BIZNOTE: Alki Lumber sold, after a century

(Historic photo courtesy Lynn Sweeney)

Finally an answer to the question of where Alki Lumber will move when its West Seattle Triangle site is redeveloped: South Park. The Sweeney family, which has owned the lumberyard for a century, has sold the business to South Park-based Marine Lumber. We talked late today with Lynn Sweeney, after learning via a tip that Alki Lumber was notifying customers about the change. The Sweeneys have been looking for a new site for the lumberyard for two years, after deciding to redevelop its current site and some of their other properties; the two-building megaproject has just finished going through Design Review (as covered here and here). She says they were focusing on South Park as a likely new home when, independent of their search, Marine Lumber reached out to them. After discussions, Sweeney said, “we just decided to combine” – something, she said, has been happening a lot in their industry. The deal closed this week.

Here’s what it means in the near future: Alki Lumber will continue operating at its current West Seattle location, with the same staff, under the same name, until it’s time to clear out (which is not imminent, given the time required for permits and other preparations). We’ll be following up with Marine Lumber about their future plans – this news came too late in the day to do that immediately. Sweeney says all this is “exciting” but also, for her family, “bittersweet.” Alki Lumber was founded by her great-grandfather James A. Sweeney in 1921. The family maintains ownership of the land, so for now, they’ll remain the lumberyard’s “landlord,” as Sweeney put it. It’s been almost three years since the Sweeneys announced they were studying “alternatives” for their property’s future.)

26 Replies to "BIZNOTE: Alki Lumber sold, after a century"

  • Ken December 17, 2021 (7:05 pm)

    That sucks! Old Seattle is dead.

    • WSB December 17, 2021 (7:29 pm)

      Marine Lumber is as “old Seattle” as Alki Lumber. Follow the link to its website – also founded in the 1920s.

    • Neighbor December 17, 2021 (8:10 pm)

      This is the most cliche new Seattle thing to say.  Seattle is a boom and bust town.  The only constant *is* change.  We don’t need a lumber yard in the middle of West Seattle anymore.  This is what happens in a city and it’s why lumber yards exist in the first place.

      • Peter S. December 17, 2021 (8:28 pm)

        >> We don’t need a lumber yard in the middle of West Seattle anymore.  << Not so sure I agree with that assessment.  Yes, alternatives exist:  1) Local big box:   (have to pick carefully to get quality boards).  2) Local hardware:  good service, albeit pricey and limited selection.  Alki Lumber serves many local contractors because  they are convenient (saves time/money), knowledgeable, and have good selection.  Net loss to the community, IMO.  I’m also a realist to changing times and property values.  Can’t blame the owners. 

        • WS neighbor December 18, 2021 (1:30 pm)

          Good response.  My first thought was the contractors we used for our remodeled bath last year.  The fact they could do the work easily had to do with Alki Lumber.  I still have the Alki Lumber team jacket from when our son played baseball in West Seattle.  Good for them to figure out a future for the business.  Not as close but still nearby.  

      • Natinstl December 17, 2021 (10:59 pm)

        As frequent lumber yard users I’ll have to disagree. Whats a community then, just apartments and Chipotle’s?

      • Jeff December 18, 2021 (3:46 pm)

        We may indeed need a lumber yard in West Seattle but most of you are missing an essential point here by Neighbor: “This is what happens in a city”. Indeed: Times change, needs change, land value changes. Most of us, when faced with the choices the Sweeney family has, would do the same as them. Cities are always evolving, changing, improving (and to many) getting worse. I’d rather look forward to the future than yearn for the past and rage against inanimate forces. 

      • 22blades December 19, 2021 (8:00 am)

        Speak for yourself. What’s up with the “we”?

  • West Seattle Mad Sci Guy December 17, 2021 (8:02 pm)

    I’ve asked this before (and did get a guess at the time). But. Any best guess as to the earliest they may start actually breaking ground redeveloping the Alki Lumber site?  Crossing fingers not before February 2023

    • WSB December 17, 2021 (8:05 pm)

      There is nothing better than a “guess.” It all depends on permits, financing, and a variety of factors. The original announcement speculated 2022. There is absolutely ZERO way it’s going to be before February. I’d be surprised if it was before 2023.

      • West Seattle Mad Sci Guy December 17, 2021 (8:12 pm)

        You may have seen my msg before my pre typo edit. I did mean Feb 2023. (before an edit that was allowed I had Feb 2022). Thanks for your reply!

  • Heather December 17, 2021 (8:36 pm)

    I’m happy to hear that the business will remain here until construction. I buy from them frequently enough to be very happy that they’re local. They carry such great material and the delivery fee is less than $40. 

  • Just wondering December 17, 2021 (9:26 pm)

    What year was the “historic photo” taken?

    • Mike Dey December 18, 2021 (10:11 am)

      There is a sign in the photo that references 1936 so I suspect if not that year maybe  couple years later. 

  • LG December 17, 2021 (10:15 pm)

    Sad to see them go. Great knowledgeable staff. Pricier than Home Depot but much better quality boards. Advice for Marine Lumber…please be open Saturday AND Sunday. Gave a lot of our business to Home Depot solely because Alki lumber was closed on Sundays. Otherwise, tried to support them 100%. Best of luck to them.

    • CAM December 17, 2021 (11:47 pm)

      I get that there are going to be price differences but I needed some lumber and they quoted me more than double what either Home Depot or Lowe’s was offering the same lumber for and the person I was trying to get the quote from could barely be bothered to waste his time on me. As a pedestrian of the sidewalk that abuts the fence for their current lumberyard it has also been my experience that they don’t believe it’s their responsibility to clear it of ice or snow which forces pedestrians to walk into traffic on Fauntleroy Way to avoid falling and breaking something. So I won’t miss them as much as others I guess. 

      • JJ December 18, 2021 (8:35 am)

        Me too, unfortunately. I’m a female customer who has been stared at like I’m an alien and treated badly there. I won’t miss them. 

        • JJ December 18, 2021 (8:46 am)

          If that’s the way “old West Seattle” operates, it’s time for change.

      • alki_2008 December 18, 2021 (11:30 pm)

        I am not sorry to see Alki Lumber go either.  They may be fine with contractors and other “pros” that know all of the correct jargon, but for a DIY customer it seemed their staff was somewhat condescending. I’d go the further distance to Dunn Lumber in Burien when I needed lumber, although occasionally I’d go to Home Depot if I just needed sheet goods or mdf products.

      • 22blades December 19, 2021 (8:09 am)

        They probably cater to the builders with accounts. I agree that they’re overpriced for retail, but comparing it to the big boxes is not apples to apple either. They do provide expertise that you won’t get at the boxes & have to sit in return lines for… Let’s face it At this point, there’s more money in the dirt than lumber.  You pay for what you get & I’m sick & tired of returning things due to a lack of expertise. I will pay for expertise (but don’t gouge me either).

    • Admyrl Byrd December 19, 2021 (11:03 pm)

      Alki lost my business when they decided to close on Saturdays.  May still be good for the contractors, but it lost my business a while ago.

  • Joe Z December 17, 2021 (10:58 pm)

    It’s ok to be both sad to see them go and happy for the future of the Avalon triangle. Obviously it doesn’t make sense to have a lumberyard across the street from a light rail station. 

    • Admyrl Byrd December 19, 2021 (11:05 pm)

      So we lose 10-20 years of a lumber yard AND a light rail station?

  • Happy December 18, 2021 (5:39 am)

    Great photo! The lumberyard contributed to countless home builds and projects in West Seattle for a hundred years. Amazing to think about their role in shaping our community. 

  • Hammer in Hand December 18, 2021 (6:10 am)

    One word, and the family nailed it“Bittersweet” the good thing is the Sweeny family is in control of the development and the importants of that community that has been instilled from their elders is shining bright. Lead, follow, or get out of the way. They are clearly leaders

  • Jeff December 21, 2021 (8:14 am)

    Go to Dunn Lumber Co.  Local, family run business.  Its a great place with exceptional lumber and service!Even open on Saturdays!

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