West Seattle, Washington
Last Wednesday night’s Southwest District Council meeting included the only scheduled West Seattle discussion of the proposed $290 million, 7-year housing-levy renewal/expansion – though levy details had only been announced hours earlier. As reported here, city reps at the meeting were asked for a second West Seattle meeting, with more lead time – and it’s just been announced by Department of Neighborhoods district coordinator Kerry Wade:
The meeting will be hosted by the Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon Street) and will take place on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 (6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.). A flier will be created next week announcing the meeting details.
Bring your questions and comments. As explained Wednesday night, the city hasn’t finalized the levy details yet, nor has it decided whether to put the levy before voters in August or November.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Hours after Mayor Murray officially unveiled the $290 million, 7-year Housing Levy renewal/expansion, it was the centerpiece of this month’s Southwest District Council meeting.
First – here’s the overview flyer:
The briefing was led by Office of Housing director Steve Walker, with colleague Maureen Kostyack. He first tried to explain where HALA (the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) and the levy overlap, and where they don’t.
Voters have elected “to tax themselves for affordability” since 1981, he said, segueing into the levy-specific discussion.
This will cost you about $10/month if you have a home around $480,000 in value – double the $5/month for the housing levy that’s expiring, according to Walker, who added: “In the end, the levy’s about people … How can we create an opportunity for our children to be able to live in Seattle? … At the pace we’re going, that’s not possible. How can we be sure people aren’t displaced by the community and the community connection they have?”
Kostyack summarized the three areas the levy is intended to address (the city team was supposed to have a slide deck but couldn’t get the setup to work, so they improvised without it):
5:20 PM: If your phone rings at 6 pm, tonight or Thursday – here’s what it might be about:
Join us for the Mayor’s telephone town hall to talk about the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, or HALA for short. We will be calling over 50,000 people in their homes today and Thursday, but if you want to make sure you are on the call, just call the number below. You will have a chance to ask questions and learn more about the HALA recommendations.
Tuesday, February 2nd: (855) 756-7520 Ext. 31029# at 6 p.m.
Thursday, February 4th: (855) 756-7520 Ext. 31028# at 6 p.m.
5:35 PM: In related news, the mayor’s office just announced that details of the Housing Levy renewal will be out at a noon event tomorrow. Considering that the first official community discussion of the levy is at 6:30 pm tomorrow here in West Seattle, seemed the announcement was going to have to be made by Wednesday afternoon.
If you weren’t able to get to last night’s presentations about the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) – organized by the Morgan Community Association with a West Seattle-wide focus – here’s the video we recorded so you can watch/listen. Both presentations were by city staffers – above, Jesseca Brand presented an overview of HALA (57 minutes); below, Nick Welch talked about backyard cottages and mother-in-law apartments (49 minutes), aka Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs) and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).
The presentations were preceded by a short MoCA business meeting, with some updates on neighborhood projects/issues – separate story about that later.
The recently renovated apartment complex over Jefferson Square, now known as Elan 41, has just gone on the market. The listing price: $24.5 million. Property records show the 78-unit complex last changed hands for a higher price, $27 million, in 2005. In 2009, we reported on an agreement for Seattle Public Schools – which owns the land on which Jefferson Square, and everything above it, is built – to sell the apartments’ “air rights” – we’re checking to see if that deal was ever completed. (WSB file photo)
P.S. One of the flyers accompanying the Elan 41 listing reveals a recent sale along Avalon – which in turn explains the building’s name change; we’d noticed recently that Vue at 3261 Avalon Way had become Marq. County records don’t show a sale yet, but the flyer from Elan 41 listing agent McQuaid Real Estate says the 111-unit building completed in 2014 sold last month for $38.5 million.
It was one of the biggest Seattle-city-government stories of 2015 and it’s going to be even bigger in 2016: How will the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda – aka HALA – affect you, your neighbors, your future neighbors? What do you need to know? How can you be part of the discussions and decision-making? The Morgan Community Association is hosting a briefing geared for all interested West Seattleites, right after an abbreviated version of their group’s quarterly meeting on January 20th, and they’ve sent early word so you can get it on your calendar:
Our first meeting of 2016 starts off with a bang! We will have a short regular MoCA meeting from 6:00 to 6:45 pm to do normal business and officer elections. At 7:00 pm we will transition to a West Seattle-wide presentation on two topics which will affect all neighborhoods; the implementation of the HALA “Grand Bargain” and upcoming code changes governing Mother-in-Law apartments and back yard cottages. All West Seattle community people are invited to attend and learn more about these and how to stay informed and get engaged. It is expected that the Mother-in-Law/Backyard Cottages code changes will go before City Council in late February, so now is the time to learn more.
Here’s the agenda for the HALA briefing/discussion:
Special West Seattle-wide Meeting: “HALA” – What’s It All About ??
HALA: An Overview, The Grand Bargain, Focused Outreach and Next Steps
Jesseca Brand, City of Seattle Planning
Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADU’s or Backyard Cottages) and Attached Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs or Mother-in-law Apartments)
Nick Welch, City of Seattle Planning
The meeting will be in the lower level meeting rooms at The Kenney (WSB sponsor), 7125 Fauntleroy Way SW.
A development note from South Delridge: The second Early Design Guidance meeting for the proposed apartment building at 9021 17th SW now has a date – January 7th. That will be less than three months after the Southwest Design Review Board took its first look at the building on October 15th (WSB coverage here), sending it back for a second round of EDG after saying it seemed too much like a “fortress” . The building is still proposed for four stories and 31 units, according to the city website, which shows that a revised design “packet” for the next meeting is not yet available. The review meeting is set for 6:30 pm January 7th at the Sisson Building (California/Oregon) in The Junction.
You’ve heard about it, read about it, and might still not be entirely sure what’s proposed in HALA – the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, announced by Mayor Murray in July after months of work by an advisory committee. The City Council will be considering its recommendations, and changes to them, in the months and years ahead. Get a closer look at this month’s Southwest District Council meeting, 6:30 pm Wednesday at the Sisson Building (home to the Senior Center of West Seattle), with city rep Jesseca Brand. Also on Wednesday’s agenda, the Seattle Nature Alliance, officer elections, and a holiday potluck – all welcome.
Ncompass is offering a free workshop about planning, designing and building backyard cottages for rental income on Thursday, November 12th, from 7-9 PM, at West Seattle Office Junction, 6040 California Ave SW, Suite B.
Learn about the history of backyard cottages in Seattle, current City codes and regulations, financing options, planning and design considerations, return on investment, and how to select an architect and builder.
RSVP at email@example.com
For the first time in a few years, a new apartment building is proposed for the south/east side of the heart of SW Avalon Way: An early-stage application has just appeared in city files for 3039 SW Avalon Way (map), to replace the duplex in the photo above. The north/west side of the street has seen far more action in recent years, with three projects in various pre-construction stages (30, a fourth under construction, and a fifth complete, but on the south/east side, nothing’s been proposed since the completion of Vue at 3261.
The documents on file so far for the new proposal say “approximately 60” units are envisioned for 3039 Avalon, with 20 underground parking spaces. Prolific multifamily-specialist firm NK Architects is attached to the project, which will, according to notations, go through Design Review. The site is zoned MR (midrise) like most of this stretch of Avalon. Since this is in the early stages, no formal application is in yet, so there’s no official comment period, but if you have an early comment, you can e-mail PRC@seattle.gov and refer to project #3022717.
To see what other new projects and updates we’ve reported on lately, scroll through the WSB development-coverage archive here.
(WSB photo from August)
New developments in a neighborhood group’s challenge to what would be West Seattle’s biggest microhousing building, 104 “bedrooms” at 3050 SW Avalon Way: The city and developer Columbia Builders are both asking the Hearing Examiner to dismiss the latest appeal filed by Seattle Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development (NERD), which was founded in the neighborhood just north of Avalon. The group’s fight, now in its third year, continues to center on the city’s definition of microhousing and the reviews that are required, or not required, because of it. In this case, while the 3050 Avalon project will include 104 “bedrooms,” each a unit with a private bathroom, they’re clustered around shared kitchens, allowing the city to consider it 14 “dwelling units.” That means it falls beneath thresholds for environmental and design review, because in both categories, that threshold is 20 “dwelling units” in the midrise zone where the property is located.
This latest appeal relates to an announcement in early August, as reported here – an “interpretation” which Seattle NERD had requested, regarding whether the development really could be viewed as “14 dwelling units” and therefore exempt from those reviews. The city said yes:
The question raised for interpretation was whether the 104 bedrooms in the proposed building should be regulated as separate dwelling units. Each of the bedrooms has a private bathroom. Early versions of the plans showed counters with sinks in each bedroom, outside the bathroom, but those features were eliminated before the plans were approved. The interpretation concludes that the individual bedrooms are not designed and arranged as separate dwelling units, and that the proposed building is appropriately regulated as a 14-unit apartment building based on the plans as modified.
On the environmental front, the site does include what the city considers a “steep slope,” which triggered a limited environmental review, but otherwise, the city issued a “determination of (environmental) non-significance.” A full environmental review would include issues such as traffic effects; this building, like most microhousing buildings, was designed with no offstreet parking.
The appeal currently is set for a November 5th hearing before the examiner, if the dismissal motions aren’t granted. The points on which they are argued are complicated but basically contend that the examiner doesn’t have jurisdiction, and that SeattleNERD made a procedural error by not appealing the “underlying decision” on the issue. You can read all the documents in the case here.
The project has now been in the pipeline for almost three years; we first noticed and mentioned it in November 2012. It’s been almost exactly a year since the city told its developers – among others – that, as the result of a court ruling, they would have to undergo Design Review if they didn’t change their plans. This project, and the microhousing building under construction at 3268 Avalon, did that, and continued on through the system.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“It is not shared housing, a treatment facility, or a halfway house. It is simply an apartment building where all tenants commit to a sober lifestyle and all drug and alcohol use, possession, or consumption is prohibited.”
That’s how the new owners of the waterfront Beachwood Apartments at 4027 Beach Drive SW (map), a company called Seattle Sober Living, explain what they’re doing with the 10-unit building. After we received questions from readers who were curious and/or concerned after rumors started circulating in the community, we contacted SSL to request an interview, and got a quick, affirmative reply. The company bought the building earlier this year and stresses that it will be operated as an apartment building – albeit one whose tenants must meet a particular condition.
“Founded by local families, Seattle Sober Living is a local company focused on providing housing options that support individual tenants’ sobriety,” SSL’s David Gould told WSB in an interview conducted via e-mail. “This effort is deeply personal for the organization’s founders, as each have been touched in a profound way by loved ones struggling with addiction. As such, Seattle Sober Living’s focus is on helping everyday people – our family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors – to successfully live drug and alcohol free.”
Gould says this type of housing is “almost impossible to find in Washington State.” (The website says that was a problem for the company’s five founding families, who “had to send their loved ones away to find a safe and sober environment.”) But, he emphasized repeatedly in our exchange, this remains an apartment building, with units being leased to tenants – not a halfway house or transitional housing:
Three notes, two of which are updates on projects we’ve mentioned before:
(Rendering: S + H Works Architecture & Design)
DESIGN REVIEW FOR APARTMENT BUILDING AT 9021 17TH SW: Back in June, we reported on a plan for a 31-unit, 31-parking-space apartment building at 9021 17th SW in South Delridge. The project is now on the Southwest Design Review Board‘s schedule, as the second review of the night on Thursday, October 15th, 8 pm at the Sisson Building (home of the Senior Center) in The Junction.
THREE TOWNHOUSES BEHIND 2336 44TH SW: New project just popped up in the system – a plan to demolish a building described as a “garage/carriage unit” (see the bottom photo here) behind this address, on the alley between 44th and California SW, and replace it with three townhouses.
THREE HOUSES REPLACING 1 AT 6715 CALIFORNIA SW: Back in January, we mentioned this south Morgan Junction plan. This week, work has begun, with the 97-year=old house on the site torn down, and the rest of the site-clearing work under way.
Haven’t had much time this week to report on development/housing, but four quick notes:
FIVE NEW HOMES REPLACING ONE ON HIGHLAND PARK WAY: Brand-new early-stage proposal just turned up for 7717 Highland Park Way (between Holden and Portland), including the vacant parcel to its west, 8,500 sf total, demolishing the 72-year-old house shown above and replacing it with what’s described as “five small 3-story single-family homes with rooftop decks.” Here’s the configuration on the preliminary site plan filed with the city. Watch for a notice at project #3022246.
Now, three projects in varying stages of completion/construction, all of which now have names:
FAUNTLEROY LOFTS: This is the name for the just-complete-and-now-renting microhousing (Small Efficiency Dwelling Units) project to open in West Seattle, 5949 California SW. Thanks to Diane for pointing out to this Craigslist listing announcing the opening, declaring the building on a “quiet street,” and listing rents from $950 (for a 200-sf unit) to $1500. That’s furnished and includes all utilities plus wi-fi, we should note. No off-street parking in the building; the ad declares, “Bike parking is available and street parking is easy to find in the surrounding neighborhood.”
SPEAKING OF PARKING … remember the kerfuffle over the 30-unit, no-offstreet-parking apartment building at 6917 California SW? Neighbors challenged it and eventually settled with the builder. Now, it’s almost done and has a name, according to the sign that went up this week: Viridian.
This is NOT microhousing – it’s self-contained studios, about 300 sf, developer Mark Knoll told neighbors in late 2013. No rental listing yet that we can see (in ’13, Knoll guessed units might go for about $700). Meantime, if you look up the word, it seems to mean either a “bluish-green pigment” – not unlike the building’s color – or a slang definition that could be paraphrased as “good-looking, cold-hearted guy.”
RALLY ROUND: We also noticed earlier this week that the townhouse/live-work development under construction since June on the site of the former Charlestown Café now has a name: Rally. The 27 units will be available for sale this winter, according to the Rally website.
The 6-story, 58-unit microhousing project planned to replace an 8-unit apartment building at 4528 44th SW in The Junction is the first West Seattle project in a while to make it through Design Review in the minimum amount of meetings. The Southwest Design Review Board has approved it after one Early Design Guidance-phase meeting (in March) plus, last night, one Recommendation-phase meeting. One member of the public offered comments. Patrick Sand was at the meeting for WSB; toplines ahead:
(One of the city’s graphics for today’s announcements, explaining the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing)
When Mayor Murray announced his housing plan and the report from the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda advisory committee in mid-July, it was pointed out that the proposals will roll out over a period of up to two years. Two of the first proposals to be pursued were detailed today by Mayor Ed Murray and City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, whose announcement says they’re expected to “create 6,000 units of affordable housing” in the city as part of what was called a “grand bargain” involving developers and housing advocates. The announcement (which you can read in full, here) continues:
… “Seattle is experiencing unprecedented growth, and our challenge is to build fairly and affordably. We want sustainable, socially inclusive and economically diverse neighborhoods that are walkable, close to transit and job centers. To build these equitable communities, we must ensure that our teachers, nurses, hotel and restaurant workers who work in the city can also afford to live here,” said Mayor Murray. “With this legislation, Seattle – for the first time ever – will require that all new development in the city will pay for affordable housing. This is a bold, progressive proposal where growth itself will support affordable and environmentally sustainable neighborhoods. I am eager to work with the Council as we engage the public on this proposal as it moves through the legislative process.”
“I continually hear from people in our city struggling to keep up with rising rents. The Grand Bargain represents 6,000 desperately needed, new affordable units that we cannot build fast enough—especially not for those in need today,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Chair of the Select Committee on Housing Affordability. “I will be working with my colleagues on the City Council to act as swiftly as possible on the legislation behind the Grand Bargain.”
There are two major components to the “Grand Bargain.” The first establishes an Affordable Housing Impact Mitigation Program (AHIMP) – commonly referred to as a commercial linkage fee – that will directly fund the construction of new affordable housing by requiring developers to pay a fee on every square foot of new commercial development. The linkage fee will range from $5 to $17 per square foot, based on the size and location of the commercial development.
The second part of the “Grand Bargain” calls for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) for new multifamily developments, requiring five to eight percent of units be affordable for residents earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for 50 years.
An Early Design Guidance packet is on file and a date is set for the Southwest Design Review Board’s first look at “Perch,” the mixed-use project proposed for 1250 Alki SW: 6:30 pm October 15th. (Remember as you look at the “packet” above that Early Design Guidance is for size and shape – once those are determined, the details follow.)
We first reported on the proposal three months ago; it’s the first new 100+-residential-unit project proposed in West Seattle in a few years – all the others in the pipeline are under construction or complete. The developer is SODO-based SolTerra, which began as a company focused on sustainability-focused systems such as solar power, and has branched out into housing. Their designs are aimed for LEED Platinum and Perch, SolTerra says, will be designed to that standard “at minimum.”
From the packet, key points of the project:
+/- 125 residential units
Five stories of residential floors over a ground floor of lobby space, support, service and public parking
188 Parking Stalls for residents and visitors, in a below-grade garage
Dedicated space for car-sharing programs
Ample bike storage for residents and exterior bike parking for guests
Extensive vegetated green roof with a variety of seating areas and scenic viewpoints
Solar panel array on the rooftop
Rainwater collection cistern
Potential native marine bird habitat on the rooftop
Public green space along Alki Ave. with multi-purpose programmed uses for the neighborhood
Rear courtyard space at the foot of the hillside with a water feature and lush plantings
Five 2-story residential structures – described in the packet as three multiplexes and two single-family homes – would be demolished to make way for this development. A SolTerra spokesperson tells us that in addition to the Design Review process, they also will be seeking feedback from community members including the Alki Community Council.
It’s a tax-break offer that many developers have long accepted from the city: If your project’s being built in certain areas, and you allot a certain percentage of units to a certain number of tenants at a certain income level, you can get the residential portion of your building (not the land) exempted from property taxes for 12 years. It’s called the Multi-Family Tax Exemption, and the council soon will have to decide whether to renew it for the fourth time since its inception in 1998. That discussion officially starts with a briefing during the end of this morning’s 9:30 am meeting of the council’s Housing Affordability, Human Services, and Economic Resiliency Committee. It’s a lead-up to a meeting next month at which the committee will consider legislation renewing the program.
Here’s what the committee will be shown and told this morning – first, the slide deck with stats on the program, which it says involves almost 2,000 rental units now, with almost 2,000 more “in the pipeline”:
Here’s the council-staff memo:
Wondering which West Seattle projects got the MFTE? From the newest list on the city website, dated August 14th:
*Footprint Avalon (microhousing)
*Footprint Delridge (microhousing)
*Youngstown Flats (WSB sponsor)
The list does NOT include under-construction projects that will be getting the MFTE – the program’s annual report included an expanded list that does, but only as of last December, so some might be missing. The additional projects on that list are:
*Spruce (open now so we’re not sure why it’s not on the first list)
*Admiral East Apartments (on the list as 3210 California)
*3050 Avalon (microhousing)
*Footprint’s Morgan Junction project (microhousing)
*Trinsic West Seattle
*Lofts at The Junction
Right now, September 20th is the date for the committee to look at renewal legislation. If you’re interested in watching this morning’s discussion, the meeting will be live on Seattle Channel, cable channel 21 or online stream; it’s the last item on the agenda.
New from the city files today: An early-stage proposal for 10 houses and one duplex at 3710-3722 21st SW on Pigeon Point (map). The north side of the site faces a Seattle Parks-owned slope over the West Seattle bridge; the south side, SW Charlestown. The 12 new homes would replace two single-family houses, one more than a century old, the other, 58 years old. Documents in the online files suggest the site’s been under consideration for development for at least two years. Brad Khouri is the architect.
Four projects in this roundup of West Seattle development notes:
WESTWOOD APARTMENTS: A preliminary “site plan” has just been filed for a proposed 32-apartment, no-offstreet-parking building on a vacant triangle of land at 2221 SW Barton Place, southeast of Westwood Village. Notes in the city’s online files say the project would require Design Review.
ALKI TEARDOWNS: Three century-old beach bungalows have just been demolished on a site long planned for redevelopment in the 3000 block of 63rd SW in Alki, just across the south-side alley from the commercial building that is home to Cassis (WSB sponsor), Cactus, and Alki Urban Market.
An earlier proposal for the site passed Administrative Design Review more than six years ago. Six townhouses and one single-family house are to be built.
1307 HARBOR PROJECT FILES APPLICATION: This is the site that includes the former Alki Tavern, now closed for almost 2 1/2 years. The mixed-use proposal went through the first stage of Design Review in spring 2014; though no date is set, its next Design Review is getting closer, as city files show the developers have applied for their master-use permit. The project is now described as including 15 residential units, fewer than the original proposal.
4122 36TH SW MICROHOUSING FOLLOWUP: When we first reported last month on this proposal to replace a triplex with a microhousing building, the proposal didn’t specify a number of units. Now it does – approximately 24.
From today’s Land Use Information Bulletin: A sloped site in East Admiral that was first proposed for a multi-house subdivision almost eight years ago is moving more deeply into the review/approval process. A 14-house proposal is now in the works for 3601 Fauntleroy Avenue SW, which is hard to find on online maps, but documents in the project file show it’s in the vicinity of 33rd SW & SW Spokane, just northwest of where Admiral Way meets the West Seattle Bridge, and you can get a better idea from this map in the plans filed online:
The land, currently undeveloped, is zoned single-family 5000. The LUIB notice says the application would require “administrative conditional-use” approval because of “clustered housing in a steep-slope area,” and an environmental determination. Comments on the revised application will be accepted through August 26th, says the city (unless someone requests and is granted an extension). It proposes 14 houses with offstreet parking for 28 vehicles, to be developed by West Seattle-based Inhabit LLC, which was also the applicant when this site appeared in DPD records as a possible 21-house project in August 2007, and is shown in county records as owning other undeveloped parcels nearby. You can comment via this form linked to the city notice, or via contacting the assigned DPD planner, Michael Dorcy, firstname.lastname@example.org.
(WSB photo from January 2014)
Back on the market: Madrona Glen, the future subdivision site at 2646 SW Holden that now holds one crumbling, vandalized old house and is approved for 18 new ones. It was re-listed for sale a week ago, asking price $2,160,000. The plan for 18 houses (each three stories, with a two-car garage) got key approvals last September, more than a year and a half after going through Streamlined Design Review. The last time the site changed hands was three years ago, with the sale price shown in county records as $470,000.