DEVELOPMENT: See 4508 California SW design proposal before next week’s review

That’s the packet now available for preview before the third and potentially final Southwest Design Review Board look at 4508 California SW, the mixed-use building planned for the site of Kamei, Lee’s Asian, and Naked Crepe. It’s been a year and a half since we first reported on the plan, which initially had a bigger footprint, but was downscaled before its first SWDRB meeting in August 2018. The proposal is for a 70-foot building – 25 feet below what the site was upzoned to by HALA MHA – with ground-floor commercial beneath 12 lodging units and 58 residential units, mostly studios and 1-bedrooms.

(Rendering by Caron Architecture)

No offstreet vehicle parking is required; the proposal has 17 spaces, plus 69 stalls for bicycles. The project goes before the board at 6:30 pm Thursday, November 7th, at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon). P.S. Here’s our report on the board’s previous review a year ago.

47 Replies to "DEVELOPMENT: See 4508 California SW design proposal before next week's review"

  • Abcgirl October 29, 2019 (12:32 am)

    Wow so creative, never seen this kind of square ugly box before in the junction. Pretty sure all these architects just recycle plans since none of them have any flair or design to make it palatable, , oh that’s right square boxes are cheap to build .  Congratulations to all mediocrity prevails!

    • kram October 29, 2019 (8:22 am)

      It is easy to sit back and judge how these projects look but there are a few very important things to consider. These projects don’t get built if the construction costs are too high so a ‘square box’ is one tool to make this project a reality. There is also a design review board that is incredibly strict in Seattle. They make comments and force revisions and this is inspected at the end of the project. Construction costs for projects like this are in the $350 – $400 a square foot range just so you know. I do love these ‘development’ posts in the WSB, they always make me laugh hard. We live in a fast growing city and nobody here offers solutions to the  hundreds of thousands of people who will be moving to Seattle in the coming years. We’ve had 100,000 in the last 8 years alone. We can’t build 100,000 single family homes. Judge these projects all you want but the market conditions create these buildings and no comment is more cringe worthy than “my house was okay to build but your new house is not”.

      • Gene October 29, 2019 (9:17 am)

        Why can’t there be building-with  some character thrown in-even just a little? Obviously the incredibly strict Seattle Design Review board just loves these square boxes. No one I know is saying every new build has to be a single family home- just throw in a bit of character to what is constructed.

      • Annaeileen October 29, 2019 (9:46 am)

        Totally the attitude- my house is ok but nothing new or what I deem ugly is ok.  If people don’t like it get involved. Complaining on this site doesn’t change anything. 

    • KM October 29, 2019 (8:23 am)

      Are you talking about the boxy proposed structure or the boxy old structures next to it?

      • Gene October 29, 2019 (9:19 am)

        Take a look at the top of some of those “boxy old structures “-there’s some character there-just asking for some of that in these new boxes.

        • KM October 29, 2019 (1:17 pm)

          The top of the new buildings are designed and built to accommodate housing. Sorry about the lack of brick wingdings and faded awnings or what not, but I don’t see how a lack of brick micro pillar caps or whatever the Antique Mall is really that upsetting. It’s no longer the 20s, and building styles change and character is subjective. I hate Craftsmans and a large part of the new construction out there, but honestly, who cares?

    • JVP October 29, 2019 (9:27 am)

      I actually think this is a decent looking building. Nice materials and big storefronts, that’s what really matters. I’d rather have a building that “feels nice” when walking around than something that is gorgeous from afar (or on drawings), but doesn’t feel good for shoppers, diners and residents walking around. It is a smaller building (by mixed-use standards), which is awesome. IMO, a series of smaller buildings built at different times always looks/feels better than a large building taking up most of a block.But I’m with Kram.  The Design Review Boards kill any possibility of any creativity in Seattle. Creativity tends to be controversial, so the architects have to choice but to develop a “vanilla” proposal. Not that Capeluto has any creativity, but the point still holds. I’d really like to see some boundaries being pushed, or some weird stuff getting built, but I admittedly have an artistic bent and can appreciate stuff that I don’t necessarily “like”. Not gonna happen until we kill off the design review boards as they currently exist. 

    • Peter October 29, 2019 (10:00 am)

      Let me guess: your house has not right angles?

  • WS Guy October 29, 2019 (1:27 am)

    I was thinking about moving to Redmond, but I see there is no need.  Redmond is moving here.  I suggest they put some adornment at the top of the second story façade that would blend with the Junction’s 1920’s architecture.

  • Marie October 29, 2019 (7:49 am)

    The building overall has a bit of interest.  It’s the street level that is sterile and not interesting at all.  It doesn’t have an inviting community feel that I love so much about West Seattle.  It doesn’t say, “hey,  this is a great place for your interesting local business.”  Instead it says “hey,  let’s kill West Seattle’s street life and invite another credit union”.

    • Jort October 29, 2019 (2:28 pm)

      Yes, absolutely. You can see how totally, unbelievably dead the Junction is these days after all the recent new construction. Last Sunday nobody was at the farmer’s market and the festival. It was so dead. It was all just tumbleweeds blowing around. THANKS A LOT, BOX APARTMENTS.

  • Shawn October 29, 2019 (8:12 am)

    Any idea why they are choosing not to build to the upzoned height? Is this just NIMBYs complaining or is there a legitimate reason?

    • JVP October 29, 2019 (9:29 am)

      It’s more expensive to build higher than this due to fire codes. You have to use different construction methods and materials. 

    • kram October 29, 2019 (10:16 am)

      JVP is probably right. Just because you can doesn’t mean you have the resources to do it. Costs skyrocket after the 75 feet mark. You start replacing wood stories with concrete ones. This also means more sophisticated life safety and plumbing systems and really every trade costs more which drastically adds to the cost of the building overall.

  • LK October 29, 2019 (8:20 am)

    Can’t stop progress I guess but the constant construction is getting old.  The Junction area seems to be under perpetual development and the impact to traffic and noise has grown tiresome. 

  • S - in West Seattle October 29, 2019 (8:23 am)

    Here is another example of our failed City Counsel and leadership. “No offstreet vehicle parking is required; the proposal has 17 spaces, plus 69 stalls for bicycles.”Why would you need 69 stall spaces for bicycles? And 17 parking spaces. All I have to say is wow failed again. 

    • Jon Wright October 29, 2019 (9:07 am)

      Because the problem in Seattle is that there aren’t enough cars so we should be doing everything we can to encourage more of them?

    • KBear October 29, 2019 (9:20 am)

      Why would you need 69 stall spaces for bicycles? “Because there are 69 dwelling units. Because lots of people have bikes, even if it’s not their main mode of transportation. Because bike storage costs less to build than car storage.

      • Wendell October 29, 2019 (12:28 pm)

        Off street parking for 69 Lime Bikes?

    • Nolan October 29, 2019 (10:06 am)

      Nothing about what you’ve highlighted demonstrates “failed leadership”. Have the decency to back up your bombastic claims with some kind of argument.

      • WSB October 29, 2019 (10:16 am)

        Also technically the parking-requirement loosening can be traced back to a city staff “director’s rule” code interpretation in 2012. Some background (including the rule itself) in this story we published in 2014:

        Also of note – I recently learned that my dates were off when I noted that the heart of The Junction (including this site) has been zoned for 85′ (HALA added 10′) since the ’90s. That decision actually was made in the ’80s!

        • HappyCamper October 29, 2019 (10:47 am)

          Thank you for that background info!

    • WSEA October 29, 2019 (10:59 am)

      As a cyclist, I doubt I would use the 69 bike parking spots due to theft.   Anyone I know who cycles brings there bikes in the apartment or house.   Even those with gated apartment garages brings them in the building.  Just saying.   I would interested to know how many are filled after construction. Also, I bike every day for work but still need a car for hiking, skiing, etc. so its insane that we can have such limited parking. 

  • Jennie October 29, 2019 (8:35 am)

    Where will Kamei be going?

    • Annaeileen October 29, 2019 (9:43 am)

      Kamei is moving to Tacoma 😞

      • Teacher/Mom October 29, 2019 (2:26 pm)

        And what about Lee’s?

  • Joan October 29, 2019 (9:50 am)

    I  hate the difference in building heights.  This will stick out like a sore thumb. I suppose we have to accommodate some need for “growth,” but why should we suffer with another “box,” as ABCgirl said. Why should we always sacrifice the character of our community for the almighty $? It’s about quality of life, the character of our neighborhoods, the things that made us want to live here. Otherwise we can all move to Redmond, as was mentioned, or some place with a HOA that dictates what color and shape your house and mailbox can be.  “New” architecture is soulless and is ruining our towns.

    • Nolan October 29, 2019 (10:28 am)

      If you have opinions on the kinds of buildings that should be built here, you can always apply to be part of the design board. Everything else is noise, and the design board won’t (and shouldn’t!) prioritize it over the end goal of keeping the city moving forwards.

      I enthusiastically support more dense housing, both so more people can live in this community and to keep housing prices down. There is nothing more “soulless” than a neighborhood that shuts out newcomers: complaining about more housing impacting “the character of our neighborhoods” or “quality of life” is in poor taste, to put it generously.

    • kram October 29, 2019 (10:52 am)

      Get involved. Interact with the SW design review board. Write letters. Make phone calls. Call the developer. Write the developer.  Donate your own money to help make unique improvements. Just to name a few. I would love to hear what you think gives a new building soul or not. The ‘almighty $’ is what pays for these buildings and adding ‘character’ (which is subjective) costs more money. The more you put into a building the more rent needs to be to pay for it all as well so keep that in mind too.

  • HappyCamper October 29, 2019 (10:45 am)

    Every single time there’s exception to these square and rectangular boxes. Haven’t buildings always been pretty much square or rectangular except those ones in Egypt?

  • Joe Z October 29, 2019 (11:24 am)

    Not every building needs to be some sort of architectural masterpiece. It looks fine. Quality of life seems to have only gotten better with the growth in West Seattle. I say that as I write this comment from Olympia Coffee which is an awesome relatively-new business in one of those “boxy” buildings. And it is walkable from where I live!

  • KBear October 29, 2019 (12:27 pm)

    I am not sure what people mean when they say a new building like this “lacks character”. It has balconies, recessed facades, and a variety of textures and materials. The street level fits in well with the adjacent storefronts. I think it will make a good addition to the neighborhood. I suspect these same people would object to ANY modern building, especially if it’s taller than what was there previously.

  • KM October 29, 2019 (1:21 pm)

    Not one single “nice” on the bike parking? C’mon.

    • Jort October 29, 2019 (2:29 pm)

      I am excited for the bike parking! 

  • Tom October 29, 2019 (1:35 pm)

    The problem seems to be with the definition of “character.” The city of Seattle is known for it’s distinct neighborhoods, each with it’s own character. Fremont doesn’t look like Queen Anne which doesn’t look like Ballard which doesn’t look like West Seattle. You get it. What’s happened to our neighborhoods is the loss of distinction and that’s what people are complaining about. All our neighborhoods are being built-up with the same type of building. Yes, they house thousands of people (on streets that were never meant to carry that kind of residential load, but that’s another conversation) and they all look similar with similar materials. Compounding this is the lightning speed that all of this construction is occurring. Hardly a week goes by and there’s another notice of yet another much taller building that looks similar to one in any neighborhood in the city. The design review board should be at least try to preserve some of the disappearing neighborhood distinction but it doesn’t seem this is anywhere near the top of their concerns. Good, thoughtful design doesn’t need to cost more. 

    • WSB October 29, 2019 (1:48 pm)

      There are distinct design guidelines and they are reviewed/discussed:

    • KBear October 29, 2019 (3:49 pm)

      Tom, I have to disagree. I think if you look at most of the older buildings in the Junction, you will find examples of similar buildings in Ballard, Fremont, and Queen Anne. Part of the “character” of old buildings is that they are old. But none of them were old when they were built! There are many factors that contribute to a neighborhood’s character, and while the construction of new buildings certainly changes things, it’s a mistake to think that it will necessarily cause the neighborhood to be less distinct. Now, if they were to raze the whole block and rebuild it all at once, I might agree about the loss of character. But that is not what’s happening.  

  • TC October 29, 2019 (3:18 pm)

    Can we lobby the Landmarks Preservation Board to protect the current building ala Save the Showbox? It’d be great to protect the things that make West Seattle unique.

    • WSB October 29, 2019 (3:36 pm)

      It’s already been evaluated for potential historic value (the packet includes those documents as well as old photos) and determined it wouldn’t likely qualify.

  • Reallife October 29, 2019 (3:37 pm)

    To what WSEA said. MOST(99%) people have car’s. All the people that say no young people want car’s are conspicuously absent to explain why, when a new apartment is built there are a bunch more car’s parked in the neighborhood.  My nephew just got his first good job out of grad school. He got an apartment on 12th-near the SPD precinct. Most everyone in his building are young like himself. 1st thing Erik did was buy a new car-saying “i’m tired of rideing the bus” Here’s what’s funny: He’s happy to have bought a smaller car-Ford Fusion because the parking garage is full of truck’s and full size suv’s.  So much for young people not wanting a car……………….

  • carole October 29, 2019 (5:29 pm)

    I’m impressed that the drawings show only 2 cars parked on California, with a big stretch of open curb.  (Sarcasm)  

  • AMS October 30, 2019 (6:38 am)

    What is the difference between a Lodging unit and a Residential unit?  Is Lodging a short term like a hotel room?

  • anonyme October 30, 2019 (6:50 am)

    I agree with Tom.  One of the reasons that many of these older buildings (not all) retain so much character after 100 years is that they were designed and built using quality materials and constructed by skilled carpenters.  Not so with most of the buildings we’re seeing now.  Not only are they cookie-cutter boxes, but they are also made with recycled plans, cheap materials, using unskilled laborers.  Many of these new buildings are decrepit after 10 years.  Modern architecture is great if done well, but the vast majority are not.  I think that most of the objection to this type of construction has less to do with nostalgia and more to do with the rejection of the cheap, quick and ugly.

  • Deb Barker October 30, 2019 (5:20 pm)

    Got an opinion about the proposed design of this building???  Please attend the SW Design Review Board meeting on Nov. 7th.  6:30pm.  Senior Center.  Right next door to the project site.  The SW Design Review Board DOES want to hear  your comments on building design, materials, finishes, landscaping, etc. Your comments can be verbal, or in writing. From my experience on both sides of the table, the DRB really does appreciate when the community participates in the design review process. See you there. 

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