West Seattle development: 14 units proposed at 5242 California SW


New in the city Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) files: An early-stage proposal for a 14-unit development at 5242 California SW [map]. The building had been anchored by John L. Scott Real Estate headquarters until they moved north to the former JF Henry building at 4445 California SW. According to the SDCI docket item, the proposal is for six live-work units, four townhouses, and four single-family houses. The site-plan outline on file shows four of the live-works fronting California, with two behind them, the four townhouses behind that, and the four houses behind that. Eight offstreet-parking spaces are shown along the alley. The site is 15,000 square feet, according to county records, zoned NC2-30. The formal application hasn’t been filed yet, so the official comment period isn’t open yet, but according to the docket, this will go through Design Review (dates TBA).

SIDE NOTE: In case you’re wondering … since the current proposal for Mandatory Housing Affordability under the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda would upzone all commercial/multifamily property, whether in an urban village or not, the draft map shows this site with a potential future height limit of 40′ instead of 30′.

20 Replies to "West Seattle development: 14 units proposed at 5242 California SW"

  • John January 24, 2017 (12:56 pm)

    That’s much better then seeing 30 – 40 units in that location..  It seems to me the developer could but far more than just 14 units.

    • Jethro Marx January 24, 2017 (3:44 pm)

      Geez, don’t give them any alternative facts, what? They’re putting over a hundred units on a couple acres by Walt Hundley in Sunrise Heights. And well over a hundred in the elf property off of 29th Southwest! #please don’t makeitboring.

  • ACG January 24, 2017 (1:27 pm)

    Why are do many of these developments have  “live-work”?  Is there some sort of zoning or funding loophole that developers can use if they say they are building those types of units?  just curious why it isn’t simply retail on the ground floor with apartments or whatever overhead 

    • cjboffoli January 24, 2017 (1:58 pm)

      Live/work does seem particularly on trend at the moment, though I remember looking at live/work apartments in SLU when I first moved to Seattle in 2004, so it’s definitely not a new idea.  I recognize that from an urban planning perspective they tend not to “activate the street” as much as a retail business.  However, as someone who lives and work in the same West Seattle location (that is not officially configured as a live/work space), I have to say that the concept seems as useful as ever in allowing new people to live and work in West Seattle without automatically adding single-occupant vehicle commuters to the WS bridge.  I think anything that has the potential to create more jobs and living spaces, in close proximity on our peninsula, is a great thing.

    • chemist January 24, 2017 (2:01 pm)

      With all those TH and H put in with 6 ft setbacks between them, maybe the LW units function as a lease-able sound wall, considering they’ll be on a 9 ft setback from California Ave by the West Seattle Nursery (which still gets regular semi-truck deliveries).

    • JVP January 25, 2017 (9:33 pm)

      It’s because the zoning laws require ground floor retail in areas where you’ll never, ever, ever get a good retailer in there.  The loophole allows them to build “live work”, which in reality just means live.

      These particular zoning laws are just plain stupid, and I’m a fan of most zoning laws.  Retail is hard, really, really hard.  And the city forcing retail into sub-par locations is a disaster waiting to happen.  Thank goodness for live-work (aka live).

  • Just Wondering January 24, 2017 (1:27 pm)

    Maybe “California Ave” should be renamed “Wallifornia Ave” !

    • Dave January 25, 2017 (1:04 am)

      We called it the deathstar trench about 10 years ago on this blog. :) I’m partial to that name.

  • miws January 24, 2017 (1:27 pm)

    Wow, this is a bit ironic. 

    Over the past several years of the building boom in West Seattle, and missing some of the buildings that were replaced, this actually is one that I’ve *long* thought I wouldn’t miss if replaced. Nothing really architecturally distinct or great about it (although arguably,  some that have already been replaced could be defined the same way). The thought of not missing it, and if/when it may be eventually replaced, came to mind a little over an-hour-and-a-half ago as I passed by on the bus, on one of my now rather rare trips along California Av. 

    Another thing that struck me about it, is that the digital sign has been *long* in disrepair; at least a decade I’d estimate.


  • Mike January 24, 2017 (1:31 pm)

    I have 6400 sqaure feet of property, house is 1300sq/ft and it feels small for my family of four with a dog.  I can’t imagine trying to squeeze three houses on my lot.  Keep at it developers, you’re only making my property skyrocket in value.  Maybe I should invest in some Hanjin containers when they show up at auction, so I can squeeze more onto my property, squish an IKEA apodment setup in them and sell for $600k each.

    • TheKing January 24, 2017 (9:08 pm)

      I like how you think. This is brilliant. Stand them on end to meet lot coverage regulations and label them ‘accessory dwelling units’. $650k each with a partial view. 

  • Jeannie January 24, 2017 (1:52 pm)

    I don’t understand “live/work” either, ACG! So let’s say someone has…hmmm….something different…oh, I know, a coffee shop…on the ground floor and lives upstairs. That’s nice, but what if the coffee shop goes out of business? Do the “live/work” guidelines require that you need to have a business on the ground floor?

    • cjboffoli January 24, 2017 (2:32 pm)

      My adjacent neighbors have a live work house.  They and their daughters live in 2,000 square feet of residential space upstairs. And the work space (which has a separate entrance) they rent out to a small business, creating rental income they can use towards their mortgage. And if the business changes they just bring in a new renter. Seems pretty smart to me.

    • JCW January 24, 2017 (5:11 pm)

      We debated a live/work space when we moved here. My husband is self-employed as a photographer, and having a dedicated storefront to meet with clients is a big plus. We had separate apartment and studio space back in Chicago, but rent costs here made it impossible to replicate. The idea of having one monthly payment, one address, but physical work/life separation through a live/work unit is delightful for those of us who need both!

  • Vanessa January 24, 2017 (3:38 pm)

    Never. Enough. Parking.

    • Mike January 25, 2017 (8:41 am)

      Never enough SPD and SFD to keep up with our influx of new residents, crime, fires, and medical emergencies.  Also not enough done to boost infrastructure to keep up with all the additional sewage.  Mmmmm bacteria, death by poop.

  • Rick January 24, 2017 (4:26 pm)

    My place is destined for destruction yet again. 4th time in 25 years for “progress”.  I miss the old West Seattle.

  • Leelee January 24, 2017 (10:21 pm)

    Anyone know what’s going on with the abandoned old apartment bulding on California Ave just south of Juneau street?

  • Josh January 24, 2017 (10:25 pm)

    I got my original social security card there as a young teen around 1980. It was an ugly, utilitarian building then…and Bison Creek pizza was next door.

    Yes, buildings change, shops change hands, and more people live here (bringing more traffic and creating a market for more delicious restaurants).  West  Seattle is still a great place to live and raise kids, and I feel lucky to be here. 

    As for live/work units, the NC zoning requires commercial on California, however there’s less demand for small retail (Amazon anyone?). L/W gives a developer rentable space that complies with zoning.  From my view, most L/W  in West Seattle ends up functioning as bigger living space.  Not sure that’s good or bad, just is. 

  • Mac J January 25, 2017 (5:14 pm)

    I’ve been waiting for that building to go for years. Glad to see it’s going to be homes, we need more.

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