West Seattle development: Whittaker, post-teardown; Avalon microhousing followup; assisted living to Design Review; more…

(Photo by Long Bach Nguyen)
CONSTRUCTION NEXT FOR THE WHITTAKER: As teardown concludes on the site of West Seattle’s biggest development (4755 Fauntleroy SW), the project team says official construction is a few weeks away. First, they’ll be hauling off the demolition debris, and they have started work on promised improvements for the parking lot next door at the Masonic Center. While that work is under way, the center has parking space on the east side of Fauntleroy Way, north of Edmunds. Newest estimate of project completion for The Whittaker (~400 apartments, ground-floor retail, ~600 underground parking spaces) is end of 2016.

P.S. In case you missed it – over the weekend, we published a last look at the last and biggest building to be demolished.

MICROHOUSING FOLLOWUP: Vigorous discussion ensued when we published this Sunday night update on three West Seattle microhousing projects – particularly the two that are moving ahead after responding to a city memo issued in September, based on a court decision. One of those projects, 3050 SW Avalon Way, responded by saying it would remove “sinks, refrigeration equipment, built-in cabinet and counters outside the bathrooms” from the rooms so that the future building would still qualify to count up to 8 “sleeping rooms” as a single dwelling unit. The file for the other project, 3268 SW Avalon Way – where demolition happened last week – didn’t show a similar response, but DPD spokesperson Bryan Stevens tells WSB its developers made the same decision:

For this proposal, the applicant elected to redesign the floor plans so that these rooms are clearly sleeping rooms and not individual apartments. The bedrooms were modified so that they no longer have separate sinks, counters or food preparation areas. Each bedroom now only has a separate bathroom with a shower, toilet, and sink. The permit is for 7 units total, each with 8 bedrooms, a large kitchen and lounge area. This change was in response to the Superior Court ruling on the Harvard proposal and is not related to the recently adopted legislation regarding SEDUs.

(That’s “small efficiency dwelling units,” the city’s official name for microhousing.)

DESIGN REVIEW FOR ASSISTED-LIVING FACILITY: We’ve reported before about the assisted-living facility proposed for 4515 41st SW. Just added to the Southwest Design Review Board‘s schedule, for 6:30 pm December 4th (at the Senior Center of West Seattle), is the first meeting to look at the plan, now described as:

4-story assisted-living facility containing 48 sleeping rooms (66 beds total). Parking for 11 vehicles to be provided below grade. Existing structures to be demolished.

Here’s the project page on the city website.

Finally, not far from there …

REDEVELOPMENT AT 40TH/OREGON: Thanks to Jeannette for the tip – an 84-year-old house at 40th/Oregon is scheduled for teardown and replacement.

The project has just evolved in city files, she points out, from a rowhouse to a combination of two single-family homes and a 2-unit townhouse building. County records show the house and its 4,600-square-foot lot were sold two weeks ago for $500,000.

35 Replies to "West Seattle development: Whittaker, post-teardown; Avalon microhousing followup; assisted living to Design Review; more..."

  • Oakley34 November 5, 2014 (12:29 pm)

    Sad to see the notice of the teardown at 40th and Oregon…My favorite homes in W Sea are of that same style, and presumably, era. It really is a nice beautiful little home in that photo. Time marches on…

  • Diane November 5, 2014 (12:34 pm)

    on the Footprint change; any chance we can get specific square footage of the “large kitchen and lounge area” for the 8 rooms to share?

    • WSB November 5, 2014 (12:50 pm)

      You’ll probably get into the files before I can, trying to catch up on other stuff right now. Might be in there.

  • Eddie November 5, 2014 (12:46 pm)

    40th south of Oregon – Have you ever reported on the story behind “little Santa Fe” on that block? All of those SW Mission style homes clustered there must have a story behind them.

    I wonder of the developer will have to carry the block’s design theme into the new townhouse construction?

    • WSB November 5, 2014 (12:49 pm)

      Nope, would love to hear, if anyone knows. There are other coordinated blocks around here … one near Lincoln Park with half a dozen (I think) identical cottages, one of which has just been replaced by a modern.

  • JM November 5, 2014 (1:09 pm)

    It looks like Einar Novion is designing this project, at least that is what the permit says. He tends to design modern looking boxes in my opinion, so no, it won’t look like the neighborhood if the information is correct.

  • G November 5, 2014 (1:23 pm)

    Having an assisted living facility in Junction is fantastic!

  • Mike November 5, 2014 (1:26 pm)

    Always have loved that home at both and Oregon. How do you put two homes and a townhouse on that lot?

  • anonyme November 5, 2014 (1:45 pm)

    Same question as Mike: how the hell does a 4,600 sq. ft. lot get approved for two homes and a double unit townhouse? The lot is barely large enough for one single family home, much less four residences. That little cluster of southwest style houses is a precious part of West Seattle history. I wish these ugly, crappy, crowded developments would take the place of ugly, equally crappy buildings – but they always seem to surplant something irreplaceable instead.

  • AJP November 5, 2014 (1:58 pm)

    I also wonder about that stretch of the Southwest here in Seattle’s southwest!

  • JM November 5, 2014 (2:06 pm)

    Assisted Living Facility – Yes, great idea for many, my only concern is the usual one…parking. With only 11 parking spaces and 66 beds, it will obviously be staffed with workers who don’t have anywhere to park.

    40th Ave Home – Yes, how does something like that get approval? I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 15 years and it’s sad to see these amazing homes torn down and replaced by something that does not fit the neighborhood at all.

  • JM November 5, 2014 (2:08 pm)

    Originally there was going to be 5 rowhomes on the lot (40th and Oregon) I guess they’ve downsized (?)

    • WSB November 5, 2014 (2:20 pm)

      It’s zoned LR2. The definitions keep shifting but it appears that lot size would accommodate at least that many units.

  • AR November 5, 2014 (4:33 pm)

    Seriously, is there some way West Seattle residents can band together to oppose these “ugly, crappy, crowded developments” as anonyme put it? Does anyone know how to comment on the review processes and whether it actually has any effect? Are there city council members, real estate developers, or architectural firms we should be writing to? Is there some way we can come up with a collective strategy to make known what we value as a community and what kind of architecture nobody likes?

    • WSB November 5, 2014 (4:41 pm)

      AR, we have been writing about all of the above and then some for 7+ years here at WSB. Every significant development, every review meeting, every time a development is announced with a comment period, etc. There are citizens who have presented “how to get involved 101”; we’ve covered them too. If you’re new in town, welcome! Or if you just found WSB, welcome too. One way to get involved for starters is to join up with the new West Seattle Land Use Committee. I’ll be talking about their next meeting in coverage of tonight’s Southwest District Council meeting, as the LUC is sort of an offshoot. You can also review past development coverage through the archive: https://westseattleblog.com/category/development (newest to oldest) … TR

  • Eddie November 5, 2014 (5:16 pm)

    AR – when you see the Notice of Proposed Land Use sign they provide instructions and an address to send emails or snail mail. They do get read, become part of the review file and concerns will be addressed (not necessarily resolved), during the review and permitting process.

    You can take a look at the documents and studies that get done, reviewed and approved or sent back to the drawing boards if you start digging around in the city of Seattle building sites.

    In spite of what everyone seems to think, the city makes a bunch of scientific (I.e. data based using thresholds and limits, etc) studies mandatory as part of the process. Things like gathering data on the number of parking spaces within 600ft walking; and collecting data on actual usage of those parking spaces on multiple days and at multiple times of day. Way more scientific and data based than most people would think.

  • John November 5, 2014 (5:27 pm)

    I see from WSB’s link: http://info.kingcounty.gov/Assessor/eRealProperty/Detail.aspx?ParcelNbr=0952007055

    This property that last sold in 1993 for $98,500 is taxed at $368,000 and just sold for $500,000. It appears the long time owners have chosen a great time to cash out.

    WSB points out that this is LR2 which shounld answer the question of Mike and anonyme (if they had any interest in learning). It is actually surrounded by even denser/higher zoning as is the whole block of 40th to Oregon.

    One common anti-development complaint is the lack of transitions or buffer between higher rise zones and single family zones. This block’s LR2 designation appears to be doing such.

    I once owned and loved a similar era (1930s)
    small stucco clad “Mediterranean/Spanish” home. Like
    my old house these were probably the equivalent quality of recent skinny houses and the cheap boxes people love to denigrate.

    I often wonder the original reaction of 1930s era West Seattleites to such a brightly colored anomaly? LA style in Seattle? These just did not comport with what Northwesterners considered the proper peaked roof, wood clad boxes that were and still are prevalent. At the time, they also did not fit the neighborhood at all.

    Maybe in the future the rows of boxes so hated, will assume the more quaint role of coordinated blocks.

  • LAintheJunction November 5, 2014 (5:56 pm)

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light…

  • AR November 5, 2014 (5:58 pm)

    Thank you so much, TR! The West Seattle Blog is such a great resource. I’ve lived in Seattle for nearly 5 years, but I’m new to the neighborhood.

  • trick November 5, 2014 (7:51 pm)

    I know the Spanish villa row on 97th in Arbor Heights were built by a man named Womack around 1928. Possibly built for the steel plant employees back then? Pretty cute places, unique to the area no doubt.

  • Rick November 6, 2014 (1:21 am)

    All about money. Always will be.

  • John November 6, 2014 (7:59 am)

    Right you are Rick.

    The homeowner walked with away with a whopping $401,500 profit on a measly $98,500 investment.

    This illustrates the blind one-sided bias of those who excoriate developers for greed.

    AR writes, “collective strategy to make known what we value as a community and what kind of architecture nobody likes?”

    My response is to challenge AR and others so critical of “architecture nobody likes” to make suggestions as to what architecture they propose?

    Also, AR and others might be more mindful of the thousands of people who choose “architecture that nobody likes”, are proud of their new homes and are becoming active members of our community.

    And AR, as a new-comer I welcome you to West Seattle. I encourage you to educate yourself about the wonderful variety of Seattle residences and the way our codes operate – safety not aesthetics.

  • Laconique November 6, 2014 (9:22 am)

    I agree with John. Don’t assume all West Seattlites believe we’re living in Mayberry and want to keep things just the way they are. I don’t think we quite have the public transit infrastructure to support it yet, but I do agree with the principals of modern urban development that encourage more centralized living/working/shopping. We live in a city, people. If you really want to drive everywhere and have lots of parking for your SUV, move to Issaquah. Also, I happen to like those “ugly modern boxes”. Does my voice count less in the aesthetic debate?

  • WS Since 66 November 6, 2014 (9:31 am)

    I see a lot of comments about developer greed. The developer wouldn’t be able to purchase the property if the property owner didn’t sell it to them. Does that mean the owner of the house is greedy for wanting to sell it for maximum profit? How many of you would pass up the money, tens of thousands of dollars, to block the development. Better yet why not put your money where your mouth is and form a group to pool money and buy up these homes that are located on property zoned for multi-units?

  • debra November 6, 2014 (1:08 pm)

    WS66- I think what the over all tone is that folks are frustrated…local government seems to not be hearing the concern neighborhoods have. I hope you can appreciate how single family homeowners feel with ugly bulky density looming over their homes and not being able to find parking infront of their own dwelling..once again it is the execuation and design of the density that is the concern. It does feel like developers who for the most part don’t live in our communities create density they themselves would not want in their back yard…folks are frustrated does not feel like you are hearing that

  • love ws November 6, 2014 (1:35 pm)

    I agree debra, it is people just voicing their frustrations. I don’t mind growth as I love living in the city, however, I do mind too much too fast, without the city addressing parking and traffic. It’s great people like the modern ‘boxes’ from what I understand the people who live around them, don’t. It’s one thing to drive by one and say ‘hey that’s cool’ and another to have one being built next door to you among craftsman style homes.

  • John November 6, 2014 (4:27 pm)

    debra and love ws,
    Don’t we all wish we could have it all, the wonderful coffee shops, restaurants and the myriad of local services that a vibrant new populace has provided vs the old West Seattle with parking for our Buicks right in front of Kresge’s as well as that spot right in front of house…but wait we used to park in our garages before we bought all this stuff to fill them with.
    Debra, I hope you are aware of the single family homeowners that did their due diligence 20 some years ago and purchased their homes for a discount price precisely because they were zoned next to or sandwiched within (as in the case above) zones specifically set aside for growth. The long time owners who choose to sell appear to be doing quite well. Do you think they should contribute some of their hundreds of thousands of profits to mitigate the density their sale creates?

    Love ws
    Once again, anyone please? What style of house are you in approval of?
    And remember West Seattle is already incredibly diverse housing wise with real craftsman in the minority.

  • Debra November 6, 2014 (7:58 pm)

    John, I purchased my home in the late 90 and as a single mom worked my a** to purchase and it was hardly a discounted price! I don’t think you get it that it is the execuation of the density, do you really believe that the dorms going up is the right solution
    Also should home owners subsidize developers, what a stereotype buicks ,, really,
    I assume you own a home that buts up to this bulky density, otherwise you have not a clue how this feels

  • AR November 6, 2014 (9:37 pm)

    Thanks for the advice, Eddie!

    John, I’m not talking about single family dwellings. If it’s on your own property, and you like it, that’s fine as far as I’m concerned. That’s why I like West Seattle…the diversity and individuality of the homes and buildings, the ability to live without an HOA. And I’m also very much in favor of density and a walkable neighborhood. But a high rise apartment building on a huge portion of land that everyone has to look at every day? I’m not proposing that we can or should regulate aesthetics, but we should at least have a conversation about it as a community right? And a large building corporation (like Lennar for example, which is based in Florida) ought to be at least a little bit responsive and accountable to the local community, their needs and values. These companies are making our neighborhood look like every other neighborhood in almost every other major city I’ve lived in. Will we be able to be proud of these buildings and say “this is what West Seattle is about”? Will future generations lament or rejoice when they get torn down? We would probably never really agree on aesthetics, but I’ll take up your challenge and try to find alternatives.

    Laconique, I’m genuinely glad to hear from those who like these architectural styles. I think everyone ought to have a voice in this. I’m trying to learn what people in the community think of it and whether or not it actually reflects what people want. I had been getting the impression that most don’t but I could definitely be wrong.

  • John November 6, 2014 (11:02 pm)

    Great question AR,’Will we be able to be proud of these buildings and say “this is what West Seattle is about”?’

    The complementary question is what buildings are we proud about, buildings that uniquely express what West Seattle is about?

    I can’t think of one even one such building in West Seattle.

  • bolo November 7, 2014 (8:21 am)

    I am proud of my house. Admittedly, not a shining beacon of advanced architecture, but I am proud of it and work hard to maintain and improve it. If you want to denigrate it better not get too close, I will defend it like a mama grizzly!


    And what’s with the tedious stock recommendations for anyone critical of over-gentrification to move to Issaquah? Why is it always Issaquah?

  • WS Since 66 November 7, 2014 (9:12 am)

    Thanks for stating the obvious so well John. Some of us West Seattle “old timers” love the changes. Some people are “hard wired” to have a knee jerk reaction to change and that is ok.

    Those that pine and whine to have their “old WS” back your best bet is to move to an area that matches the “old WS” in your mind’s eye. Tacoma has some wonderful neighborhoods.

  • John November 7, 2014 (9:16 am)

    Good to hear you are proud of your house and work to maintain and improve it.

    But as AR wrote,
    “John, I’m not talking about single family dwellings.”

    The question raised by AR and followed by mine specifically refers to multi-family.

  • Bruce November 10, 2014 (12:19 am)

    I just wish they would focus on increased density (highrises) around light rail stations and rapid ride stops first before neighborhoods with less transit so new residents don’t need cars to get around and add to the bridge traffic.
    I blame the city for zoning that lot too densely and developers’ disposable mentality that leads to demolition instead of moving the existing house to a vacant lot, rehabilitating and selling for a small additional profit.

  • John November 10, 2014 (8:44 am)

    The focus is on density around transit, that is what our plan has been for decades. Urban Village zoning has been in place, but when it actually starts happening, NIMBYism erupts.

    As to the ‘disposable mentality’ of developers in not moving the house to a vacant lot?
    -First, there are very few vacant lots.
    -Second the vacant lots being rare are extremely expensive and warrant a house of comparable value. Who would put an old $50,000 house structure with tiny rooms and impractical layout on a $200,000 lot and expect to not lose money?
    -Third is that it is very costly to move a house.
    -Fourth is that houses of that age invariably require expensive hazardous material clean up such as lead and asbestos.

    If there were a way to realize a small profit by moving rather than demolishing (which is also costly), it would be done more often. As pointed out so often on WSB, developers are greedy bunch that loathe leaving money on the table.

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