Upzone update: Cayce & Gain explain their vision


As mentioned earlier, Mike Gain and Roger Cayce granted our request for an interview about their proposal to upzone a stretch of California Avenue south of Admiral, and sat down with us for an hour and a half at midday today. Here’s our long-form writeup:

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Anyone driving the streets of West Seattle in the ’90s could have concluded that Cayce & Gain were the most famous names in town. You saw those names on signs dotting almost every street, as they dominated the West Seattle real-estate and property-management businesses.

Their names have not been quite so prominent since 2002, when they sold their real-estate business to Prudential Northwest. But now, five years later, Roger Cayce and Mike Gain are in the spotlight again because of the biggest rezoning proposal currently on the table in West Seattle — seeking to change the zoning on both sides of California between Hanford and Hinds (plus a section of the west side of the street south of Hinds). They are insistent that this is not just a Cayce & Gain proposal; other property owners are involved as well. However, because of their prominence, and the fact they are the major landowners on both sides of the street, they have found themselves front and center.

With the bulk of the news reporting on the upzoning proposal having happened here on WSB, so has the majority of the online discussion, which they have been watching — and participating in. One of the 96 comments following our November 30 report on the public meeting about the proposal features Mike Gain offering to talk with anyone who had questions or concerns. We took him up on that offer and scheduled an interview.

Gain and Cayce met with me this morning for more than an hour and a half in Gain’s office at their property-management business’s headquarters at 3210 California, the address of record for the upzoning request. It’s a small, simple building, and a family-involved business (two Gain children were at work there during my visit); after you climb the aggregate-concrete steps to the second floor, you note that the front windows look out over the buildings they own across the street — their former real-estate business and the adjacent-to-the-north building that Gain says they just bought this year — while the back windows show rentals to the rear, plus a glimpse of one of the neighborhoods to the east whose worried residents joined the November 29 public meeting on the proposal.

During that meeting, and in others since, it was suggested that Cayce and Gain might not have encountered quite so much criticism, concern, and anger if they had brought their idea to the neighbors first, before applying to the city for a full block of rezoning. (The first public word of their application came in the city’s November 8th Land Use Information Bulletin, which we quickly reported here on WSB. Their names didn’t emerge in association with it until their representative Josh Stepherson made an informal presentation at the Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting five days later.) They allow that, in hindsight, an early public presentation might have indeed been a better way to go about it; they say they pursued the process in the manner that “experts” advised them to — “We’re not zoning experts,” Gain explains, “we’re real-estate guys” — and didn’t realize there might have been a better way. But for now, they say, they are where they are, and they are going forward.

Before we talked more about what that might mean, Gain wanted to explain the roots of the rezoning proposal, and their vision for the area, which previously had been alluded to (most recently, by Stepherson at the Dec. 11 ANA meeting), but not fully explained.

As the first exhibit, Gain pulled out a photocopy of an article from the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, dated 12/14/06, headlined “Couple builds a legacy in the U District,” subheaded “Tom and Kristen Ferguson are developing a $22 million apartment (building) with office and retail space on the Ave. Someday their kids and grandkids may own it.” The article is about a building called the Lothlorien. (Here’s a link to the full article.)

The article, Gain said, inspired him to contact the Lothlorien’s architect, Roger Newell – a West Seattle High School graduate, they note – to talk about possibilities for their land in the 3200 block of California. By early March of this year, for a fee of about $5,000, Newell did a feasibility study to come up with a rough plan — “very preliminary,” Cayce cautioned repeatedly during our conversation — for what could be done within the existing zoning, NC1-30 (which basically means 3 stories max and ground-floor retail no bigger than 10,000 square feet per business).

The resulting sketch shows a large, but attractive, building, with car entrances on the north and south ends of its California frontage. “What Roger (Newell) does is never a ‘box’,” Gain explains. “It’s always modulated,” Cayce adds, going on to say that he visited other Newell-designed multifamily projects around Puget Sound while they discussed what they could do with their headquarters’ site.

But in order for the originally roughed-out building to have adequate parking without extensive excavation, Newell’s sketches show, stalls would take up half the ground-floor retail space, leaving potential room for two businesses of less than 5,000 square feet each.

While showing the sketch and other documentation of the original rough plan, Gain stops to make a point that he feels has been lost in accusations that he and Cayce want to build a big project, take the money and run: “We would like to still have our business here [with offices in the new building]. We’ve been here since 1981. We want to build something that we want to use as well.”

So why not build that 3-story building Roger Newell sketched out for you, I ask? Cayce and Gain say even Newell told them the building wouldn’t work out economically without bigger retail space and another floor of residential units. They say they hope it will be apartments, but it could be condos; hard to tell where the market will go (as evidenced by the Strata and Gables condo cancellations).

When pressed for more specifics on the economic discrepancy between building sizes, Cayce points in particular to the major excavation and retaining wall required for underground parking, because of the site’s terrain, and the lack of an alley between their property and the homes behind it. They don’t have exact figures handy on how much more that will add to the project, but they believe it’s at least in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

They are acutely aware of how upset some of the east-neighboring homes’ owners are, regarding the prospect of a big building going up on the C & G land. “We’ve been accused of not listening,” Gain says, “but I wish people would understand, it’s not that we’re not listening, we just disagree. It doesn’t mean we’re wrong or they’re wrong – we just disagree.” Later in our discussion, he elaborates, “We sympathize with the neighbors, but it’s not just about them. … It’s about, let’s look into the future. Ten years from now, when (the neighbors’) daughter is looking for an apartment to rent, wouldn’t it be nice to be close to home? Or 20 years from now, when (the neighbors themselves) want to move out of the house (to something smaller), wouldn’t it be nice to be able to stay in the neighborhood.”

He goes on to muse about the drawing a neighborhood 10-year-old made after the Nov. 29 public meeting (featured in the WSB report about the meeting): “I thought her letter was great. But we just see things differently. Maybe when she grows up, she’ll be able to use the businesses in the neighborhood [that could come as a result of this project].”


And Gain (at right in photo above) and Cayce freely acknowledge, this project is about their futures as well, not just the fact they hope to keep their offices in that location. Though they sold their realty, they say, they are far from retired, or wanting to retire. We told them we wondered why they hadn’t sought to develop the land before, considering how long they have owned most of it. Other priorities, they say: Until 2002, Gain points out, “we owned a large company.” “And,” adds Cayce, “we had kids living at home.” Gain jumps back in: “We just didn’t have the time. I was also the president of the Northwest MLS, before that the Puget Sound MLS, the Southwest Seattle MLS, the Independent Brokers’ Association … very busy, working 12-hour days, often 7 days a week.”

“The last thing in the world we would have wanted to do then,” Cayce interjects, “is tear up our offices.”

“Then in 2002,” Gain continues, “we sold (the realty). I kept a role in it until 2005, then I took some time off to just do nothing. But now – we’re ready to move into the next phase, to try to make some financial sense of what we’ve accumulated [real estate-wise] over the years.”

During our conversation, Gain repeatedly returns to the topic of criticisms and questions posed by WSB readers, as well as area residents who spoke at the Nov. 29 public meeting. An oft-heard question is “why can’t this area just stay the same?” Their answer – besides the earlier point about creating residences and businesses that will be needed as thousands more people move to West Seattle in the coming years – is that many of the buildings on the block are falling apart. As landlords, as well as business owners who work on the block, they say they have a unique perspective. Our meeting this morning, in fact, was delayed a few minutes while Gain handled a situation involving a heating-system upgrade for one of their buildings across the street — one that will cost thousands of dollars. Throughout most of the block, Cayce says, the buildings are “rotting … everything’s old, everything’s wearing out.” The rents they can charge on some of their properties may be going up, but so are the expenses of keeping old buildings inhabitable.

As a data point to illustrate the relative worthlessness of some of the old buildings, Gain hands me a packet of printouts – one of several collections of printed information he has gathered for me in advance of the interview. This one details the characteristics and assessed values of their properties on the block — 3210 California, home to their offices, for example, is assessed as $282,800 worth of building(s), but $1,000,000 worth of real estate; 3220 California is assessed at $1,000 for “improvements” (buildings) and $750,000 of real estate; same for 3228 California; on the other side of the street, $1,000 is also the “improved assessment” value for each of their parcels at 3211, 3219, 3221, and 3239 California, while the value of the parcels’ land totals more than $2 million. New buildings will be built on these sites, they reiterate, the only question is when.

Looking out the back window of Gain’s office again, they note several relatively new homes that will be among the houses to lose views whenever their property is developed, whether it’s done under the existing zoning or the NC2-40 that is requested in the current proposal. Cayce says he tried to get word to the builder of those homes that they planned to redevelop their land, but was asked at one point to stop pushing that issue.

So what now? For Gain and Cayce, the focus is on going through the rezoning process, which awaits a recommendation from city planners, then eventually a City Council vote. To counter the suggestion that the higher zoning isn’t appropriate so far from the heart of the Admiral business district, they produce a list of other parcels further south that hold 4-story buildings: Swedish Medical at 3400 California, and apartment buildings at 3435, 3614, 3705, and 3911 California, as well as a 1987 document they have mentioned before, showing the 3222 California parcel was zoned NC1-40 that year (which means the same height they are pursuing permission for now, but smaller maximum sizes for the retail space).

They will continue to work with architect Roger Newell, they say, though there is no sketch for what they would want to build with the higher zoning designation. And they say they hope to talk again with Admiral Neighborhood Association president Mark Wainwright, whose organization is on the record as saying it cannot support the proposal because, among other reasons, it runs counter to the existing neighborhood plan. They are also eager to dispel any rumors of what might go into their future building (a hotel? someone had asked; no, they say; Trader Joe’s, someone else asked? they haven’t talked with any potential retailers at all, they say).

We have a message out to the city planner assigned to this project, Malli Anderson, to get the latest on its status. In the meantime, she is still accepting comments, as far as we know (her contact information is in our coverage of the November 29 meeting), and Mike Gain is repeating his offer to talk with anyone who still has questions and concerns (his contact info is in the comments posted in the same writeup). He also sent us statements that he and Cayce have written regarding the project and criticism of it as well as their West Seattle history; we have uploaded them for you to read here.

They have been through controversy before — even through rezoning, with a project on 54th Place more than a decade ago that involved rezoning hillside single-family lots to multi-family to facilitate a development at the bottom of the hill. They seem ready to weather this one, but also sincerely concerned that they be recognized as longtime local businessmen, and not seen in the same light as out-of-town developers who have parachuted into West Seattle in recent years. And once this is settled – however it is settled – they will, as Gain puts it, “decide what to do with the other side of the street.”

44 Replies to "Upzone update: Cayce & Gain explain their vision"

  • John December 27, 2007 (7:14 pm)

    Good article, and clarifications. They seem to be between the proverbial rock / hard place. If they just sell, to one or more of those “parachutists”, the community gets even less say. It looks like a time for compromise, serious thought, and perhaps a little meditation.

  • BobLoblaw December 27, 2007 (7:25 pm)


    So nice to have this written as a bylined article. It will help with the push for “real” media credentials for WSB.

    As for the topic, I need to play catch-up and promise to do so. But I will say it’s nice to see familiar names and faces involved in zoning/land use/real estate in West Seattle. And the point about building conditions reminds me of the decades of decay that happened in Pioneer Square while waiting for Sam Israel to die. Better to do something to improve the infrastructure now.

    OK, off to read all the info so I can make educated comments …

  • Paul T December 27, 2007 (7:36 pm)

    I fully support the rezone. It supports the goals of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan and the State Growth Management Act and I believe it will make for a better neighborhood. Without the rezone the highest economic return on these properties will be more ugly, street unfriendly townhouses. All these townhouse developments will be blighted in twenty years when the common areas need repairs and upgrades and there is no mechanism in place for the individual property owners to work together to maintain them. If developed as townhouses, there will be more curb cuts along California, no commercial or retail on ground level, and West Seattle’s main commercial street will be less pedestrian friendly. The ground floor will be predominantly used to store and maneuver cars.

    NC2 40′ zoning will allow for ground floor commercial spaces that are economically viable, supportive of a pedestrian oriented streetscape. The added height makes undergrounding parking economically feasible. Adding residential capacity along an arterial well served by transit makes great sense from a carbon, energy and environmental point of view. I urge you to allow this rezone to proceed.

  • WSB December 27, 2007 (8:19 pm)

    Bob – I’m thinking the long-form articles are worth bylining. (We get them from contributors sometimes too.) I don’t want to get in the situation where there’s a name slapped on every three-line post but for something like this, might as well … especially “feature” type pieces. Thanks for noticing!

  • BobLoblaw December 27, 2007 (9:29 pm)

    Agreed. It’s like the difference between “Staff reports” and a reporter’s name. Although some of the Gannett houses I slaved in would consider three lines byline-worthy. :-)

    No jumps! No jumps!!!

  • Denny December 27, 2007 (10:07 pm)

    I live near Westwood, and would love to have a longtime resident be thoughtful about the development they would like to do on underutilized property.
    I get why it upsets neighbors, but it’s pretty well thought out and when it comes to developers, better the devil you know.

  • grr December 28, 2007 (6:51 am)

    Agreed, Bob..WSB..you’re a great writer, and you should get the recognition the byline provides.

    anyone that though C/G were trying to ‘pull one over’ on them should clearly see the light now. These are two top-notch pro’s that care about their families AND their community. I support them 100% and sent a comment to Malli as well.

  • granted December 28, 2007 (7:14 am)

    Thanks for following up with this issue WSB. It is good to hear how C&G attempt to explain the need to jump from 10,000 square foot small businesses to 25,000 square feet mega-stores. They did not address how the presence of mega-retail and it’s corresponding spike in traffic will impact the neighborhood streets in the area. Nor did they explain why this is the only course they can possibly take. They talked to one consultant–hardly exhaustive research.

    They do seem eager to play up the “parachutist” fears as echoed in the previous comments. It may be helpful to realize that whoever ends up attempting to develop this property, whether out-of-towners or locals, they will have to answer to the community’s interests. It’s part of the process for any special upzone.

    I see no reason to grant this upzone. Again C&G have failed to adequately make their case for granting this special request.

  • Huindekmi December 28, 2007 (7:43 am)

    It’s pretty obvious why it upsets the neighbors. While this rezone will significantly increase the property value of the block, the majority of which is owned by Cayce and Gain, it does so by lowering the property values of the single family residences that abut the rezone. So, how many small property owners have to lose value for Cayce and Gain to be given a blank check?
    I noticed that they didn’t directly address many of the questions asked directly of them here on the blog. Things like:
    1) Why are they trying to call this rezone a “restoration” when none of the properties have ever been zoned NC2-40.
    2) Why they have chosen not to work with the Admiral Neighborhood Assoc and within the confines of the neighborhood plan that was adopted by the city council. They’ve stated that they believe the neighborhood plan to be outdated (it’s less than ten years old), but they haven’t made any recommendations for updating the plan nor worked with the assoc to bring it “up to date”.
    3) How many of the properties they own in rezone area were purchased at NC1-30? Whenever asked this question, they point to ONE property purchased in 1987 that was zoned NC1-40. Others purchased later apparently were purchased under the current zoning. Anyone who has looked at the county records and pointed out that the majority of the property they own in this stretch has been zoned NC1-30 the entire time C&G owned it have been called liars, but with no supporting evidence provided to bolster the C&G case.
    4) Why they seem to believe that there are only two options for this stretch: The old buildings remain completely unchanged, allowed to deteriorate with no maintenance or improvements whatsoever, OR a blank check rezone to NC2-40 that would allow them to build the ONE building that they’ve proposed on one parcel of land, and just about anything else they would like with the rest (including selling the remainder of the land at a huge profit to other developers). Why do they believe that nothing could be built in NC1-30 or even NC1-40 zoning?
    5) Why, if they want to build one building, are they seeking to rezone the entire block?
    I’m listening to Cayce and Gain. I just disagree with them. They still come across as deceitful and manipulative. They don’t address questions directly, providing only partial answers and spin. And this whole project just comes across as a giant money grab at the expense of the single family homeowners that neighbor the proposed rezone area.

  • C&G fraudsters December 28, 2007 (7:55 am)

    …Gain explains, “we’re real-estate guys”… This playing innocent and ignorant is a sham. These guys have enough experience to know better and they did not “fully disclose” upfront nor act transparently. Now they are backpeddling.

    Also, prior to 2002, if you transacted real estate using the company they owned you more likely than not had a less than stellar experience. They let the manager of the brokerage allow countless infractions, complaints and general sleaze in real esate go unchecked. We personally experienced 2 real estate transactions where the C&G owned brokerage was the listing broker (we were buyers) and both were full of major problems. On the second one, one of the agents was caught red handed stealing from the home! The manager blew it off! We know of 3 other sleaze cases as well that were part of the C&G owned RE business. No doubt there are others.

    C&G = cheese and sleaze. I don’t and would recommend not trusting these guys regardless of who they hire and what they say. They are only thinking of themselves.

  • Sage December 28, 2007 (8:41 am)

    Just want to offer some more thanks for this detailed & thoughtful look at the issue. I don’t have a problem with this zoning proposal as an abstract notion. In the abstact, more density in this area makes sense to me. However, I *do* have a problem with the idea that the property owners can get this area re-zoned without having to give anything back to the community. An upzone is effectively a transfer of potential property wealth from the city to the private landholder. Let’s get something in return — i.e., affordable housing, high-quality design, spaces for sustainable community business, etc. Approving the zoning in exchange for promises — no matter how much integrity they’re offered with — just doesn’t cut it. And finally — it’s great to see the shroud of WSB mystery finally receding, one byline at a line!

  • attack of the 40 ft bldg December 28, 2007 (8:53 am)

    I just don’t see how they could ever improve on Spanky’s. . . . . . Did anyone ever go in there? Never mind, I don’t want to know. . . .

  • WSB December 28, 2007 (9:39 am)

    Huindekmi — Couple of your points I want to address, because they were part of our conversation — They directly answered absolutely everything I asked and in some cases had paperwork to support it. And until and unless there’s evidence to the contrary, I believe Mike Gain means it when he says he’s willing to talk to anybody, so I would propose that you e-mail him exactly what you wrote here and if he does NOT respond, let me know, and I will pursue.

    Regarding why the entire block and not just one property, I asked that, and their answer is, that’s what they were advised to do — they say that advice came from people including Josh Stepherson and Roger Newell, people whom they insist they trusted because they had more knowledge and experience in development, while their (C&G) expertise is in real estate.

    Last but not least, they do say they erred in the original description of the rezoning as a restoration – one of the many papers they gave me is titled “Corrections to zoning history” and says below “zoning corrections to be made to the application/errors to be corrected” — following that, it says:

    1957 to 1986 – BN-35
    1986 to 1990 – NC1-40
    1990 to present NC1-30

    Just FWIW, since this did come up in the conversation.

  • old timer December 28, 2007 (11:48 am)

    Just a few comments on the bargaining chips for these guys’ property rezone.

    ” Let’s get something in return — i.e., affordable housing, high-quality design, spaces for sustainable community business, etc.”

    Affordable housing
    Is this section 8 housing? A bit more upscale but same price as section 8? How does payment get extracted from one time development cost for permanent ongoing cost?

    High quality design? Who decides this? Do we really want Koolhaas in West Seattle or Gehry? Maybe we could pick pretty colors that might last beyond two seasons?

    Sustainable community business – please give one example of one that can be installed. A duplicate of another business within a 2 mile radius will not count. People spend their lives trying to build a sustainable local business, this is not the responsibility of a developer.

    Point is, I always hear these good sounding words that end up not describing anything but one person;s imagined vision.
    That goes for developers as well as protesters.

    Gotta have specifics, with drawings and plans, and they cost money, which won’t be spent until there is some assurance that the project will proceed.

    These guys seem to have the right start and the area will be redone, whether they do it or not.

    BTW, it’s not my block so I don’t really care, I just like to ‘hear myself talk’.
    Happy New Year!

  • Sage December 28, 2007 (1:54 pm)

    @old timer: the point I was trying to make (not too well, apparently!) was just that as a matter of general policy, we shouldn’t hand out upzones for free. Property-owners can profit big-time from an upzone; the community should get something in exchange. I agree with you: the specifics are what matters. I leave it to them to propose some specifics on some community benefits that are in proportion to the profit they’re seeking through the upzone — I just offered a few of the sorts of things I personally would like to see that would swing me to being a supporter. In any case, without providing appropriate community benefits — whatever those may be — Cayce & Gain are just asking for a boost to their property value in exchange for their word that they’re nice guys who care about the neighborhood…But I can’t be the only one who thinks the word of a developer isn’t worth too terribly much.

  • Who Moved My Cheese? December 28, 2007 (4:26 pm)

    Maybe C&G’s approach for the rezone should have been handled differently. That’s behind us. Let’s concentrate on the fact that West Seattle is no longer in the 50’s, 60’s or whatever time period you are from. It is now a vibrant, up and coming place to live and work. We can no longer keep it a secret from the rest of the world.

    What needs to happen now is to use the land we have to it’s highest and best use. We can no longer close our eyes and hope that change will never happen. It is going to change and we should all want it to change for the better.

    The buildings that are currently on the property in question are nearing the end of their productive life. Please get off C&G’s backs and become part of the progress, not the roadblock.

  • grr December 28, 2007 (8:24 pm)

    mr/ms Cheese..you’ve said it all. Bravo.

  • Jan December 28, 2007 (9:06 pm)

    Mr. Cheese and grr…I agree…besides…the buildings don’t make West Seattle what it is only, it’s the people who do….yes, that sounds a bit mushy, but it’s true. Look at the people who come to this blog, who care about WS, and ultimately about each other, our neighbors. You don’t find this in a lot of neighborhoods of this size. We truly are special for living here in this special place. So we need to make sure that we hold Mr. Cayce and Mr. Gain to their word.

  • granted December 28, 2007 (10:11 pm)

    I was wondering how long before the fear-of-change argument got dusted off and shoved back into the discussion.

    Let’s be clear: Any owner can change the buildings all they want within the current laws and zoning. No one is arguing against that. What the people of this community are against is the illegal “special favor” changes requested by C&G.

    C&G can build beautiful, modern, profitable buildings to their hearts’ content, but do it within the current zoning. If they would do so and abide by the current zoning I’m sure they would have plenty of supporters. As it is they are seeking a backdoor special exception to build something of a totally inappropriate scale for a family neighborhood, and thus they have little support.

  • grr December 28, 2007 (11:30 pm)

    many people would argue that that BIG HUGE MONSTER BRIDGE to West Seattle is an ‘inappropriate scale’ for a family neighborhood.

    Neighborhoods change. Alki Beach was once all small single family dwellings. If the economics of our day and age make it so that zoning needs to be adapted and changed to encourage beautiful, modern, profitable buildings, so be it.

    I again defer to residential development in WS. How many ‘single’ family plots have you seen change over to Condos? That requires a zoning change/variance as well. Look at the plans for The Painted Lady on Beach Drive, as well as many other ‘flag lot’ homesites that have 2/3 houses on them where once was ONE.

    It may be a matter of symantics, but I do not see C&G asking for ‘special favors’. They’re not having secret meetings at the Mayor house.

    -Sure..I’d LOVE to see what they have planned for that large of a space…25,000 feet is pretty big. Sure would make a hell of a nice Neighborhood Health Care facility.

    -But do you REALLLLLY think they would just slap up some fugly building and turn it into a Walmart or something? I simply just don’t see them doing it.

  • GenHillOne December 29, 2007 (9:38 am)

    granted, you talk about little support for this project, but I think you might be underestimating the number of people in favor of the project. The development has the potential to benefit far more WS-ites than those neighbors who see it as a negative. Yes, it is a family neighborhood, but just about all of WS is. Where would you see the future growth of our community if not on California? There are pockets of 35th, Admiral, and Fauntleroy, yes, but those all have more homes ON them as well as behind them. This part of California, especially in its current state, makes sense. I have to ask this…if neighbors are worried about losing a view, wouldn’t you lose it at 3 stories as much as 4 stories? And why wouldn’t you see easy access (walking distance even) to restaurants, shopping, healthcare, whatever goes in, as having a positive impact on your property value. That’s an important selling point for a lot of potential buyers. I appreciate that C & G can openly say they “don’t know” about some points and hope that they will continue the open discussion, telling us when they DO know the answers. At the very least, frequent communication will keep the rumor mill and speculation to a minimum. Thank you WSB for a great job as usual.

  • JT December 29, 2007 (7:03 pm)

    Would just like to add, I had a great experience with C&G. Specifically with Mr. Cayce. Bought a small house several years ago, and from beginning to end they treated me as if I were spending millions. Very professional and ethical throughout, including the loan process. And I’d vote any day for a developer with local ties.

  • granted December 30, 2007 (7:16 am)

    GenHillOne, I may or may not be underestimating the support for the special upzone request, but the intent of the neighborhood in regard to growth on these properties is not in doubt. It is after all spelled out clearly in the neighborhood plan. That’s why the properties are zoned the way they are. That C&G wish to subvert the plan by changing the zoning, by default means that their project runs counter to the intent of the neighborhood.

    Future growth on California is a good thing. Easy access to restaurants, shopping and healthcare is a good thing. And the best part is that these can be had *with* the current zoning. I encourage the current property owners to make these good things happen, or where already in place to allow them to remain.

    I’m concerned that C&G *listen* to the community just as much as I’m concerned that they talk to the community. They are not the only ones with answers–communication should a two-way street. Additionally, any communication on this issue should be out in the open. Promises made in private from developers aren’t worth much.

  • GenHillOne December 30, 2007 (8:32 am)

    I’m just not going to buy the conspiracy theory that there are private promises being made somewhere and C&G have super secret decoder rings sending messages to the mayor. I appreciate your position, granted, and you seem much more thoughtful on your position than some of the previous posters/ranters. We just feel differently about this. With the new zoning, and larger retail space options, we could see services not currently offered between Admiral and Fauntleroy. That’s appealing to me.

  • M December 30, 2007 (2:43 pm)

    Does anyone know who owns or what is being proposed for the Olympic Apartments right next door to Cayce&Gain? I used to live there and yes, the building is old and full of problems, it was one of the last affordable spots in the neighborhood.

  • grr December 30, 2007 (10:11 pm)

    I think they’re mowing it down and building a WalMart.


  • acemotel December 31, 2007 (1:45 am)

    A rezone is a big deal, and it grants much favor on the owners whose property is rezoned. Many developers have tried to get their properties rezoned, few have been successful. What has guided the city’s growth in the last decade or so is the comprehensive plan, which includes the neighborhood plans devised by neighbors over a lengthy process in the 90’s. The protocol for rezoning a property isn’t (and shouldn’t be) arbitrary and spontaneous. Every developer would like to have an upzone, because it’s an automatic and immediate increase in their property values. Every developer will describe the upzone in terms relating to community benefits because they need the backing of the neighborhood. This rezone request is no different than any other one that’s been in the news in West Seattle, except that it’s larger and covers more ground.

  • grr December 31, 2007 (3:05 pm)

    how often is the ‘comprehensive plan’ reviewed and ammended? Once a decade? More? Less? Who wrote it? Who decides if it’s outdated and in need of change?

  • acemotel December 31, 2007 (5:33 pm)

    Here’s a good recap of the comp plan:
    It’s updated every year.

  • GenHillOne December 31, 2007 (7:44 pm)

    I’m actually more interested in the neighborhood plan that has been mentioned, rather than the city-wide plan – can it be found online?

  • WSB December 31, 2007 (8:18 pm)

    GHO – I am jamming on something right now but if you search admiral neighborhood plan as the terms in the box atop this page you should come up with one of the posts where various folks posted links. If not, I’ll root about for it next year :)

  • GenHillOne December 31, 2007 (8:38 pm)

    Will do, WSB, I should know that thanks – and take a flippin’ night off now would ya? ;)

  • grr December 31, 2007 (10:58 pm)

    Gen.is that plan from 1998? that’s the only date I see..Did I miss something?

  • GenHillOne January 1, 2008 (7:11 am)

    Only one I see too, grr. I think that’s why it draws criticism for being outdated. The city’s comprehensive plan may be reviewed annually, but it appears the Admiral plan is nearly 10 years old.

  • grr January 1, 2008 (9:36 am)

    Not that I really fee like taking advantage of THAT little piece of ammo, but, it speaks for itself. Developing a community on a 10 year old plan is, well..uhm..err…silly.

    – I moved here in 1994, and was fortunate enough to buy my house in ’96. Of course, the West and East views are gone (thanks Omni). But my South view will always be nice. I LOVE WS, even tho I have to commute 22 miles east every day in insane traffice, I simply don’t want to live anywhere else. I love what’s happened to WS (save some of the fugly condos..good LORD hire a decent architect..) and I love what I see being planned for all of WS. I truly envision this area as a place where we can live AND work..I see a beautiful ‘office/business’ district on the Huling properties with shops, parking, and entrepreneurs.

    -and I see the day of Viaduct Construction Hell, and dream of NOT having to deal with it.

  • acemotel January 1, 2008 (2:21 pm)

    The fact that the Admiral plans were published in 1998 isn’t really ammo (as you say), because the city accepts and makes amendments every year. ANYONE can propose an amendment. If you have some ideas, they are due by Jan 20, so do it now! If the community there, or one neighbor, or everyone in West Seattle, thinks there really should be another business district on California, well, you have had at least eight opportunities to tell the city. It’s not like the plan has come from a community’s perceived need.

  • acemotel January 1, 2008 (2:27 pm)

    I mean it’s not like the community has been clamoring for an additional business district on California.

  • wsr January 1, 2008 (5:14 pm)

    Dear WSB,

    Thank you for your most recent report. Cayce and Gain’s comments to you, though, in no way change my opinion that their proposed upzone should be flat-out denied. It does not matter what kind of building Cayce and Gain talk about, or say they have considered, since they could do what they want within NC2-40 zoning if their proposal were approved.

    The ONLY clear, sure-fire benefit of this proposal is a magnificent increase to their property values, which includes at least a third of the 150,000+ square feet upzone. The rich would get richer. The community gets no specific identified benefit.

    The proposal subverts an approved, adopted neighborhood plan. The Admiral Neighborhood Association has shown the upzone is not needed where it is proposed, and indeed would draw business away from the Admiral Junction, where this kind of development belongs. The Plan also recommends against an upzone to the 3200 block.

    I hope you will contact Malli Anderson soon and post an update about how long she will accept public comments; she mentioned through January at one point so this would be very helpful.

    Also, it would be very interesting to hear how this fits into the bigger picture beyond West Seattle. For example, what are some of the ramifications of two individual businessmen pushing through this size of upzone? I understand it is somewhat unprecedented. What kind of doors might it open? What specific organizations might support and oppose this individual-driven upzone?

    Thank you WSB for covering this in such depth. You are a great asset to this community.

  • grr January 1, 2008 (6:33 pm)

    thanks for the info, Ace..I indeed have submitted my suggested amendments, and will continue to voice my overwhelming approval of the proposed upzone to Malli, so that this area of California Ave can be transformed into a thriving business AND residential area, living and working together in harmony.

  • WSB January 1, 2008 (7:46 pm)

    WSR – I have left messages for her and haven’t gotten a call back; maybe she’s been on holiday break. I’ll keep trying till I reach her and will of course report back on WSB when I do. We’re also keeping an eye on the project page on the city site because sometimes a key change or decision will show up there before public word turns up anywhere else.

  • grr January 1, 2008 (8:18 pm)

    “The rich would get richer. The community gets no specific identified benefit.”

    I give up. You win. You’ll never get it, so there is no use trying. Feel free to remove your tin-foil hat anytime now.

    As much as I bitch about the OMNI homes, I admit that I -like- having two homes near me that are valued at a higher rate. List time I had my house appraised, it was $80k more than it was the year before the OMNI’s were built. I’ll take it..even tho I have to pay taxes on it.

  • Been There January 4, 2008 (11:56 am)

    Nice Article!

    It is obvious, as with any proposed change, that there are supporters, and non supporters. I think that C&G have done all they can, and really in the end, all the meetings and dialougue, for the most part, at this point, will not change the non supporters opinions. If there was a West Seattle poll taken, I believe that a vast majority would like to see more upscale development like the one they have proposed.

    If you really want to have input, take Gain up on his offer to talk. In the end, I’d be surprised if he gets more than three calls.

  • S.FLADSETH January 11, 2008 (1:30 am)


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