Charlestown Café site’s future: Apartments, new café, new zoning?

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

With the auction coming up Friday for what’s left inside the Charlestown Street Café, less than a month after it closed, we have new information about the future of its site.

In our first report on its then-imminent closure, we mentioned spotting a “mixed-use” development proposal in the city files. And now we’ve finally spoken to the developer who is working on it.

His name is Lobsang Dargey. His firm, Dargey Enterprises, is based in Everett, where they built Potala Village – not unlike, he told WSB, what’s envisioned for the California/Charlestown site (if you check their website, you will see this project identified as Potala Village-West Seattle).

But before the project ramps up – a change, he says, is needed:

The ex-café site is currently zoned for 30-foot development, and Dargey says he will apply later this year to have it rezoned to 40 feet. He mentioned specifically the recently approved rezoning of a block-plus of California SW, just two blocks north, and cited the same factor that local developers/realtors Mike Gain and Roger Cayce had cited in that case – the extra height is needed for the project to make sense financially.

Dargey, by the way, says he does his own financing, through the EB-5 program; as noted in this 2009 Puget Sound Business Journal profile, he grew up in Tibet and came to the U.S. in 1997. He does not own the West Seattle site; he says he’ll develop it as a joint venture with its owner, the Strickland Corporation.

The apartments he envisions would be “high-end,” and “built green,” using “100 percent recycled materials,” and built to LEED standards, silver or maybe even platinum. It’s projected for about 100 units over retail. He hopes the retail space would include “some kind of café,” in the spirit of the Charlestown. The first floor, as you can see in the online sketches of his projects, would have brick facades (as does Charlestown Center, kitty-corner from the ex-café site).

The West Seattle proposal remains in very early stages – no formal application has been submitted, though Dargey says they have met a few times with the city. He stresses that his firm prides itself on working with the neighborhood, so he is hoping to have a neighborhood meeting and says he plans to reach out to the Admiral Neighborhood Association. He would also like to hear ideas on what the neighborhood would want to see in this type of development, and invites e-mail (, as listed here). “I want the neighborhood to support it,” he says. “I don’t want to fight with people.”

Overall, Dargey says they would hope to be able to bring in retailers/services that residents could use – with the development built in a “pedestrian-friendly” layout. Dargey says the site has lots of potential because of the amenities already nearby – schools as well as businesses, including PCC Natural Markets (WSB sponsor) and the new Safeway store. He is familiar with the previous development proposal for the site – the PETCO store that was eventually shelved (they’ve now signed for a new Junction location) – and says “big-box” like that doesn’t make sense for the site.

He is finishing a Kirkland project, before immersing more fully into West Seattle. He says it’ll meet LEED Silver standards and will be nonsmoking – the first such mixed-use building in the area. (It’s also online, as Potala Village-Kirkland, with the units described as “luxury apartments.”)

Until this one revs up later in the year – probably by July or August, he expects to apply for the rezone – you can watch the project’s two files on the city website, land-use here, construction here.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about “Potala”? It’s from Dargey’s Tibetan heritage: Potala Palace is a World Heritage Site that for centuries served as a palace for the Dalai Lama.

83 Replies to "Charlestown Café site's future: Apartments, new café, new zoning?"

  • Amy Kramer Hawks April 25, 2011 (1:50 pm)

    100% recycled materials? Uhm. That hardly seems possible. 4 stories of 100% recyled materials would be AWESOME, and I kind of feel like that is a lot of hot air…

  • older women for Obama April 25, 2011 (1:52 pm)

    Hmm, well it all makes sense now ..Developers were bound and determined to get the “Charleston Cafe” site and they got it .. Just what we need more high end apts .. How about some apts. that us everyday working people could afford ..Sad, sad, sad …

  • Diane April 25, 2011 (2:07 pm)

    before all the gloom & doom’ers jump in; let me say, I think this is fantastic, especially if he’s already got financing so it WILL get built, and LEED/”Green”; excellent; and non-smoking, hurray!!!
    btw, I’m amazed and baffled by how many newly built, ‘green’ projects allow smoking; makes no sense to make healthy building, then allow tobacco smoke inside

  • Alvis April 25, 2011 (2:23 pm)

    What’s the square footage of that lot?

  • MargL April 25, 2011 (2:25 pm)

    I wonder if the property owner has talked to the owners of the building kitty-corner to Charlestown about the way some of those spaces have been empty since it was built!
    Or are they considering building with the hopes of the Economy turning around all of a sudden?
    Mmm – more nail salons, Payday loans and medicinal marijuana dispensaries?

  • Mike April 25, 2011 (2:31 pm)

    Right on, more vacant apartment/condo units. Drive the value to ‘0’ and then file for bankruptcy like the rest of the developers.

  • clementine April 25, 2011 (2:32 pm)

    I would love to see a big retailer at that site, or anywhere else in West Seattle for that matter. How about an Olive Garden or a Spaghetti Factory. A craft store like Michaels or Joann’s. I shop at the small local stores but end up paying much more and having less selection for my money than at the big box retailers. I agree with MargL about the small retail space at the Charleston Center still being available years after it was built We already have enough oversized ugly cheap looking(even if they are green) apartment buildings in West Seattle and enough small empty retail spaces.

    • WSB April 25, 2011 (2:42 pm)

      Seattle’s apartment market is actually considered to be “booming” – which is why, for example, hot on the heels of opening Link, Harbor Properties is pursuing Nova. And why somebody paid millions to buy the unfinished Mastro building at 35th/Avalon, spending millions more to finish it. And why Conner Homes is continuing ahead with the two-building development at California/Alaska. After a couple years of development slump (Link, you may recall, was an anomaly – at one point the only project of its kind in the entire city that was under construction), things are revving up again all over the city, I’ve noted while looking at coverage on some of our fellow neighborhood journalists’ sites.
      If it’s not clear in the story, this is no fast-track project; read the PSBJ profile from 2009, and note the mention of a West Seattle project, plus note the mention that a rezone will be pursued, and consider that the Cayce/Gain rezone up the street took three years from the time the proposal became public (and who knows how long it had been on the drawing board beforethat) to the City Council’s approval vote.

  • mo April 25, 2011 (2:43 pm)

    More apartments, yay!!

  • george April 25, 2011 (3:00 pm)

    Have to agree, how many condo’s/apt’s and small business can WS support? It seems more are shutting down than prospering. Its becoming a wreck of a town with empty lots and spaces. Ask why.

  • Mookie April 25, 2011 (3:00 pm)

    100 more “high-end” units. Sigh. The apartment market may be considered to be “booming” but nobody’s income seems to be. Sad to anticipate yet more tall rather generic/soulless buildings lining California Avenue in their various earth-tone paint jobs. Maybe this weather is leveraging my pessimism today.

  • rentera April 25, 2011 (3:10 pm)

    The Charlestown retail spaces are empty because at $28 a square foot they are too expensive for small bussiness to pay the rent. Now just think who is going to be able to afford the $45 a square foot the new Safeway on Admiral will cost? Big chains like Olive Garden, Michaels and whatnot.
    Support local business, right? Even if they are big chains and represent corporate America!

  • Mike April 25, 2011 (3:22 pm)

    I’d like to think apartments are booming back, problem is there is such a vast vacancy rate it’ll take years to get back to normal rental vacancy rates.

  • Neighbor April 25, 2011 (3:22 pm)

    Gross. Gross. Gross. Cheap and ugly.

    LEED or not, we have really let the developers take huge advantage of our community. We have lost a lot of what makes this part of town unique. Cheap and ugly like the friggin Mc Mansions built the last couple years.

    • WSB April 25, 2011 (3:24 pm)

      Mike – Your link is from 2010.

  • GenHillOne April 25, 2011 (3:30 pm)

    It’s been a few years, but Lobsang is a lovely man. I’m not even going to read the comments – yeah, I get a little cynical on the development too – but this is different and exciting. Welcome Dargeys :)

  • JanS April 25, 2011 (3:33 pm)

    of course, this is the response that I expected from West Seattleites. The same thoughts went through my head, esp. living across the street from the 78 units going in at Admiral Safeway (which by the way already has one tenant booked for it’s retail space, Umpqua Bank). But…I dug a little deeper into the developer’s story…there’s info on his website…and find him a very interesting man..what a background…training as a monk in a Tibetan monastery during his formative teenage years. I suggest reading…and give this guy a chance. It’s gonna be developed…there is not just going to be a chain restaurant there, folks…so give the guy a chance.

  • Mike April 25, 2011 (3:43 pm)

    Is this developer funding the extra costs for sewage and higher water flow for all those units? Serious question, it’s a massive impact, far greater than using 100% recycled building materials. People that live in the area have to pay for that overflow. Remember the issues going on with Lowman? There’s a reason for it.

  • Sonoma April 25, 2011 (3:57 pm)

    Good point, Mike. And, like Jan, I googled the developer, and he does indeed have an interesting history. Let’s hope the development is as intriguing and not the standard cookie-cutter eyesore. A man from a monastery should not create monstrosities.

    P.S. Why do I keep thinking of the Everett development as Potato Village?

    • WSB April 25, 2011 (4:23 pm)

      Data point … the links with all the info were already in the story. PSBJ profile has his background as a Tibetan monk. Just making note, as we spend tons of time finding links for stories so that people can wander off and explore further – while some news orgs don’t bother linking – the links we use (any “blue” word/phrase is a link) are 99.9% of the time ones we found ourselves, NOT supplied by the interviewees … although we might not have found if this interviewee hadn’t mentioned it. But thanks for looking further, this is why we love being online – everything is a gateway to more info. – TR

  • JanS April 25, 2011 (4:41 pm)

    yep…follow the links to more links :)

    • WSB April 25, 2011 (4:45 pm)

      And next thing you know, an hour’s gone … Everybody’s got a story!

  • My two cents ... April 25, 2011 (4:55 pm)

    Woah, people are quickly jumping on the NIMBY train! This is a proposal and we are a long – repeat that – long way off from any final plan. High end apartments? Why not? Better than something built on the cheap and not maintained. Big box or local retailer will please some, anger others. I look it as more people in our community, more jobs, more choices. Dynamic change does occur, especially when set against a market economy.

  • Caprial April 25, 2011 (5:16 pm)

    Living right behind this “possibility” makes me sick. If they got the height variance, we’d have people looking into our yard. It would devalue our property immensley. We love WS for the little town feel it has. With these monstrosities, we’re talking little New York! Not to mention the possibility of our property taxes going up to cover the overages and paving the alley. We’d welcome anything that doesn’t require a height variance actually.

  • westseattleperson April 25, 2011 (5:22 pm)

    Better than townhouses…

  • DB April 25, 2011 (5:26 pm)

    His story sounds neat, and I’d love for him to join the community.

    Unfortunately, I’m guessing he’s going to build an ugly four story building which will be unlikely to carry the character of the building its replacing.

    I’m hoping I’m wrong, but it seems to me that WS has hit its quota of generic four story apartments.

  • chrisma April 25, 2011 (5:34 pm)

    How about an Olive Garden or a Spaghetti Factory.

    Let’s just leave suburbia in the suburbs, shall we?

    If you really gotta have all-you-can-eat breadsticks and pasta, it’s 15 minutes or less to either Southcenter or Broad and Western. Or save your pennies, because that’s a meal you can make as good or better at home for a fraction of the cost.

  • K Jones April 25, 2011 (5:38 pm)

    Pretty sad the way everyone has lost all hope that anything new or different could actually be good. Would you people actually prefer that the project fail?

    In the words of John Prine, “Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood.”

  • Dennis Ross April 25, 2011 (6:35 pm)

    This looks like another cookie cutter development. The Charleston Center was built using current 30 ft. zoning. Why is it necessary for an upzone. It must be to increase profits. Thanks to the City Council and DPD for setting a precenent with the Cayce/Gain property. DWAR

  • bangles April 25, 2011 (6:49 pm)

    I can’t begin to express how disappointed I am. I live immediately behind the Charlestown Cafe. The thought of having yet another half-empty “mixed use” building in W. Seattle, let alone having an extra-tall one towering over my backyard and blocking out any sunlight sickens me. You want to work with the community, how about not completely eclipsing your immediate neighbors??? The last thing we need is to have our property be devalued a little more (speaking of things that make financial sense). Why does this apply to big business, but not to the citizens of this community? This is just one development for you, but this is our one and only home. Lobsang, if you care at all about this community, you should share with your potential new neighbors, not mow them over by petitioning for maximum height. Your background doesn’t matter to me. Your behavior in the present does. You need to share the light.

  • Kelly April 25, 2011 (6:59 pm)

    On the “green” factor:

    For anyone who cares, there’s a big difference between using recycled content materials and construction waste recycling so those percentages shouldn’t be conflated.

    Just for kicks, I looked up his Kirkland project in the (publically available) LEED registered projects list and it doesn’t show. It’s possible he chose to keep it confidential, plenty of people do, since certification isn’t guaranteed.

    And since certification isn’t a sure thing until the project is complete and the award is given, there’s a big difference between saying “it will be LEED certified” and “intended to meet LEED silver”.

    Without going through the certification process it’s impossible to tell which corners were cut–if any.

    To be fair, I’d recommend reserving judgment on the “greenness” until the Kirkland project is complete. If it is awarded LEED certification then the final scorecard will show exactly what green features went into it, and what didn’t.

  • W April 25, 2011 (7:04 pm)

    nice idea – though it always baffles me when “high end” turns out to be the same meager floor plans as subsidized projects with just an upgrade in interior finishes. If the developer wants to offer cramped apartments at high prices, that’s their business. The exterior design, though, needs to offer more curb appeal for the neighborhood– I expect it will happen at some point in the process -that is what design review is for.

  • StaceyD April 25, 2011 (7:47 pm)

    I have to agree- another apartment building with retail below is not high on my list. The owner ran out a successful, locally owned business for what – Olive Garden. I can honestly say if that comes to be, my family will never eat there. The existing building is just fine. It has good dining space and parking. It “fits” into the neighborhood.

    We need to be an active community like Queen Anne. They have successfully kept out the big box stores and the chain restaurants.

    I would rather be like Queen Anne than Kirkland or Kent.

    • WSB April 25, 2011 (8:14 pm)

      Please see paragraph 9. The developer specifically said the site is not right for “big box” and he also specifically said he’s hoping for something with a Charlestown-type feel. Obviously, as with any project, nothing’s final till it’s final, but in this particular case, lest someone confuse the comments with the story, please take note.
      While researching this story, I noted something that I would suspect likely rules out any possibility the current building will be reused. Check this page in the county property records:
      Note “highest and best use if vacant … mixed use … highest and best use if improved … tear down.” And the fact the land alone is considered to be worth $2 million.

  • george April 25, 2011 (8:14 pm)

    So People, if local business is SO important, why did you let Charlestown Cafe fail?

  • JanS April 25, 2011 (9:17 pm)

    George, you ask a good question, considering the comments here. And thanks , TR, for clarifying that there is nothing in the plans right now that says it will be an Olive Garden. That was a commenter’s wish only. West Seattle doesn’t seem to be a chain type of place.

  • Mike April 25, 2011 (10:20 pm)

    Anyone wonder how the value of this property doubled during the biggest bust in real estate history?

  • Scott April 25, 2011 (10:41 pm)

    We’d also be directly affected by the rezoning — instead of looking out our windows to see blue sky, mtns, and trees, we’d see the back wall of an apartment building. How disappointing that the developer is more interested in increasing their profits than fitting into our existing community (& zoning).

  • lives here, too April 25, 2011 (11:25 pm)

    OK. Let’s get real.
    – The owner of this property is not going to sell – to anyone.
    – The owner wants to retain this property in the portfolio.
    – The owner also is determined to redevelop the property.
    As someone who remembers the fight to keep the Charlestown Cafe, I am encouraged by some of this, and want to encourage those with concerns to attend the review meetings and to be organized and clear about voicing the concerns.
    In protesting the previous proposal, there was interest in creating a mixed use structure that would allow a “Charlestown-like” business to be at street level. It seems to me like there is an effort on the part of the owner and his developer to move forward with the redevelopment but still give the community something that fits (better than a big-box store would have.)
    I encourage everyone to put on your creative beanies and think constructively about what could happen at that location. Certainly, a run-down structure, sitting vacant will not enhance our community.

  • JanS April 25, 2011 (11:47 pm)

    for those who are mourning the potential loss of your “views” from the back of your homes, your second floors, etc. (those who live on 42nd SW), there is no law on the books that says no one can block them. People have run into this up on Genesee Hill, on Hillcrest SW, just west of 55th SW. Those on the east side of the street tried to stop people on the west side from expanding their homes, and blocking views. Sadly, it is what it is. Will he get the zoning changed? Maybe not..then there’d be a 3 story bldg. Let’s face it. The current bldg needs a ton of work, if it was left there. And the landlord , who owns the property, would not be able to use the property as he thinks best. It’s his property, not the neighborhood’s. Go to the Design Review Board meetings, voice your concerns, and listen, really listen to what the developers have to say. Minds might change.

  • Deeno April 26, 2011 (2:33 am)

    Of course it will be reassuring for the neighbors getting their views ‘disheveled’ a bit, that an ex-Tibetan monk has seen fit to do so. He’s a really different kind of guy and seems really nice. This project is for the betterment of West Seattle and it’s populus, not the owner. Who are we anyway, as residents with hard-earned thoughtful home purchases, to think that zoning ever meant anything? The gall.

    After viewing the pictures of Potala Village, I see why some posters here are so excited about having one here. It is so different than what we’re used to. Unmitigated facades to the sky and the best paint Lowe’s has to offer, makes for another exciting place to exist. Space for more empty retail would also be another big draw. All certainly worth an unchallenged upzone.

    In fact, why not upzone the whole of the peninsula in one fell swoop? After all, the founding fathers had no idea of the possibilities to come in this new millenium. We could even have more successful construction on heretofore ‘unbuildable’ lots, which would also be a boon for retaining wall companies and underworked city crews.

    We can all be better citizens for giving this developer a chance to proceed without any encumbrances. Just like in the Cayce and Gain rezone, the principals always know when to stop and would never think about taking an upzone to the next level, or down the street. After all, we’re their neighbors and they have our best interests at heart. Trust them. I’m sure this will be the last request.

  • JA April 26, 2011 (6:07 am)

    Fabulous… just what we need on California Ave- more cookie cutter apartment buildings with street level retail. Yuk.

  • redblack April 26, 2011 (6:13 am)

    i worked on masonry at potala village in everett.
    that was not a LEED-certified building, either. LEED requires rigorous compliance inspection, and as kelly pointed it, it ain’t just about recycling construction debris.
    i’ll also tell you this: i’ve never seen a masonry unit (clay or concrete) made from 100% recycled material. same for the concrete foundation and floors. (hmm. i might have to market an organic, free-range brick. that would be huge, especially in portland.)
    but the owner/developer’s email address is available above, and he said he wants to hear your feedback. so get to writing, people.

  • SBOIWS April 26, 2011 (7:10 am)

    As a small business owner in West Seattle, I just hope his per square foot of retail space is less then the above stated $28 at Charlestown Center. Affordable retail rents are hard to find for any space over 1500 sq ft. Looks like he will have a good selection.

  • Concerned April 26, 2011 (7:31 am)

    We need family restaurants in West Seattle, with parking. Hate to see it turned into another condo/apartment. It already feels like an overcrowed closet in West Seattle!

  • HEW April 26, 2011 (7:42 am)

    I grew up directly behind the cafe and I loved the small community feeling that the neighborhood offers. I don’t think that “losing a view” is as important as the loss of backyard privacy that this building would cause. The fact of the matter is, if this building gets built, and zoning is approved, all those people living on 42nd will lose ANY sense of backyard privacy with a building that will tower over them. Not to mention all of the noise that will be caused if/when construction begins, for however long it will take. I love West Seattle and I love how peaceful and welcoming each neighborhood has made it. However, I am not in love with the idea of another cookie cutter building that will be half utilized, just like several others that have gone up around the area. I am just as disappointed as a lot of you are that the Charlestown Cafe has gone out of business, but we need to stand together and make sure that our neighborhood stays quaint and unqiue.

  • stb April 26, 2011 (9:05 am)

    I am a little baffled about people rejecting “cookie cutter” buildings yet waxing poetic about an old “Country Kitchen” restaurant building. That building is a beautiful example of stamped-out 70s-era franchise restaurants and not much else, I’m afraid.

  • LR April 26, 2011 (9:18 am)


  • Kathy Kelleher April 26, 2011 (9:24 am)

    Looks like Charlestown Center (across the corner) on steroids
    and like every other apartment building new to the area. Are there no architects with ideas? Another cookie cutter building too large in scale for the neighborhood. Also probably empty as are the others!

  • SarahScoot April 26, 2011 (9:26 am)

    Agree, stb, and I’ll add that I’m baffled by people who I know are renters complaining about more apartments being built. So… it’s o.k. for you to have an apartment, but not for others? I certainly don’t agree with homeowners who oppose new apartments, but at least their opposition makes some amount of sense (they generally think renters will lower their own property values or bring in more crime; specious reasoning, obviously). But renters opposing new rentals makes absolutely no sense to me, and smacks of NIMBY-ism.

  • charlabob April 26, 2011 (10:05 am)

    OK, I haved no particular opinion about this particular development but I have to say, if I’d known the general desire of WS residents was to live in a small town we’d be …. in Fremont or Ballard. Jeez, people — this is a city! It’s touching that everyone would like the convenience/use of a city with none of the possible incomvenience. But that’s not how the world works.

    Get involved with reasonable zoning — mixed density, income, etc. But stop trying to make this vibrant Seattle Neighborhood in yet another hick small town. Believe it or not, there are folks out here who would see *that* as the kiss of death.

  • SarahScoot April 26, 2011 (10:16 am)

    Bravo, charlabob. I agree wholeheartedly with your entire comment. Thank you.

  • george April 26, 2011 (10:32 am)

    So if you want the big city, move to Capital Hill or Belltown. Then you know what you’re getting ahead of time, rather than getting run over by greedy developers who build, then run out of town.

  • Richenga April 26, 2011 (10:42 am)

    FYI, the concept of “reasonable zoning” is a euphemism pushed by developers for exploitation of a neighborhood for their own personal enrichment, and oh incidentally a few housing units of minimum levels of quality may result. For those who want high density housing and all the degraded living quality that that entails, why on earth don’t you move down town?? Don’t expect an existing “small town” neighborhood that you haven’t lived in very long to embrace your big city life style preferences. If you want WS to become like down town, duh, go ahead and move down town. We have only ONE, that’s ONE, just a single, unitary, not multiple means of access to and from our small town, and its way over capacity already and the “new” WS Freeway doesn’t add any more lanes. We not only don’t want but we can’t handle ANY more development over here. We are maxxed out. That’s a hint for where you should move to if you want higher density.

  • huskilvr April 26, 2011 (10:50 am)

    Well, at least its not another bank.

  • eastwest April 26, 2011 (10:59 am)

    I have to disagree with charlabob, one of the things that drew me and my family to WS is it’s character and the fact that it has a suburban neighborhood “feel” to it and yet you are in the city. I feel WS is a great place to live. Why can’t we look to limit some of the inconvenience as you put it? I am not against growth, but growth for the sake of growth is not what we need. I want to keep this a vibrant neighborhood as you called it and not smoother it. There should be reasonable considerations made for both single family homes and multi residential units.
    We are also far from a hick town, and no one wants to make it one, that is just a mean spirited comment on your part.
    One thing I would really like to know is has the city taken into account how we are going to move all of the additional households in and out of WS? The bridge is pretty backed up as it is now.

  • marianne April 26, 2011 (11:17 am)

    Bring back Penney’s Doghouse Drive-In

  • Yvonne April 26, 2011 (11:35 am)

    I live nearby (I can see the Charlestown) and am open to the re-development of this site. While I am not excited about the design so far, I do want to give this development/developer a chance. I hope through meetings/etc., a design & build will be good for everyone in this deal, neighbors included.

    To be quite honest, the Charlestown Cafe has been a run down building for many years (have you seen the sides lately?) that needs to be torn down.

    Side note: I don’t know what anybody saw in the food there anyway. Same as the “Maltby Cafe”? Come on this was a worse version of “The Rocksport–Breakfast Version”. I tried it several times and it was just bland, boring stuff. Yuk. I can make food better than that (and did).

    Anyway, one must look at the relative older apartments in the area. There are tons of them along California Ave. If the proposal was to build something that was a downgrade (from the rubbish heap that is there now), I’d be upset…but one would be hard pressed to say that this proposal (if done well & smartly) won’t be a upgrade in the area from other apartments AND the empty building that is there now.

  • Peter on Fauntleroy April 26, 2011 (11:59 am)

    I would like an answer from all the commenters ranting about “greedy developers.” Who built your home? Perchance a developer who wanted to profit? Why is that okay for your home but not for new homes? Your double standards are ridiculous and unsupportable.

    Also, those who are opposed to “developement” in general. There was something where your home is before it was built. Why was it okay for your home to be built, but not to build new homes for other people? Again, your double standard is ridicuous an unsupportable.

  • SarahScoot April 26, 2011 (12:03 pm)

    Richenga said, “We have only ONE, that’s ONE, just a single, unitary, not multiple means of access to and from our small town,”
    First point of contention: there are multiple routes into and out of West Seattle. The Jeanette Williams Memorial Bridge (West Seattle “high bridge”) is the main route. There’s also the low bridge beneath it. There’s Olson Place SW near SR-509. There’s Highland Park Way, accessible from W. Marginal Way SW. And there are many options beyond those, using other streets (Ambaum from Burien, for instance).
    Furthermore, West Seattle is not a small town. I have nothing further to say about that, because this portion of your statement is patently false.
    “…and its [sic] way over capacity already and the “new” WS Freeway doesn’t add any more lanes.”
    I assume you’re still speaking of the Jeanette Williams Memorial (high) Bridge. Please explain your reasoning for stating it is “way over capacity,” because again, this is not my experience. Maybe it’s because I commute downtown by bus, but the bridge is almost never the choke point in my commute.

    • WSB April 26, 2011 (12:13 pm)

      To Sarah’s point: The bridge is certainly a mess during the morning commute peak – every so often I have to go downtown for a morning hearing or meeting (used to commute daily pre-WSB) and am reminded of the crunch that thousands are experiencing daily. Since, apartment buildings or no apartment buildings, growth isn’t going to stop entirely, I hope that solutions are being found including more telecommuting and maybe even more jobs here in WS so fewer people have to “leave the island.”
      In the meantime, the Spokane Street Viaduct widening project ( ) *is* adding to the capacity of that stretch, between 99 and 5 – as did the 4th Avenue South offramp, which is one more way to get downtown if you don’t want to get into the crazy backup for the single-lane 99 exit from the eastbound high bridge … I take it most of the time when I have to go downtown these days. NOT perfect by any means. And the fact that transit funding is shrinking rather than growing is of concern (plus, even transit advocates note that buses get stuck in the same traffic as everybody else). But there is some wiggle room. – TR

  • george April 26, 2011 (12:29 pm)

    Well lets see, my home was built in 1918 and I’m pretty sure it was a mound of dirt, as were the other bungalows built later. Recently, View Sauna’s seem to be the rage, tall monolithes that scream “Look at me, look at me!” Yes, my 1918 builder made a killing building a retreat that housed cold bodies that needed shelter. What are these new ones providing that add to this distinct community that we own here? If you want convenience, grab a bus and go downtown for your fix. Is high density, cheap nail shops, and vacant offices what is really craved here? Its not what I asked my realtor when I moved here. (oh yes, please, I want to raise a family where there is lots of construction, more bland condo’s and apartments, and business that fail every two years because they are over saturated).
    How many new units have been added to WS in the past 4 years? Is this sustainable living when resources are capping out?

  • george April 26, 2011 (12:32 pm)

    I thought the mantra for supporting ALL our local businesses was “overpay if its too expensive because they need the extra revenue at all costs over the big box”; “ignore poor flavor or overpriced menu’s because we don’t like chain resteraunts here”; don’t let mom and pops fail because then we lose a local small business. So, I don’t get your point? You can’t have it both ways.

  • george April 26, 2011 (12:37 pm)

    I thought WS folks were averse to driving from Alki/Admiral to Highland Drive to avoid traffic. Doesn’t that mess up the “carbon footprint” argument? face it, The West Seattle Bridge is the primary transit route based on volume, not “convenience”. And any time after 7:15am to 9:30 is a mess, either on the bus or in the vehicle (and I include the Seneca and Western offramp from 99 soon to be removed as part of this route.)

  • eastwest April 26, 2011 (12:43 pm)

    Sarah, you are correct WS is not a “small town” but it does have characteristics which give it a smaller more intimate feel and it would be nice if we did not have to lose that.

    Transportation does need to be addressed because as someone who lives near the Jeanette Williams Memorial (high) Bridge it does get crowded and backed up and is only going to get worse with multiple apartment complexes that are popping up adding hundreds of new households to WS. For a lot of people the other options you mention would mean having to go farther away from Seattle to then go back toward Seattle.

    I am not against growth or progress but just because you can build X-number of units doesn’t make it a good idea. Maybe building on a slightly smaller scale would make more sense and fit the immediate neighborhood better.

  • flynlo April 26, 2011 (12:43 pm)

    TR: One can question “adding to the capacity of that stretch between 99 and 5”! Yes, we’re getting one additional east bound exit (to 4th). The former west bound exit moves from 4th to 1st. There is no entrance west bound from north bound 1st. There is no easy entrance west bound from north bound 4th. (Like waiting for trains?) There is no exit east bound to south bound 99. There is no entrance west bound from north bound 99. Sure, there’s additional capacity east bound from 99 to 5 but there is no place for that capacity to go when you get to 5. Additionally, if they implement tolling on 99, starting at spokane street as has been discussed, the new exit to 4th will look a lot like the “crazy backup for the single-lane 99 exit from the eastbound high bridge”!!

  • KBear April 26, 2011 (12:48 pm)

    California Avenue is one of the main streets in the most populated neighborhood (West Seattle) of the largest city in the state. The population of West Seattle is so large, that if it were its own city, it would still be among the largest in the state. We do not live in a “small town”. It doesn’t mean we should be razing all our single-family homes to put in multi-story apartments, but California Avenue is EXACTLY where this type of development belongs.

  • charlabob April 26, 2011 (12:52 pm)

    Thanks, Sara (and thanks, too, to you who disagreed with me. I always learn a lot when I stick my toe in the water of public opinion.

    Personally, I’d like to see folks who want to live in city suburbs (as opposed to real suburbs) pay more in taxes to support the lifestyles supported by true city dwellers. I’d also like to see suburbanites (anyone not a seattle resident) pay use taxes for parking, transit, hotels, restaurants — everything that requires the loathesome inconvenience they want to afford.

    Either that means I’m a greedy libertarian or a practical person who wants everyone to pay hir fair share.

  • Me April 26, 2011 (12:57 pm)

    stb … doesn’t have to be a “cookie cutter” restaurant! (but better then a Giant Building in this area) They can “build” a better layed out restaurant, that would/could serve more people. If you like living in an overgrown jungle, there is always downtown! What’s wrong with a “community feeling”?

  • christina April 26, 2011 (12:57 pm)

    really? this is the best they could come up with? More crappy developer/builder box condo’s that look like every other condo building. West Seattle is going down hill. Sad.

  • ConcernedHedonist April 26, 2011 (2:03 pm)

    There’s a sneaky little Faustian bargain here; most people on this blog are extremely concerned with the supposedly sky-rocketing crime rate and wonder why the police don’t do anything, yes? But I can guarantee you that developments like these, when they finally sell (the units therein, that is), sell to the -ahem- more affluent citizens and monied transplants. (Let’s say “66 percenters”) These are the types of people that the police tend to jump rather high for rather quickly. We are not the first area to go through this, in fact the pattern is pretty well established. It doesn’t so much matter what I think (I’ll be leaving soon enough, and fleeing tax base tends to get the power structure’s attention as well…), but it’s interesting to see how various problems and various complaints fold into each other sometimes and how easy the tapestry can be to ignore. It’s all connected — right down to the 35th speeders and the trash on Alki.

  • foy boy April 26, 2011 (2:36 pm)

    Gee people all up and down cal av there are apartments. Some are new and some are old but there they are. Whats one more. You all act like this is the first one being built and the whole dinamics of WS is going down the drain.

  • george April 26, 2011 (4:21 pm)

    One more? How about the one at Cal & Alaska to be built? How about QFC? How about across from Safeway? How about the one close to the post office? There’s another plan north of Admiral. How about the Triangle? Lets start adding the units. I mean, when do you say enough is enough? Or do we just raze all of California, and then decide, hey, thats gone, lets start on the next block(s) over? How much do you think this infrastructure can support? It WAS a nice little community. Its BECOMING over populated with rentals and condos. Don’t you miss Alki before they built up all the condo’s? What brought you here to begin with, was it the thought that hey, this place is gonna go on massive overdrive buildup, I want to be in the middle of it? I’m not against growth, but this just seems like developers chasing a dream while the fire is hot and leaving WS with the ruins (Hole Foods anyone?)

  • average joe April 26, 2011 (11:25 pm)

    looks like a combination of waste…excuse me, west water and ‘shag’ and the REALLY bad building across from the admiral theater. BAD, BAD, BAD.
    monk or not, he is here to MAKE money and RUN. hide under the cloud of ‘green’ and ‘high end’ and ‘recycled’ all you want. it’s still bad bad bad.
    He doesn’t care about West Seattle people, West Seattle character or anything else ‘West Seattle’. He cares about MAKING MONEY!
    Please hire an architect…i.e. a thoughtful architect.
    does anyone else here think that Fremont has been ruined? how about the big building in Ballard?
    I am pro growth, believe me….but if they can’t pencil it out with the current zoning, then don’t build it, because they won’t come! and write letters to the building department of seattle and tell them what you think. and please go to the upcoming design review meetings, contact you council members, and Dow Constantine, and the mayor, and everyone else. Why is rezoning not a matter of public vote.
    let yourself be heard.
    Did I already say ‘bad?’

  • average joe April 26, 2011 (11:39 pm)

    by the way…that building across the street on the opposite corner from Charlestown Cafe which still has its most ‘desirable’ space vacant (along with several others) sold itself on ‘high-end’ and ‘green’.
    how do you like it now?

  • datamuse April 27, 2011 (7:15 am)

    God forbid a developer should want to make money. Geez louise, people.

  • 44th Neighbor April 27, 2011 (1:58 pm)

    Wow – so many great points. I live very close to this location and am concerned about the proposed zoning change. I think 30 ft. Is an appropriate limit for that spot and hope the developers take the aesthetic feedback into consideration. Beyond that, it beats the heck out of an empty cafe or a big box store.

    To the people whose backyards are affected, I feel for you. But presumably you knew about the zoning behind you when you purchased your home. I know I checked mine out when I bought two years ago…

    When these things come up, I think about cozy Ballard and its overabundance of townhomes, which really affect its charm and character. California Ave is the right place to do this. I just ask everyone to stay involved so we can do it right.

  • Caprial April 27, 2011 (4:24 pm)

    @44th Neighbor; I do live right behind this, and we did know about the zoning…..31 years ago! They would never have had a variance to 40+ ft at that time so how could we have anticipated it? I have no problem with them keeping the zone as it is, I just think it is a huge slippery-slope when precedents are set.

  • 44th Neighbor April 27, 2011 (8:04 pm)

    Fair enough, Caprial. I absolutely agree we should block the rezoning. I look at the huge gray building on the west side of the 3600 block from my house and think it’s a monstrosity.

  • Daniel E. Fava April 28, 2011 (11:52 am)

    Wow! It is really great that some new high end, green apartments in Seattle. This is a great article. I have bookmarked it on five sites. It’s good to old properties being renovated.

  • george April 29, 2011 (12:56 pm)

    Thanks Daniel. sarcasm noted.

  • jamminJ April 29, 2011 (5:48 pm)

    wow, remind me to not open a business in west seattle. such hostility to someone offering jobs, new business, and $$$ to your neighborhood.

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