FOLLOWUP: City goes public with its new development map

July 21, 2015 at 3:38 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

Three weeks ago, we noted the city Department of Planning and Development‘s announcement that a development-tracking map was in the works. Today, the map has gone public.

(Screengrab from DPD’s ‘Shaping Seattle’ map)
It’s called “Shaping Seattle,” and you can click any dot on the map to see aspects of a project that’s in or has gone through Design Review, including the most-recent design proposal, a timeline of meetings and decisions, and how to comment on the project. We just spun through what it shows for West Seattle and noted a few glitches – a project you see on the map might be active, or stalled, or even already built, and that won’t be readily obvious unless you follow the development files day in and day out (one example of “stalled,” 2310 California SW), so be sure to read the fine print and check the dates. But take a look for yourself by going here. This comes eight months after a private technologist, Ethan Phelps-Goodman, created something similar, Seattle In Progress; we talked with him recently and he’s continuing to refine and add on to what he’s created.

Design Review: Junction, Admiral projects to be reviewed this Thursday; plus, our report on last week’s reviews of 4532 42nd SW and 5414 Delridge Way SW

July 21, 2015 at 10:48 am | In Development, West Seattle news | No Comments

This Thursday, the Southwest Design Review Board meets again in West Seattle, just one week after its last meeting – a two-week gap is more common, but the recent schedule’s been tousled. We have toplines from the two reviews at last week’s meeting, but first, a quick look at the projects on the agenda this week:

6:30 PM Thursday – 4801 Fauntleroy Way SW. 21 apartments, 7 live/work units, 950 sf of retail space across from the south side of The Whittaker. Previous WSB coverage here.

8 PM Thursday – 4700 SW Admiral Way, the Aegis Living proposal for an 80-unit assisted-living center on the site of the former Life Care Center. Previous WSB coverage here.

Both meetings on Thursday night (July 23rd) are at the SWDRB’s usual meeting spot, the Senior Center of West Seattle (entrance on Oregon SW just east of California SW); both have public-comment periods. Design packets are not yet posted for the projects (though they are supposed to be by now, this close to the meetings) – check back at the pages we’ve linked to each address above.

Last Thursday (July 16th), we covered the board’s reviews of two projects, in reverse order of how they had been listed on the DPD website, 4532 42nd SW first and then 5414 Delridge Way SW, because of what a DPD rep said was a mix-up involving notices sent by postal mail. Ahead, summaries and results of the two reviews, both of which were for the Early Design Guidance phase, which means the board looked at characteristics such as size and shape, NOT a finished look for either building:

Click to read the rest of Design Review: Junction, Admiral projects to be reviewed this Thursday; plus, our report on last week’s reviews of 4532 42nd SW and 5414 Delridge Way SW…

City seeks dismissal of developer’s lawsuit over assistance for tenants of to-be-demolished West Seattle Junction building

July 17, 2015 at 4:28 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A new development in the lawsuit filed by a West Seattle development firm over the city’s contention that it owes compensation to tenants of a Junction apartment building it plans to demolish: The city has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, saying that since it hasn’t even moved forward to enforce the compensation issue, it’s too soon for the developer to sue – first it would have to challenge the enforcement action, if that ever happens. broke the story of the lawsuit last month; it was filed by an entity of West Seattle-based development firm Blueprint against the city and against the tenants of 4528 44th SW (King County Assessor’s Office photo, above).

As first reported here last November, that 8-unit building is proposed to be torn down and replaced by a building with about 60 apartments. (The microhousing project passed the first phase of Design Review in March.)

The city issued a Notice of Violation on June 5th against Blueprint 4528 LLC, saying that it was violating the city’s Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance by not obtaining a Tenant Relocation License, which could have enabled compensation to the seven tenants as required if demolition is displacing renters; the company replied that the tenants weren’t being displaced by demolition, because they all have leases that expire in December, and the project won’t start until after that. The city’s filing for dismissal says that the company should make that case if and when enforcement is sought, not before that: “Other than being frustrated that the city issued a NOV, Plaintiff is not harmed by the NOV, or for having to wait for the City to take enforcement action,” the filing says.

No response by Blueprint 4528 LLC is on file yet; the dismissal motion was just filed on Wednesday afternoon. A hearing on the motion is set for September 2nd.

Want to follow the process as city pursues more housing via zoning changes? Here’s the next step

July 16, 2015 at 10:43 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 30 Comments

Following up on Monday’s much-discussed mayoral announcement (WSB coverage here) of proposals the city hopes will lead to more housing, particularly more affordable housing: Most if not all of the proposed changes have to go through the City Council. Its members now have a new set of hats to wear while considering those changes: The Select Committee on Housing Affordability. The agenda is now out for its first meeting, next Monday (July 20th) around 2:30 pm (after the regular afternoon council meeting). Linked in the agenda are several documents, most of which went public with Monday’s announcement; one you might want to take a close look at includes this list of proposed multifamily/commercial zoning changes:

While most of this has been widely described as “adding one floor” to current zoning, note what’s proposed for the zone currently known as NC-85 – much of the heart of The Junction is zoned that way, as is part of Avalon, and that generally allows up to 8 floors. If this part of the new proposals is approved, that zone would fold into NC-125 – meaning up to 12 floors, four more floors beyond what’s now allowed. (If you’re not familiar with the term FAR in the table, that is short for floor-to-area ratio, explained here.) This has NOT been written into proposed legislation yet, so public hearings, counterproposals, and votes are still some distance off.

Meantime, we’re working on a separate followup looking at some of the other proposals including (but not limited to!) all the confusion and conflicting statements regarding what’s proposed for single-family zoning.

West Seattle development: Microhousing proposal on 36th SW

July 13, 2015 at 9:27 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 52 Comments

Today you can expect to hear a lot about housing, construction, and zoning, as the long-awaited Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee report is going public at City Hall at 11 am. We’ll have the details when available. In the meantime, new project proposals continue to surface in city files daily, and we have another one to mention today:

MICROHOUSING ON 36TH SW: A brand-new early-stage plan in the files would replace that 95-year-old triplex at 4122 36th SW (map) with what’s described as a “4-story apartment building” featuring “small efficiency dwelling units” (SEDU), the official name for the studios more commonly known as microhousing. The site is zoned Lowrise 3; the potential number of units is not mentioned in what’s been filed so far. No offstreet parking is planned; it’s not required because of its proximity to what’s considered “frequent transit.”

SIDE NOTE: Two SEDU buildings are under construction in West Seattle right now – 5949 California SW (approximately 40 units) and 3268 Avalon Way SW (62 units), which is next to one of the two already-open SEDU buildings, 3266 SW Avalon Way.

West Seattle redevelopment: Harbor project under way; new plans for California, Fauntleroy, Charlestown sites

July 9, 2015 at 2:02 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

Four residential-redevelopment notes this afternoon:

1201 HARBOR SW PROJECT UNDER WAY: Harbor Avenue has had many proposals but not much action for a while. This one at 1201-1205 Harbor Avenue SW is now under way after demolition of two old houses last week (WSB photo above)city files show a 4-unit rowhouse on the way. (UPDATE: After publishing this, we received a rendering from the architects Allied 8:

You can also see a daylight version on the firm’s website.)

REDEVELOPMENT @ 5440 CALIFORNIA SW: From the city files, a new proposal to demolish this 92-year=old single-family house and “accessory unit,” to be replaced by three live-work units, two townhouses, and two single-family homes.

5652 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: Redevelopment also continues along Fauntleroy Way, where a 101-year-old single-family house and “accessory structure” are now planned for demolition and replacement with three single-family houses.

3026 SW CHARLESTOWN: In the Luna Park area, there’s an early-stage proposal on file for a 10-to-12-apartment building on this site that’s just uphill from Avalon.

Development rules @ Seattle Council: ‘Low-rise corrections’ get final OK; ‘lot boundary adjustments’ notice to be discussed this afternoon

July 7, 2015 at 1:21 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

Updates on two development-rules issues @ Seattle City Council:

‘LOW-RISE CODE CORRECTIONS’: That’s the video from Monday afternoon’s shorter-than-usual full City Council meeting, with just one item of note on the agenda: The “low-rise code corrections” bill got final approval, 8 to 1. These are tweaks to the rules for development in “low-rise” zones (the backstory is in our June 1st report). The “no” vote was West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who proposed a long list of amendments before the earlier committee vote but only got three of them through, and expressed disappointment today that no other councilmembers had come forward with potential changes. He later published his full statement online, here. Councilmember Kshama Sawant voiced concern about affordable housing in low-rise zones being torn down and replaced by “luxury units,” but she voted for the bill.

LOT-BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENTS – NOTICE FOR NEIGHBORS? This afternoon at 2 pm, the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee gets briefed on a followup to some rule changes last year regarding “lot-boundary adjustments” – which, as the briefing memo acknowledges, can have this effect: “Development on sites created through LBAs have sometimes surprised neighbors who were unaware that a potential development site existed. To address that concern, Council indicated that it would consider whether notice requirements should be established for LBAs.” The briefing will include a mention of three options to consider for how neighbors are notified, if at all:

Lot Boundary Adjustments notification

This is NOT a formal proposal yet, so no vote will be taken. If you want to watch live, it’ll be on Seattle Channel, cable channel 21 or online, coming up at 2 pm.

Design Review updates: City’s making a map; 3 West Seattle meetings rescheduled; what happened at last week’s doubleheader

July 1, 2015 at 10:21 am | In Development, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Updates today on Design Review, the only city program that regularly allows for public meetings on some development projects:

THE CITY’S MAKING A MAP: Linked from the newest monthly Department of Planning and Development newsletter, this announcement:

In July we will unveil a new online map that provides locations and detailed information of active Seattle Design Review projects. Our Shaping Seattle: Buildings map gives users the ability to click on a project to:

View design specifics
Find the building status
Comment on the project
Find related Design Review meetings

Users will also be able to see what the project will look like and download project documents to their computer. With this information, residents can be well informed on our projects and be involved in the design process.

No mention of whether this is linked to or inspired by the privately created, similarly missioned app Seattle In Progress.

UPCOMING DESIGN REVIEW MEETINGS – ONE NEW, THREE RESCHEDULED: Another one has just been added to the running schedule – at 6:30 pm August 6th, the memory-care facility proposed for 4515 41st SW is scheduled to come back before the board.

While checking the city site, we also noticed three project reviews have been rescheduled, including two that were supposed to go before the board tomorrow (but now there’s NO July 2nd meeting on the schedule):

-4700 Admiral Way SW is now scheduled for its Early Design Guidance review at 8 pm July 23rd – this is the 3-story, 80-unit Aegis Living memory-care/assisted-living project. (The DPD website indicates the notice with the revised date will go out tomorrow.)

4532 42nd SW is now rescheduled for 8 pm July 16th – this is the new 6-story, 89-apartment proposal for the site behind the Capco/Altamira/QFC building, and the revised notice about this should go out tomorrow, too.

5414 Delridge Way SW – This is now set for July 16th at 6:30 pm (one week earlier than previously scheduled). It’s proposed as a 4-story building with 7 residential units and 1,100 square feet of commercial space.

All of the above reviews will be at the Senior Center of West Seattle (Oregon/California).

LAST THURSDAY’S DOUBLEHEADER: While we weren’t able to have a reporter cover the doubleheader meeting last Thursday (June 25th), we do have some information. First, the CVS drugstore planned for 4722 Fauntleroy Way SW advanced out of the Early Design Guidance phase on its second try. If you’re interested in seeing how the discussion went but couldn’t get to the meeting either, we have it on video:

The second review that night (not on video) was the first Early Design Guidance look at 6058 35th SW, a 4-story building proposed for 89 residential units, 8,500 sf of office space, and 1,500 sf of commercial space at High Point’s most-prominent remaining piece of real estate. According to the city planner assigned to the project, Tami Garrett, the board decided this needs to come back for a second round of EDG. No date yet; we’re watching the calendar.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST … if you’ve read this far, you might be interested in the city’s ongoing review of the Design Review program. Go here for a chance to tell them what you think.

West Seattle development: 2nd tower crane for The Whittaker

June 29, 2015 at 9:05 am | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | Comments Off

9:05 AM: As reported here earlier this month, today is installation day for the second tower crane on the biggest construction project under way in West Seattle, mixed-use The Whittaker at Alaska/Fauntleroy/Edmunds. This one’s going up on the north end of the project, two months after installation of the first one at the site’s south end. The installation staging is happening primarily on 40th SW, so it’s not affecting a major arterial right now, but an engine from temporary Fire Station 32 was parked on the street for quicker access while this is under way.

The Whittaker will include almost 400 apartments and nearly 600 parking spaces, as well as retail including Whole Foods Market (no other tenants have been announced so far). The only other project in West Seattle with a tower crane right now is the mixed-use 4435 35th SW.

1:03 PM: Thanks to Matt for this photo:

That’s the first crane in the foreground at right.

Goodbye, Department of Planning and Development; hello, Office of Planning and Community Development

June 23, 2015 at 12:48 pm | In Development, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 20 Comments

Mayor Murray is breaking up the Department of Planning and Development, and longtime director Diane Sugimura is retiring. Those are the bottom lines from an announcement this morning at City Hall. The mayor is creating a new city department, the Office of Planning and Community Development, that is supposed to have the big picture in terms of planning – not just construction/development but also transportation, among other things – and dismantling DPD, whose other functions such as permitting will be handled by a department to be named later. Read the full announcement ahead:

Click to read the rest of Goodbye, Department of Planning and Development; hello, Office of Planning and Community Development…

2 more West Seattle projects have Design Review dates: 4801 Fauntleroy Way SW, 5414 Delridge Way SW

June 23, 2015 at 11:20 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

Days or even weeks before the formal notices of Southwest Design Review Board meetings are sent out, the dates appear on the city Department of Planning and Development website, which is where we find two more early alerts, for a doubleheader meeting at the Senior Center of West Seattle on July 23rd. Both projects will be reviewed for Early Design Guidance (EDG), first of the Design Review process‘s two phases:

4801 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: This former parking lot currently being used for The Whittaker‘s construction-project trailers (map) has its own future project proposal, as we first reported in April, and it’s now set for the 6:30 pm spot on the July 23rd SWDRB agenda. Above is David Foster Architects‘ early version of the “packet” for the meeting, as found in the city’s online files; keep in mind that since the meeting’s a month away, it might change. In the packet, the project is described as a “four-story mixed-use building with 30-40 apartments, 2-8 retail or live-work spaces. Between 0 and 7 parking spaces.” (Projects can be somewhat fluid in the EDG phase, depending on which of the potential size/shape options are viewed favorably by the board – if you browse the packet above, you’ll see the three variations proposed so far.)

5414 DELRIDGE WAY SW: No packet yet for this project that we first wrote about in February; a house (map) north of Cottage Grove Commons is proposed for demolition and replacement with a four-story building including seven residential units, 1,100 square feet of commercial/office space, and seven surface parking spaces. It’s the 8 pm project on the board’s July 23rd agenda.

West Seattle development: Revised CVS design; Whittaker’s 2nd crane; another South Delridge plan

June 17, 2015 at 3:01 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 26 Comments

Three West Seattle development notes this afternoon:

REVISED CVS STORE DESIGN: One week from tomorrow – at 6:30 pm Thursday, June 25th – the Southwest Design Review Board will again take an “early design guidance” look at the planned CVS drugstore at 4722 Fauntleroy Way SW, and the “design packet” with the revised proposal is now available online – see it here. Board members’ first look at potential size/shape options in March ended with a “try again” directive (WSB coverage here); this project’s big challenge is seen as the the owners from whom CVS is leasing the land will not allow a mixed-use project, though the site is zoned for it, so the project team is expected to design it in a way that will still fit with a densifying neighborhood drawing increased foot traffic, and the new “preferred plan” is described as one with a “pocket park” feel – take a look at the packet and see for yourself. Public comment is welcome at the June 25th meeting, which will be at the board’s usual meeting place, the Senior Center of West Seattle.

The CVS is planned right across the street from the biggest project under construction in West Seattle, for which we also have an update:

(Recent photo by Long Bach Nguyen; Whittaker site is in lower-center)
THE WHITTAKER’S SECOND CRANE: One crane has been up at the south end of The Whittaker‘s Edmunds/Fauntleroy/Alaska site for almost two months, and now the second is on the way. The second crane’s base is up and a project-team spokesperson tells WSB its installation is expected on Monday, June 29th.

SOUTH DELRIDGE PROJECT: Last week, we had first word of a South Delridge site, 9021 17th SW, where a 31-apartment building is proposed. Today, city files have turned up a new early-stage plan on the next block to the west – one house to be demolished on a 4,400-square-foot lot at 9043 18th SW, with eight townhouses to subsequently be built on that lot and the vacant site (already subdivided into four parcels) to the south of it.

City Council committee OKs low-rise-zoning changes, with 3 amendments

June 16, 2015 at 4:16 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(Screengrab from Seattle Channel webcast; we’ll replace it with meeting video when theirs is up)
Under major scrutiny from concerned parties including neighborhood land-use activists and developers, the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee has just voted to pass an amended version of the bill proposing changes to low-rise zoning – more like, changes to past changes. (We previewed all this before the committee’s public hearing two weeks ago.)

City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen proposed eight amendments that city staffers said restored some of what was changed from the original version of the bill. Five were turned down, three were approved – involving counting exterior corridors/stairways as part of a building’s “floor-area ratio” (Amendment 1 text here), thresholds for rounding up number of units per land-area square footage (Amendment 6 text here), and side setbacks required for rowhouses (Amendment 8 text here).

The full council is expected to vote on the amended proposal after the 4th of July weekend; seven of the nine members participated in today’s committee meeting.

West Seattle development: 31 apartments on the South Delridge drawing board; other project notes from around the peninsula

June 11, 2015 at 9:31 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 21 Comments

Notes from the city Department of Planning and Development files, including two new early-stage projects we’vd, updates on ongoing projects, and proposals linked in today’s Land Use Information Bulletin:

31 APARTMENTS AT 9021 17TH SW: A 10,000-square-foot lot in South Delridge that changed hands last month is proposed for a 31-unit, 31-parking-space apartment building. AKA Investors LLC bought the Lowrise 3-zoned site in May for $475,000. Notations on the early-stage city project page for the apartment building suggest it will go through Design Review. This is in the pre-application stage so you’re not likely to see a formal notice any time soon. Before last month’s sale, this site previously had a pending proposal for two houses and two townhouses.

4 TOWNHOUSES ON PIGEON POINT: 3856 21st SW is now proposed for four townhouses; previously, a six-unit rowhouse building was planned. This too is in the pre-application stage.

Also on Pigeon Point:

LAND USE APPROVALS FOR 3816 & 3806 22ND SW: Near from the aforementioned townhouse plan, these approval notices – here and here – were published today for two single-family houses and a two-unit townhouse (3816) and four single-family houses (3806). Publication of the notices opens a two-week period for appeals, a process explained here.

In Morgan Junction:

NEXT STEP IN REZONE FOR TOWNHOUSES ON CHURCH LAND: The LUIB includes this DPD decision that no significant environmental effects are expected from a list of proposed amendments to the city Comprehensive Plan. The list includes the amendment that would set the stage for a rezone of the parcel on which the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene in Morgan Junction wants to partner with a local builder to build six townhouses that it would sell to raise money to renovate its 42nd/Juneau building (the prospective building site is immediately to the south). We’ve been covering the process since the proposal first turned up almost two years ago. A comment/appeal period is now open; this page explains that process.


DESIGN REVIEW NOTICES IN TODAY’S LAND USE INFORMATION BULLETIN: We’ve published word of these reviews already, but the formal notices finally arrived in today’s city-circulated LUIB:

-4700 Admiral Way SW, 6:30 pm July 2nd – as reported here most recently last week, this is for the 3-story, 80-unit Aegis Living memory-care/assisted-living project.

-4532 42nd SW, 8 pm July 2nd – as reported here last week, this is the new 6-story, 89-apartment proposal for the site behind the Capco/Altamira/QFC building.

Both of those Design Review Board meetings will be at the Senior Center of West Seattle. And an update:

FORMER CAFE SITE: Thanks to Bryce for this photo of the former Charlestown Café site, fully cleared, one week after the two-day demolition was completed:

27 live-work units and townhouses will be built here by Intracorp, which is also building the block-long Admiral East Apartments project a few blocks north on California SW.

West Seattle development: City issues notice for ‘egregious’ violation – house going up over what was approved as just a garage

June 5, 2015 at 5:09 pm | In Development, Fauntleroy, West Seattle news | 63 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

What’s happening on a lot in the 8400 block of 41st/42nd SW in Upper Fauntleroy isn’t your standard case of one house down, two bigger houses go up, neighbors get upset. Even a city spokesperson calls it “egregious” – a house going up without a permit, on a site first approved just for a larger garage.

We hadn’t heard anything about this site since mentioning it here one year ago, until neighbors contacted us earlier this week.

After the site and its old brick house were sold last year, a lot split was sought. The new owner built a house on the south side, at 8437 41st SW. For the north side, the owner filed an application in October for a permit granted in January to build a “2,258-square-foot, 35-foot-tall detached underground garage,” at 8454 42nd SW.

A neighbor wrote in e-mail, “In January 2015, the construction began. The 35-foot detached garage was striking in this neighborhood of single-family homes. However, once the garage was completed, the building continued first with one level of living space, followed by a second, and then a week ago, on May 27, 2015, yet a third level of living space was added to this structure. Now this structure, permitted as a detached garage, is a four-story, 10,000 square foot monstrosity. Additionally, the property has 42nd Ave on the westside and 41st Ave on the eastside. On both streets, the structure has clearly marked garages.” Atop this story is the 42nd SW side; here’s the 41st side:

Neighbors complained to the city Department of Planning and Development, which confirms it posted a “stop-work order” on Tuesday.

Click to read the rest of West Seattle development: City issues notice for ‘egregious’ violation – house going up over what was approved as just a garage…

West Seattle rezoning: South Morgan Junction, Pier 1 potentially back in play

June 4, 2015 at 4:11 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

From the city files, two potential West Seattle rezones, both on sites where rezone proposals have come up before but not gone through for various reasons:

7001 CALIFORNIA AVENUE SW: City records show an early-stage proposal for rezoning this almost-one-block business district in south Morgan Junction in 2008 was eventually canceled. Now we’ve found a new early-stage proposal in online files. This time they’re looking at rezoning from LR2-NC (lowrise 2/neighborhood commercial, explained here) – to NC3-30 (neighborhood commercial, explained here). No formal application yet, but the property owners have met with the city. If they do apply for and get the rezone, the documents say, the owner would pursue an unspecified plan involving “green building and affordability.” Rezones need City Council approval, so if this goes ahead, watch for commenting opportunities; the land Use file to watch is 3020646.

PIER 1 ‘COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AMENDMENT’: This is actually a potential prelude to rezoning, and it’s a retry, having been rejected by councilmembers last year. The owners of an industrial-zoned strip of land between Salty’s (WSB sponsor) and Jack Block Park, whose future has long been in play, say it’s a “hole in the continuity of the business and residential environment along Harbor Avenue” and want to change its designation in the city’s Future Land Use Map. The proposal is one of eight Comprehensive Plan amendments that the City Council will consider for next year. From the notice in today’s Land Use Information Bulletin:

Proposal from AnMarCo to amend the FLUM to remove an area waterward of Harbor Avenue Southwest and south of SW Bronson Way known as Pier 1 from the Duwamish Manufacturing/ Industrial Center and to change the designation of that area from industrial to commercial/mixed-use.

You can read the full document about the proposal here. Rezoning the land would be a two-part process; the comprehensive plan would have to be amended, and then a rezone could be sought.

As a first step, the council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee will have a formal public hearing on this and seven other CP amendments (none from West Seattle) at 2 pm July 7th, City Hall downtown. If you can’t be there, today’s notice explains how to send a written comment. More backstory on the site is in this WSB story from 2012.

West Seattle development: Ex-Charlestown Café demolition day

June 3, 2015 at 11:06 am | In Charlestown Cafe, Development, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

(WSB photo)
FIRST REPORT, 11:06 AM: We’ve been following the final run-up to the demolition of the former Charlestown Café – and contrary to our most recent information from Intracorp, which plans to build 27 live-work and townhouse units on the site, the teardown is happening now. Just started – thanks to the person who tipped us; the heavy equipment wasn’t there when we drove by around 9 am.

The Charlestown Café closed in April 2011, after its final few years brought a variety of challenges:

Less than three years before it closed forever, it was shut down for five months following a fire in February 2008. That fire happened just days after the café ownership found out a retail-development proposal that had threatened to cost them their lease had fallen through, giving them a reprieve; first word of that proposal had brought a groundswell of public support via a community campaign in early 2007 (in our early days of covering news on WSB). After the restaurant closed in April 2011, a mixed-use-development proposal surfaced but didn’t go far; two years later, the Intracorp plan appeared, and that’s what’s going forward now.

ADDED 12:57 PM: The aforementioned community campaign eight years ago was spearheaded by Mark Wainwright, a former Admiral Neighborhood Association president who has been involved in other community-advocacy efforts along the way too. We asked him today for some thoughts on the end of the line for what was the Charlestown Café:

Was walking the dog last night and decided to wander by… I walked up the not-so-good alley (which I believe is being improved – yea!) and gazed over the old and beaten remains of the Charlestown Cafe.

Its easy to look forward to the demolition, as the building is a mess, but I do remember those breakfasts…

And how important a place it was when people in the surrounding blocks needed a warm place with food and coffee during that big winter storm and power outage we had years ago.

When Petco proposed a store on that site, I wasn’t too excited. I wasn’t a dog owner back then (am now), but regardless I wasn’t excited.

Lot’s of people weren’t excited – for lots of reasons. People wanted the Charlestown Cafe to stay exactly as it had been. People didn’t like the idea of a national retailer. People though a big store and big parking lot was a waste of space for housing. People thought lots of things.

But we managed to come together as a group – and not make it about Petco or other stuff. We came together out of a desire to support our neighborhood, to support our “Mickey Mouse pancakes,” and to show everybody involved in that whole thing that we gave a damn. And Petco walked away.

I learned a lot – about organizing people, about our neighborhood, about Larry Mellum (Charlestown Cafe owner), about the property owner (the name escapes me, but I think they own a ton of Seattle lots and live up in Edmonds). Most of all, I learned that people can make a difference.

I’m not down on this new development – it was going to happen sooner or later, and I’m looking forward to what comes of it. I’ll freely admit that I’m all for building more housing, because I believe that our current high prices (rent and for sale) are (at least partially) a result of high demand and low supply.

But really, I’m excited about the future. Maybe my daughter’s next best friend will live there. Maybe a teacher will live there. And maybe we can all make some new memories together there in the future.

Good memories, tho. And good Mickey Mouse pancakes.

West Seattle development updates: New projects along California SW and Delridge Way, plus a Design Review doubleheader

June 2, 2015 at 9:31 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

Eight development notes plus a photo:

EARLY DESIGN GUIDANCE SET FOR REVIVED JUNCTION PROJECT: Three months after we reported that 4532 42nd SW was active again, six years after demolition of the biggest building on the site, its new plan is on the Southwest Design Review Board schedule. As noted here in March, that new plan is for a six-story building with 84 apartments and 70 underground parking spaces, along with 3,350 square feet of commercial space. It’s set to go to the SWDRB at 8 pm July 2nd, Senior Center of West Seattle, right after this next project …

DESIGN REVIEW UPDATE FOR AEGIS LIVING: A week ago, we reported that the online files for Aegis Living‘s 80-unit memory-care/assisted-living center at 4700 SW Admiral Way showed it would go through Administrative Design Review – no public meeting. Since then, a listing showed up for a 6:30 pm July 2nd public meeting with the SW Design Review Board. We sought clarification from the city planner on the project, Holly Godard, who replied that the project WILL go before the board. The error/dual listing is unexplained, though, and even resulted in this apparently erroneous notice in the city Land Use Information Bulletin. The July 2nd public meeting seems to be for real, so if you’re interested in this project, mark your calendar. And send e-mail comments to

Now, updates from two arterials. First, California SW:

NEW CALIFORNIA SW PROJECT: A mostly empty lot – just a storage building on its alley side – at 5431 California SW is proposed for three live-work units fronting California, with a two-unit townhouse building behind them, and two single-family houses behind that.

THIRD DEMOLITION IN TWO BLOCKS IN TWO WEEKS: The house at 4031 California SW came down last week, less than two blocks south of the 3811 California SW and 3829 California SW teardowns days earlier:

Thanks to Bryce for that photo. A two-unit townhouse and one single-family house are planned on the site.

CALIFORNIA/CHARLESTOWN FOLLOWUP: We reported last Friday night that Intracorp said it was about to get going on the ex-Charlestown Café site. The announcement didn’t have specifics on the exact demolition timetable, though; project spokesperson Dan Swallow has since told WSB that it’s expected one week from today (June 9th). **UPDATE, WEDNESDAY MORNING** As we’re covering in a separate story, the teardown is under way NOW.

Lots of redevelopment along Delridge Way, too. From north to south, three projects to mention:

4107-4111 DELRIDGE WAY SW: These two addresses are proposed for a three-unit rowhouse fronting Delridge and two single-family houses behind. (Side note: Records show that in 2008, this site was proposed for a six-unit “cottage housing” redevelopment.)

5013 DELRIDGE WAY SW: Land-use proposal for a five-townhouse building, with ground-level carports, on a vacant lot; the site plan shows the entrance will be via one curb cut on Delridge.

8139 DELRIDGE WAY SW: This house will be demolished, with four single-family houses scheduled to replace it.

FINALLY – THE WHITTAKER, FROM THE SKY: Local pilot/photographer Long Bach Nguyen, who often generously shares images via WSB, just sent this new aerial looking southward over the construction site at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW:

We pinged a project spokesperson today to see if there’s anything new on this project (future home of 400 apartments, Whole Foods Market, other TBA retail, and 600 underground parking spaces), but haven’t heard back yet.

Rule changes for ‘lowrise’ development? Public hearing @ City Hall tomorrow

June 1, 2015 at 3:04 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Most of our reports on development are about individual projects – from buildings with hundreds of apartments, to lots where an old house is torn down and replaced with several new places for people to live. The latter type is what comprises much of what’s happening in West Seattle right now – especially in zones known as “low rise,” especially along major streets such as California Avenue SW. (That’s the light-olive-green shading in the map above – see the map full-size here.)

Once in a while, there’s a big-picture issue – like this: Tomorrow, a package of potential rule changes for development in low-rise zones goes before the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee for a public hearing, and neighborhood activists around the city want to be sure that you know about this before it’s too late to have a say, whether pro or con.

The changes known together as the Low-Rise Multifamily Code Corrections have been in the works for more than a year, starting as an attempt to fix “unintended consequences” of changes made to low-rise zoning in 2010. Those changes in turn had resulted from concerns tracing back two years further, to 2008, mostly centered on what was then the prevalent design for townhouses.

City Councilmember Mike O’Brien leads the PLUS Committee now. You can read his summary of the current proposed zoning changes by going here. Toward the end, he mentions what didn’t make it into the final revision of the proposal, and one of those points is key for neighborhood leaders who have been working on this issue: An extra 4′ of height for buildings with a floor that’s partly underground. Their concerns about the allowable size of buildings also include wanting those “partially below grade” levels not to be exempt from a project’s “Floor Area Ratio” – explained by the city as “the amount of floor space developed on a parcel compared to the size of the property.” They also want FAR exemptions removed for “unenclosed stairs, hallways, and breezeways.” And they are concerned about how the changes will calculate out to how many units are allowed per lot – again, we’re not talking about single-family zoning here, but about multi-family zoning, so this is already land where townhouses and rowhouses are allowed, so the question is, how many units will be allowed.

One citywide group called Seattle Speaks Up collected signatures in various neighborhoods to help kickstart the revision process but now says in this letter about tomorrow’s hearing that what’s coming up for a hearing tomorrow is “a hollowed-out shell in lieu of genuine substantive legislation,” blaming lobbying by developers. The developer/builder-supported organization Smart Growth Seattle has sent its own letter asking that the entire package be scrapped, calling it “unnecessary from the beginning, born mostly of red herrings from angry neighbors.”

And then all this is also being viewed through a prism that wasn’t much of an issue during the 2010 round of low-rise zoning changes: The city’s shortage of affordable housing. The proposed zoning changes also have been reviewed by a subcommittee of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) advisory group; HALA was convened by the mayor to come up with recommendations for how to build more affordable housing. Here’s their letter about the code changes, supporting some and opposing others (the attachment it mentions is here).

If you are interested in any aspect of development, growth, and housing, and aren’t already up to speed on all this, take a look – here’s the entire text of the Council bill – and tell the City Council what you think. If you can’t be at tomorrow’s 2 pm public hearing during the PLUS Committee’s meeting (second floor of City Hall downtown), you can e-mail Councilmember O’Brien at The committee isn’t expected to vote before its subsequent meeting on June 16th.

West Seattle development: Ex-Charlestown Café site work expected to start Monday

May 29, 2015 at 10:53 pm | In Charlestown Cafe, Development, West Seattle news | 18 Comments

ORIGINAL REPORT, FRIDAY NIGHT: Four years after the end of its run as a restaurant, the much-vandalized ex-Charlestown Café building is in its final days. Dan Swallow from development firm Intracorp told WSB late tonight that they plan to “break ground” on the site Monday; city records show the demolition permit was issued a week and a half ago. 14 townhouses and 13 live-work units are planned for the site; the Southwest Design Review Board OK’d the plan six months ago. (WSB file photo)

MONDAY UPDATE: The actual building demolition is not planned until next week, we’ve confirmed on followup.

West Seattle development: Tower crane removal; 4 project updates

May 27, 2015 at 4:46 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

Five notes today:

CRANE COMING DOWN: Thanks to Eddie for the tip and an early photo – the crane at 135-apartment Broadstone Sky (40th/Edmunds) is coming down today, nine months after it went up. (That leaves two cranes in West Seattle – one at The Whittaker, one at the Trinsic project at 4435 35th SW.) Also coming down:

3829 CALIFORNIA SW DEMOLITION: Teardown started yesterday afternoon and continued this morning for this future site of a 29-unit, 29-offstreet-parking-space apartment building. While this project appeared to have stalled after Design Review approval in 2013, we reported back in March that it appeared to be back in play. It’s in the redevelopment-aplenty block of California, just steps south of the demolished-last-Friday Charlestown Court fourplex, and across the street from the much-vandalized, awaiting-demolition ex-Charlestown Café.

Also demolished this week for redevelopment:

(Photo courtesy Rob Jacobs)
4107 SW OREGON: On this site just east of the north end of the Oregon 42 apartment building, two buildings, each with two townhouses, will be built.

Also in The Junction:

PERMIT APPLICATION FOR 44TH SW MICROHOUSING: The 58-unit microhousing (aka Small Efficiency Dwelling Units) building at 4528 44th SW has officially applied for its master-use permit, and the notice will be in tomorrow’s Land Use Information Bulletin, according to the city website. The project passed Early Design Guidance in March (WSB coverage here).

5431 CALIFORNIA SW: New proposal for this mostly vacant lot between Alaska and Morgan Junctions: Three live-work units fronting California, a two-unit townhouse behind them, and two single-family houses behind that.

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

May 26, 2015 at 1:22 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 62 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 | 22 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.

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