2 West Seattle ex-substations now for sale


1:50 PM: When we reported last week on the former Andover Substation going up for sale on the open market, it was the only ex-substation in West Seattle – of the half-dozen reviewed in the past year and a half – to be set for that type of disposition, right now.

Now, we’ve discovered that a second one has a “For Sale” sign – a change from the plan that was in the works last December, when the City Council authorized disposition of the ex-substations, after a review process that stretched over more than two years. And the site has a page on the city website that just went live this morning, days after the other listings.

It’s known as the White Center Substation, though it’s in Highland Park, at 8820 9th SW [map]. The city report on the ex-substations last September had said that the site was suggested as a complement to a county stormwater-infrastructure project, and that the county “concurred that the former White Center Substation would be a suitable site for stormwater bio-retention.”

The bill subsequently passed by the Council in December said that the site would be offered to King County at its appraised value, listed as $355,000. But that fell through, and now the site is for sale, with the flyer setting the minimum bid at $500,000 and describing the site as 13,750 square feet, zoned LR (Lowrise) 2.

We’ve been inquiring with the county and city as to why the sale to the county fell through, and will update with whatever we find out. Bids, meantime, are due by the end of this month.

4:05 PM: Our inquiry to the county has brought this reply from Annie Kolb-Nelson of the Wastewater Treatment Division: “King County WTD has been looking at a range of alternatives to control CSOs [combined sewer overflows] in the Lower Duwamish at West Michigan and Terminal 115, and we’ve been working closely with community members to understand concerns and priorities. With regard to the substation property you refer to, King County considered the parcel but later determined we could complete the project without it. However, because the community expressed interest in it, we looked into acquiring it through alternative funding such as grants or other resources to cover the purchase costs. Unfortunately, we were unable to find the funds needed.”

14 Replies to "2 West Seattle ex-substations now for sale"

  • Wakeflood March 7, 2016 (2:40 pm)

    Does this essentially indicate that all the remaining substations are being dealt with on a case-by-case basis?  Or only ones where the previously indicated disposition falls through?  Hmmm…

  • Mary Fleck March 7, 2016 (3:30 pm)

    The City Council gave Seattle City Light permission to sell the White Center site to King County which would use it for public benefit.

    Who authorized Seattle City Light to sell it on the open market for any purpose??

    • WSB March 7, 2016 (3:40 pm)

      Mary – the language in the legislation, which I have linked in the story, says “if King County is unable or elects not to purchase …” then the city can sell it this way. So the authorization is there; I was just surprised to discover it added over the weekend. The CBA listing for this is a little more to the point, if you look it up via http://commercialmls.com – including this language:

      Public Comments: LR2 zoned site ready to be built on. Have NFA from DOE. All offers due on March 31, 2016 with the minimum offering price to be $500,000.
      Special Notes: Former Seattle City Light substation have one more on Andover. Have sold eight of these for the city now with more on the way.
      Public Building Comments: Development site.

  • DarkHawke March 7, 2016 (6:08 pm)

    Unless there is a pressing public-interest need, as with the “White Center” site mentioned, it’s better that this land be sold off.   I like both parks and greenspace, but this city has shown, at best, disinterest in maintaining greenspaces, i.e. keeping the vagrants from squatting or worse, and every time I hear more folks bleating for parks, I can only think of how much the next tax levy hike will be to pay for them.   Letting developers buy the land and put up either housing or a business or both can only help with our housing problems and/or increase the tax base, making it easier on us all.  A classic win-win.

  • 935 March 7, 2016 (6:37 pm)

    +1 Darkhawke, but alas….You make far too much sense for the drunken sailor that is The Seattle Voter…..

    • Rick March 8, 2016 (7:31 am)

      I take offense to that  statement as I was in the Air Force.

  • Cass Turnbull March 7, 2016 (7:12 pm)

    When all the remaining open spaces are gone–backyards eaten up by Mac Mansions and school campuses turned into giant dorms, two building lots that became three skinny houses  and a full-sized  mother-in-laws  packed in every back yard–then you will know the value of small green spaces near where you live.  The City will be hotter, the water dirtier, there will be more smog, flooded streets and a lot of stressed out people. All the kids living in those giant buildings won’t have trees to climb, places to play tag or build snowmen. There will be no destination for the dog  walker, the young mother  with the baby carriage, the senior on his  morning walk. Who is going to take the bus to an over crowded park to unwind, meet a girl, hear birds? But there will still be lots of people moving here for the jobs, and lots of homeless folk who still can’t afford the rent. Seattle will just be another big, ugly City, just like all the other ones. We’re selling off Seattle open space and with it our soul based on a faulty theory. It just ain’t working like it’s supposed to, unless of course you’re wealthy or a 30 year old techie.


    • KM March 7, 2016 (9:39 pm)

      This is an empty lot in a major city, the government is not selling off Lincoln Park for condo development for those terrible 30 year old residents doing well for themselves. I mean, the NERVE of kids these days! Jerks!

    • Jim March 8, 2016 (5:49 am)

      That’s dystopian. The big, dense cities that I been to are much more livable, humane, and vibrant than the medium to large ones that sprawl because everybody needs a house and a yard.

  • Cass Turnbull March 7, 2016 (11:06 pm)

    There are tens of thousands more residents headed our way, but we are keeping the  same amount of public parkland. Nothing added to make up for the loss of private open space (which makes up 54% of all open space). The vacant and ‘unbuildable’ lots are going. Landscaping requirements, gone. Backyards turning into slivers of green.  Our tree protection code is worthless. It adds up.


     How do you think our City will look and feel in 2075? Friendly, cool, green, diverse? We could have  a dense City with character and beauty, that meets the needs of the many and not the few, that accommodates diverse ages and types of people, that keeps its  people and ecology healthy, preserves its historic  buildings, and local small businesses. The City we are becoming reminds me of the suburbs and malls that have long been eschewed- everybody and everything looks the same except, you know, with a higher crime rate.  

    • John March 7, 2016 (11:39 pm)

      This last post by Turnbull is an even more outlandish display of Trumpian lies.

      As she must know, there are hundreds of pages of requirements for landscaping, tree and habitat protection with recent increased requirements in Seattle Codes.

      Two years ago the Seattle City Council adopted new requirements that eliminated hundreds of formerly legal vacant building sites.

       The “unbuildable site designation is another intentional red herring.

       Five years ago there were no sites termed such.  The  ” ‘unbuildable’ lots” phrase was coined after Seattle adopted more stringent requirements that newly required a Master Use Permit and variance.  One week a lot is buildable, the next week it was not.

  • John March 7, 2016 (11:16 pm)

    @ Cass Turnbull,


    Brilliant if dated (Mac Mansions?), but this is factually a bit Trumpian.   Submitted by longtime Seattle arborist and foremost Arborist  lobbyist.  

    If you wonder why we as property owners are no longer allowed to control the trees on our property, you can look to her organisation, Plant Amnesty, for the answers.  It has wormed its way into Seattle’s codes.  

    Now virtually all tree work must be performed by a certified Arborist like Turnbull.  If you have a dangerous tree that needs to be removed, you must dig deeper and hire a certified Consulting Arborist.  The Consulting Arborist  will submit a an application and report to the city for $100 to $300 per tree.  The city then evaluates  the report and processes the application for another few hundred dollars.   At that point the city may require further expert reports or a re-vegetation plan to be prepared and submitted by another professional for thousands of dollars.  When you finally receive the permit to remove the dangerous dead tree, guess who you must hire, a certified …

    Quite a system.

    -To the Trumpian points in the sense of her catchy hyperbole fertilized  with  elements of truth, but on examination, glarinly   false.  Here are a few:

    1. “all the remaining open spaces are gone”  Really?  All the parks, and designated green spaces are going away?

    2.”backyards eaten up by Mac Mansions ”  

    Seattle has in the last few years has tightened building and lot requirements.  As she probably knows, a single tree can now oust the thought of any structure gobbling it up.  

    False by current codes.

    3. “two building lots that became three skinny houses”.  

    This claim did happen, but is now well known old news as the skinny houses were banned several years ago.

    False by current codes.

    4. “a full-sized  mother-in-laws  packed in every back yard”

    This is ludicrous under past, current  or future codes.  

     Pure scare.

    Not a fall whiff of truth. 

    5.”The City will be hotter”

    Finally some truth!

    But then comes, 5, 6 7  – the water dirtier, there will be more smog, flooded streets”

    Over the top apocalyptic crescendo.  

    The water is undeniably better than when Puget Sound, Lake Washington, Lake Union and the Duwamish  were constantly stocked with raw sewage and toxic chemical drains. 

    There is less smog now due to fewer wood burning fireplaces,  elimination of leaded fuel, increased mpg, paint and emissions requirements, smokestack ‘washers’, mass transit and yes, density.

    Street flooding is also a ‘been there’ issue.  

    After a huge jury award and  payout in a tragic Madison Valley  flooding death, Seattle was brought to its $enses with the resulting drainage work seen all over the city.  West Seattle is contributing High Point and the whole upper Barton Basin littered with drainage  wells as well as countless homes doing infiltration .

    Seattle code now encourages a green retro fit of disconnecting the downspout from the sewer if possible.

    Recent changes in the codes now require retention  and onsite infiltration for nearly all hard run-off.

    As this record rainy season has already shown, these surface water systems will continue to decrease our risks of flooded streets even more in the future.

    The rest is howling hyperbole.  No trees to limb?  No places to play tag? No snowmen allowed?  No destination for  mother , the baby stroller, the  dog walker, the senior on his constitutional…whaaat?Are they rolling up the side walks, converting Lincoln Park to high rises, eliminating dog parks, the corner bakery and all our coffee shops too?

    Ok, I am at loss for what the “faulty theory” is she closes with but its  placement is one last wild swing/woof.

  • John March 9, 2016 (8:30 am)

    I am still hoping for a response by celebrity arborist trade rep  Cass Turnbull.

    I called her out on the outright lies she attempted to pass.

    It is hard to imagine she has not read my point by point dismissal of her false claims.

    Now she is silent, no rebuttal with facts because she has been exposed as a self-serving  fabricator.

    This post may edge into an area of WSB, I try to respect, criticize the post not the person, but when the person is a well known public activist using their bully pulpit to disseminate lies and then  hides, someone should call her out.

    I would be happy to debate Cass Turnbull over her false claims.

    Notably, not one person has disputed the facts I cite or even written a response.

  • Wes March 9, 2016 (3:17 pm)

    Hi John, guess I’ll call you out, :-) , what’s this apparent new skewer word, “Trumpian”?

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