West Seattle development: 2015, Year of the Busy Backhoes?

With demolition expected soon at already-approved project sites such as the block-long 3210 California SW and numerous smaller projects, this is likely to be the Year of the Busy Backhoes in West Seattle development, more than another Year of the Crane. Here are recent filings we found in the city permit system:

MORGAN JUNCTION TEARDOWN: 6715 California SW (photo above; map), 97-year-old house. To be demolished and replaced by three single-family houses.

ALKI TEARDOWN: 3054 Alki SW (map), 94-year-old house. To be demolished and replaced by duplex and single-family house.

CHARLESTOWN COURT TEARDOWN: After two rejected landmark nominations, it looks like Charlestown Court, the brick fourplex at 3811 California SW (map), is coming down this time at age 88. To be demolished and replaced by four 2-unit townhouses.

NOT FAR SOUTH OF THERE, ANOTHER CALIFORNIA SW TEARDOWN: 4031 California SW (map), 97-year-old house. One 4-unit rowhouse, one 2-unit townhouse, and one single-family house are planned to replace it after demolition, per the city files, following a lot-boundary adjustment.

BEACH DRIVE TEARDOWN: 6021 Beach Drive SW (map), 89-year-old house. To be demolished and replaced with new single-family house, following recent lot-boundary adjustment that turned three parcels into two.

FAUNTLEROY WAY TEARDOWN: 5008 Fauntleroy Way SW (map), 73-year-old house. We’ve written about this before – but the demolition permit hadn’t been formally applied for at the time. To be demolished and replaced with what’s described as a rowhouse proposal, though only two units are mentioned; this one also follows a lot-boundary adjustment.

NORTH DELRIDGE TEARDOWN: 2838 SW Genesee (map), 35-year-old duplex. To be demolished and replaced by three new houses.

HIGHLAND PARK TEARDOWN: 7621 8th SW (map), 96-year-old house. To be demolished and replaced by a new house.

SIDE NOTE: One teardown of note just outside West Seattle – the eight-years-vacant ex-Wendy’s/ex-Ezell’s/ex-El Chalan on 16th SW south of the White Center business district was demolished on Friday; a 42-unit apartment building is planned for the site.

43 Replies to "West Seattle development: 2015, Year of the Busy Backhoes?"

  • JAT January 4, 2015 (7:06 pm)

    This is such good news! These 97, 73, 89, 96, etc yr old houses are so charmless; what this part of town really needs to make it feel more neighborhoody is some more tall rectangular things sided with 4 by 8 ft panels!

    Gonna be awesome!

  • Nw mama January 4, 2015 (8:04 pm)

    Agreed w (sarcastic) comment above. But restoring that charm when a house hasn’t been maintained is way more expensive than starting new. That said, many ugly houses are being built! (also seen some crazy remodels as well!) I wish more care was put into design.

  • Mike January 4, 2015 (8:10 pm)

    Ballard 2.0

  • NW January 4, 2015 (8:17 pm)

    Dig in West Seattle and rescue native plants from these bulldozed properties.

  • Azimuth January 4, 2015 (8:47 pm)

    Agreed that it’s unfortunate to see some of these charming places replaced by new construction, but some, including the dump I live next to due to be torn down hopefully this year, can go away. If some developers want a few more tear down suggestions I will gladly point them to a few houses nearby.

  • chelle January 4, 2015 (9:07 pm)

    WS is not going to see much sun due to all the tall apartment buildings and townhomes going in. :(

  • John January 4, 2015 (9:23 pm)

    Sad to see the former Wendy’s in White Center become apartments. I am glad it was demolished after becoming an eyesore but would have preferred a restaurant or community center.

  • Rational Thought January 4, 2015 (9:30 pm)

    There is no excuse whatsoever for destroying the house pictured above. It has clearly been well-cared for unless somehow the interior is the complete opposite of the exterior. But what do the developers care? They have paid off the city officials and will come in and destroy the house so it can go to a landfill and fill the neighborhood with more horribly constructed junk “homes” that will be falling down and filled with mold within a few years, but only after making it impossible for their neighbors to have any street parking and blotting out the sun. And even if a developer wants to tear down a blight on the neighborhood, there’s no reason on earth that the lot needs to be filled with 3 instead of 1 structure or a multi-unit building. But then again, that would require a developer with integrity and a conscience about what they build, and they don’t exist. Money money money! That is all the developers and the City gives a damn about.

  • Diane January 4, 2015 (9:43 pm)

    the very old large home right outside my window is in middle of deconstruction; I expect the full demolition any day now; this home has not been lived in for at least the 7 years since I’ve been here; it’s on NW corner of 37th and Hinds; would love more info about what is planned; you did a story on the lot just north of this house several months ago; so wondering if it’s all one project; incredible views of downtown skyline

    • WSB January 4, 2015 (10:18 pm)

      Diane – If it is 3281 SW Hinds, the lots to its north are separate lots (owned by a homebuilder so I imagine something’s happening there), but the house on the corner itself has a site plan for second- and third-story addition, and “remodel (house) to include attached garage” – don’t know if that means the garage will be folded into the house or a garage will be added or what.

  • Diane January 4, 2015 (9:46 pm)

    re destruction of many beautiful old homes to be replaced by new “modern boxes”; this is rampant everywhere; even more so in Vancouver; so much so, someone there has created a facebook page to document many of the gorgeous homes being demolished; it’s called Vancouver Vanishes; wish someone in Seattle would create a similar fb page

  • Chris D January 4, 2015 (9:59 pm)

    Amen Rational Thought, well said, what’s going is simply greed, nothing more.

  • Alphonse January 4, 2015 (10:14 pm)

    I walk a lot around West Seattle, all through various neighborhoods, and most of the teardown replacements stand out in the worst way. They’re crammed on lots and loom over the neighboring houses. The MacCraftsman behemoths that were built in the late ’90s/early ’00s look like well-lit halfway houses and the lazy Dwell reproduction rectangles masquerading as modernism look like they were constructed from Scandinavian public housing blueprints circa 1977. And what is truly sad is how the eyesore houses that have been allowed to basically fall down just keep rotting and houses in fairly good shape that could be renovated are torn down in half block swaths.

  • HelperMonkey January 4, 2015 (10:24 pm)

    I had a couple friends lived in that house in the nineties. Tearing it down is really the best option. It was all sinking foundation and rotting walls even back then. You can tell the front porch is sinking, it’s even worse now. Sorry, this is one that unless it was remodeled since 1996 this place is kind of a s–thole, not to burst anyone’s bubble on charming old craftsman houses. *edited to add: not advocating putting up three houses in its place

  • Diane January 5, 2015 (12:10 am)

    Thanks; the permit you linked is 3281 37th Ave SW; not sure if that’s the house on corner, which is large 2 story on top of basement above ground; seems bigger than 3 bed, 1 bath; based on that permit, application was in June/July; this link shows the house was sold in October, for $855,000

    • WSB January 5, 2015 (12:25 am)

      King Co. Parcel Viewer, where I got the address, shows it’s the northwest corner. That also shows a photo of the house.

  • XXX January 5, 2015 (12:22 am)

    For the weeping willows, I suggest you buy the properties in question. Problem solved.

  • Diane January 5, 2015 (1:06 am)

    thanks for address; several real estate links show it as sold in Oct; 1911 house; amazing that it only has 3 bedrooms

  • T Rex January 5, 2015 (8:27 am)

    YAY, more homes that look like doctor’s offices. I am sorry, but I am not a fan of these new designs.

  • sam-c January 5, 2015 (8:53 am)

    did you look at any of the links for the houses? ie, the 94 YO Alki teardown? that definitely does not look like anything worth ‘preserving’. The 89 YO Beach Drive house looks a little run down as well
    The 97 YO Ca. Ave house looks like it needs work and is small.
    The 96 YO HP house looks like a tear-down as well.

    The first one, photo above, will be missed though… I agree the loss of the Charlestown courts is disappointing.

    With a couple exceptions, I would think these developments are improvements to neighborhoods. Who likes living next to run down rat motels? Some people just read these stories without following any of the links and make assumptions that new= bad.

    • WSB January 5, 2015 (8:59 am)

      Thanks, Sam-C, for pointing out something I probably should have noted at the start. The links for the phrases “95-year-old house” (etc.) each go to the property’s page on the King County Assessor’s website, which 99% of the time has a photo of the property in question. While I’d like to just include a photo of each here – as we did with the lead-off property – that would have taken time we couldn’t spare (had to move on to the charter-school story so that could be published in evening prime time). I know in turn not everyone has time to follow links, but we do promise that all of the links we use in stories are hand-picked and offer informational value – links *never* go to ads or generic dictionary definitions (etc.). – TR

  • datamuse January 5, 2015 (9:22 am)

    I live near the Highland Park property. It’s far from the only house in this neighborhood that needs to go. There are some very nice old houses that have been well maintained…then there are some old houses that have been literally left to decay until there’s almost nothing left to preserve.
    When I was in the market I looked at a lot of places that looked fine on the outside and showed major problems inside, including a cracked foundation, a major wasp infestation, interior damage involving liquids that had led to *visible* mold, and on and on. I wound up buying a more recently constructed house that, while it’s had some problems, hasn’t cost nearly as much as one of those older properties would’ve. Older isn’t always better.
    I don’t have HelperMonkey’s knowledge of the property pictured above, and it’s hard to tell just looking at the photo, but it looks very much to me like it’s settled unevenly. That can cause massive problems.
    Re: Vancouver, the cost of living there is even higher than Seattle. I have friends in their forties who’ve lived there their entire lives renting basement apartments in some of those grand old houses because they can’t afford to live anywhere else. At least with new housing being built they have a chance of living someplace where they don’t crack their heads on the ceiling going into the bathroom.

  • w.s.maverick January 5, 2015 (9:26 am)

    how do we stop this from happening anymore here. thanks amazon I guess if it makes my house worth more good sell and get out of here

  • w.s.maverick January 5, 2015 (9:30 am)

    so sad to see this happen to west seattle

  • HelperMonkey January 5, 2015 (10:06 am)

    @ datamuse – honestly, every time I drive by I am amazed it’s still standing. Granted, I haven’t set foot inside since the mid-late nineties but the outside still looks exactly the same as when my friends rented it.

  • wetone January 5, 2015 (10:49 am)

    Diane, If you look up public records on that recently sold parcel it has had multiple re-plat changes. Either means remodel existing structures and maybe adding a new home ? or tearing down existing and building all new stuctures. Looks to be multiple lots involved explaining $855k sale price.

  • Mike H January 5, 2015 (3:41 pm)

    WSB may have mentioned it but the apt building on the corner of Andover and CA was razed today or yesterday.

    • WSB January 5, 2015 (3:59 pm)

      Just published a story about it, thanks to Jonathan’s tip/photo. Top of site right now. Thanks for checking. We last reported on it when the demolition permit was sought in July.

  • Old Home Lover January 5, 2015 (3:54 pm)

    So sad. We used to live next to the one pictured and on California Ave. For many years that rental home was a known drug house, however, the more recent history changed. The owner put time and money into doing a bit of fixing and painting, got some great tenants who themselves put time and effort into beautifying it. They made a lovely garden and always took care of the property. Sure it is small, but many cool old homes with character in West Seattle are and that is no reason to demo a home. I will personally be sad to see this happen to that home. It has TONS of potential.

  • West Seattle Hipster January 5, 2015 (5:57 pm)

    For a city that aspires to reduce, re-use, recycle, we sure do like to fill our landfills with torn down housing materials.


    My guess is that the ugly structures built in this era will demolished within 20 years to build uglier structures.


    Why can’t we be more like San Francisco, a city that retains it’s architectural heritage but is still modern and appealing.

  • Yellowjax January 5, 2015 (6:50 pm)

    Who is our city council rep.? Seattle has always had corrupt politics. All the way back to the gold rush days.

    • WSB January 5, 2015 (6:53 pm)

      Currently, all nine councilmembers represent the entire city. As our separate story about the candidates’ forum next month notes, that is changing, and seven members of the council will be elected by district this year. Four people are running for the West Seattle/South Park seat.

  • Jason January 5, 2015 (8:20 pm)

    I like old houses too and I get frustrated at all the traffic etc the new construction brings but the reality is, things don’t last forever. People want new stuff, and people are in business to make money. The city has made it easier to develop by loosening parking restrictions on new development which does suck but I guess it employs a lot of people, raises property values around here and generally stimulates the economy. If it’s too much for you maybe move to Vashon.
    I love West Seattle but it very well become too much for me at some point. But then again, there is a lot of opportunity for business owners to be successful here with the influx of renters.

  • Alki Resident January 6, 2015 (8:13 am)

    Is the Alki teardown at 3054 Alki Ave or 3054 63rd? The map links to Alki Ave but the “94 year-old house” link is for 3054 63rd.

  • terre shattuck January 6, 2015 (9:46 am)

    Some of these are real live historical bungalows. Some of the sweetest house architecture ever, and solid — maybe that will be clear when a big earthquake hits. It’s so much the age, but the construction.

  • John January 6, 2015 (11:37 am)

    terre shattuck,
    It is incredibly naive and wrong to claim that historic houses will better survive an earthquake than current ones.
    One hundred years ago little was understood about earthquakes and the stresses they subject structures to.
    Seattle has not had any of the big quakes that are expected.
    Unless those beautifully constructed bungalows have received extensive Earthquake Retrofits, they are doomed as they will simply ‘hop off’ their foundations. Their chimneys will all collapse with some crashing into the homes. The lath and plaster walls which were formerly relied on for ‘shear’ have been proven ineffective. I witnessed all of this in California earthquakes.
    New homes are tied to their foundations and the frames are held together with metal fittings designed for quakes and ‘shear panels’ as well as other structural requirements are now required.

  • John January 6, 2015 (11:47 am)

    West Seattle Hipster,
    Your guess about longevity is proven wrong by the quality of some of these teardowns as they were built before and below building code standards and materials as shown by (7621 8th SW).
    It is in fact, unheard of for any building to be torn down after twenty years. Even the old High Point, originally temporary war housing and constructed as such, lasted half a century.
    7621 8th Ave. and many other houses being replaced do not exactly reach San Francisco architectural heritage worthiness or value.

  • wetone January 6, 2015 (5:46 pm)

    John curious as to how many homes you have owned that have been through an earthquake ? I’ll tell you a funny thing. I have had 4 here in W/S that were post and block dated from 1911- 1932 all are still standing today with no issues from earthquakes, problems I did have were rotten post but that’s a quick simple fix. Have had same number of houses with foundations and or basements dating 40’s through 60’s they all have received damage from earthquakes, fixes were time consuming and $$$. Interesting… just some real world hands on experience. When and if the big quake comes I would be more worried about this city’s infrastructure than houses.

  • Skyfall January 6, 2015 (7:30 pm)

    I won’t debate the merits, or lack thereof, of some of the single-family houses slated for tear-down. However, if they’ve truly reached the end of their useful lives and can’t be reasonably or cost-effectively repaired or refurbished, it’s a shame we can’t replace them with new, solidly built, attractive, single-family homes that would improve the neighborhood. I’ll be you a dollar that none of those developers live next door to the monstrosities they’re building with no parking spaces.

  • John January 6, 2015 (7:37 pm)

    I had two homes damaged in the California ‘Northridge Quake’. I learned my lesson there.
    I already know how many homes you have had in W/S that have withstood a big earthquake like those in California…Zero.
    That is quite simply because Seattle has not had any large damaging quakes in the last century.

    It is akin to saying, “My roof has never leaked and will never leak” even though it has never had rain fall on it.

    City infrastructure is another subject.

    But anyone thinking their old non-quake retrofitted house will survive better than new ones is like refusing to believe that airplanes fly.

    • WSB January 6, 2015 (7:52 pm)

      Guys, before we start comparing “my earthquake was bigger than your earthquake” any further, datapoints – yes, houses around here HAVE been through big earthquakes:
      Northridge (1994), 6.7 magnitude.
      Nisqually (2001), 6.8 magnitude.
      (I was in both, FWIW – visiting a friend in SoCal when Northridge hit in 1994, job interview on Lake Union in 2001. AND I was living in the San Fernando Valley at the time of the infamous 1971 quake, 6.6 magnitude, woke me up, never did get to school that day, or for many days beyond, folks had to deal with damage to our house that had just been repaired from a major fire the previous summer … but I digress.)
      Yes, there are factors beyond magnitude (and for anyone who doesn’t know, a 6.8 quake is NOT “incrementally” stronger than a 6.7, it’s many times its size) – depth, length, etc. While I wasn’t here for them, my 1941-built house, for example, and many others around here have been through the 1949 (magnitude 7.1) and 1965 (magnitude 6.6).
      Doesn’t mean they’re better built than new houses. But if your West Seattle house is World War II era or older, it’s been through three sizable shocks. – TR

  • John January 7, 2015 (12:32 am)

    I wrote, “Seattle has not had any of the big quakes that are expected.”
    That is factual.
    I include California in not having had any of the big quakes that are expected.
    I was careful to not get into seismic magnitudes, the whole mine is bigger thing, because I don’t really understand the math and seismic events are so much more complex.
    Location, depth, force vectors, duration and aftershocks are just a few elements in a quake’s destructive power.
    Tracy’s examples make my point. The “smaller” 6.7 magnitude Northridge Quake did far greater structural damage than the “larger” 6.8 magnitude Nisqually.

  • diane January 8, 2015 (12:32 am)

    Crap alert one, or should i say two on single family lot going up in my neighborhood now. 5631 34th sw sea. cottage accessorie dwelling simply put means two giant structures on one small lot. 98 % lot coverage no extra parking, less required front set back and the rudest crew ever. Please before its too late we need to clean house in the mayors office, city council, building planning dept. Take a look at the crowded mess they turned high point into, for example, less safe now then ever. It’s not just the giant apartments and no parking the evil is growing in one small single family lot at a time and we are letting it happen with nothing we can do about it. As for the greedy developer in my neighborhood i wish you a lifetime of misery, bad luck and ill health and i hope you lose your shorts on this one.

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