Pre-demolition days now truly numbered for 6053 California


(2007 photo by WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli)
The demolition of the ex-Schuck’s/Hancock building at Fauntleroy/Alaska/39th (continuing today) isn’t drawing many tears but other buildings can be a different story. As we wrote here in April 2007 when development plans for 6053 California (above) were first announced, we’ll be sad to see it go. It’s nothing fancy but its unique “Mission Revival” facade has been a semi-landmark of sorts at that California/Graham corner (across from the shuttered Chuck and Sally’s – nothing new on that, by the way – in one direction, the up-for-sale Strata in another). The demolition permit has just been issued. Here’s the project that will replace it, with “live/work” units and townhouses:


The West Seattle architect whose firm designed it, Brandon Nicholson, showed that rendering at the June “can townhouse design be saved?” forum as an example of non-cookie-cutter-architecture alternatives (it’s not a solid block of building – there’s a courtyard among other things). And the city ruled the old building didn’t warrant landmark consideration, despite some unique-for-its-time (1924) features. Nonetheless, we and others have memories, and some wistfulness will linger after the backhoes depart.

18 Replies to "Pre-demolition days now truly numbered for 6053 California"

  • MargL July 24, 2008 (8:48 am)

    Well that’s kinda sad. Looks like a college dorm to me.

  • WSB July 24, 2008 (8:51 am)

    I’m trying to find the Design Review presentation for the new development archived online, because the facade doesn’t do some of the rest of it justice – but the city’s “Design Review Archive” page has a bug (I think it’s Mac-related, silly considering that’s the designer OS of choice in many industries!) … TR

  • JenV July 24, 2008 (9:11 am)

    horrible. let’s replace all the buildings with character with crappy boxes. BOOO! :(

  • Deb in Morgan Junction July 24, 2008 (9:37 am)

    That area of California is already dark during the day due to the other large “live-work” buildings that have recently been put up….just going to get worse once this one is up. It’s a shame.

  • Meghan July 24, 2008 (11:20 am)

    A college dorm? A crappy box? Will you people wake up? Take a closer look! Or try to learn what you’re looking at. This design is better than 90% of new construction given the construction parameters and budget realities these days. There’s an obvious attempt at creating something interesting and urban without overwhelming the corner. And work/live lofts are exactly what the Morgan Junction needs! They bring both residents and new small business to an area that’s currently underutilized. It’s not like these buildings had vital businesses that anyone in the neighborhood really utilized. I mean really, would you rather have more buildings that look like the old Corner Inn, Chuck & Sally’s, or that awful grocery/dry cleaning building? Sheesh! Some people just hate development no matter how good it is.

  • MissKayJ July 24, 2008 (11:45 am)

    OMGosh! Please tell me you got this wrong! It makes me so sad to see all the buildings with character vanishing. I LOVE that building and my parents live just down the street from it (my mom now lives in her parents house) so she has lived there 40+ years and remembers when it was a meat market. So so so very sad. Any chance of fighting this?

  • WSB July 24, 2008 (11:59 am)

    No, we reported on it multiple times in the past year-plus and that’s when the comment periods were open, for the permit, the new project’s design, etc. We cover as much news about notable development proposals as we can – anybody interested in what’s coming down the pipeline also would be well advised to subscribe to the city’s twice-weekly Land Use Information Bulletin (Mondays and Thursdays; this morning’s edition, in fact, has more than a few West Seattle mentions:
    ) – TR

  • viaAlki July 24, 2008 (1:38 pm)

    Oh no, another outbreak of misplaced sentimentalism. Here’s what I propose: a short, nondenominational funeral ceremony where everyone in attendance lights a candle over the passing of their choice of West Seattle icon — a doomed old building, a dead tree, a worthless neon sign. At the end of the ceremony, everyone whispers their thanks to the icon, and then we all just move … on.

  • PSPS July 24, 2008 (2:31 pm)

    These “live/work” places are all over Ballard, and mostly remain unsold. Over there, a typical 3-story layout runs about $600K — you’ll qualify for a mortgage just fine if you make $133K per year and have $120K in non-borrowed cash for a down payment. (The median income for King County is about $50K.)
    Not everyone finds the idea of “living over your workplace” desirable. Reminds me of the old Dobie Gillis show where they lived over their small grocery. What about people who don’t do manual labor (making things to sell) or don’t fancy trying to resell trinkets from Chinese sweatshops? In fact, it’s hard to visualize someone making enough money from their “storefront” to make the mortgage payment. And, if they make their income elsewhere, why would they want a “live/work” setup to begin with? Maybe it could be used as an oversized hobby shop.

  • RS July 24, 2008 (5:01 pm)

    PSPS- regardless of how sellable these places are in Ballard or WS or elsewhere, there isn’t a requirement that you both live AND work in the building. It just means that the building is dual use and includes apartments or condos as well as retail or workshop space. You’re not required to move your business there as well as your family and your furniture!

  • TammiWS July 24, 2008 (7:41 pm)

    I’ve lived on 47th and Graham for over 10 years and this place, Chuck and Sallys, the laundry/market etc.. are huge eyesores. It looks horrible in this area – beer cans, litter, dirty, sidewalks are messy, trees arent maintained well, etc…..I love my neighborhood but wish it was better maintained in this area….new construction will help I think.

    Sorry, I’m not that sentimental about it -it’s about time. I’m all for making this end of West Seattle a livable, workable, shoppable, walkable, clean and safe neighborhood…. Open more funky/tasty restaurants, interesting shops, etc….Progress isnt all bad….

  • grr July 24, 2008 (11:02 pm)

    yup. I like the new bldg. Now if only the other blds you mentioned would go as well…same with the Corner Inn. buh-bye.

  • Chris July 25, 2008 (11:23 am)

    I Have lived in West Seattle for 30 of the last 45 years. Most recently 49th Graham area. TamiWS, GRR and viaALKI are right on. I have very fond memories going to the meat market with my Grandmother. But that was due to the people. I don’t have any sentiment over a building that could only sustain limited business types due to older infrastructure and systems. I hope the martial arts studio found a new home, but there could be much better utilization here. I agree that this is a step in the right direction. No design will please everyone. This one, if you look closely, has the potential to at least have its own type of character. Maybe 80 years from now a group will lament the replacement of THIS building?

  • mark July 25, 2008 (2:18 pm)

    Do you think the developers of this property are going to give a fat rat’s behind about the discarded beer cans, messy sidewalks, non-maintained trees etc… after they have come in and made their money? I doubt it.

    Some of us second and third generation West Seattleites do have “misplaced sentimentalism” but I would give up all the so-called progress in a heartbeat to have my friendly, uncrowded town back, but since there is no end in sight to the “lovely” townhouses and live/work spaces mushrooming up in West Seattle, my pipe dream will have to remain just that.

  • grr July 25, 2008 (11:13 pm) could always move to Orting.


  • MissKayJ July 28, 2008 (10:33 am)

    I guess I wasn’t very clear. While I do have fond memories of the building, I also agree that it could be better utilized and does need major renovations to bring it back to a beautiful, functional state. My thought was that perhaps the design board could go more the route that the designers of 3811 California Ave. took. Maintaining the beauty and neighborhood quality of the building while still expanding to fit their needs. I have lived in and around Chicago for the past decade and they do a lovely job maintaining and reusing their historic buildings. I think the new building is ugly and does not do a good job of tying into the surrounding neighborhood and drawing you in to shop at all. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I just don’t see the beauty of the new building at all.

  • average joe July 28, 2008 (2:10 pm)

    oh look! another absolutely HORRIBLE building by the West Seattle Architects.

    Meghan…(post above) you can’t be serious, can you?

  • BadBrain August 19, 2008 (4:46 pm)

    This white building with it’s “wanted-to-be-but-couldn’t-do-it” roof line and non-descript openings (and non-openings for that matter) is an eyesore and not a landmark. To this day, after more than 10 years in this country, I wonder what people call “historic” around here. Granted most buildings here are only a few decades old and therefore there isn’t anything else to identify with rather than an old, white garage – but “Spanish Mission”? Just because someone in 1924 came up with an arched parapet? Oh brother. Let’s move on to help changing this retirement home and hippie center called West Seattle to a vibrant and meaningful part of Seattle. This new proposed development is one step in this direction and “Meghan” hit exactly the point above…

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