By request: Townhouse pix

During our discussion of townhouse design standards last Friday, ignited by Southwest guadalajaratownhouses.jpgDesign Review Board member (and West Seattle architect) David Foster‘s investigation of micropermitting (first report here; City Council President reaction here), it was suggested we should photograph some of the townhouse projects. So we did. Please keep in mind that unless otherwise noted, these are NOT examples of the practice he is concerned about – instead, the thought here was JUST to take a look at townhouse faces for some of the larger, newer groupings, for anyone interested in seeing examples of current West Seattle townhouse construction, somewhat side-by-side. Here’s a sample from a weekend morning drive: (PS: TUESDAY MORNING ADDITIONS AT BOTTOM OF POST)

First, the 7200-block-of-California (south of Morgan Junction) project that we documented last year, which IS on Foster’s list (and was actually challenged by nearby resident Vlad Oustimovitch, who has served on the DRB; here’s WSB coverage of how that turned out). 13 units, on land that was formerly home to a small building then-owned by the church across the street (then Gatewood Baptist, now Seattle International), first tracked here in November 2006; here’s how they look now:


Here is the 5900 block of California, also on Foster’s list, townhouses going up (permits first reported here last October) on the site that used to be fronted by the Guadalajara Hacienda restaurant (with another multiplex replacing a bemoaned teardown next door):


These are relatively new townhouses at Fauntleroy/Graham, former site of old apartments:


A little further north along Fauntleroy, 8 townhouses that replaced old houses (the development has a promotional site here):


Continuing north on Fauntleroy, a group of relatively new townhouses next to Fairmount Park:


Now over to the 3000 block of Avalon, where we’re not 100 percent sure this project is technically townhouses, but didn’t look like one solid apartment/condo building either:


Back over to California, these townhouses replaced two old houses (WSB coverage of their pre-demolition here) just south of the Charlestown Cafe:


And these North Admiral townhouses are at California/Seattle, on the site of an old brick multiplex torn down last May (WSB coverage here; JetCityOrange had demolition video):


We didn’t get a shot of the NoMo 12 development of which David Foster spoke so highly, but there are plenty of pix on its website. ADDED TUESDAY MORNING: WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli sends this photo of a 4-unit, David Foster-designed townhouse in West Seattle.


ADDED LATER TUESDAY MORNING: Christopher sent this photo of NoMo 12:


And Foster himself sent what he says would be his vote for “ugliest townhouses” in West Seattle — built last year at California & Spokane:


24 Replies to "By request: Townhouse pix"

  • amanda January 28, 2008 (11:52 pm)

    I live near he ones on Avalon Way being built, and I found the permit that says they are townhouses (

  • WSB January 29, 2008 (6:40 am)

    Thanks, Amanda. I didn’t get the specific address (and lost my scrawled-at-a-stop-sign note about the one next door) so that’s where our uncertainty arose.

  • Wendy January 29, 2008 (8:42 am)

    Please note – and this is one of the positives regarding townhomes no matter what anyone says – the homes front doors and best architectural features face the street. All of the garages are tucked behind and not visible from the street. This presents a very homey and neighborhood-feel front to the community. In HP most of the townhomes and single family homes are this way – altho the Polygon single-family detached homes do have their garages on the street. There aren’t a lot of those, tho, so it’s not overwhelming.

    I have not been in to see the homes in Sylvan Ridge yet. I am surprised no one has made horrific comments about the fact of over 200 of THE SAME all in the same place. I think that development was planned to have 220 units. Altho with the way the market has been saturated, perhaps it has been scaled back or delayed. That development has been in the works a long time, tho, and maybe that discussion happened a long time ago.

  • cruiser January 29, 2008 (8:46 am)


    I think they look…ahem.. beautiful, and what a great use of old recycled pizza boxes:)

    I mean can’t you just see the architecture class of 2020 looking back on the beauty of these things( they prob won’t be standing though!)

  • Mike#2 January 29, 2008 (9:13 am)

    one thing that really annoys me about many of the townhouses that I’ve seen in Seattle is that they have unusable garages. Usually the alleyway to the garage is so narrow that its nearly impossible to get anything but a motorcycle or miata in the garage. This then forces the cars onto the street which overloads street parking in a now densely populated street.

  • Sue January 29, 2008 (9:16 am)

    If you want to see crowded-in townhomes, take a look at the ones at the corner of Myrtle and Delridge. I think there are 14 of them crammed in there.

  • Eddie January 29, 2008 (10:01 am)

    I’ve been noticing the townhouses shown in the 3000 block of Avalon and thought that they had a rather attractive – at least different – appearance than so many of the others around town. They at least seemed to have an understanding of site that they are plopped on and are oriented toward what should be a pretty nice view – and don’t have a real cookie cutter appearance to them. I suppose if 30 more units appear just like them all up and down the street I’d change my mind. Should be interesting to see how they finish and trim the exterior. For now, I like ’em.

  • Susan Hovac January 29, 2008 (11:47 am)

    We live in the Sylvan Ridge development. We love the community here. We love the size- including the garage and driveway. It feels like a European housing cluster. I guess – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it?! I am born and raised in Seattle, as were my parents, and now my children. We have seen so many changes. The price of housing is outrageous. I am proud to have my beautiful townhouse in West Seattle. My city.

  • Christopher Boffoli January 29, 2008 (11:51 am)

    Wendy makes an excellent point. As ugly as the ugliest of these townhouse projects are, they are still promoting density and minimizing the importance of cars which is counter to decades of “garage-forward” suburban design. Maybe someday these builders will begin to incorporate mixed-use commercial spaces within their townhouse to give residents better transportation choices and a more “urban village” feel.

    Mike#2: Maybe those small garages on the alley are trying to tell you something…. Buy smaller, more efficient cars! Think of how many bikes you could fit in those garages!

  • CandrewB January 29, 2008 (12:02 pm)

    David, what is that type of siding called that you used in the top two gray areas of the home? And is the top green Hardy plank?

  • Andre January 29, 2008 (12:43 pm)

    Candrew, it is Hardie board installed as a rain screen. The top is as you thought Hardie plank (in a traditional, non rainscreen installation).

    I also like the new townhouses on Avalon. Urban infill, if done right, is brilliant. If done badly it is rubbish.

  • acemotel January 29, 2008 (12:47 pm)

    About the houses on Avalon, what I don’t understand is the big windows oriented towards the view. If someone builds up on the lot in front of those windows, all will be lost, and the folks will have a gigantic picture window view of the house in front of them…?

  • Sue January 29, 2008 (12:49 pm)

    Susan, I actually love the look of the Sylvan Ridge townhomes. Had we been in the market for a new construction t-home, I would have considered them. I’m glad you’re enjoying living there.
    I actually like the look of a lot of the neighborhood townhomes. I don’t necessarily like current homes being torn down to accommodate many of them, but I have to say I do agree that in that price range they can be nice. I remember looking at the Myrtle Park ones when they first went on the market (just out of curiousity – not in the market to buy) and thought that some of the plans were just gorgeous inside. A bit too much for 2 of us (one of them had like 4 or 5 bathrooms), and my aging knees don’t like the idea of multiple flights of stairs anymore. And I’d personally like a little bit of a backyard/patio/something outdoors, which a lot of these t-homes do not have in order to cram more in. But I can definitely see the appeal. If I had $300k to spend on real estate, I’d rather spend that on a brand new townhome than on a single home that’s a major fixer-upper in a bad neighborhood, and price-wise, that’s usually the other option.

  • dinolicious January 29, 2008 (2:36 pm)

    Sue, There are some really nice homes with real backyards. 1000 sq. ft. for far less than 300,000. Better neighborhood than the Sylvan Ridge area. I know I own one of these homes. You just have to be patient and look. Even though there are just the two of us, I would not live in a townhome – I’ve just heard too many horror stories from my friends.

  • westseattleite January 29, 2008 (3:22 pm)

    I like the NOMO 12 one’s a lot, but they are more expensive than the house I bought down the street and I thought that was a lot. They are nice inside though.

  • Susan Hovac January 29, 2008 (7:33 pm)

    Dinolicious, just like any home, whether it be a townhome or a single family home, they are all not the same. There are horror stories with both. Live and let live. Yes, esthetics are important, that it a huge issue. Many wonderful older home are being torn down for new single family homes also, not just townhomes. All the complaining seems to be about these. We chose to downsize to this.

  • townhome owner January 29, 2008 (7:54 pm)

    I live in a townhome in West Seattle. I am happy with it, I have no horror stories, I like the exterior, I like the layout (no, they are not all the same), it is extremely energy efficient, I have a great sized yard and a garage that fits both a car and a motorcycle together. We looked for a single family home for months before we decided to buy a townhome. It wasn’t our first choice and although we could have afforded to get into a home we would not have been able to afford to put the work into a home that would have been required or have been able to pay for any repair that may have come up after moving in. We made the best decision we could with what is available. Townhomes in Seattle offer people the ability to get into a very difficult and overpriced housing market. Opposing all townhomes and insulting the people who buy them seems elitist to me. I am your neighbor, I love West Seattle and try to be a contributing member to this community but, feel insulted by what I have read here and on other threads regarding townhomes. I believe in design review boards and the importance of thoughtful design and development. I know design boards and community feedback can have positive influences on a development and I agree that developers should be held accountable but, posting photos of peoples homes and insulting the way they look after they are built is cruel. But, if this is the way things are done – then when is someone going to get out there and take pictures of all the single family homes that aren’t being taken care of or whose yards are in utter disrepair and post photos of those? Aren’t they a blight on our community as well? Another thing to consider is where many of these townhomes are located. They’re not exactly the ideal location for single family homes. And most aren’t built where a former amazing old house once stood but, where an old aparment building once stood, or abandoned store front or gas station. They are mostly on main streets, down from main shopping areas – what exactly do you want built there? I think it’s hilarious that mine is one of the “controversial” ones – I actually think my townhome improves the look of my block… it’s definitely better to look at than the run down apartment buildings that it shares a block with… and I keep up with the exterior and landscaping hoping my neighbors will return the favor.

  • WSB January 29, 2008 (8:57 pm)

    Hi, “townhome owner.” Thank you for sharing your thoughts. The point of the discussion that started last week and continued with this post was not to discuss the condition of homes and whether they are a “blight.” It was the original point raised by David Foster regarding large developments escaping design review through a loophole, and as a secondary point the sameness of some of the designs, large developments and small ones. I think the hope is that at the very least, perhaps by closing that loophole, the architecture of these new homes will enhance the community’s character and feel. By the way, if you are in the 7200 block of California “controversial” townhomes, the controversy involved much more than how they were going to look. It had to do with the aforementioned loophole, with environmental concerns on the site, and other factors.

  • David Foster January 29, 2008 (9:25 pm)

    townhome owner:
    I love townhouses. They are a smart building type that is energy- and land-efficient, often well located, and affordable. They help create density (a good thing!), can be easily maintained, and when well designed, encourage interaction among neighbors and enhance the vibrancy of a neighborhood. I hope to see many more well-designed townhouses get built in West Seattle and all over the city for that matter.

    Sadly, many townhouses are ugly, cheaply built, inappropriately sited, and have an adverse effect on the neighborhood. When that happens, people have a right to protest. And when they are permitted illegally – which is how this topic got started – people have an obligation, as citizens, to fight.

  • coffee geek January 29, 2008 (10:28 pm)

    Does anyone know anything about Archstone? Their website ( seems to communicate they are aware of many concerns voiced here. There’s a 4-unit project they’ve done near the junction…

  • Andre January 30, 2008 (10:38 am)

    I just checked out the Archstone website and it looks like they are using Nicholson Kovalchick (a West Seattle architect firm: for at least some of their projects. One sample are the new (to be build) live/work lofts on Harbor Avenue.

  • coffee geek January 30, 2008 (12:50 pm)

    NK has done some pretty cool stuff. Thanks for the link!

  • Neighbor January 30, 2008 (5:30 pm)

    “And Foster himself sent what he says would be his vote for “ugliest townhouses” in West Seattle — built last year at California & Spokane:”

    This, followed by a photo of a 4-unit cluster, “relates to large developments escaping design review through a loophole”?


    Sorry, but I concur with Townhome Owner and call fowl.

  • Multifamily zoning update - let’s fix zoning loopholes first. — Smarter Neighbors June 14, 2008 (12:57 pm)

    […] townhome development built by Soleil Development. The West Seattle Herald, Seattle Times and West Seattle Blog all wrote about how this townhome development as a whole largely avoided design review by taking […]

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