Another West Seattle Junction redevelopment project, 4508 California SW, finishes Design Review

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Now there are two redevelopment projects on the way to construction in the heart of The Junction, after 4508 California SW cleared the Design Review process last night.

This was the Southwest Design Review Board‘s third review of the yet-to-be-named building, which will be the third mixed-use Junction redevelopment for Leon Capelouto, after Capco Plaza (42nd/Alaska) and AJ Apartments (42nd/Oregon). This one will replace the building that currently holds Lee’s Asian Restaurant, Kamei Japanese Restaurant, and The Naked Crepe.

Last night’s meeting was sparsely attended, with two community members commenting. David Reddish of Caron Architecture led the briefing on design changes made since the project’s last review one year ago (WSB coverage here). Here’s the packet:

As recapped last night, 58 apartments are planned, plus 12 lodging units, 17 underground parking spaces, and ground-floor retail space. Reddish said the project is intended to create spaces for smaller retailers, as the current building does. Other design points:

It has a 2-story brick base, with dark-bronze-finished storefronts and lots of glass. Brick is common in The Junction, the architect noted. That’s a “simple and elegant way to (signify) a change in use at the street level.” He also pointed out the second-floor amenity level, “more like an outdoor living room,” with a kitchen, living room, and seating. There’s also an outdoor fire pit. Street level will include light poles, bike racks, and places to hang the Junction’s distinctive flower baskets.

Floors 3-6 are residential, with setbacks. There’ll be a roof deck with a fire pit. The landscaping plan includes some bioretention planters to meet stormwater requirements, as well as some P-Patch type space.

Since this is an “infill” building (7 stories on a block long zoned for 8 and now via HALA upzoned to 9), there won’t be much to see on the north/south facades, just patterns to “modulate” things a bit. The building is “primarily an L shape.”

BOARD QUESTIONS: Scott Rosenstock asked about the decks. Since “the units are so small,” Reddish said, they’ve tried to include them wherever possible. John Cheng asked about the material on the north side; Reddish explained how the “bays” are called out via materials. Matt Hutchins asked about the “bevel” on the facade; that was meant to echo some of the historical architecture touches nearby, Reddish replied. Chair Crystal Loya also wondered about the materials for a white line “wrapping” part of the exterior – it’ll probably be metal, was the reply.

PUBLIC COMMENT: Lora Radford, executive director of the West Seattle Junction Association spoke first, lauding developer Capelouto for the project’s “thoughtful” materials. She said one thing the project’s missing is a “public benefit” and perhaps this building could include a mural – to help retain some of the community feel that many perceive to be lost with redevelopment. Perhaps a mural honoring the Duwamish Tribe, she suggested. Or maybe if there’s no space on the building, the developer could fund one elsewhere in The Junction.

Deb Barker, West Seattle community advocate and former Design Review Board member, said it should be more obvious that the residential units are SEDUs. The California-facing decks seemed like little more than fire escapes, she said. Overall, there are “too many things going on with this building … horizontal elements, vertical elements,” windows of varying designs, etc. She also wondered what’s going to keep people from sleeping in the storefronts before it’s leased, given that the AJ’s commercial spaces weren’t occupied for more than a year after the building opened. Capelouto answered from the gallery that he already spends $100,000 on security and is in The Junction a lot himself observing how things are going.

BOARD DELIBERATIONS: Board members had questions about some relatively minor points. Rosenstock was concerned about an “ominous” space near the commercial access on the alley. They also talked about the north and south facades. They discussed about Radford’s suggestion of a mural, which they have no power to mandate, but thought it might be worth considering on one of the facades. Hutchins observd that the “L” shape on one side of the building has a “strong personality” but that falls away elsewhere. Regarding the decks, board members thought they were OK as proposed. Regarding the wall at ground level, they wanted to be sure the brick wraps around to the street. The lighting and other street-level features were received well.

Overall, as they summarized their recommendations, no one had any particularly strong critiques for the project, just a few minor points about the frame around the wood and the lighting. The north wall could be “simplified” a bit; the northwwst side might be perfect for mural or other “neighborhod cuolture” touch so they encourage the projec teamto work with WSJA. (uplights)

WHAT’S NEXT: City planner Tami Garrett will write the final report on the meeting. She also reviews other aspects of the project outside this board’s scope, so you can still send comments to her at That’s only part of the process for getting demolition/construction permits, so don’t expect to see work at the site any time soon.

P.S. It’s been four months since the other heart-of-Junction redevelopment project, 4747 California SW, won SWDRB approval (WSB coverage here), and that’s still working its way through the permit process

22 Replies to "Another West Seattle Junction redevelopment project, 4508 California SW, finishes Design Review"

  • West Seattle Coug November 8, 2019 (1:57 pm)

    58 apartments…17 parking spaces…in the Junction. Enough said.

    • Pilsner November 8, 2019 (2:34 pm)

      Its ok. People can park on I-5 or 99 for $30.

    • Nolan November 8, 2019 (2:56 pm)

      You’re right. That’s far too many parking spaces for an area with tons of on-street parking within a few blocks and a bus line. There’s no reason to make would-be renters subsidize car owners with onsite parking.

    • Joe Z November 8, 2019 (3:08 pm)

      I agree, that is too many parking spots for a walkable urban village with great transit access! 

  • anonyme November 8, 2019 (3:06 pm)

    Agreed.  Not even enough parking for the retail businesses, much less the apartments and “lodgings”.  Nor did I read a single word about affordability, which is how this HALA development frenzy was sold to the citizenry.  Total BS, of course. 

    • WSB November 8, 2019 (8:46 pm)

      This has nothing to do with HALA. The project, in fact, is not utilizing the extra height to which the site was upzoned (after 30+ years of zoning to 85′, HALA MHA upzoned this block and the one to the south to 95′). Don’t know what the apartments will rent for as that’s not usually a topic at Design Review but if they go for the longstanding MFTE program, as most new developments around here do, there will have to be a percentage of rent-restricted units.

    • HappyCamper November 9, 2019 (8:45 am)

      There’s also a good chance that a project of this size was vested in the permit system prior to the passing and implementation of HALA/MHA. Often times projects are vested in the system years before they break ground.

  • West Seattleite November 8, 2019 (3:06 pm)

      Little New York!  I hate this development of West Seattle.  Driving down California Ave. there is hardly  any sunshine as it is.  The buildings are shading it.   

    • Jort November 9, 2019 (9:03 am)

      And, as we all know, this has made New York into a vacant wasteland of failed businesses and empty housing where nobody wants to live. 

  • Checker November 8, 2019 (3:48 pm)

    What’s really funny about this war on car’s is that if they won they would FREAK. Why? there’d be ZERO income from car tab’s. There’d be ZERO income from sales tax on car’s, car part’s repair’s etc. Fewer job’s and ZERO revenue from the gas tax. Who’d they tax then???

    • Jon Wright November 8, 2019 (6:55 pm)

      Just who is “they”?

    • HappyCamper November 9, 2019 (8:42 am)

      Don’t forget the war on transit!

  • miws November 8, 2019 (4:39 pm)

    Tax misplaced apostrophes! —Mike

    • KM November 9, 2019 (7:55 am)

      Write the initiative, Mike. You would have our vote’s.

  • chickenfriedrice November 8, 2019 (5:18 pm)

    NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Lee’s Asian has the best chicken fried rice EVER!!! Are they moving locations or gone for good?

  • Kris November 8, 2019 (11:29 pm)

    I agree with West Seattleite.  Just look down south of the junction on California just pass the 7-11.  It’s looks like a dark canyon for a couple blocks.  That’s how the junction will look like if too many tall buildings are allowed to be built. Its pleasant now to walk and shop right now at the junction.  When the light is shut out from the tall building it won’t be pleasant anymore.  Maybe designing building that allow more light would keep the junction pleasant?

  • Rick November 9, 2019 (4:58 am)

    I’ve owned a business on California Ave SW in several different locations in or near the Junction for 40 years, about the time a lot of this development started. Even back then I used to joke with clients that the road should be re-named California Canyon. I guess I was more “psychic” than I could have imagined.  I still like “California Canyon”. It’s got a nice ring to it. Just an observation so some of y’all, don’t be gettin’ all worked up.

  • anonyme November 9, 2019 (6:31 am)

    The employees at Lee’s Asian seem to think that construction won’t start for about two years.  They have no idea as yet where they will go.  Regardless, the scope of these projects will have a huge negative impact, not just on the businesses being forced out, but on other businesses and on the Junction in general.  Will Seattle ever be livable again, or is it destined to be one giant construction zone in perpetuity?

  • Sharon Dene November 9, 2019 (7:08 am)

    Not building these buildings with no parking you’re ruining the junction county for apartment buildings and half of them are empty do not help the homeless problem here please restaurants been there for a while that’s what gives the flavor of the junction please stop building

  • jxnrez November 9, 2019 (8:41 am)

    Respectfully, these comments are directed to  Leon Capelouto and David Reddish of Caron Architecture.  I understand the ability of wealthy investors to build housing.  Being you are already wealthy enough to own multiple developments, Mr. Capelouto, might you consider placing a budget aside to keep these properties maintained?  As a resident of the Junction, I walk about each day and observe the poorly kept grounds of Capco Plaza (human urine odors, garbage, landscaping which is less than desirable) and the AJ while competing with the lovely maintained grounds of the adjacent Oregon 42.  Are you not making enough money to also care for the property?  Maybe one should think about a better management company.  Or possibly just consider your Seattle community over profits?  I hear it’s beginning to be a trendy thing.  The neighborhood has all heard how the QFC on 42nd has the highest rent for space of any QFC in the country, yet it spent half the year with no working elevator and still has plywood boards taped to the cement foyer of the store.  Poorly built structures?  Poorly maintained structures?  What is the point of building something when you do not create and contribute to the beauty and vibrancy of the neighborhood?   I would think this type of business model would bore over time.  

    • Lisab November 9, 2019 (10:04 am)

      Bravo to you!! Well stated.

  • TJ November 9, 2019 (11:41 am)

    I looked through that and unless I missed it, how many 2 & 3 bedroom units are being built? Families don’t move into studios or 1 bedroom apartments. I haven’t seen numbers, but my understanding is that out of all these big new buildings coming on line the last 8 years, there have been hardly anything made over 1 bedroom. Sorry, not everybody is a techie who substitutes dogs for children. Also, people cry about affordability, which isn’t a government function, but don’t cry about the lack of condos being built? Talk about building a peasant class. Own it and you gain the equity. 

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