FOLLOWUP: New plan for West Seattle’s most visible vacant house

(WSB photo)

3804 23rd SW is the most-visible vacant house in West Seattle – perched all by itself next to the Delridge on-ramp to the eastbound West Seattle Bridge. The first time we mentioned it on WSB was in 2009, when it was a stop on a community-organized tour of problem properties in North Delridge, with city councilmembers and department heads in attendance. It was speculated at the time that this house had already been vacant for at least 20 years. Over the ensuing 14 years, we’ve mentioned the house several times. It was auctioned in 2014 to cover unpaid taxes; it changed hands again in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, it had an early-stage proposal for eight townhouses, but in 2019, that plan stalled, and the site has remained relatively unchanged, aside from some retaining-wall work. Now a tip led us to discover there’s a new plan for the site – this time, a plan to remodel the long-vacant house and add a second story. Meantime, the site remains in the city’s vacant building monitoring program; city records show its most recent inspection at the end of March found violations such as the house not being secured against weather and trespassers. (You might recall that a person was found dead on the site last year.)

39 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: New plan for West Seattle's most visible vacant house"

  • Ferns April 10, 2023 (1:22 am)

    That’s really interesting. I wonder about other buildings too like the one near west bay coffee drive through and many on delridge. I can’t imagine much of that structure is useful but maybe it can be “remodeled”. It doesn’t look like the walls are strong enough to hold up what I think would be needed triple pane windows to keep the sound of traffic out. And air filtration for the pollutants. It’s practically on the on ramp. And It looks really tricky to get in and out of the driveway safely too. 

    • BeenThere April 10, 2023 (11:46 am)

      Judging from the site, with multiple ECA designations: Steep Slope, Possible Slide, Known Slide (affected property), the house is being “remodeled” with the second story addition within the existing house’s footprint.

      Expect them to submit plans that maintain the current footprint but upgrade to current standards with perhaps foundation and structural work requiring the bulk of the existing structure to be removed (everything red in the picture of the house will be gone).  
      Doing so avoids the ECA Rules for  new construction which would dramatically increase the time and expense as well as exposing the project to the notification posting and public comment period.

      It is highly unlikely that a new house could be established where the existing house is located due to current set-back and ECA restrictions.   

      • Duff Radke-Bogen April 10, 2023 (7:24 pm)

        Meeting all of the structural requirements to stabilize a building at that site, staying within the existing footprint and the desirability of that location* seems like “three strikes and you’re out.”*WSB could run a competition for the longest list of the demerits of that lot: air and noise pollution from the steel mill, noise from the fire station and container operation across Spokane st 🤔

      • Chris white April 11, 2023 (1:25 pm)

        The reason the house has been empty for longer than 20 years is on a spiritual level. If any project is attempted, even the light rail,the project will fail due to “GHOST LIKE ,OR BOOGEY MAN” type of protest. Good luck to whoever try to break ground there.

        • Derek April 12, 2023 (9:38 am)

          I’m sorry, but what?

    • luke April 11, 2023 (8:38 am)

      There are two abandon houses next to me. Abandoned for years. We had to constantly chase away trespassers. Cops would do nothing, wouldn’t even make them leave. That stopped when I had enough and was not a nice person, well actually I turned into a bad person. But being a bad person is sometimes the only thing bad people understand. Not a trespasser since. My brother hired an ex marine(now a ‘problem solver’) to clear out his abandoned house with dealers using it, since cops are worthless in these matters. Sure would be nice if there were real problem solvers to call rather than cops. 

    • Joseph Ott April 17, 2023 (1:49 pm)

      The owner may have filed a remodel plan because it cost literally thousands less ( as in 6,000 or more less) in fees and can save up to 12 months in processing time for approval. A remodel in Seattle can mean leaving only 6 feet of length  on an exterior wall standing and integrated into the new structure and reusing at least 60% of thenorriginal foundation with support modifications allowed. Many a home in Seattle has been “remodeled” Using the 6x wall rule where they “found wood rot and other issues in the reused part 6 weeks into the job and had to replace it too meaning a 100% new home with savings running into the five figure area over the traditional new home build. All the savings being impact studies, development fees, not redoing sidewalks or paving roads ect…

  • SZ April 10, 2023 (4:41 am)

    Is it April 1st again? 

  • ARPigeonPoint April 10, 2023 (6:55 am)

    Odd plan, considering it’s on the chopping block for light rail. 

    • Seth April 10, 2023 (11:27 am)

      Thats probably the point.  Remodel ‘very cheaply’ overvalue and the city will pay for it.

      • Jj April 10, 2023 (3:09 pm)


  • Alkibean April 10, 2023 (7:18 am)

    I can’t believe anyone would spend one red cent to renovate a literal shack right next to a freeway!  Tear it down. 

    • Glenn√ April 10, 2023 (4:03 pm)

      Nobody could stand the constant noise. It could be restored as a business or art studio

    • RayWest April 11, 2023 (6:51 am)

      Alkibean – I totally agree–Tear It Down! It makes absolutely no sense to put what would likely be multi-housing on this property, next to a freeway with noise, pollution, and potential traffic accidents as residents enter and leave the awkwardly-shaped property on a ridiculously positioned driveway. Some of the commenters here have hit the mark by suggesting that any private development is likely to up the value to later sell it to the city for the light rail project.  Demolish it now and make it part of the greenbelt.

  • TooBrokeForSeattle April 10, 2023 (7:23 am)

    Wow. Or they could sell it for (at least) under 20k and let people who want to buy a house, buy it, fix it up and then live in it. Except every single house in Seattle that looks exactly like this is listed for over 300k. 

    • The Dude April 10, 2023 (11:48 pm)

      Lol. Agreed. Love your username. Thats what I often say about living in Seattle- Too broke to leave and too broke to stay. 

  • nonni April 10, 2023 (8:46 am)

    Location, location, location! (Convenient for commuting! Territorial views!) How much would you pay?Too bad this wasn’t posted on April 1st.

  • Bronson April 10, 2023 (8:53 am)

    Any remodel is likely going to be only fruitful in getting more money out of Sound Transit, as that property will be taken by the light rail. 

  • tim April 10, 2023 (9:11 am)

    Great pic. I’d go for historical preservation status. The light rail can go around it.

    • DC April 10, 2023 (11:52 am)

      True. Memorializing West Seattle’s long history of vacant homes is an important legacy for future generations. 

    • miws April 10, 2023 (11:59 am)

      It worked for Bugs Bunny decades ago… 

      • Elisa April 10, 2023 (1:14 pm)

        That’s funny!

      • Bill April 11, 2023 (1:28 am)

        Reminds me of the old Mercer Island floating Bridge toll booth bump outs!

    • Brittney April 12, 2023 (10:59 am)

      This does not need to be preserved. A dead body found in it several months ago, the unsafe slide hazard, who knows what chemicals or noxious fumes are inside… not everything need to be saved 

  • valvashon April 10, 2023 (9:37 am)

    How can there be anything left of that house that is worth remodeling?  Would you stand on that second floor built on those probably rotten first floor studs and saggy foundation?  Houses in this condition deteriorate on the outside and on the inside.  I smell a lowball remodel job for a Sound Transit payday.

  • Thomas April 10, 2023 (9:50 am)

    Honestly I want whoever originally built it to work on my house. 35+ years of no maintenance and it’s still standing. 

    • RayWest April 11, 2023 (6:56 am)

      Thomas – The same thought occurred to me. If that house had been built by today’s building standards, it would have totally collapsed years ago. Pretty amazing it is still standing.

  • Pete April 10, 2023 (10:01 am)

    Myself and so many others have filled files upon files with code violation complaints over the last twenty plus years on this property. I too find it hard to believe that it is even still standing. Some developer must see something that we don’t as I have been told that the inside is uninhabitable. 

  • Jay April 10, 2023 (11:44 am)

    There’s no way that a 35 year abandoned property used as a crackhouse is fit for a remodel and 2nd story addition. Maybe they can re-used the foundation, but this property will need to be torn down. I’m sure the structure has long-since rotted and is held up by little more than hopes and dreams.

  • Joe April 10, 2023 (12:33 pm)

    I suspect someone will do a very cheap “remodel” just to inflate the value. They will then sell it to Sound Transit who will in turn tear it down. Such good uses of our resources.

  • Dominic A April 10, 2023 (4:37 pm)

    It is a bad location for many reasons and the location makes it undesirable to live so close to a main road to the West Seattle Bridge!!!Tear it down!!!

  • CheeseWS777 April 10, 2023 (7:19 pm)

    Maybe u see it as an unfit location to live at, probably because you lived most of your life with every single complaint catered too, but not everybody is so picky. Build a much larger unit there with several rooms/living spaces and use it for more homeless housing, or do you not want them to move in to a space that obviously nobody else seems to want?

  • zipda April 10, 2023 (8:55 pm)

    Unique, exciting WS home for sale with superb location for commuters.Has that lived in look with great character, history and room for expansion.Has stood the test of time. May need minor work.

  • Johnny Bongshow April 10, 2023 (9:09 pm)

    never give up.

  • bill April 11, 2023 (8:28 am)

    The remodel designation probably means retaining some very small portion of the building in order to avoid the full permitting process for new construction. I agree this is likely a ploy to increase the value for when Sound Transit buys the property. But you really have to know what you are doing to upgrade and flip a property for a profit. 

    • Joe Ott April 17, 2023 (2:01 pm)

      The rules may have changed but the rule used to be a remodel had to use 6feet of an original exterior load bearing wall and reused at least 60% of the original foundation. It was pretty common to find some material defect in the reused section once the new work reached at least 40%. Forcing replacement of that okder section while saving thousands of dollars and months to years of time as a remodel gets to skip environmental review and public comment. 

  • morealex April 11, 2023 (7:28 pm)

    Wonder what the land alone is worth?  Anyone who has seen the place reasonably (and safely) close care to guesstimate how big the lot is?  I don’t think a friend of mine who buys cheap and flips places (and he’s bought some real wrecks and very much improved them, structurally also) after working on them mostly himself, but with some jobs subbed out… would even consider this place based on the location.  He buys some real disaster places but they’re always in spots with tons of potential and neighborhood value,  The picture makes it look like there’s no room to speak of whatsoever on any side.  If in 2009 it was speculated that it had been vacant for at least 20 years prior…. it at least remained standing after the Nisqually quake.

    • WSB April 11, 2023 (10:14 pm)

      The lot is 7700 square feet, per property records.

  • 4GenWSea April 28, 2023 (10:13 am)

    There was a guy who lived there maybe was the last to do so.  He was a logger who was hit by a sledge hammer and decided to become a professional boxer.  He boxed for a while, he was famous for putting his hands down durring a match and letting his apponent hit him in the jaw… his career as a boxer did not last too long.  He was the one who painted the house the color it is now and put a big sign on the side of the house that he lived there. Can’t remmeber his name?!  I believe it was something like Haggland? Don’t know?

Sorry, comment time is over.