West Seattle development: House replacements ramp up too

With the economy improving, a variety of construction is happening around West Seattle – not just the medium-to-big apartment or mixed-use projects we often report on. Last night, we mentioned a unique three-home remodel/rebuild project in Westwood with special financing related to energy improvements. Today, a more typical type of project that’s happening more often (judging by demolition permits on file) after a few quiet years: Old-house replacements. Steve e-mailed us to share the photo of demolition happening right now at 2134 44th SW in North Admiral. County records show the house is more than a century old, sold three months ago to Isola Homes, a Renton-based company that’s currently building small multifamily projects in West Seattle – the five-unit “rowhouses” on which we reported last summer – as well as new single-family homes. The Isola website includes renderings of the 2 1/2-story house with rooftop deck that’ll be built after the 1906 home is demolished.

20 Replies to "West Seattle development: House replacements ramp up too"

  • marianne December 4, 2012 (11:25 am)

    I’m sure this new construction will “stand out” in the neighborhood. (not in a good way)

  • Justin December 4, 2012 (11:56 am)

    WSB, The clickable map link in the article is much appreciated. I always want to go to a map and see where any of these projects or businesses are located. Thanks!

  • MBanana December 4, 2012 (12:32 pm)

    This is my neighborhood and I’m really disappointed to see another ‘modern’ style building going up in this area. The modern style aesthetic does not fit in with the homes in North Admiral and detracts from the charm of the neighborhood. What a bummer.

  • wsea December 4, 2012 (12:57 pm)

    ugh.. I’m so glad I’m not the neighbor. the area does not seem fit for a 3 story. too bad they cant put the first floor 3/4 under the ground. they would get the sq footage while not standing out and being obstusive.

    • WSB December 4, 2012 (1:13 pm)

      Topic for discussion, for those concerned about this type of new construction … The century-old homes can’t stand forever. What do you think would be more appropriate? Have you seen new homes – if the decision is to tear down and rebuild – that do seem to fit into neighborhoods? I’m just curious. Looking at the SF of this one – on the link we point to – it doesn’t seem as big as some of those we’ve seen/heard of … TR

  • Kim December 4, 2012 (1:15 pm)

    I *am* a neighbor (a couple doors down), and I like this new look. Contemporary is so – well – so now. It’s a big improvement over the beastly “old fashioned” house someone is building right now over on Sunset.

  • Flickertail December 4, 2012 (1:25 pm)

    I agree WSB. Most Seattle neighborhoods over the years get a mix of different styles. I think it adds diversity.

    I guess to escape it one can always go to a new development out in the suburbs. The cookie cutter approach is going like gangbusters there.

  • Neighbor December 4, 2012 (1:26 pm)

    Isola is ruining the character of Admiral. This company is a bad player in our community. They have laid to waste many homes and trees of significance. The monstrosities they build are crappy for every neighborhood they go into. Shame on the owners of this crappy company.

  • Terry Scanlan December 4, 2012 (1:36 pm)

    Good question … W. Sea has seen quite a hodge-podge of architectural styles, from our classic Craftsman homes going back 80+ years to the 50’s ramblers to the (IMHO) awful 70’s split levels, to the cookie cutter spec homes dotted all over in the 80’s and 90’s by Vorn Brock and Omni, etc. …

    We are an eclectic neighborhood. Some good and some bad. I’ve seen enough tired old, poorly used properties torn down for bigger (and agreed, not necessarily better) homes.

    I wonder at the karma of building “out of character” homes, such as the one in this article. In isolation, I think the rendering reveals an interesting building. But I know that street – it will stick out awkwardly both in height and style – which is a shame, in my view.

    On the other hand, in my own neighborhood – west side of Genessee Hill, some folks nearby built a really beautiful modern Craftsman about 3 years ago – but selfishly chose to go three stories in replacing a one story home and obliterated the water view for 4 or 5 of their neighbors. I don’t understand that kind of thinking.

  • marianne December 4, 2012 (1:42 pm)

    Yes, I have seen new construction that fits into existing neighborhood styles. Specifically I noticed today how nicely a few homes built in recent years on 44th Avenue between Hinds and Hanford streets. They are 2 (maybe 2 1/2 story) houses on the east side of the street, set back from the sidewalk, not taking up every inch of the lot space.

  • Kim December 4, 2012 (1:56 pm)

    @Terry – I agree with most of your comments. The house that is being demolished had a pleasing style. It’s a shame it wasn’t purchased for renovation by the other company featured on the blog today, Green Canopy Homes.

    On this block, we do have a wide variety of architectural styles from many eras. Plus, behind us, across the alley, are 3 & 4 story modern condos and apartments. Considering all that, a contemporary home doesn’t seem so far out of context.

  • MBanana December 4, 2012 (4:12 pm)

    WSB – I don’t agree that century old homes can’t stand forever. With proper maintenance and occasional, well thought out renovations, there is no reason they can’t stand for another 100 years barring a massive earthquake or house fire.

    My husband and I purposefully chose to live in W. Seattle as opposed to the East Side because of the character of the established neighborhoods and the pride with which longtime residents have kept up their homes. In addition we realized we don’t need 5000 square feet of living space to be comfortable (we are at around 2700 with an unfinished basement right now) so we have no intention of tearing down our house and building something new that takes up the entire lot.

    Kim – I agree with your second point, it is a shame a company like Green Canopy didn’t get to the house first and renovate it. I think we have to agree to disagree on the appeal of contemporary architecture though. I do not think the style will stand the test of time not unlike 70’s style split levels.

  • natinstl December 4, 2012 (4:17 pm)

    TR-I disagree. With care old homes can survive just fine. I come from the northeast and many of the homes are much older than the ones we see in Seattle. That being said while I would never give up my bungalow I like a lit of these new modern homes if done correctly.

  • MAO December 4, 2012 (5:36 pm)

    Most of these “infill” modern houses are atrocious and do not fit well in the neighborhood context. There are 3 houses that went in a few years ago (3 houses on property that would have been for 2 houses) that DID respect the neighborhood character. They are 3 story but only the top 2 floors are visible from the street and the design details echo the styles of the older houses on the block. You can check them out on the west side of 46th between Admiral Way and Lander. The Design Commission should require similar respectful treatments before permits are granted.

    • WSB December 4, 2012 (6:12 pm)

      MAO – just for clarity, projects like these don’t require Design Review, not even if they were a group of several houses or townhouses. The city zoning guidelines only cover things like height.

  • Eli December 4, 2012 (5:42 pm)

    As an architect and resident I have no problem with the diversity of styles in the area. These are, after all, intended to be homes, unique to the lives in them. That said, there are good and bad representations of all styles from all eras. I think the problem we are seeing is these new homes put up by companies are built with the company mindset: maximize square footage and thus profits. It becomes an issue of scale and not respecting the “feel” of the neighborhood. I believe if these homes were built and designed for a specific person we’d see more character and respect to the existing environment, whereas the company needs to make it uniquely generic to pull in buyers.

  • CEA December 4, 2012 (9:08 pm)

    Sure, century-old homes can last a while longer….as long as the owners have deep pockets. I happen to love old homes, but I’m also realistic. Many people simply cannot afford the upkeep.

  • wsea December 4, 2012 (10:14 pm)

    My issue is with the size not design. I assume it will be at max lot and 3 stories above ground. Its all about profit, neighbor and neighborhood be damned. Lowering the house in ground would dig into profit and time. I guess most dont have an issue until its the house next to you. Me, I choose old design and non-mcmansion which is why I live in west seattle. Alternative;live in mable valley. Just saying.

    • WSB December 4, 2012 (10:27 pm)

      If you follow the link to Isola’s site, it looks like about 2 1/2 stories – two stories plus a rooftop deck and some kind of tower (stair enclosure, at the very least) on top. Anyway, personally, I know what it’s like to live under a much-bigger house – we live in a little old warbox which originally had an extra lot as its backyard – a couple owners before us, the lot was sold off and a three-story house went up, in the late ’80s. But when we bought this in ’91, we knew we were buying it with a tower looming over our very shallow “backyard” (so shallow there wasn’t even a fence to mark the property line!). Anyway, I think it’s an interesting discussion – when I reported last week on the Junction Flats apartment project that will replace three old houses on 42nd in The Junction, developer/architect Brandon Nicholson talked about expecting the entire block to redevelop in the next decade – as is the case already a block north of there on 42nd, where four old houses made way for the Oregon 42 building that’s now going up. However, in an area like that, the zoning is for multifamily – in neighborhoods like the one where this teardown happened today, the zoning remains single-family, so the only question is what will the houses look like as they are rebuilt or remodeled … TR

  • LivesInWS December 5, 2012 (6:48 am)

    If an older house has been kept up, the upkeep is not a problem nor do you need to be rich. Most older houses were built with better quality wood and better construction techniques than newer houses. Any house needs re-roofing, painting, etc, every so often. Wood windows last much longer than vinyl windows which will warp and be energy-wasting before their otherwise useable life is over.

    Green-wise, it’s nearly always better to remodel or upgrade some components than to build new.

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