By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Almost three years have passed since first official word of Swedish Automotive (WSB sponsor)’s plan for a new, larger location at 7901 35th SW (map) – we mentioned it briefly in May 2007, and then covered the second Design Review Board meeting months later, in December 2007. Now construction is finally under way, and owner Dave Winters tells us it wasn’t another case of a project going on hold till the market got better – it just took them that long to “jump through the hoops” to line up permits and everything else needed to begin.
But now ground is broken and he’s excited about the project, which has changed somewhat from the original plan – read on for details:
Swedish handles Volvos, Saabs and Subarus, and is the only specialty shop of its kind on the peninsula, Winters says. They’ve been at 35th/Webster (map) – a few blocks north of the new site – for 20 years (the business itself was founded 8 years after that). It’s snug, to say the least – with a tiny office and limited parking; they’ve been renting parking – they have 13 loaner cars – across 35th, and making the trek across that busy street multiple times daily. In addition, without much room on site, customers have often had to park in the surrounding neighborhood.
“Now they’ll be able to drive right up,” Winters says. Here’s how it’ll be laid out, with an L-shaped building along SW Kenyon (top of the picture) and 35th SW (right side):
The existing 2-story building on the southwestern corner of the lot will remain; Swedish Automotive’s offices will be on the ground floor, and tenants will continue renting the 2nd floor. They are improving the alley behind the site, which will be the route for one of the new facility’s two entrances.
The new building itself was envisioned as a 2-story structure in the 2007 plan, but that scaled back to one story, Winters says, after they evaluated the rental market for commercial space. For his business, that single story still will include features they haven’t had – a dedicated wash bay, a full alignment rack, electric garage-door openers for easier access – “three times the parking and three times the workspace.” (Right now, his 11 employees are working in 2,500 square feet of space – less room than some single-family homes.)
In 2007, they also were considering solar panels on the roof; that’s not in the first phase of the plan now, but Winters says they are “researching” it for the future. They do have other energy-efficient, sustainable features in the current plan, including full insulation and a heating system that recycles their waste oil, with radiant heating tubes in the floor, and the potential for future natural-gas conversion if/when that makes sense. There’ll be landscaping in the parking strip alongside the building, “with all-new plantings,” as shown in the sketch above by architect Curtis McGuire.
Construction of the new Swedish Automotive facility is expected to take about seven months, so Winters believes they’ll move in this fall. Then they hope to lease their existing building – “we’re looking for a tenant,” says Winters, who speculates his might be the last new auto shop built in West Seattle. He says it was a difficult-enough task just to find the new site, which he bought in December 2006 after a search that started around the turn of the millennium. (It has an automotive history, including having been home to a gas station from 1957 to 1979.)
The construction project isn’t the only way Swedish Automotive is looking ahead to the future; they’re also expanding their online presence, with a Facebook page (find it here) that includes construction updates, and a Twitter account (@SWEDISH_AUTO), as well as their regular website at swedishauto.com.