TOMORROW: Junction microhousing project 4528 44th SW goes back to Southwest Design Review Board

The first microhousing (in official city terminology, Small Efficiency Dwelling Units) project in The Junction goes back before the Southwest Design Review Board tomorrow night (Thursday, September 3rd) at 6:30 pm. Embedded above is Alloy Design Group‘s “packet” for the meeting (or see it here as a PDF). Toward the start, it explains the 4528 44th SW project:

The owner proposes the construction of a new 6-story apartment building with approximately 58 small efficiency dwelling units, or SEDU’s. An existing apartment building on site will be demolished. The objective for these apartments in to provide upscale, yet affordable, housing to the West Seattle Junction neighborhood. The demographic that will benefit most from this housing will be wage earners in the neighborhood that can’t afford the $1,000 plus rents of nearby properties – millennials desiring to move out of their parents houses, people opting for minimal consumption as a lifestyle, and people that commute to downtown businesses that will utilize the Rapid Ride bus service steps from the project. In short, the project endeavors to promote urban density and support the thriving pedestrian-oriented businesses and activities in the neighborhood.

Public comments on the proposed design will be taken during Thursday night’s meeting (upstairs at the Senior Center of West Seattle, southeast corner of California SW and SW Oregon). You can review the official city report on the previous SWDRB review by going here.

SIDE NOTE – THE LAWSUIT: You might recall, the developer sued the city and the current tenants of the 2-story, 8-unit building that this will replace, challenging the city’s notice saying they needed to apply for a “tenant relocation” license under the city law requiring compensation for demolition-displaced tenants. The city filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit – as we reported in July – and that was scheduled to be argued in court this morning; we’re checking on whether a ruling resulted or is pending.

18 Replies to "TOMORROW: Junction microhousing project 4528 44th SW goes back to Southwest Design Review Board"

  • Nancy Leith September 2, 2015 (4:33 pm)

    These microhousing units should be outlawed. They don’t provide affordable housing, certainly not upscale and only create instant slums. They’re simply a vehicle for the developers to make more money. Having no parking is not going to make people give up their cars, and will create more congestion in an already congested area.

  • some guy September 2, 2015 (4:57 pm)

    I wonder how these places will change over time. When they are new and shiny you can get millennial tenants with good jobs that would probably make fine neighbors (parking issues aside). But what happens when the same tiny unit is 30 years old? What is the tenant for that unit, and are they good neighbors? I have my doubts.

  • JVP September 2, 2015 (5:02 pm)

    If there’s any place for microhousing without cars, this is it.

    Now can we get a West Seattle subway line, please? Pretty please!?

  • Terrified September 2, 2015 (6:26 pm)

    Oh no! Low priced housing! This must be stopped before people who aren’t as rich as I am move into my neighborhood! Oh won’t somebody please think of the children?!?!

  • Ssots September 2, 2015 (6:34 pm)

    Totally agree Nancy.
    Some, The materials builders use may have these looking like crap in 10 years vs 30. :)

  • Cat September 2, 2015 (9:18 pm)

    These are no solution at all to the affordable housing crisis If the surrounding rents are $1000. These won’t be low in comparison to that, they will probably fall between 850 and 1000 even for this tiny size. It’s not about making them cheap, it’s about packing as many units as possible in the space so the developer can make as much money off the building as they can. 58 units in six stories is nearly 10 cubicles per floor, so do the math on the rent roll. Plus, while I’m not going to read all 41 pages of propaganda to find out for sure, I’d guess its max 2 occupants per each and many will have cars and no dedicated parking. Can this area handle another 100 plus cars on street parking?

  • BJG September 2, 2015 (10:27 pm)

    One more huge flat façade to block our neighborhood light and destroy the remainder of our small town Junction character. Had ice cream at Husky with out-of-state family tonight and sat staring into lifeless multi-stories of blank windowed apartments. Not one interesting architectural feature in the lot. Disheartening. The relatives wonder what happened to quaint and wonderful Seattle. I had no answer. Their cities are so much more carefully designed.

  • Native Son September 3, 2015 (2:30 am)

    “Micro-housing” is a scourge in our community. They are cheap, quick construction, made to return a quick bundle to the developer. These developers do not care about the community and do the bare minimum to comply with land use regulations. Micro housing is a return to tenement housing for working people.
    Until July, I lived in a 250 sq.ft. studio apartment for $1,300/month. It was in a brand new building. I had to get rid of most of my furniture, clothes, and tools, the walls were paper thin, and the one window opened to a brick wall. I dreaded going home; this is no way to live.
    I’d like to see what these buildings look like in 20 years! In the short time I lived in the new building, workers entered my unit several times to fix shoddy, cheap construction work. For example, the linoleum faux-wood flooring lifted off the floor in under a month, and it was regularly over 95 degrees in my unit.
    Finally, there’s the parking and traffic conundrum. The city doesn’t require developers to install parking in Seattle’s “urban villages”, where new parking would be most beneficial. Furthermore, the more densely developed buildings with more tenants (i.e. micro housing) attract the type of tenant who cannot afford off-street parking. (I certainly couldn’t afford the $100/month at my old place.) Most of the off-street spots sat empty! This makes for a big influx of people without a concomitant increase in parking.
    My relatives are landlords in West (Best) Seattle. Their focus is to provide a tasteful, quality home for their tenants at a reasonable price. All of their tenants have remained for several terms after their original leases expired. This should be the model. Forget density! It only degrades the quality of life of the people and harms the vibrant communities already here.

  • WS since '66 September 3, 2015 (6:16 am)

    To those complaining about the SEDUs here is a simple solution: Don’t live in one. There are many people who love the alternative. Regarding those “big ugly buildings” simply: “What we see depends on mainly what we look for.” -John Lubbock

  • Baffled September 3, 2015 (6:22 am)

    The two micro-unit buldings under construction on Glenn Way (which I would consider part of the junction) are going to kill junction parking long before this beast comes online.

    • WSB September 3, 2015 (7:57 am)

      Baffled, just for the record, the buildings to which you’re referring are not microhousing (SEDUs) – we covered both through the Design Review process, and while their apartments might not be huge, they were designed and approved as full apartments, with kitchens and bathrooms. And while both have one side on Glenn, their official addresses are 4535 44th SW and 4400 SW Alaska. No parking required because they are near what the city considers “frequent transit.”

  • Sheryl September 3, 2015 (7:54 am)

    I am pro-urban density – I think microhousing has a lot of potential – though I do worry about degradation of the property over time. That said:

    My primary concern with the current building boom in Seattle is light and neighborhood character. If we are going to promote a walking and transit culture -eg by not providing parking spaces – it is critical that we keep our public spaces pleasant. I agree with poster BJG – this building will cut off light at the junction. This will degrade the quality of life in the common area that we all treasure. Seattle is a grim nasty grey town most of the year and building codes that are fine in other cities turn our streets into tunnels. I think Seattle zoning codes should allow for NO tall buildings at street level in major business areas. This will not please neighborhoods nearby, but I think tall buildings should be built set back by a block, with severe height restrictions on the main neighborhood street.

    If you would like to see the future of the junction with high buildings look at Broadway, a once-charming walk-through. Queen Anne is becoming a canyon as well. Can’t we preserve the neighborhood character of Seattle while also promoting high-density high-transit development?

  • BJG September 3, 2015 (8:17 am)

    Toured a newly built “upscale” apartment in the Junction this summer. “Amnenities” for this tiny one-bedroom unit included the cheapest materials available. We own an interiors retail business. We know the wholesale costs. This unit was renting for $2300/mo. It was “one of the largest.” When the new shine is off, this building will not age well. None of these new constructions will be elegantly aging properties in thirty years. Developers know this, but they’ll be long gone. So sorry for Native Son’s experience. We deserve better.

  • Cat September 3, 2015 (10:02 am)

    It is not simply a matter of not living in one if you don’t like them! Its an issue of cost shifting where the developer gains the profit and the community pays the price in terms of negative impact to quality of life borne by others whom the developer is not required to compensate. “Urban Density’ is an agenda perpetuated by developers to influence local zoning codes and make people tolerate these kinds of developments. They benefit no one else, not even those who succumb to living there because there are poor to few other options. The solution should be to increase options in the way Native Son suggests; those that foster long term tenancy.

  • ChefJoe September 3, 2015 (12:31 pm)

    Well, at least they’re meeting the newer SEDU required 0.75 bike parking spots per unit. I wonder how much they’ll add to rent for each of those spots…

  • WS since '66 September 3, 2015 (2:18 pm)

    Cat, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you know what you meant by your post. Let’s look at history for a minute, West Seattle history. Up until 1940 the homes built, for the most part, were bigger craftsman type homes with overhanging eaves and big porches (see North Admiral). Then in the 1940s the new construction consisted of those “war houses” which have anywhere from 640 sq ft to 780 sq ft with zero eaves. Radically different! Did the WS populace look at those new “war houses” in the same way those who are wringing their hands because of these SEDU homes? They were cheaply built and provided the basics to live. Since they were constructed someone has lived in those “cracker boxes” for all these years. What those hearty WS people did then was realize those homes are good for somebody…perhaps not them but someone. Maybe they weren’t as concerned about “me” back then as they are now.

  • Baffled September 3, 2015 (6:25 pm)

    @WSB – thanks for the info. While they might not be SEDUs, they are most assurededly “micro”! And frankly, I think the distinction is thin, at best. Either way, parking is a hot mess.

  • Diane September 4, 2015 (12:14 am)

    so where were all of you tonight? I was the only member of the public to show up at this meeting and comment

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