West Seattle development: Junction Flats in the works for 42nd SW

(The triplex and houses at the future project site – 4441, 4437, and 4433 42nd SW)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Another Junction apartment project has emerged.

This one, called Junction Flats, has a few differences from others in the works.

One, the project proposed to replace a triplex and two houses in the 4400 block of 42nd SW (photo above) – across from Hope Lutheran – will be four stories high.

That’s the maximum allowed for that block, explains Brandon Nicholson, the West Seattle architect/developer who is part of the ownership group. And that itself is another difference, Nicholson told WSB when we contacted him to ask about the project – it’s West Seattle-owned, unlike most of the other projects now in the pipeline. “We’re not builders or flippers – we’re a group of local West Seattle people (developing a building) that we all intend to keep for a long time” – even the financing (40 years) underscores that, he says.

We found out about Junction Flats when its tentatively scheduled Early Design Guidance meeting turned up on the city website.

The meeting is set for 6:30 pm January 10th*, Senior Center of West Seattle, less than a block from the project site. (*1/9 update – it’s now listed as 8 pm*)

Nicholson says they’re still working out details, with Early Design Guidance more than a month away, but expect the building will have about 70 apartments – could be a bit less, could be a bit more. Though it’s in the “transit overlay” zone and therefore not required to have any on-site parking, it will have an underground garage, he says. They’ll use market and existing-parking studies to determine how many stalls they’ll need to build.

The 40-foot zoning, he explains, is somewhat transitional – if and when the parallel block of California is redeveloped, for example, it has a 65-foot limit, same height as 42nd at the site nearby where a California-based company is currently building Oregon 42 at the southeast corner of 42nd/Oregon, while California south of Oregon in the heart of The Junction is zoned to 85 feet. (You can see the area’s zoning on this city map.)

If the process moves at the expected pace, Nicholson says construction is likely to start in the first quarter of 2014.

By the way, for those who worry about an apartment glut – we’ve documented more than 1,500 units in the works for West Seattle, and that’s pending an update adding projects including this one – Nicholson would disagree. “We’re just making up for what we should have been doing in the past three or four years, anyway,” while the economic downturn put construction mostly on hold. “We’re probably going to see two to three years with a lot of apartment building, and then taper back to normalcy.”

The building is good news for renters, eventually, he contends, since right now the vacancy rate is low and rents are high. His firm is completing a project on lower Queen Anne, where he says, “We’ve been advertising for a week (and) have had 17 inquiries with just a website and a sign. People are really out there looking. It’s going to fill quickly.”

And if an apartment glut does result, Nicholson expects some condo conversions to follow, as was the case in the middle of last decade, just before the economic bust.

But back to Junction Flats – he says the challenge right now, as they get ready to see the Design Review Board, includes “debating the future context of the street,” and how the building should be designed in order to fit into that future context. He believes the block in question, all single-family homes now except for the Ginomai arts center on the north end and a house converted to a business at the south end, will be completely redeveloped within a decade or so – and Junction Flats, as the first project, will set the tone.

Again, the city website labels the January 13th Design Review date as tentative – we’ll let you know if there’s a change.

14 Replies to "West Seattle development: Junction Flats in the works for 42nd SW"

  • babs November 30, 2012 (1:10 pm)

    One of those houses is where Lady Di’s Pet Chaperone currently is located. Guess they’ll be moving, hopefully not far from the junction.

  • WSratsinacage November 30, 2012 (2:44 pm)

    “Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage.”

  • Faith4 November 30, 2012 (3:48 pm)

    I continue to be concerned about all of the apartment/condo buildings going in it seems everywhere & taking away our neighborhoods. Traffic is already a mess. Is this because of the change in some of the zoning?

    • WSB November 30, 2012 (3:55 pm)

      The zoning hasn’t changed in more than a decade. What’s happening is that the zoning decisions that were made then are only now being utilized. The big-picture planning around the turn of the millennium designated some core zones as “urban villages.” And that’s where development is focusing now. The Triangle, to the east of The Junction, had some zoning changes recently as it was recognized as a transitional zone that will – as it is already – include more residential development over time. Although ironically, one of the major proposals on the table right now, 4755 Fauntleroy Way, doesn’t seek to use the maximum allowable height – it’s going for 70 in what is an 85-foot zone.

  • aparent November 30, 2012 (5:32 pm)

    I’m not feelin’ it. Too close to that Hope Lutheran School. Lots more traffic.

  • SJoy November 30, 2012 (6:54 pm)

    I have to agree with “aparent”. I don’t have kids at Hope, I’m just a WS resident. They are already making a large apartment complex on the next block. There are just too many kids between Holy Rosary, Hope and the high school there.

    It’s just too much for that area.

  • Flickertail November 30, 2012 (8:01 pm)

    Two hundred years ago this whole area was pretty sparsely settled. What do you all expect? Just look at the census reports for the last 100 years…anything jump out at ya?

  • Mike November 30, 2012 (9:42 pm)

    Zoning laws are being morphed to fit the developers demands, the laws that are in place don’t allow the extensive expansion developers are putting in now. Our current city government bends over backward to do anything a developer wants. Want a skyrise along California Ave? Go for it, they’ll let you go above the current law, just pay them. If you want a better look at how much influence developers have, look at South Lake Union. In a few years Kenmore Air will not operate along Lake Union as they won’t be able to land their airplanes since the new Amazon.com buildings will be so high it’ll block their landing path.

  • EdSane December 1, 2012 (5:13 am)


  • Justin December 1, 2012 (9:02 am)

    That looks like an appropriate place for apartments to go in. It’s sandwiched between commercial style buildings on both sides and is right in the heart of Alaska Junction.

    People continue to breed and then live a long time. Gotta put ’em all some where. I support increasing density in these core zones and keeping our single family areas single family.

    I’ll say it again: We need to encourage Link Light Rail to come to West Seattle. This is the perfect place for it, and it’s the right answer since more roads off the “island” just aren’t going to happen.

  • SuzyQ December 1, 2012 (10:51 am)

    This seems quite sad. West Seattle is turning into the city in “Up”!
    Those are lovely, solid homes that will be torn down. In our Gatewood area, the places being converted are much better candidates for this type of housing, already multi unit “motel style” apartments that are in poor repair.

    Another question to ask is how will all of these new residents get to and from downtown Seattle? The bottleneck just gets more and more impacted by adding volume here.

  • Macj December 1, 2012 (1:06 pm)

    I’m glad this article notes that vacancies are down and rents are going up. I recently got priced out of my current apartment, and need to downsize. Unless West Seattle wants to become a expensive, exclusive, calcified neighborhood, developments like these need to be part of our community. This doesn’t mean developers deserve carte blanche, but that people need to realize that this city is a living, growing thing.

  • george December 2, 2012 (12:11 am)

    For a glimpse of the future, go to Ballard.

  • jerought December 2, 2012 (7:49 am)

    I second the question regarding lady Di moving locations. Any word even though 2014 is a year away?

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