DEVELOPMENT: Townhouses to replace church on HALA-upzoned site

(King County Assessor photo)

Just filed with the city today, an early-stage plan to build four townhouses in a rowhouse building on a site that currently holds a church. The Admiral District site at 4409 SW College is currently home to a Jehovah’s Witnesses‘ Kingdom Hall, though the denomination’s website does not show a schedule of meetings. The site was rezoned from single family to lowrise in the city’s HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning. The site plan (PDF) only shows these four rowhouses on about half the church’s 12,000-square-foot parcel, which could mean something more for the rest of the site, but nothing is on file yet.

16 Replies to "DEVELOPMENT: Townhouses to replace church on HALA-upzoned site"

  • Swede. September 19, 2019 (3:16 pm)

    At least that will bring in some taxes to the state. 

  • American September 20, 2019 (9:43 am)

    Every working adult there that’s a member is required by a higher authority to pay taxes on their income. They all contribute via voluntary donation to the mortgage and the upkeep of the building and the group doesn’t sell anything. Because they own a building together to meet in Swede thinks they should pay more taxes. This is what’s wrong with the world today. Money isn’t and never will be the most important thing. 

    • hj September 20, 2019 (10:26 am)

      I can say the exact same things about my house:* As a working adult I have to pay taxes on my income* I contribute to my mortgage and upkeep, and so does my wife on a voluntary basis* We don’t sell anything out of the houseCan I now not pay property taxes please?

      • Also John September 20, 2019 (5:21 pm)

        HJ…..  I was going through the exact scenario in my head.  I see no difference between my situation and that of what American stated.However, like yourself I pay property taxes to the City.

    • Olafur September 20, 2019 (10:52 am)

      If my friends and I bought that building for our cat hair macrame club to hold meetings in, would we pay more in taxes, less in taxes or the same amount in taxes as the church, given that we don’t qualify for any tax exemptions?

      • Wes September 20, 2019 (1:28 pm)

        Can I join your club? Sounds amazing! 

      • Swede. September 20, 2019 (7:20 pm)

        I’ll join on that too Olafur!And yes if your not registered as a ‘church’ you will have to pay property taxes. That point ‘American’ totally missed, or just don’t understand with how a ‘church’ works. 

        • Olafur September 20, 2019 (9:24 pm)

          Yes, you’re all welcome to join, but alas, no tax exemptions for us!  And ‘American’ got the point.  It’s just that he/she/they chooses to ignore the point and make lame excuses, rather than give up an unfair and undeserved tax exemption.  It’s easy to say “Money isn’t…the most important thing” when you’re telling other people why you shouldn’t have to give up yours, ‘American’.  Perhaps you’ll feel different when you’re giving up yours, but other people aren’t.

    • candrewb September 20, 2019 (3:35 pm)

      Income taxes are required by a higher authority – The Federal Government. And it’s at gunpoint ultimately…

  • anonyme September 20, 2019 (10:59 am)

    Churches should pay the same taxes like any other business or piece of real estate.  Describing church members as an investment group does not change that.  Worship does not require real estate ventures.

  • Maria M. September 20, 2019 (12:30 pm)

    A middle point between churches – and other non-profit organizations –  paying taxes and not paying taxes: Let the organization choose between paying taxes and not paying taxes on its land and buildings. Then when the organization decides to sell its property there is a simple way to take care of the tax consequences: If they paid taxes all along, then they would only have to pay the same taxes that a for-profit would have to in making the same transaction. If, however, the organization decided not to pay taxes during its operation, then when they decided to sell or use their building in a for-profit transaction, then they would be assessed back taxes owed on the real estate/building concerned since they started operation.  They might find that they would have to turn the property over to the city in lieu of paying the back taxes, and that would be all right too. A great way to fund housing and social services for the community and a great way to fulfill the non-profit goal of those organizations. A win-win for all!

    • WS Guy September 20, 2019 (3:34 pm)

      Just because a non-profit realizes a gain from the sale of land does not make it a “for profit”.  It has no intent or legal ability to distribute that gain to its owners/shareholders.  A non-profit will just use the proceeds to fund its ongoing operations.

    • Yeah September 20, 2019 (6:19 pm)

      The argument for churches getting a tax exemption (philosophically) is that they are doing public works – feeding the homeless, clothing the poor, educating kids, etc. – that would otherwise be left to the government to take care of using tax money.  So the exemption cuts out the middle man.  Churches don’t pay taxes and they take care of things Uncle Sam would be taking care of himself with taxes.  The United States doesn’t require churches to demonstrate that they’re actually saving the government any money to get the exemption, which is where the real problem lies.  There are unfortunately not great checks on ANY of the tax exemptions (religions, PACs, other non-profits). 

  • Nina September 20, 2019 (1:20 pm)


  • Wseattleite September 20, 2019 (10:59 pm)

    I think the idea that giving more money to the City is somehow a good thing to be more the root cause of mental illness than any of this conversation.  Greed satisfied begets more greed. There will never be enough to satisfy the current City of Seattle’s “need” for more funding.  Go ahead and celebrate more tax base. It will only make the burden greater for everyone – until the City starts acting like fiduciary adults living within a set budget like most of us tax paying citizens.  We can’t just invent a new tax to impose on the squirrels in our yard like the City is constantly trying to do with its citizens to prop up new initiatives and fund underfunded but already approved projects.  

    • Yeah September 21, 2019 (6:46 am)

      The way taxes are calculated, expanding the tax base like this will lower tax rates.  The total budget (which is limited by law in how much it can increase year over year) is divided among all parcels relative to the property value.  That’s why you see property taxes and levies expressed in “x cents per $1000 property value”.  Here is some good info from the Assessor’s office on how they calculate property taxes:  

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