DEVELOPMENT: Long-stalled site in 5200 block of California SW up for sale

(Part of the site, which also includes 2 ex-restaurants to the south)

We’re continuing to check on stalled development sites. Today, an update on 5242-5258 California SW, the site that includes a former strip mall plus two former restaurants (most recently Papa John’s, closed since 2017, and Thaitan, closed since 2019) north of Brandon. The site is listed for sale again, this time as a “permitted development site” approved for 32 townhouses. The asking price: $7.7 million.

The land is owned by entities traceable to Memphis-based Lexington Asset Management, which bought it in 2018 and 2019 purchases totaling $4.6 million, according to King County Assessor’s Office records. Development proposals for the site went through the city process in stages going back to 2017. The sales flyer for the site calls it “the largest permitted townhome opportunity in the heart of West Seattle in over 20 years,” though Rally – the townhome development at the former Charlestown Café site – isn’t far behind, at 27 units. The flyer also makes note of the closed bridge, observing that “West Seattle Bridge reopens in 2022, which will accelerate home value and rent growth (work is already underway).”

Meantime, the graffiti and trash at the site has led to complaints filed with the city, most recently early this year (we noted a crew placing new plywood over the windows in mid-March, but as our photo above shows, the tagging has been re-accumulating since then).

21 Replies to "DEVELOPMENT: Long-stalled site in 5200 block of California SW up for sale"

  • Brian August 19, 2021 (7:39 pm)

    It’s cool how some company states away can hold a decrepit property hostage with zero repercussions for what it does to the health, character, and utility of the neighborhood while individual homeless folks are being swept away for doing what is essentially the same thing. 

    • flimflam August 20, 2021 (8:22 am)

      I’d say there are some very dramatic differences but I agree that the city seems very forgiving to owners of properties like this.

  • Also John August 19, 2021 (7:41 pm)

    I really miss the Thaitan.  That place had the best Thai food in WS………..IMO.

    • MT August 19, 2021 (9:52 pm)

      I disagree, I would give that title to Buddha Ruksa

      • Maria August 20, 2021 (7:31 am)

        Thaitan did chef up some dishes better than others.  It  was good to have variety between Pailin, Thaitan, and Buddha Ruksa at that time.

    • natandjer2004 August 20, 2021 (10:22 am)

      no, it wasn’t, the food was awful

  • cricket August 19, 2021 (8:12 pm)

    Seems like a tall order. Maybe let some pop-ups occupy the restaurant spaces until a sale goes through?

  • JohnW August 19, 2021 (8:45 pm)

    Let’s save that amazing graffiti as a time capsule.

    • Ken August 20, 2021 (9:33 am)

      Where did you see any amazing graffiti?

  • major_sigh August 19, 2021 (10:27 pm)

    Who can you complain to about vacant sites. I know of a few others?  This one didn’t bother me because I knew it was going to be developed. But these other ones I’m thinking of I think the owners are completely MIA

    • WSB August 19, 2021 (11:15 pm)

      If you have a code complaint – tagging, trash, vegetation over the sidewalk, etc. – it’s the SDCI complaint-filing process:

      • FiFi August 20, 2021 (9:29 am)

        The Find It Fix It app is a great tool as well for calling out stuff like graffiti, trash, abandoned cars and similar kinds of situations. We’ve found that the response time is very fast through that portal. Say it – FiFi. Makes us laugh.

      • K August 20, 2021 (3:15 pm)

        As a neighbor that has complained about this site since 2019 using the SDCI process, know that the city may break out complaints into separate complaint “numbers” for tracking. At one time, I had a complaint in for graffiti, illegal dumping (it was not safe to clean up as a neighbor), encampments, and other public safety nonsense like blocked sidewalks and alley by downed fences. Sadly, the last time I complained about the ever-increasing graffiti, the city simply closed the complaint after the fence was re-erected. I receive two notices with the general regulations of graffiti being removed after 30-45 or 45-60 days, which does not appear to be consistent and has never happened. Almost from the beginning of the erection of the second fence, there has been a person-size hole and other areas that can easily be breached to continue the graffiti. My last attempt was to contact Lisa Herbold’s office, including photos. While I did receive an initial response that included acknowledgement that this property is part of the city tracking program (this can also be found through city resources I already knew about), Herbold’s office rerouted me to the Dept of Construction/Inspections, which never replied to our email requests. 

  • Cary August 19, 2021 (11:59 pm)

    That site used to be bison creek pizza.  And tthe thaitisn was a  Taco Bell back in the day when Taco Bell was good.   Sad  to see it go 

    • Maria August 20, 2021 (7:36 am)

      The unmistakable architectural outline of old Taco Bells, Denny’s, Pizza Huts, and Winchell’s dot our nation’s main roads.

  • Nala August 20, 2021 (1:00 am)

    We already have enough expensive townhomes. How about some affordable housing. 

    • Anne August 20, 2021 (7:06 am)

      What do you consider affordable?

    • AMD August 20, 2021 (8:28 am)

      Affordable townhomes CAN exist.  “Affordable housing” doesn’t have to mean tiny housing.

    • Jess August 20, 2021 (9:15 am)

      Yes! They should start building rundown apartments that are in my budget.

  • Jay August 20, 2021 (9:26 am)

    They go for max quick profit with townhomes on the main street
    instead of X over 1 buildings that put businesses on the ground level.
    For a growing area like California Ave it would be nice to increase the
    amount of rentable business space so that the area can become vibrant
    with economic activity as density increases rather than just another
    suburb. Converting business to residential is a step backwards in my opinion. I’d love to see X/1 building on blocks facing California,
    high density condos, apartments, and townhomes the second to third block
    back, and single family behind that. Make a strip of bustling economic
    activity running all the way down West Seattle. This would maintain the character of the neighborhood but also enable it to grow and thrive. Maybe do the same with Delridge, too.

    • Peter August 20, 2021 (2:36 pm)

      I agree. I’d rather see apartment buildings with retail, especially small-scale retail, than townhouses or so-called “live/work” spaces that mostly just create dead zones in business areas. 

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