UPDATE: SolTerra planning 125-unit, LEED Platinum building ‘Perch’ at 1250 Alki Avenue SW

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

ORIGINAL 12:25 PM REPORT: In a routine check of the city’s online files, we’ve found the first new triple-digit-unit development proposal in a while. This one’s on Duwamish Head, a 120-unit proposal planned for seven parcels, five of which currently hold single-family homes.

The project address is 1250 Alki Avenue SW [map] but the early-stage “concept” shows it stretches to 1262 Alki SW.

An unusual point: This is on the drawing board as a mixed-use building, with retail space included. That area of Alki Avenue has long been strictly residential. The early-stage information also mentions underground parking, and describes the building as 120 units and 4 to 6 stories, while also saying it’ll have to go through Design Review (no date yet). However, the “conceptual site plan” on file outlines:


Documents show the property as in the midrise zone, which the city says allows “limited commercial uses.”

The development team is listed as Seattle-based SolTerra and Portland-based Design for Occupancy Architecture. County property records show that Solterra bought the property from three separate owners in February and March, for a total of more than $5.3 million. It’s described on its website as a six-year-old firm that began “as a residential solar, living wall and green roofing company.”

2:11 PM UPDATE: We’ve just spoken with Melissa Milburn at SolTerra to get more information.

No rendering yet, she says, because design is in the very early stages. But SolTerra, she explained, is just starting to build sustainability-focused apartment projects – all designed to be certified as LEED Platinum, including “living roofs” and solar arrays. She says the company is “changing the way development works by hiring architects and contractors and all the Pieces under one company … everybody works together and you can build more efficiently.” Then, she explained, SolTerra will continue to own and manage the buildings.

This one, they’re planning to call Perch – “the idea is, to find your perch – to provide unique views to the tenants.” The sustainability features, she says, will help keep the units more “cost-effective and affordable.” The design features, she says, will ensure it’s a distinctive building that’s “not a box.” (The underground parking will meet the Alki code, she said – 1.5 spaces required per unit.)

As for the retail – Milburn said it’ll be “small.” A little store? Coffee shop? Restaurant? We asked. Something like that, she agreed.

Depending on how the permit process goes from here, they aren’t expecting to start construction until early 2016. While they already have a couple buildings in Portland, she said, they’re growing into the metro area here – where their Seattle offices are in SODO, near the West Seattle Bridge – by breaking ground on a building in Newcastle next month, and then one on Capitol Hill.

17 Replies to "UPDATE: SolTerra planning 125-unit, LEED Platinum building 'Perch' at 1250 Alki Avenue SW"

  • Karen May 20, 2015 (3:16 pm)

    According to Zillow, 1250 Alki sold for $3.8 million in February.

    • WSB May 20, 2015 (3:39 pm)

      Karen – I mention that in the story. Actually three of the homes together, including 1250, comprise the $3.8 million price of one sale (my research was with the King County Parcel Viewer, which is directly from the King County Assessor’s Office) – all three of those sites were owned by the same person/family – while the two other houses/parcels sold individually, one for $715K, one for $850K. – TR

  • Cami May 20, 2015 (5:59 pm)

    time for a council meeting! I’m sure the residents near there have something to say about a rezone to commercial. It’s L3, right?!

    • WSB May 20, 2015 (6:24 pm)

      No, it’s in the story – midrise, which includes “limited commercial uses” – no rezoning involved here. Alki Community Council actually meets tomorrow night. I don’t know if they’ve heard of this yet – I just found it online, a few days after the initial filing; it hasn’t even been on the Land Use Information Bulletin yet.

  • wetone May 20, 2015 (9:00 pm)

    If anything in this town needs to be protested here ya go. Zero on street parking, very limited bus service, very limited ingress/egress from area, along with being on bad curve for same, sunny day traffic is trouble & terrible, two more very large projects going in already with same MO between this site and bridge access and so much more. I wonder how long ago city made deal with developers as they would not of purchased property without doing so. So Seattle with their complaining about permits on oil rig, but something like this that really impacts this area no problem ……. DPD as a whole and Director Diane Sugimura really need to be looked into from an outside source for what is going on in this city…..Get ready for tolls……to access Seattle areas.

    • WSB May 20, 2015 (9:26 pm)

      The public process on this has yet to start. This is why we read the files to catch things before they appear on the LUIB, get scheduled for Design Review, etc. This does have numbers assigned so anyone interested can contact the DPD and reference land-use application #3020640 and construction-permit application #6474271. I apologize for not including that above … we should tag every story with “what you can do/who to contact.” – TR

  • sc May 20, 2015 (11:27 pm)

    Is parking provided for the 125 units? Or did I miss it in the report?

    • WSB May 21, 2015 (12:00 am)

      Yes, it’s in the story. The Alki area has a mandatory parking requirement – 1 and a half spaces per unit.

  • Heather May 21, 2015 (8:32 am)

    Lots of details in the article – thanks WSB – sometimes hard for people to absorb. I’m going to look up their property in Portand bc I’m curious. It does seem that their proposal matches other developments along Harbor Ave… this is one of those ‘I wish I had the money situations’ – pretty amazing investment since they’ll be managing it. I’m curious about design and construction “in house”. Thanks for the links to research further.

    • WSB May 21, 2015 (8:41 am)

      Re: Harbor Avenue – when I was talking to the SolTerra person (who FWIW responded quite promptly, not usually the case when we try to get more information on something we find in the files in a very early stage), she offered as an example of the “small retail space” the building right across from Seacrest, where Moondrop is now (previously Alki Juice & Java, and Bubbles before that, and …), as an example. But rather than the nature of the retail, what stood out for me was the fact it would be the only retail for some blocks in both directions … unlike Harbor Avenue SW, which has lots of commercial and industrial. I was surprised to find that MR zoning allowed some commercial – the lack of it for such a long stretch of Alki Ave east of the main business (mostly restaurant) district led me to assume it was zoned entirely residential.

  • Heather May 21, 2015 (8:41 am)

    Wow. Pretty impressive company – living vera wall patent holders, insulated concrete building forms, LEED and pretty dang attractive buildings in Portland. I’m beginning to think West Seattle got lucky with this development. They may, in fact, build something pretty great.

  • Heather May 21, 2015 (8:52 am)

    WSB, I believe the intent of the MR designation is to provide small scale commercial that primarily serves the needs of residents within the immediate area… not a destination retail. The goal is businesses that do not attract a ‘drive and park while shopping’ customer. A vague example would be a small business that only sees one or two customers at a time.

  • Candace Sullivan May 21, 2015 (12:06 pm)

    This is another example of the serious need for public transportation along the Alki/Harbor strip. The Alki Community Council has an affordable proposal to have the water taxi shuttle serve multiple purposes — local within West Seattle transportation as well as water taxi connections. The proposal would result in far more rapid service using modified routes — Alki Beach to the Junction along Alki, Harbor, and Avalon; and from the Seacrest water taxi (Harbor & California) terminal directly up California to the Junction. Thus far it has not gained traction from King County.

  • Bradley May 21, 2015 (3:48 pm)

    This is terrible news.

  • Dian May 21, 2015 (6:19 pm)

    What does a person do with 1/2 a parking space?

  • Jason May 21, 2015 (7:00 pm)

    Not sure if you’re kidding, but in case you’re not, the rules just require the developer to build 1.5 spots per unit; residents don’t have to lease the spots, and in most buildings there will be tenants with no spot, some with one spot, and others paying to rent two spots. The 1.5 spot figure is based on estimated aggregate demand.

  • jwright May 23, 2015 (1:03 pm)

    LEED Platinum, that’s pretty cool! Would love to know more about that.

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