2nd half of Design Review doubleheader, 4433 42nd SW: ‘You don’t really have to be here’

Thursday night’s Southwest Design Review Board doubleheader meeting was a lot shorter than the last one over which the board presided. That’s because the second review was about one aspect of a project whose team voluntarily came back to talk about it, even after getting an overall thumbs-up last time.

The project is the four-story, 80-unit, 52-parking-space Junction Flats mixed-use project replacing three old houses at 4433 42nd SW. Its board approval last August (official report here) included a directive for bigger balconies on the 42nd-facing east facade of the building. Project partner Brandon Nicholson, owner/developer for this as well as principal of architects Nicholson Kovalchick, explained that wouldn’t quite work because it would take a bite out of the light for studio apartments set aside as affordable housing.

Pitching for the board to compromise on the directive, he declared that Junction Flats is different because the team is all local – “completely different than any development you’ll see (from) out of town developers. We know this neighborhood, we know this market – my firm was based here for 10 years until we outgrew the space … Our fear is that many projects are being developed by out of town developers” with units too big, rents too high, or units too small, zero parking, etc. One-fifth of Junction Flats’ units will be held at Homes Within Reach program levels.

In addition, he explained, they are using federally (HUD) guaranteed financing, and on a tight timetable due to reviews associated with that. He and NK staff architect Courtney McCunney brought three options (detailed in the revised design packet) for trying to meet the spirit of the board recommendation, which focused not just on livability but also on the building not looking so “flat” up against 42nd, as board member Laird Bennion described it, also expressing concern about the uniform size of the windows and a resulting “monolithic” look. He said making it an attractive building would be the difference in its survivability over the long haul, instead of getting “scraped in 20 years.” Nicholson agreed, saying they’re getting a 40-year loan, so they don’t want the building to expire sooner, either.

No audience members chose to comment, but the board did take a look at written and visualized input sent to planner Tami Garrett by René Commons from the Junction Neighborhood Organization. Ultimately they asked NK to go with “a combination of option 1 and option 3” as shown in the revised packet, and the meeting ended. Watch the project via this city webpage; if you have any comments, on design or other issues, send them to planner Garrett at tami.garrett@seattle.gov.

7 Replies to "2nd half of Design Review doubleheader, 4433 42nd SW: 'You don't really have to be here'"

  • JAT January 17, 2014 (8:11 am)

    Another incredibly beautiful and thoughtful design. I’m So Psyched!

  • WestofJunction January 17, 2014 (11:00 am)

    Only 52 spaces for 80 units?

    • WSB January 17, 2014 (11:06 am)

      Yes. This is also part of the area where the city currently does not require development to include any parking.

  • Property Taxes January 17, 2014 (3:16 pm)

    “One-fifth of Junction Flats’ units will be held at Homes Within Reach program levels.” “One-fifth” also means this development won’t pay any property taxes for 12 years. You can easily connect the dots and begin to understand the negative impact these developments are having. This development is a 25X density increase on three parcels with a 100% decrease in property taxes. The existing neighbors will have to foot the bill to pay for what these people will get for free. This developer is working the system for profit and spinning it like they are doing us a favor because they are “local.” They aren’t providing enough parking which will make the existing parking situation even worse. They are also promoting transit use by not providing adequate parking yet they aren’t contributing anything to help pay for our transit. (Some of Metro’s funding comes from property taxes.)

    • WSB January 17, 2014 (3:47 pm)

      Clarification here, because I had to go to some lengths last night to find the background on Homes Within Reach, aka the MFTE – it is not true that the development “won’t pay any property taxes.” They will pay property taxes on the full assessed value of the land, but not on the building. Here’s the fact sheet, which also explains what’s considered “affordable” units. A majority of recent sizable developments in West Seattle are in this program, which has carried some controversy among those who ask if incentive is really needed for multifamily housing any more, since a lot is being built:

  • Property Taxes January 17, 2014 (4:22 pm)

    Thanks for the clarification. I stand by my prior post with a correction on the property tax amount – it will still be less property tax revenue collected than today. That is significant when you consider how many more people will be on those parcels.

  • Kara January 18, 2014 (3:44 pm)

    Just seen on the myballard blog:

    “After neighbors complained about parking, the developer increased the number of underground parking spots to 72.”

    This was equal to the number of units!

    Shocking right?! It works!

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