BULLETIN: Construction about to resume at ‘The Hole’

11:14 AM: West Seattle’s most notorious stalled-construction site, where ground was ceremonially broken almost five years ago for a project then called “Fauntleroy Place,” is now back in action. Multiple tipsters tell us crews are on site getting ready to work on what is now known as Spruce – the new name first reported here when we found the revised plans last July. The only commercial tenant planned for Spruce is an LA Fitness health club (the Whole Foods store it once was to hold is now destined for the future 4755 Fauntleroy project right across the street). We’re headed over for a look; more to come.

11:50 AM: Added two photos – the backhoe in the top image is visible at the site entrance off 39th SW, south of West Seattle Bowl; from the short alley off 40th SW, you can see a second one is onsite, too. Checking online files showing the site’s permits – many of which have long been approved and waiting, given the project’s history – the newest application is for onsite power, also a “getting started” sign.

After a long court fight that ensued when the project stalled after the site was excavated, Madison Development Group was the winning bidder for the site, $32 million, more than a year and a half ago. The only significant discussion of its plans since then – besides what we found in the files last summer – came at a Seattle Design Commission meeting last December (WSB coverage here), required before the project’s “alley vacation” could be finalized.

28 Replies to "BULLETIN: Construction about to resume at 'The Hole'"

  • onion May 9, 2013 (11:26 am)

    Careful. We wouldn’t want them to rush this project or anything.

    Has it been five years already?

  • Diane May 9, 2013 (11:35 am)

    oh good to hear it wasn’t just me that thought this was unusually significant, walking by on way to bus yesterday, saw a guy down in the pit raking stuff into bags; yay

  • Is It Me May 9, 2013 (12:47 pm)

    FINALLY! I was just having lunch at Husky Deli and wondering about all this. We’ve emptied out half the block across the street for two different projects (corner and PetCo building) and then have “the hole too”. I though, wow, what if they shut down the Shell station and funeral home too (new Whole Foods building) and THAT stalls too…thinking of all that empty “waiting” real estate. Glad to see this one going forward. You can debate IF we should have torn out the existing businesses (if this building will be ‘better’) but we already did…so just glad to see it going forward!

    • WSB May 9, 2013 (1:04 pm)

      IIM – the ex-Petco site is expected to start within a month or so, and I will be very surprised if that slips. The corner, though, may well be still some distance off. I remarked to somebody in a conversation earlier this week that it almost seemed to be physical yin/yang with The Hole – the empty excavation, the empty but undemolished California/Alaska/42nd buildings …

  • Elisa May 9, 2013 (12:47 pm)

    I used to take my son over in the stroller to watch the big machines working. He’s 6 1/2 now. :)

  • petert May 9, 2013 (12:59 pm)

    I’ll believe it when I see the neon go on.

  • brittany May 9, 2013 (1:06 pm)

    i kind of forgot that the hole was even there. it’s just part of the landscape now.

  • Diane May 9, 2013 (1:08 pm)

    good one Elisa; how many babies were born when hole was dug, are now in elementary school?

  • Carol Hert May 9, 2013 (1:11 pm)

    As usual, the West Seattle blog is on top of things. I was walking past today and commented to a fellow walker that the Blog would know what was going on and sure enough, I get home and check and you do. You are an important source of information for me and the community; keep up the fabulous work!

  • Diane May 9, 2013 (1:12 pm)

    I wish the developer of the empty storefronts in the junction (Equity) would put up temp wall around and let the community paint with colorful murals, until they get around to doing something; they seem to be focused on the huge apt tower/s they’re building in downtown right now and totally ignoring us

  • DW May 9, 2013 (1:15 pm)

    What is going on with the empty buildings in the junction? Why kick all the tenants out if you are not going to build? I’m struggling to understand what the developer gains from this?

  • S. May 9, 2013 (1:36 pm)

    Ahhh how I hate living in WS now. Way to go and ruin the Junction with the 7 story building. I can’t move away fast enough.

  • js May 9, 2013 (1:51 pm)

    @S.: Rejoice — you’re living in a dynamic, growing city. New development will bring more shops, restaurants and services. And there will be more people to patronize the West Seattle businesses you already support. I’m perfectly happy to see my neighborhood “ruined” this way.

  • Fiwa Jcbbb May 9, 2013 (1:58 pm)

    Can’t we establish some architectural standards of decency? The new buildings going up are ugly as sin. If Joel Horn and the other idiots put in charge of the monorail project had listened to me, that site would now be home to a fully-functional park-and-ride monorail terminal whisking people downtown faster than they could drive there. Again, I would be a kind and benevolent king.

  • jiggers May 9, 2013 (3:17 pm)

    When I told friends how to get to the Junction, I always tell them look for the big hole to the right off the freeway and keep headiing up Alaska. They got used to doing that.

    Meanwhile, The Rocksport could have stayed open another year, but I see no action after they told us construction was too start in late August last year…pfffttt!

  • brandon May 9, 2013 (3:28 pm)

    Unfortunately the builders just keep building these ugly buildings, eventually we will look like Bellevue…excuse me I just barfed in my mouth a little.

  • nyhopi May 9, 2013 (3:56 pm)

    I live on that block and got no notification they were to begining construction today. VERY different from the last builders who kept our little street very much informed. Hope my dogs were ok with the extra noise had I known I might have turned the radio up or plugged in a fan.

    Way to treat your neighbors…Madison Development Group! And you say you are….”deeply invested in understanding the distinct market forces and the unique people of the Northwest”….sorry I’m not feeling it.

    • WSB May 9, 2013 (4:04 pm)

      Sorry to hear that, Nyhopi. We have tried multiple times to get an update since that December meeting and have been unsuccessful. But somebody knew something – some developers (different project) with whom I spoke a few days ago mentioned in passing that they were under the impression Spruce was starting this week, so we’d been watching the site daily anyway. – TR

  • JK May 9, 2013 (5:23 pm)

    Elisa, me too! Our kids are the same age it seems. And we did the same at the Link site as that was going up. Now maybe I’ll take my son’s younger sister although I think she’s probably past that age of wonderment (already 3)!

  • Gene May 9, 2013 (6:46 pm)

    You know — js– there are folks that have no objection to WS growing- but is there some reason so much of the proposed growth is just ugly?? Can’t there be some vision– some creativity?? I” rejoice” in growth– but object to ” ugly”.

  • Eric Thomas May 9, 2013 (9:42 pm)

    Good god! LA Fitness? Keep LA out of West Seattle! We are going to look like (and be as troubled as) Ballard in a couple years. Tough to swallow.

  • js May 9, 2013 (10:50 pm)

    Gene, I’m with you on the “ugly” part. It seems a lot of the effort to break up the bulk of some of these large projects — like use of varied facades and materials — just makes them look schlocky.
    I was just in Portland and marveling at some of the attractive buildings getting built there. I’m not an architect or anything, but I imagine that the difference is a result of buildings here simply being designed to suit Seattle’s design and land use codes.
    But even schlocky buildings are big improvements over the visual blight of the Huling Bros. lots and Hole Foods site.

  • Chrisd May 9, 2013 (11:11 pm)

    I agree with the comments regarding the terrible architectural standards. Who are the people on the design reviews? Certainly not experts. Who approved the ‘ugly’ building on the corner of 35th and Avalon?

  • Brontosaurus May 10, 2013 (12:18 am)

    Elisa, I was going to make exactly the same comment! My toddler spent many happy times watching the diggers dig that giant hole. Now, as we drive by THE HOLE nearly every day, my almost 7 year old will occasionally say, “Mommy, why did they dig that big hole?” I honestly expected it to still be there when he graduates high school.

  • MK May 10, 2013 (2:54 am)

    @Chris D, I agree – that building is horrific. Looks like someone slapped some aluminum together and put a roof on it.

  • FionaEnzo May 10, 2013 (7:43 pm)

    And you just know someone is going to plow into that aluminated corner at some point — hideously close to the road. No grace. Shantytown.

  • Mke May 11, 2013 (10:51 am)

    LA Fitness…really? We all know Allstar did incredibly well just down the street…….
    It amazes me Whole Foods will still attempt to build anywhere in West Seattle at this point.
    I agree that the past decade of architecture has been pretty bad. Building rules have been changed to allow for less improvement and more profit, design is cookie cutter shanty town style. It’s time for some legitimate developers to start building in West Seattle and make this a place that is better and not drag it downward.

  • Resident3 May 12, 2013 (12:28 pm)

    There are a handful of Crossfit gyms in west Seattle owned by people who live here with us, if you need a gym I hope you will give them a try before a biggie commercial one. :)

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