West Seattle development: Rezone proposed for 6-townhome plan near church

That site north of Morgan Junction at 5911 42nd SW (map), once suggested for possible city purchase as open space, now has a development proposal in the works. County records show the site is owned by the nearby West Seattle Church of the Nazarene, and according to Department of Planning and Development online files, it’s proposed for six townhouses on the west side of the parcel, across an alley from multifamily housing and business properties that front California SW.

There’s a twist: The 18,000-square-foot site is zoned as three single-family-home lots, so rezoning to LR-1 (lowrise 1, allowing three stories) is proposed to allow the townhomes, each of which would have a 2-car garage, according to the site plan on file. The project page on the DPD website describes the project as a “contract” rezone – meaning permission would be sought for a rezone just for this purpose – and mentions that the plan would include “… PUDA agreement to provide remainder of land as public open space.” (PUDA is short for Property Use and Development Agreement, explained here along with contract rezones.)

This is a brand-new proposal; the city page also mentions a “pre-application site visit” just this past Friday. Rezone proposals require City Council approval, so this would have a ways to go in public process before final approval. We have a message out to the church in hopes of finding out more, especially about the open-space component, and will update with whatever we find out.

47 Replies to "West Seattle development: Rezone proposed for 6-townhome plan near church"

  • miws September 23, 2013 (5:56 pm)

    I lived directly across 42nd from there, from 1985-2000, in what then was just a tiny old house.


    It really did seem like looking out on a park, from my front window…



  • Genesee Hill September 23, 2013 (6:25 pm)

    If gawd allows it, I am good with it.

  • Silly Goose September 23, 2013 (6:57 pm)

    This is a disgrace more crappy townehomes with no parking so they will clog yet another neighborhood street!! Just lovely…

    • WSB September 23, 2013 (8:33 pm)

      Silly – please note that each townhouse is on the site plan with a two-car garage. And they are blocked along the alley, not the street. The site plan on the city site (not directly linkable, unfortunately) is fairly simple, no sketches of what they would look like, but this is really early in the process … wish we had more info (still haven’t heard back from the church) but so often, people say they didn’t hear about development proposals until it’s too late, so we try to get at least some word out if we learn about a project of note — TR

  • trying! September 23, 2013 (8:14 pm)

    Whoever this person, it is a farce. No one at Genesee would say such a thing!

  • A September 23, 2013 (8:37 pm)

    Please stop the madness!

  • M September 23, 2013 (9:12 pm)

    I used to live on that block. There are already two other townhome developments on that block with 20 townhomes between the two. That’s enough. I don’t know what’s worse, the townhomes or the ugly boxy mini mansions popping up all over the neighborhood.

  • Arbor heights September 23, 2013 (9:24 pm)

    How are we going to deal with all this congestion? I’m really tired of all this building. How can we continue to sustain all of this???

  • Ajax September 23, 2013 (9:29 pm)

    Just playing devil’s advocate here – what would people like to see go in on this property if it cannot become open space? (And let’s go ahead and assume that building 3 free-standing 1912 Craftsman homes using the original plans and materials is not an option.)

  • Jonnie Gilman September 23, 2013 (9:31 pm)

    West Seattle is being destroyed by townhouses, massive condo buildings, “apodements” and gentrification/yuppification. Soon the city will have to provide shuttle busses to White Center from West Seattle, as all the service workers who employed here will not be able to afford to live here anymore. Long term residents are being squeezed out daily. Disgusting!

  • AlexDex September 23, 2013 (10:25 pm)


    Nothing? what’s wrong with what’s there now?
    Ah…no tax revenue.

  • Alki Resident September 23, 2013 (11:33 pm)

    Maybe by 2020 there will be so many new condos, apts and houses built that nobody can be mobile. Im so appalled how there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight of what gets built here. What used to be an easy 10 minute drive from one end of West Seattle to the other has now become almost a half an hour. Streets have gone down to one lane from two lanes, adding bus and bike lanes even though traffic has tripled over time. What a great way to push out the longest residents here just to get relief from the crowded chaos. Tell your friends, come move to West Seattle. The place is booming.

  • cj September 24, 2013 (1:55 am)

    Well it is a good size parcel of land [used to live across the ally from it]. I don’t know about now but that church used to double as a flop house and run open air movies of some kind well into the night in the summer. I know the building had some donated roof repair once as it was badly leaking and it does look pretty old and not well cared for. My one worry would be a high rise, any new building should be kept to a 3 story limit. Those streets on that corner are very residential and should stay that way with out letting commercial zoning take over. A park would be great.

    Some lovely trees … hope they don’t kill them.

  • Megan September 24, 2013 (5:56 am)

    I directly across the street from this and I am dreading it. I’ve seen the plans–the developer lives in the neighborhood–and the “open space” is tiny. I can’t imaging anyone hanging out there with 6 huge townhouses looming over them. I know the description says ‘lowrise’ but let’s be real: 3 stories + a 2 car garage under and a rooftop deck…..these are going to loom over the neighborhood.

    I think what I’m most bummed about is that they are cutting down the three HUGE evergreens on the property to accommodate the new structures. These trees are beautiful and were a selling point of my house as was the view of the Olympic Mountain range from my attic windows where I was planning to build a master bedroom. With the townhouses there, the view will be gone. When I expressed this to the developer (my neighbor) he had the audacity to say “You could buy one of the townhouses”.

    What I would like to see is 2-3 single family homes with yards that work around the existing tree (which are all in the back corner of the lot, and would be do-able to work around). I’d even be happy with uber modern tall towers that loom if the trees would remain and the neighborhood would stick with single family homes.

  • patriot September 24, 2013 (6:45 am)

    This all started back in Norm Rice’s day with the “urban village” concept. Pack everyone in like rats and take away their independent transportation. As long as the “progressives” keep getting elected this is what you can expect. Take a look at the Avalon Way canyon with the sunshine robbing behemoths that have gone up and continue to be built. It’s all about tax revenue folks. The heck with quality of life in WS any longer.

  • seaopgal September 24, 2013 (7:18 am)

    Sorry, patriot, it’s all about PROFIT, not tax revenue … but the end result is the same.

  • robespierre September 24, 2013 (7:33 am)

    You’ll get over it.

  • miws September 24, 2013 (7:36 am)

    Yeah, I loved those trees…



  • chet September 24, 2013 (9:33 am)

    Told ya so in 2005 on wsb.

    • WSB September 24, 2013 (10:01 am)

      Chet – couldn’t have been 2005 since I started WSB on Christmas Eve that year with one post (not really about West Seattle, just about Christmas) and stats show not a soul even stumbled onto the site for some weeks :) But if you have a link to a previous mention, I’d be interested! Just checked the comments for mentions and first pass didn’t turn up anything, but it’s all in the keywords … TR

  • sun*e September 24, 2013 (9:36 am)

    I’m all for growth and change but only when it’s good. It seems like every time I read the blog these days there is another plan for a residential building of some sort but there is never any mention or plan in creating more exits out of West Seattle to accommodate the influx of all these extra people. When will it ever stop…or at the very least, slow down and consider the impact? AAAUUUGGGHHH!

  • Smitty September 24, 2013 (10:04 am)

    I moved to West Seattle 10 years ago to get away from this kind of crap!

    ~ Hypocrite

  • ws-person September 24, 2013 (10:32 am)

    You live in a city! Would you prefer to have Detroit style de-development? How many empty storefronts and dilapidated buildings do you want? Empty lots with chain-link fences instead of a grocery with apartments?

    Density is good; more people = more good restaurants/bars = more of a CITY = better economy. If you don’t like people, maybe you shouldn’t live in a city. I for one am glad WS is becoming more integrated to the city.

    If you love your car so much, and parking is your number-one concern, and you hate bikes, move to the suburbs. They’re made for you. There are plenty around to choose from.

  • Deb September 24, 2013 (11:21 am)

    Located at the northern boundary of the Morgan Junction Urban Village, this rezone proposal will be on the agenda of a future Morgan Community Association (MoCA) quarterly meeting. {The next MoCA meeting is October 16, 2013 at The Kenney; the agenda will be posted at http://www.morganjunction.org and on the West Seattle Blog in a few weeks}.
    One place to immediately continue the transportation discussion is at the West Seattle Transit Coalition meeting tonight (6:30pm at the High Point Neighborhood House, 6400 Sylvan Way).
    The site plan on the DPD website shows that 3 large trees would be retained with the proposed housing. The southern ‘duplex’ is 400 SF smaller to ‘fit-in’ next to one of the big trees. However, the proposed 12-foot setback from tree trunk to building foundation would have to be evaluated by experts. Also, the DPD website shows that an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) was approved for the “parsonage” earlier this year.
    A big thank you to the West Seattle Blog for being on top of all things West Seattle.
    Deb Barker, MoCA President

  • CMB September 24, 2013 (11:27 am)

    What is going to happen to all these Townhouse owners who need to “negotiate” with the neighbors to repair the roof, repaint etc. Is your neighbor going to have the money when you do and or visa versa? Are you going to agree on a price and/or a contractor? What if one owner wants to do the work on his own and the other owner doesn’t? Its not like condo membership where these things are accounted for in advance. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about these issues? Are they hoping you won’t think of them? DON’T BUY OR BUILD ANYMORE TOWNHOUSES PEOPLE!

  • Jean-luc September 24, 2013 (11:41 am)

    I agree with ws-person. It’s not as extreme as old Ballard… there are smaller often good-looking townhomes popping up that are actually affordable and have re-sale value which equals better economy. Yes, there are some massive condos along Avalon but generally in West Seattle, it’s not such a bad thing.

    And as ws-person says, we are surrounded by suburbs left and right with plenty of parking available for all of you one-person drivers.

  • G September 24, 2013 (12:03 pm)

    Of course no one who presently lives in West Seattle is part of the problem. Nope, always the person who moved here AFTER you.

  • jonnie Gilman September 24, 2013 (1:37 pm)

    The encroaching density is like a cancer. Less trees, less natural beauty, more traffic, more noise, more pollution. Less affordable housing for tradespeople, artisans, long time senior residents. Many moved here to escape “the city.” The charm of West Seattle was the number of small, single family dwellings clustered in unique neighborhoods, bordered by the Sound, with beautiful wild parks and old growth trees, yet was just a short distance over the bridge to employment and “culture.” Those touting living in “the city” should reside in Capital Hill. Plenty of restaurants and night life for your pleasure, enhanced by the piquant smell of urine wafting in the doorways and alleys. Our homes, community and quality of life needs to be protected from “development,” another name for rapacious exploitation for profit.

  • patriot September 24, 2013 (3:11 pm)

    ws-person/jean-luc: sounds like both of you would fit better in downtown Seattle since you like density and sound opposed to cars. I’ve lived in WS for 60 years and for most of that time it was a “small town” with real neighborhoods. It’s now been californicated by the developers and progressive thinkers and is nothing like its original self with safe streets and a homey feel. I long for the place WS used to be, especially the Alaska Junction. And now we even have our own pot dispensary. Gee, isn’t that progress. Are we the next White Center where there’s one every other block?

  • another resident September 24, 2013 (4:16 pm)

    I wish developers were thinking high density with cottages instead of townhomes. There are really lovely cottage communities, all surrounding an open space, that are winning awards in the city and neighboring areas. A cottage community would fit much better in the neighborhood.

  • ws-person September 24, 2013 (4:58 pm)

    west seattle hates change. doesn’t matter how big or small it is. remember the freak-out when marination moved into the space where alki crab used to be? good grief.

    my theory is that seattle was so thoughtless about its cultural heritage / historic buildings in the 50s and 60s that the backlash against development has swung completely in the opposite direction, so that any development at all is opposed fanatically.

    a single pot dispensary and the whole neighborhood is ruined? maybe you should try it, might make your day a little brighter. seriously. it helps a lot of people. It won’t turn you into a hippy (probably).

    things change. that’s life. if it were up to me seattle would revert to pre-colonial times and we’d all paddle around in canoes and eat fresh salmon and oysters on wide sandy beaches.

    my only point is that there are upsides to development, in general. I’m not 100% supportive of this particular change – I think WS could stand to have more parks. But those opposed to higher density in the Junction / Avalon I think are missing the positive aspects. It’s basically abandoned industrial. Doesn’t do anything for the community.

    • WSB September 24, 2013 (5:13 pm)

      West Seattle has at least six dispensaries at last count.

  • Mike September 24, 2013 (6:51 pm)

    WS-Person, Obviously you want to live in Belltown, plenty going up for the Amazon growth their, no need to destroy an actual neighborhood where people with kids live.

  • Raymond September 24, 2013 (8:26 pm)

    I agree with Jonnie! Keep having those meetings because they really make a difference???

  • Alki Resident September 24, 2013 (8:26 pm)

    Ws-person West Seattle is not a city, the city is across the water and we’re separated by a bridge. Are you saying there are no bicycle riders in suburbs? Why do WS residents who’ve been here for moons have to relocate because it’s getting overcrowded? There’s no room anymore to get anywhere in a reasonable manor much less find parking. Rapid transit has extended sidewalks out to the road just for their bus, taking even more parking away.It’s going to happen in every suburb as well in a matter of time. There isn’t even a normal family restaurant here anymore. We grew up with Vanns, King’s Table, and Sambos all on California Ave. It’s too much, even my kids have said it’s ridiculous, and they’ve been here for 23 yrs or less.

  • Wsrez September 24, 2013 (9:28 pm)

    Ws person- couldn’t agree more! WS is a city- with city zip codes. Every single other metropolitan cut in the country has huge population density greater then west seattle 25 mikes out. You can’t expect to live 6 miles from downtown and live in the suburbs. It’s just not the way it works even in little old Seattle. You could choose to embrace the change, enjoy the new restaurAnts, people And energy or just spend all your time complaining about how things used to be. That is a choice as much as where one chooses to live. I personally feel proud to live in WS, excited for the change, hopeful for the schools and supportive of the growth. That church is creepy as all get out anyway!!!

  • Civik September 24, 2013 (10:07 pm)

    Just be glad they have to rezone this one and it wasn’t historic lots. If it was, you’d have to hope someone noticed the LBA’s going up.

    Since DPD and the developer need the City Council to re-zone this, call or e-mail them to give them your thoughts on it.

    To all those talking about Detroit as an example of contraction, Detroit lost jobs. Not a few, a lot. So they now have too much density and not enough people to fill it or pay for the services needed. Imagine what would happen to Redmond if Microsoft picked up shop or outsourced all of its jobs overseas(or lost 2/3rds of its customer base).

  • MellyMel September 24, 2013 (11:43 pm)

    +1 to another resident’s comment about density with cottages and cottage communities as a template.
    I don’t get how one poster on this thread can simply attribute the unwanted growth to “progressives.”
    It seems just as valid — and unsupported — to claim our hyper-development stems from “capitalist profiteers” who buy the shabby craftsman when grandma dies and develops/resells the most liveable square feet in its place for the highest price.
    Removing all progressives — the types who create codes and laws that tell citizens how they can and cant develop private land and generally rain on free market parades — would accelerate that trend and not reverse it.
    No doubt the truth is somewhere between these two. Our communities are divided enough without assigning blame wholesale to someone who votes one way or another.
    Maybe this conversation can stick to problem solving for an issue that is of concern to both “reds” and “blues”?

  • ws-person September 25, 2013 (9:46 am)

    thanks wsrez you said what i was trying to say in a more positive way.

    i totally get what the old-timers are saying about the sense of loss of small-town WS, and it’s completely valid. my only point is that since change is happening anyway all you can really control is how you react to it. might as well try to enjoy it.

    There’s still plenty of parking in WS. I love all the free 3hr lots at the junction, can’t lie. Nothing’s threatening those. No other neighborhood in Seattle has anything like that – parking is far better here even after higher density than any other ‘hood. There isn’t any restricted/paid street parking AT ALL here. No other ‘hood can say that. Not sure how much parking we really need? Except for parking on alki on a summer sunday I can’t say I’ve ever had to try too hard to park anywhere here.

    WS is still the best ‘hood in Seattle – I think we can all agree on that.

  • Civik September 25, 2013 (12:47 pm)

    Yes, there is still parking for now. Change will happen and the city will do it wrong if you don’t fight for how you believe it should expand. Right now city leaders are being lobbied by the very capital investment firms that are funding this construction.

    Their only motivation is profit and they shouldn’t be the only people city leaders hear from or else you’ll end up with it done to enrich themselves at the cost of the community.

  • wsn00b September 25, 2013 (3:57 pm)

    Is there a Sim City video-game map for West Seattle so we can all play armchair city-planners? :)

    BTW: West Seattle, has Seattle, WA in the address. We are part of the city and not some exclusive suburb.

    wsrez, Jean-luc and ws-person : I’m with you on this one. Some of the “git off mah lawn” attitudes in other comments are pretty xenophobic/insulting to newcomers that actually want to live here and like (and contribute to) the changes.

    If the developer built 3 SFRs in this plot, they’d still be 700K+ “cottages” and people would still complain about them.

    Also, townhomes vs cottages does not define a neighborhood. The people living in them define the neighborhood.

  • LStephens September 25, 2013 (6:17 pm)

    Up-thread Ajax made this comment:

    Just playing devil’s advocate here – what would people like to see go in on this property if it cannot become open space? (And let’s go ahead and assume that building 3 free-standing 1912 Craftsman homes using the original plans and materials is not an option.)


    In 39 comments only cottages or nothing has been suggested! This thread seems to have no lack of general griping about overdevelopment, traffic and the increasing density of West Seattle, which are all valid and important concerns.

    We live several blocks west of this church and I drive by frequently to/from Fauntleroy. So Ajax’s challenge really made me actually think about it.

    Cottages would likely have the same number of residents and probably wouldn’t have 2-car garages to accommodate those residents. (It would be delusional to think all cottages-dwellers wouldn’t own cars.) How would cottages be better? Is this just an aesthetic perception or what would make cottages more appealing? The argument that townhouses don’t fit the neighborhood doesn’t seem to bear out given that the church would remain, to the north is an apartment building and townhouses would abut an alley that abuts several one and two-story mixed bag of buildings on California. The neighborhood seems to be quite mixed. Since the property is so close to transit and with the “urban village” plan, it could have conceivably been purchased by someone who wanted build a big apartment building with less than 1 parking space per unit. You only have to look four blocks north to find that type of development. Six townhomes with two-car garages look like a deal over multi-story, many-unit apartment buildings with less than one parking space per unit.

    As for the idea of nothing on the property; have you looked at the church recently? It has fallen into disrepair and needs more than just a paint job. Most churches in the nation have declining memberships and thereby declining tithing and income. Many churches have looked to various ways to increase their income, from advertising to selling part of their holdings. This church looks like it could use some kind of increased funding.

    Thank you Ajax, for making me actually think instead of just falling into the general griping mindset.

  • Civik September 25, 2013 (6:25 pm)

    And that’s just it, the zoning is already set up so the city already has a plan for what can be built there. I don’t know what’s so xenophobic about asking builders to follow the rules the rest of us have to. There’s nothing armchair city planning about that. The city already planned it. The builder with the support of DPD is asking to have it changed.

    The neighbors should let their opinion be known. Supporting or opposing it. That’s usually how government works. :)

  • pjmanley September 25, 2013 (9:30 pm)

    “my only point is that since change is happening anyway all you can really control is how you react to it. might as well try to enjoy it.” And the band played on. Or, as the Eagles sang in The Last Resort:
    Somebody laid the mountains low
    while the town got high
    That’s some pretty depressing apathy and fatalism you’re espousing WS Person. I’m glad others choose to get involved and make a difference. It’s what keeps WS a nice place to live.

  • ws-person September 26, 2013 (9:47 am)

    WS needs some level of development. Empty lots with dilapidated buildings don’t make an area nice to live in.

    Are you opposed to the renovation of Chuck and Sally’s? That kind of improvement won’t happen without higher density. If the density is centered around the junctions, what’s the problem? We’re a long way off from becoming Belltown. (Even if the original founders thought Alki would be Seattle’s downtown)

    I don’t hear you complaining about all the mega-millions super houses with awesome views that certainly changed the character of the ‘hood since the golden perfect past.

    I’m sure the anti’s would oppose any sort of public railcar too, even though that was a big part of ideal WS of the past.

    how about a bike lane? forget it, are you insane? not one inch from the cars! and this is in supposedly progressive seattle.

  • Diane Swierenga September 27, 2013 (12:31 am)

    For those that say they are against increased density because it causes prices to increase, that is the exact opposite of how supply and demand work. If you increase the supply (increased density) it LOWERS the prices, if you lower the supply, it INCREASES prices, less available choices.
    Like it or not, more and more people are moving to Seattle and West Seattle. Let’s deal with it and stop burying our heads in the sand. That attitude has caused the traffic messes we deal with everywhere now. The freeways are parking lots.

  • anonyme September 27, 2013 (2:32 pm)

    I’m not against all development, but 3 stories and a scorched earth approach (cut down all the trees) is WRONG. It’s long past time for developers to use a more sustainable and conscientious approach to both urban design and construction techniques.

Sorry, comment time is over.