are the next steps on deciding all this? We asked DPD that on Friday, and spokesperson Wendy Shark replied, “We will take the range of comments we received into consideration as we make final edits to the Director’s Rule. Then the Director will sign the final rule, it will be published on our website, and filed with the City Clerk.” (As for a timeline – we’re still waiting for the answer to our followup question about that.)

‘Urban villages,’ 20 years later: Encore presentation in West Seattle tomorrow night

March 16, 2015 at 12:45 pm | In Development, Neighborhoods, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

The “urban villages” neighborhood-planning strategy from the ’90s paved the way for much of the development you see today. As part of the city’s process to map the next 20 years, former City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck and his consulting firm presented a study in January looking at how the plans have played out, closely examining some of the designated urban villages around the city, including The Junction and vicinity, as well as Westwood-Highland Park. If you couldn’t make it to the downtown presentation but are interested in the topic, tomorrow night you get a chance to find out about it without leaving West Seattle, as Steinbrueck is a guest at the Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting – 6:30 pm Tuesday at the Senior Center of West Seattle (Oregon/California), all welcome.

West Seattle development: Land-use decision for project at ex-Charlestown Café site

March 9, 2015 at 8:59 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 21 Comments

(Rendering from final Design Review meeting, 11/2014, by Johnston Architects)
One West Seattle project on this morning’s city Land Use Information Bulletin: Land-use-permit approval is in for 3824 California SW, site of the four-years-closed Charlestown Café, where 27 townhouse/live-work units are planned. You can read the decision here, including conditions the project will have to meet, and a parking assessment (26 spaces are planned along the alley on the site’s east side; the study projects the townhouses and live-work units will generate nightly demand for 20+ more spaces, which are expected to be available on the streets alongside the site).

Publication starts the clock on a two-week window for anyone who wants to appeal the decision – the official notice links to this page explaining how. We’ll be asking developer Intracorp if they have a date yet for demolition of the four-years-closed café. Checking county records, we note the sale of the site closed last month, in two parts (different owners), just under $1.8 million for the half-acre on the north side, just over $1 million for the quarter-acre on the south side.

SIDE NOTE: This was not the first redevelopment proposal for the site; a 2006-2007 proposal to build a standalone Petco on the site had big trouble in Design Review and was finally scrapped in 2008; a mixed-use proposal emerged shortly after the café’s closure in spring 2011, but had fallen through within a year; the townhouse proposal was first reported here in June 2013.

West Seattle development: 4515 41st SW passes Early Design Guidance on second try

March 6, 2015 at 9:40 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

(Rendering by NK Architects)
From last night’s Southwest Design Review Board meeting: The proposed 66-bed Living Care Lifestyles memory-care facility at 4515 41st SW passed Early Design Guidance on the second try, after addressing issues brought up at the first review in December. This means the project will get at least one more look (the process is explained in the notice that preceded this meeting).

Board members and meeting attendees were generally in support of Option #4, observing that it had lost the “suburban” aspects that were criticized in the December review. Steve Fischer from NK Architects said the building had been turned around, with administrative offices, kitchen, and in-house hair salon at the front of the building instead of the back. The courtyard has been redone to start on the second floor. Public comment centered on two points: having the entry at street level rather than sunken, and parking. (Regarding the latter, questions involve what will happen on the street when the project is built with one curb cut where there are now three, and whether a short-term space might be available for family/caregivers/friends dropping off residents; the project itself will have 11 offstreet spaces.)

Board members’ guidance for the project focused on weather protection, especially around the entrance; exterior and street lighting; planned signage; facade materials (the project team says there’ll be brick on all sides); window design to ensure privacy for neighbors on all sides of the 4-story building; landscaping for privacy; how the alley side will be configured. When the project is ready for its next review, the city will post a meeting date; meantime, comments about the project can still be sent to the assigned planner, BreAnne McConkle, at until the final decision is issued, which won’t be until some time after the next meeting.

What constitutes ‘frequent transit,’ when it’s time to decide how much parking a development needs or doesn’t need?

March 4, 2015 at 2:44 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 30 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Back in December, we reported that the city was planning to rewrite its rule about what kind of transit availability is required before development projects to be built without parking. That was part of the fallout from a ruling by the city Hearing Examiner on a West Seattle group’s challenge to issues including a project’s use of multiple bus routes/stops to contend “frequent transit service” was available nearby.

That group, Seattle NERD, says the proposed “director’s rule” runs counter to the ruling in their appeal (we covered the appeal hearing – here, here, and here – and the ruling, last fall). This is all unfolding as the deadline for comment on the rule rushes up – it’s tomorrow (March 5th).

If you blinked, you might have missed the notice that the rewrite was ready for review and comment (we did, until Seattle NERD pointed it out) – it was linked from this notice in a recent edition of the city’s Land Use Information Bulletin, and lumped in with an unrelated proposed rule change, as per the screengrab below:

The overview of the proposed rule:


The purpose of this rule is to define the Department’s requirements for demonstrating that a development site is eligible to be developed without parking (pursuant to 23.54.015 Table A, Row J or Table B, Row M) or qualifies for a 50% reduction in amount of required parking (pursuant to 23.54.020.F) due to the site’s location within walking distance of frequent transit service (FTS).


To promote environmental and transportation policies of the Comprehensive Plan and support alternatives to driving, either no parking is required, or a reduction in the required amount is allowed for residential uses in multifamily and commercial zones in areas of the city where transit service is adequate to serve commute and non-work related trips.

The full text of the proposed rule is here. (Note that its example involves 35th/Avalon.)

It would, as Seattle NERD alleges, allow combination of bus routes and stops to arrive at a determination of “frequent transit” availability. The group points this out, including color-coded comparisons, in detail on the home page of its website. It’s pointed this out to City Councilmembers, and at least one, West Seattle-residing Tom Rasmussen, has promised to check it out.

This isn’t just an abstract process; the future of at least a few development projects awaits the decision – for example, the microhousing project planned at 3050 SW Avalon Way (with no offstreet parking) has been corresponding with the city on the issue.

If you have any comment on the proposed rule, e-mail Mike Podowski, whose address is on the notice – and again, tomorrow is the deadline.

West Seattle development: New plan for 4532 42nd SW, six years post-demolition

March 3, 2015 at 2:46 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

(WSB photo from November 17, 2008)
At 4532 42nd SW in The Junction, that house with history – a long-ago hospital, WSB’ers told us – came down in fall of 2008. At the time, a 35-residential-unit, 54-parking-space development was in the works. As happened to some other projects right around that time, it got shelved. Now a brand-new proposal has emerged, a mixed-use building with 84 apartments and 70 underground parking spaces. The project would also include the site of the small brick house-turned-office at 4536 42nd SW, placing the building immediately north of Capco Plaza (QFC/Altamira).

(WSB photo, taken this morning)
According to the early-stage site plan that just turned up in city files, the building’s parking garage would have an entry on the same alley used for the Capco Plaza garage, and the residential entry on 42nd would be just north of the alley. This will require Design Review – no date yet. It’s an NK Architects project, as are the two noted below:

SIDE NOTE: This proposal’s emergence means three projects are now in the works for the two-block stretch of 42nd between Genesee and Alaska in the heart of The Junction. Construction equipment has been parked for a while outside two of the three houses scheduled to come down for 80-apartment Junction Flats on the west side of 42nd just north of Oregon; just south of Oregon, 4505 42nd SW, with 41 apartments and 9 “lodging” units, won Design Review approval earlier this year.

West Seattle development notes, from demolition to Design Review

February 26, 2015 at 2:32 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | Comments Off

West Seattle development notes today include this demolition work:

TEARDOWN TO … ? That 1911-built house has just been torn down at 37th/Hinds; thanks to Diane for the tip.

What’s on file online with the city mentions both demolition and “additions and alterations to existing single family residence including attached garage,” rather than a teardown/rebuild, so we’re not sure exactly what’s going to follow.

OTHER DEMOLITION NOTES: A permit is granted for tearing down a duplex at 5917 Fauntleroy Way SW, one of two neighboring sites with rowhouses ahead … a permit application is in to demolish a house and commercial building at 4038 California SW, where the city notes say 7 units are planned, two of them live-works.

DESIGN REVIEW NOTICES: We’ve already published word of both of these reviews scheduled for March 19th, but in case you missed it, the formal notices are in today’s Land Use Information Bulletin:

****CVS drugstore project: This is filed at two addresses, 4722 Fauntleroy Way for the building and 4721 38th SW for additional parking, and both reviews will be held at 6:30 pm March 19th at the Senior Center of West Seattle. (Our most-recent story is here.)

****Junction apartment building: The 60-unit building proposed at 4528 44th SW will be reviewed at 8 pm March 19th, same location. We first reported on this plan last November.

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