“We’re almost there”: A chat with Capco Plaza’s developer

After breaking the news about a prospective Whole Foods site buyer not pursuing the purchase, and then a restaurant closure, while looking into a couple of other reportedly stalled developments, it seemed like time to break things up by checking with a developer whose project IS proceeding and in fact is almost done: Leon Capelouto, longtime Junction entrepreneur who is building Capco Plaza/Altamira Apartments along SW Alaska between 41st and 42nd. We talked with him in his nearby office this afternoon.

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A stone’s throw from the stalled project site dubbed “Hole Foods,” there’s a Junction development with a very different story to tell: Capco Plaza, the new home of QFC and Office Depot in The Junction, sharing its building with Altamira Luxury Apartments, is within a few months of opening for business.

In his office over nearby Matador, Leon Capelouto says he’s “very busy” with “hundreds of items” that need to be addressed before the building is done. He admits he’s very “hands on” – that’s part of his answer when we asked how he managed to keep this project on track when so many others of that scale have run into trouble. (Of course, financing is important too, he allows.)

The space where QFC will open a new store on the east side of his building has already been “turned over to the tenant,” Capelouto says – meaning the Kroger-owned store chain is now putting in its finishing touches. When we talked with a QFC spokesperson for our last update one month ago today, the company expected to open the store in “early fall,” ahead of schedule. Capelouto expects that is still the likelihood (we have a call out to QFC to doublecheck) – he showed us an e-mail exchange involving their scheduling of two Seattle Seahawks organization favorites, the Sea Gals and Blue Thunder drum line, for an event on October 10th that might be an official opening celebration after an earlier soft opening.

So what else is confirmed for the rest of the building?

Office Depot is still part of the project, Capelouto confirmed, and is expected to take possession of its space on the west side of the building soon. Besides the QFC and Office Depot spaces, there are several smaller retail spaces as well; the only tenant that Capelouto says he’s free to discuss right now is Desert Tan, whose operator is a West Seattleite. As for who will be the first to open in the new building, he says it’s “hard to say … you can turn the space over to the tenants” but what they do from there, the developer/owner can’t control.

The apartment portion of the development, known as Altamira (as reported here last January), is now offering hard-hat tours, as well as a contest you may have seen at West Seattle Summer Fest weekend before last – there’ll be a drawing for a year of free rent. With Mural Apartments (WSB sponsor) just a block away, how does Capelouto think the market will treat his units? He’s optimistic, since he says Mural’s rentals are doing well, according to his conversations with friendly rivals at Harbor Properties (which owns Mural). But he’s also quick to say his units will be different – bigger, and with features such as granite countertops (hence the “Luxury Apartments” following “Altamira” in the name).

He’s also proud of some of the features the building itself will have – from a rooftop deck to a ground-level open space where he says people will be welcome to stop and spend time even if they’re not, say, shopping at QFC or Office Depot, or renting in the building. He says landscaping around the building will include “big trees” and a special bus-shelter area should be popular with riders.

The building will have parking both over the QFC store and below-grade; we asked if any of it will be paid parking. According to Capelouto, there will be free parking for renters and for customers of Capco Plaza businesses – and if any spaces are left over (he points out he built more than the city-required number of spaces), they may consider “renting them out.”

Any surprises along the way while building this? “We struck oil,” Capelouto says. Seriously – they found ground contamination from a service station that was on the site in the first half of the last century, and “had to clean it up.”

But all in all, with the development on the brink of completion, he speaks warmly of those who’ve worked on it — “if you’re still on speaking terms with the contractor at this stage, you’re doing something right” — and notes, “Having been in business on the block for 40 years, I take a lot of pride in the building.”

22 Replies to ""We're almost there": A chat with Capco Plaza's developer"

  • WSM July 20, 2009 (11:06 pm)

    So who approved the dreadful color scheme of the building and when can we run him out of town?

  • WSB July 20, 2009 (11:48 pm)

    Color palettes usually come up at Design Review. The lion’s share of Design Review on this was done before we jumped into all WS news, all the time, as is noted in the last meeting we did cover in June 2007 – the very last line of this story is particularly ironic:

  • Scar July 21, 2009 (12:11 am)

    This has to be one of the ugliest buildings I’ve ever seen. Had guests in town recently and one described this building as “tragic.” I have to agree. Wow, haven’t seen architecture this bad since the 1970’s. Design review my a**.

  • Mike July 21, 2009 (6:04 am)

    Not the best looking building in town, but at least he is finishing it.

  • B July 21, 2009 (7:47 am)

    I’m with you Mike. I’ll be happy to have my sidewalk back too. It was pretty messed up before so it was a much needed improvement.

  • SarahScoot July 21, 2009 (7:56 am)

    Yes, it’s ugly, but my main question is why’d they go with the faux balconies? I noticed recently that all the apartment balconies are about 4″ deep… what’s the point? They don’t add much in the way of aesthetics.

  • Andre July 21, 2009 (7:57 am)

    I like it. Especially the 42nd and Alaska sides (the 41st side however not so much). Very modern, clean lines, large windows. For my taste the brick could have been a little bit darker and they should have used more metal siding for this type of building. Probably not something that appeals to the typical West Seattlelite.
    I went to the last design review for this project and almost all participants (including) liked the design. The main concerns were about parking and how traffic flows in and out of the building.

  • Meghan July 21, 2009 (7:59 am)

    Architecture and colors are, of course, subjective. What 1 person likes, another hates and visa versa. But there are strategies behnd color selection (something many design review volunteers with no industry experience often don’t understand). In recent years, there has been a tendancy to use unusual ‘pop’ colors/schemes to mask cheaper architecture (an economic reality for most projects these days) and appeal to a younger audience. This particular project is meant to appeal to slightly older professionals (compared to Mural, which used orange to appeal to younger people), so they chose colors that are more neutral that they thought wouldn’t affend anyone. If people rent the apartments, it will show they made the right decision. If potential renters hate it, it will show they didn’t. While I personally don’t love the architecture or the colors, I think they did a pretty good job on a challenging site and predict the building will be a success.

  • Andre July 21, 2009 (8:16 am)

    Sarah, I don’t think these are intended to be balconies. They are just railings so that you can open your slider and don’t fall out. I actually prefer them for an apartment building as balconies are mainly used for storage.
    In terms of looks I agree that they could have done better (probably a cost savings measure). Here’s a better version of this general idea: http://www.millerhull.com/images/residential/1310.BIG.02.jpg.

  • wseye July 21, 2009 (8:20 am)

    Tracy is correct that the reason the building was designed (and approved) in this configuration is because the monorail was supposed to run up against the building on Alaska. Then the monorail project died and the design remained the same.

  • dawsonct July 21, 2009 (10:25 am)

    Bland on bland, painted in beige. Silently facing off over Alaska with the equally architecturally bankrupt Jefferson Square, their blank street-fronts ignoring pedestrians in smug indifference to the needs of West Seattle residents.

    Not certain how two fairly ordinary retailers, clones of which are in every neighborhood, will act as magnets, providing “synergy” to the neighborhood. It has to be rough for the architect on this project to look at this barely refunctioned box and realize that they are a whore, with all the integrity of a Wall Street broker, or a health insurance company executive.

  • dawsonct July 21, 2009 (10:28 am)

    Ooooh, a Desert Tan! How about a mani/pedi salon? I don’t believe there is one within a half block of that location, so it is obviously needed.

  • Sharonn Meeks July 21, 2009 (11:24 am)


    TUESDAY, JULY 28TH AT 6:00 – 8:00 P.M.




  • WSM July 21, 2009 (12:32 pm)

    The worst offender in West Seattle is the “flesh colored” building near the corner of Erskine Way SW and California.

  • jsrekd July 21, 2009 (1:20 pm)

    Sharonn – your link didn’t work for me – and unfortunately we’re on vacation that week. I wonder why the “once every ten year” meeting occurs during the best warm weather vacation time in Western Washington?!

  • Sharonn Meeks July 21, 2009 (2:59 pm)

    So sorry. This link should work:


    As for the timing in the summer…wish it weren’t so as well. I volunteered for the committee and I can only assume that the Department of Planning wanted all of the workshops held when more parents can attend due to school not being in session.


  • jiggers July 21, 2009 (3:23 pm)

    Those mini-balconies are ridiculous. I rented an apartment years ago were I barely could fit my fat behind on it. No sense in having a mini- balcony when you can expand on the interior by several more square feet.

  • Herman July 21, 2009 (11:52 pm)

    The colors and composition of this building are ghastly.

  • Drew July 22, 2009 (1:18 am)

    This building isn’t too bad. Reasonably inoffensive. Certainly nothing like Jefferson Square, which is only about 25 years old but way overdue for the bulldozer.

  • Living in West Seattle since 1985 July 22, 2009 (11:49 pm)

    I don’t mind the look. Its modern. I like all the windows, makes a space cheerful to have lots of light. They will need window treatments though. I am So SO SO SO SOOOOOOOO Happy QFC will be there! PLus, when they are all done, maybe the metro bus stop that used to be there will reopen!

  • Karin July 27, 2009 (12:55 am)

    Does anybody know if this QFC will be the regular one or fancy one like the one near Key Arena in Queen Anne ?

  • WSB July 27, 2009 (1:21 am)

    That information is in this WSB story from a month ago (which is linked in the story above):

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