City to study substation-turned-restaurant site for development

(1st & 3rd photos from King County Assessor’s Office; 2nd, from Seattle Municipal Archives)
Did you know the site of Beni Hoshi (formerly Yasuko’s) Teriyaki, at the 35th/Fauntleroy entrance to the West Seattle Bridge, is a Seattle City Light-owned site that once housed this substation?

We didn’t, until a bit of research prompted by an online update from City Council President Richard Conlin, revealing that the city is eyeing this spot for possible development. He wrote, in part:

… the City is undertaking a pilot project to identify locations where city-owned properties and buildings would be suitable for joint development agreements. Such joint development could include leveraging multiple city funding sources to achieve community benefits, developing mixed-use urban infill on public parking lots, and identifying public/private development opportunities on public land. This could provide revenue for the City, but, more importantly, better utilize scarce resources of land and buildings, especially in denser urban neighborhoods where infill can be a major asset.

In his update (read it here in its entirety), he goes on to say that as part of the “Sustainable Community Development Pilot Program,” the city will “begin analyzing the feasibility of developments on five pilot sites” around the city. The list in his post included a “West Seattle Substation on Avalon Way.” We couldn’t find any records of a substation, past or present, on Avalon Way, so we asked Councilmember Conlin and his staff for location clarification. His staff is out but he replied – and pointed us to the Beni Hoshi site, which was known as the “Avalon Substation” with a long-ago address on SW Genesee:

County records reveal that City Light actually owns three parcels there, totaling about 17,000 square feet; the Beni Hoshi site is zoned for 65-foot mixed-use development, while two parcels to the east are zoned single-family. While this abuts The Triangle, it is not part of the rezoning the council just approved.

So what kind of possible development might be considered there? No specific proposals at this stage, but Councilmember Conlin’s writeup mentioned past examples of “joint developments” including the Delridge Library/Brandon Court site that includes a city-run Neighborhood Service Center, somewhat ironic since the new city budget is moving the NSC out of there and over to the about-to-be-former Southwest Community Center, and the Delridge NSC space is up for lease, as is the suite of offices formerly occupied in that building by the city’s partner in the project, Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association. Meantime, we’ll keep an eye on this study in the New Year.

22 Replies to "City to study substation-turned-restaurant site for development"

  • Diane December 29, 2011 (2:39 pm)

    thanks for this remarkable follow-up to my inquiry; you sure know how to dig up the goods

    • WSB December 29, 2011 (2:47 pm)

      Sorry, forgot to give credit to “Diane saw it first and wondered …” I saw it another place or two too but it was just republished unquestioningly, with no elaboration. The councilmembers, as I’m sure you know, almost all have “blogs” now instead of “newsletters,” but they don’t often contain new information. I do have to say again that I appreciate CM Conlin not just answering his e-mail “we’ll look into it” but sending multiple replies after first answering that the info he got didn’t include an exact location but he would find out. After his second reply, in fact, I went out for a photo and thought the site was perhaps that little triangle in front of Buddha Ruksa/Budget Blinds … forgot to take my iPhone so couldn’t check mail while out, then came home to see another reply from him explaining that it was the teriyaki site, which THEN checked out in city/county archives … which in turn luckily yielded photos (government photos are fair use) so I didn’t have to go burn more fossil fuel heading out for a retake. Historic archive photos are cooler anyway! – TR

  • Dean December 29, 2011 (3:32 pm)

    Before construction of the WS freeway, the West Seattle Boys Club was across the street just due north of the substation. It was approx. in the center of today’s freeway intersection median. Also the building that now houses the teriyaki place was originally a realty office.

  • Jiggers December 29, 2011 (3:43 pm)

    Perfect place for a stripclub..

  • dawsonct December 29, 2011 (4:45 pm)

    Oh NO, you mean we may lose Seattle’s best teriya!?

    • WSB December 29, 2011 (4:48 pm)

      If they’re just going to “study” things next year, it would doubtless be at least three years (my guesstimate) before anything would happen. Maybe they can find a few extra letters for the marquee in the meantime!

  • NeilP December 29, 2011 (4:57 pm)

    The building in the old picture is still there, you can see almost the same view from Google maps. Was overgrown for a long time and cleared out a few years ago.

  • Kenneth December 29, 2011 (7:53 pm)

    Definitely the BEST teriyaki in Seattle. Granted, Seattle is overrun with teriyaki places but this is one which should stay. The place could use a bit of a sprucing up though – a little landscaping and paint job perhaps? Oh yes, as WSB mentions – more letters for the marquee.

  • denbol December 29, 2011 (10:23 pm)

    What is infill?

    • WSB December 29, 2011 (10:29 pm)

      Short answer … if there are vacant/underutilized/redevelopable lots in urban areas, the infill philosophy is to develop those instead of letting development keep sprawling into non-urban areas. Theoretically, then, if there’s a vacant lot between your house and your neighbor’s house in a single-family-home neighborhood, somebody building a house on that lot will mean one less home built in what might now be forest in oh, say, North Bend … Development/political experts, please feel free to elaborate, that’s just my take as a generalist … TR

  • JD December 30, 2011 (7:43 am)

    I like the way Jiggers is thinking. Based on it’s non proximity to things it would be a great place for a strip club. I’d support it

  • JoAnne December 30, 2011 (9:03 am)

    That sounds like a good definition of “infill.” Unfortunately, “infill” has not stopped development from sprawling out into former farms and wooded areas north, east, and south of Seattle.

    Incidentally, these are places where the city of Seattle has no jurisdiction or control over development. Therefore, for the city to say that “infill” prevents urban sprawl is completely absurd and obviously not true.

  • Gina December 30, 2011 (9:14 am)

    Wasn’t the substation there at the same time as the building that is now the Teriyaki place? I had a vague feeling something was missing there, must have been cleared out at the same time as the ones on Dakota St, and Admiral Way.

  • Nate December 30, 2011 (5:15 pm)

    @dawsonct Ha ha, it’s been the best “Teriya” for so many years.

  • S December 30, 2011 (7:29 pm)

    DON’T THEY DARE close down Beni Hosi’s (Yasukos) Best Teriyaki in all Seattle… Go find another area to “Re-develope” Great food, great people. I love that place. Goddess knows we need one more apartment/condo building or another parking lot…

  • Dean December 30, 2011 (8:19 pm)

    Gina – you are correct in that the same concrete bldg. is actually still there today -and the realty/teriyaki bldg. was built in 1955 the same year as the published photo. The actual substation with all the high voltage stuff was removed from the back lot years later.

  • ad December 31, 2011 (12:49 am)

    I have loved the “teriya” sign for years! I will have to take a photo…

  • miws January 2, 2012 (12:26 pm)

    How many remember this bit of trivia?


    In the late 1990’s the bridges along Spokane St, under the Fauntleroy Expressway, and above the railroad yards were being rebuilt/replaced.


    Gerry Kingen, owner of Salty’s on Alki, was worried about a significant drop in business, considering direct access to Alki from Spokane St and the Bridge(s) would be temporarily cut off.


    His solution? Offer to Yashiko’s owner to pay the full cost to replace the beat up old reader-board style sign, with a brand spankin’ new one.


    The condition? Just one; put a message on the side of the sign that drivers see coming off of the Expressway, giving directions to Salty’s, via Avalon, etc. Yashiko’s could have “Best Teriyaki…” or whatever, on the other side.


    After the bridges were fully operational, the entire sign was for Yashiko’s to use, whatever message(s) they wish, on either side.



  • Jiggers January 2, 2012 (3:51 pm)

    They were the worst teriyaki I had ever had. Seattle lacks in good teriyaki. Always something missing. Seattle is not even close to as good as the teryiaki spots in Hawaii.

  • mair January 4, 2012 (9:29 pm)

    In these hard times, we all need to prioritize the costs and importance of these ‘studies’. That being said, I feel the city should save tax dollars and study my detailed study.

    I studied my steaming order of beef teriyaki as well as my boneless chicken teriyaki. I like both and in a previous study, I learned that ordering a beef/chicken combination does not have the proper meat/rice/cabbage ratio as just busting open the wallet and buying both orders. As Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel-san, “balance”.

    As teriyaki restaurants go, Beni Hoshi stuck with the 30+ year old, Toshi’s turned Yasuko’s turned Beni Hoshi semi-sweet, vinegar cabbage. It isn’t great, it isn’t good but I always order an extra on the side with my boneless bird and teriyaki beef. It costs an extra dollar but it makes me feel like I am adding ‘healthy chip’ to my two meals. ‘Ruffage’? NO, ‘Balance’.

    Speaking of ‘Studies’, I also have ‘studied’ that the new “To Go” containers SUCK!, especially with all that special Toshi-Yasuko-Beni Hoshi Teriyaki Sauce mixing with the cabbage juice only lasting about 5 minutes before it leaks in my car.

    I conclude a big NO! I take out Beni Hoshi at least 15 times a year. Sometimes I am in a hurry or lazy or just craving a wholesome meal with a no frills cost and no frills service even though they are plenty friendly. The TV is also no frills but it is the only time I ever get to watch “Inside Edition”. I will bet that the nutritional value is way above the faster food (except my yummy Taco Time across street) and I will miss one of West Seattle’s finest financial values!

    City of Seattle, study concluded! Beni Hoshi=Yummy! Find some other former sub-station to develop into a condo tower with a view of traffic. Leave my teriyaki hot spot alone.

    • WSB January 4, 2012 (11:44 pm)

      Mair, you made me smile. I wander in there every month or so for the half-chicken. And you describe the cabbage … slaw? salad? … perfectly. – TR

  • mair January 12, 2012 (4:39 am)

    Thank you, TR. It is good to know my first shot at being a food and environmental impact engineer has at the very least, ONE fan.


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