West Seattle, Washington
Earlier this month, we reported on a public-comment meeting for a project near Longfellow Creek, at 6504 24th SW [map]. The 46,000-square-foot site is proposed to be redeveloped with 11 housing units – five 2-story single-family houses, three detached accessory dwelling units, and three detached accessory dwelling units. Most of the concerns voiced. about the project involved the potential loss of trees on the site. Today, the city’s latest Land Use Information Bulletin offers a new chance for comments on the proposal’s land-use application. The notice says this is because of a “revised application,” though we’ve checked the file and couldn’t tell what’s been revised. If you’re interested in commenting, you have two weeks – until April 5th; the notice explains how.
SIDE NOTE: The city file on this project now includes the video recording of last month’s online meeting:
Four and a half years after Roxbury Auto Parts was forced to close, the site has just been listed for sale. In 2018, the building at 2839 SW Roxbury was “red-tagged” by King County (it’s just south of the city limits), declaring the building was unsafe and that its back wall was in danger of collapse. The store’s third-generation owners – who leased the site – had to close, and never reopened. The building has sat vacant and vandalized ever since. It’s on a half-acre site described in the listing as “Perfect development site with 155 feet of frontage on SW Roxbury. … Great location for chain restaurant or other commercial/mixed use applications.” Asking price: $1,375,000.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Days after the city released a report showing Seattle’s tree canopy continues to shrink, proposed tree removal drew most of the comments at an online public hearing about a Delridge development site.
The hearing was about 6504 24th SW [map], the official address for an 11-unit proposal on a 46,000-square-foot site that also includes 6363 23rd SW. That stretch of 24th SW is a (corrected) dead-end street close to Longfellow Creek. The hearing was called for community feedback, by community request. The online-hosting system indicated 15 people were in attendance along with four city staffers.
This wasn’t a design-review meeting; there was no presentation by the developer or architect. Instead, city planning staffer David Sachs gave a very brief description of the project – 5 two-story single-family houses, 3 attached accessory dwelling units, and 3 detached accessory dwelling units, with 11 parking spaces, mostly garages.
As noted on that slide, the site includes what the city considers Environmentally Critical Areas. The development’s potential effect on the environment was the subject of most of the comments. First, a city staffer summarized written comments that had been received before the hearing, voicing concerns over the loss of exceptional trees and past flooding. (The arborist report for the site says 85 trees were assessed, and 52 met the “exceptional” criteria. Other project documents say 34 trees would be removed.) One written comment pointed out that the city had purchased parcels across 24th to keep as creek-area habitat and wondered why the same couldn’t be done with this site. Another suggested “humbler housing” would be more appropriate on the site.
That was a point made by some of those who offered comments, both spoken and written, during the hearing. They weren’t opposed to building new housing on the site – just to the amount of tree removal that would be required by the current proposal. One commenter, identifying himself as an architect, even presented a short slide deck with an alternative proposal that he said would retain more of the trees and only require removal of seven large ones:
One subsequent commenter offered enthusiastic support for that idea, but the city staffers had to remind them that it was not part of what the project team had proposed, so it’s not part of what they’re reviewing. Meantime, other commenters had concerns including 11 more residences overburdening the narrow dead-end street and its utility system, but Longfellow Creek was a major concern, particularly its salmon run, already beset with significant pre-spawn mortality blamed on pollution from runoff. “It would be a tragedy to lose precious greenspace in the neighborhood,” said another neighbor. Other comments included a complaint that there hadn’t been adequate public notice of the scope of the proposal, and that since a ‘luxury developer” was working on the project, it wouldn’t truly make a dent in the housing crisis.
The hearing ran exactly its one-hour allotment. Here’s what happens next:
If you have a comment but didn’t get to the hearing, you can still get it to the assigned city planner, David Sachs, by emailing email@example.com.
Thanks to everyone who’s tipped us about activity seen at 4457 Fauntleroy Way SW, where Midas closed in 2019, including fencing that went up a few days ago. After three years on the market, the site was sold a week ago. It was originally listed for $3,250,000; online records show it sold for just over half that, $1.8 million. The buyer is an LLC linked to a Mercer Island real-estate investor/developer; no permit applications are on file for the site so far.
Two West Seattle projects are part of today’s twice-weekly Public Notices Summary from the city Department of Construction and Inspections:
PUBLIC MEETING FOR 6504 24TH SW: A public meeting is being held for comments about an 11-unit proposal at this site in Delridge [map] – five 2-story single-family houses, three attached accessory dwelling units, and three detached ADUs, with 11 offstreet-parking spaces. The meeting will be online at 5 pm on March 2nd. The official notice includes information on how to participate/comment. We first briefly mentioned the site back in 2014, when neighbors were voicing concerns about another site on the street, in the context of flooding concerns from nearby Longfellow Creek.
(WSB photo from last year, with tagging obscured)
COMMENT TIME FOR LONG-IDLE 5249 CALIFORNIA SW: More than a year after we reported on a new plan for the long-stalled site at 5249 California SW [map], the land-use application is being reviewed, and that’s opened a comment period. The site is proposed for what the city website describes as “a 3-story, 6-unit townhouse building, and a 3-story, 3-unit live-work building (with p)arking for 4 vehicles.” Comments are being accepted through February 22nd; the official notice explains how to submit yours.
(Massing rendering of Option 3 for 5252 California SW, by Ankrom Moisan)
In their second online meeting of the night – after months with no meetings at all – the Southwest Design Review Board gave the Aegis Living plan for 5252 California SW approval to move into the next phase of the review process.
The first phase of Design Review is about “massing” – buildings’ size and shape – and this project is a lot larger than what’s around the site right now, so that was a major factor in the discussion. The meeting was led by SWDRB chair Patrick Cobb (Fauntleroy), with board members Alan Grainger (Fauntleroy), Johanna Lirman (North Admiral), and Gavin Schaefer (Camp Long area)=. From the city Department of Construction and Inspections, the project’s assigned planner Theresa Neylon was there. Here’s how the meeting went:
(Rendering from design packet by LDG Architects)
The first of tonight’s two Southwest Design Review Board meetings ended with an order for 7617 35th SW to make some changes and return for a second round of Early Design Guidance.
This first phase of Design Review is all about buildings’ size and shape, aka “massing,” and that’s what the big concern was here, along with placement of its entries. Board chair Patrick Cobb (Fauntleroy) led the meeting, with board members Alan Grainger (Fauntleroy), Johanna Lirman (North Admiral), and Gavin Schaefer (Camp Long area) in attendance. From the city Department of Construction and Inspections, David Sachs was filling in for the project’s assigned planner Joseph Hurley. Here’s how the meeting went, along the required four-section format:
(Rendering from design packet by LDG Architects)
That’s one of the design concepts in the final packet for Thursday night’s Southwest Design Review Board online meeting about the mixed-use building proposed for 7617 35th SW, between SW Holden and SW Ida. As reported here previously, this is a new plan for the site, where a smaller-scale plan went part of the way through the process four-plus years ago. This time the proposal is, as described on the city website and in the packet, for a building with six stories, 130+ apartments, ground-floor commercial spots, and ~50 offstreet-parking spaces. See the packet here; see information on attending the 5 pm online meeting and commenting here. Remember that this is the Early Design Guidance portion of the process, which means the review is primarily focused on the size and shape of the building as well as its placement on its site. (This meeting will be followed by the board’s separate 7 pm review of the Aegis Living proposal for 5252 California SW.)
Two project notes:
5252 CALIFORNIA SW DESIGN PACKET: One week from tonight, the Southwest Design Review Board meets online to look at two West Seattle projects. The second review, at 7 pm, is for the Aegis Living seniors’ complex proposed at 5252 California SW. We’ve been reporting on the plan since last July; now with a week to go until the meeting, the final design packet is available for review – more than 100 pages, twice the size of the draft version we linked previously, It includes the new “concept” rendering shown above, but its main purpose is to explore three “massing” (size and shape) options, since this is the Early Design Guidance part of the process. As previously mentioned, the proposal is for a five-story building – one floor higher than the basic zoning because they’re proposing Living Building Challenge elements – with up to 100 units (70 assisted living, 30 memory care). Public comment is part of the 7 pm Thursday, February 2nd, meeting; attendance/commenting info is here.
1318 ALKI COMMENTS: From today’s Land Use Information Bulletin, a Shoreline Substantial Development application has been submitted for a proposal to build two buildings with six townhouses and nine offstreet-parking spaces at 1318 Alki SW. Comments will be accepted through February 24th; this notice explains how to offer yours.
(Preferred ‘massing’ – size and shape – for project, from draft design packet)
As first reported here last July, Aegis Living is proposing a new assisted-living/memory-care complex at the long-vacant strip mall/restaurant site on the northeast side of California/Brandon, formally using the address 5252 California SW. Last month, the six-story, 100+-unit project was set for a mid-January date before the Southwest Design Review Board, but now that’s changed – it’s set for the second half of an online doubleheader, 7 pm Thursday, February 2nd. (The first half of the meeting – at 5 pm – will focus on the 7617 35th SW mixed-use project.) Meeting participation info, including how to comment, is here; the official meeting notice (to be published by the city Tuesday) is here; a draft version of the design packet is here. The first meeting is for “early design guidance,” so it will focus on the project’s size, shape, and placement on the site.
It’s been more than four years since a mixed-use project on 35th SW between Holden and Ida was last seen by the Southwest Design Review Board, which ordered the project team to come back for a second round of Early Design Guidance. (Remember that Early Design Guidance is largely about size and shape of the building – “massing”; the project team’s preferred option is above.) Two years later, we reported the plan had expanded. Now, two years after that, the project is scheduled to return to the board – and it’s been expanded again. Back in 2018, a four-story building with about 50 apartments was proposed; in 2020, it was a five-story plan with 120 apartments; now it’s six stories and more than 130 apartments, with ground-floor commercial space and 50 underground parking stalls. You can see the draft design packet here. The revised project is scheduled to go before the SWDRB at 5 pm Thursday, February 2nd, online; watch for the meeting link here.
(Preferred ‘massing’ – size and shape – for project, from draft design packet)
With far fewer major projects in the pipeline these days, the Southwest Design Review Board‘s meetings are few and far between – just three this year. The first meeting for next year has just been scheduled. The board will get an “early design guidance” look at what will be Aegis Living‘s second West Seattle senior-living complex on January 19th. We first told you in July about this new plan for the long-vacant, often-vandalized ex-strip-mall and ex-restaurant properties in the 5200 block of California SW, formerly proposed for townhouses. The project will go to the board with the address 5252 California SW. The project file includes this description given to people living near the site during a September-October outreach period:
A six-story*, 100 sft building, offering 100+ assisted living and memory care apartments.
The ground level will include a variety of amenities and gathering spaces for residents and visitors such as a grand living room, activity room, dining, a movie theater, retail and more.
The second floor will include 45+ parking spaces for visitors and staff.
Floors 3-6 will include residential apartments for assisted living and memory care. The sixth floor will also host a sky lounge for residents to enjoy.
This West Seattle community will be built to meet the rigorous standards of the Living Building Challenge Petal Certification through the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). The Living Building Challenge defines itself as the world’s most ambitious and advanced performance standard for green, resilient, and healthy buildings.
*A sixth level will be granted as part of participation in the Living Building Challenge and meeting the sustainable design criteria set forth.
Aegis says it’s already developed one project to Living Building Challenge standards, in Lake Union. (In West Seattle, the PCC Community Markets [WSB sponsor] rebuild was also an LBC project.) Also, when we last asked Aegis about the plan, we were told that “existing street trees would be preserved.” You can see the draft design packet here – remember that the “early design guidance” phase focuses on the size and shape of the building, so this (and the image atop this story) is not the fully detailed proposal. Find out more at the 5 pm meeting on Thursday, January 19th, which will be online (watch this page for the link).
JANUARY 1 UPDATE: The meeting’s been moved to 7 pm February 2nd.
Back in 2014, the city invited residents to look into the future for what was then called the “Seattle 2035” Comprehensive Plan. At meetings like this one in West Seattle, people talked about options for steering growth, particularly whether to keep focusing it in “urban villages”/”urban centers” like The Junction. Now, eight and a half years later, a similar discussion is under way, and the city this time is collecting feedback for a “major update” now called the “One Seattle Comprehensive Plan“ and now expected to look 20 years into the future. A West Seattle community meeting is planned for Thursday night (December 8), in-person at South Seattle College (6000 16th SW; WSB sponsor). This time some very specific alternatives are being proposed, starting with “growth strategy” that would result in zoning changes. In addition to studying “no change,” the city is studying four “potential growth models”:
These are being studied for an Environmental Impact Statement due next year. Other topics for discussion are laid out in this pre-meeting document, where you’ll also find the “potential growth models” graphics shown above. Those additional topics include anti-displacement strategies; the document include this map showing two areas of West Seattle considered “high risk” for displacement:
Also up for discussion per the document – parks/open space, climate, equity, transportation, and economic development. The plan is meant to span the next 20 years. More background on the plan update is here; the Thursday meeting is scheduled for 6-8 pm at SSC’s Brockey Center (here’s a campus map). If you can’t be there, you’ll find online opportunities to comment here.
Back in April, we reported an early-stage filing for 30 townhouses on the site of a building and parking lot long owned by West Seattle Christian Church. Its pastor told us at the time that it was part of a feasibility exploration for a potential sale. New documents in online city permit files indicate the project is proceeding, and the site plan now shows 31 townhouses proposed for the site. The official project address is 4425 41st SW; the developer is listed in city files as Jabooda Homes (whose website also shows the plan), working with Cone Architecture.
Five months ago, we reported on an early-stage “affordable apartments” project planned for 8830 25th SW, currently the site of the West Seattle driver-licensing office, across the street from the east side of Westwood Village. Today, we have two updates: First, the plan is now open for comments as part of the Administrative Design Review process – no public meetings, but public feedback is requested. The project is now described as “a 6-story, 144-unit apartment building (with p)arking for 20 vehicles proposed.” You have two weeks to get comments in for project 3040124-EG. (We’re still trying to find the actual design document and will add it here when we do.) Second, the Department of Licensing says it’s found a new West Seattle location that’s “very close” to this one. However, a DOL spokesperson told us today, they haven’t finalized the plan so they’re not yet disclosing where it is. But if all goes well, they expect to move “in spring or summer” of next year.
Two (re)development notes:
4515 44TH SW: It’s been two and a half years since we first reported on a proposal for the former CDE Software site in The Junction at 4515 44th SW. Now the plan for more than 40 microapartments with no offstreet motor-vehicle parking has received land-use approval. That opens an appeal period; if you want to file one, you can do so through October 31st, as explained in this notice.
1790 ALKI SW: City files show an early-stage proposal for a “4-story apartment building” – no number of units mentioned – on parcels at 1790 and 1794 Alki [map], both holding houses that a commenter described as “vacant” three years ago. No visuals on file yet but the architect Kun Lim‘s website shows schematics/concepts for the project.
(King County Assessor photo, 6355 41st SW)
Just east of the ex-substation/future EV-charging station in Morgan Junction, a parcel’s recently been redeveloped into townhomes. Now the adjacent parcel to the north of that one has a similar plan. The comment period has just opened for the city’s Streamlined Design Review process regarding the project, which has an official address of 6355 41st SW – currently holding that 118-year-old house shown above – but has its longest side along Fauntleroy Way SW. It’s proposed for six 3-story townhouses with five offstreet vehicle-parking spaces, to be accessed from the alley on the parcel’s west side, plus eight bicycle-parking spaces. It’s in Early Design Guidance stage (here’s the draft design packet), so if you have comments, you have until October 19th to send them; the official notice explains how.
(Three ‘massing’ options, from design packet by SHW)
In July, we reported on a plan for microapartments at 9059 (corrected) 16th SW, where the existing vacant building was gutted by fire a year ago and then listed for sale. The proposal, which also covers a parcel to the north, is going through Administrative Design Review, which means no public meetings, though there’s still an opportunity for community comment. The city website describes the plan as 4 stories with 67 apartments. The design packet by architecture firm SHW is here; it notes that the building is proposed with 67 bicycle-parking spaces and no offstreet motor-vehicle parking. The review is in the Early Design Guidance stage of the process, so you can comment on its size/shape/placement on the site by emailing assigned city planner Carly Guillory at carly,firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three development notes tonight:
TOWER CRANE: For the first time in more than 14 months, West Seattle has a tower crane. The last one to come down was for the 1250 Alki SW Infinity Shore Club (WSB sponsor) condo project; as of this week, this one is up for the 4508 California 7-story mixed-use project. Work at the site has been under way for almost three months.
DESIGN REVIEW: A little more than one block west, the 4515 44th SW project is going into the next phase of Design Review, though without a public meeting, as it’s going through Administrative DR. It’s a four-story building with 43 microapartments and no offstreet parking. The design packet is linked from this city webpage; you can comment to the city’s assigned planner at email@example.com.
AEGIS LIVING PROJECT: We reported last month that Aegis Living is buying and planning to develop the long-idle, much-vandalized 5242-5258 California SW site. Now it’s appeared in the city’s Early Outreach for Design Review pipeline, with a few more details via this description:
Construction of a 95-100 unit, five level Assisted Living Community. In-building parking for 40-50 cars. Project will pursue living building challenge environmental certification.
Aegis already has a location in West Seattle, at 4700 SW Admiral Way. The new site holds a former strip mall/office bulding and two former restaurants.
Without many big projects in the pipeline, meetings of the Southwest Design Review Board – which could meet up to twice a month, with up to two projects on each agenda – have been few and far between. In an online meeting Thursday night, the all-volunteer board took its third look at 4448 California SW, the mixed-use project set to replace the commercial building that currently holds Doll Parts Collective and a new temporary location of West Seattle Coworking. The 7-story building is proposed for 96 apartments – described by the project team as “a mix of 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and 3-bedroom” units – and ground-floor commercial, with no offstreet-parking spaces.
The board has had some changes since its second look at the project in November; Patrick Cobb is now the chair, and two of the other three members in attendance were new – Brenda Baxter and Gavin Schaefer. Of the two continuing members, Alan Grainger was present and Johanna Lirman was absent. The city planner assigned to the project also has changed since the November review; now it’s David Sachs.
Here’s the design packet used for the meeting. There were no major remaining points of concern, and the only public comment that came in during the meeting was positive. It was noted that some written comments had been received pre-meeting about aspects outside the SWDRB’s jurisdiction – including parking and density. Board members observed that the architects from Atelier Drome had revised the design in accordance with guidance given by the board in November. They spelled out five points they want to see addressed before the final design gets official city approval. Those include differentiating the residential entry from the commercial entry and signage; they were concerned the commercial signage would get lost under the awning, and pointed to signage on the edge of the awning at the nearby AJ Apartments as an example of how that problem could be avoided. Another focus area is the bicycle-storage room access, ensuring lighting and security.
WHAT’S NEXT: If you have comments about the project – design or otherwise – you still have time to email Sachs (firstname.lastname@example.org). He’ll write the final report on the project, and it still has other phases of the permit process to go through before construction can begin.
South Delridge is the busiest West Seattle redevelopment area right now, and another early-stage plan is circulating a community survey. Cone Architecture sent a postal-mail notice about a 12-townhouse project in early-stage planning for 9216 20th SW (near 20th/Barton; map). Their description of the project is “two parcels (with) six 3-story rowhouses, six 3-story townhomes, surface parking, and green spaces.” Online documents indicate that one parking space per unit is proposed. This is on track to go through Streamlined Design Review rather than full Design Review, so no public Design Review Board meeting is expected, but you can get early comments in via this online survey, open through Friday (August 5th). The site has been used for single-family housing but was rezoned to Lowrise 1 during the HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability process.
(2021 WSB photo of part of the site, which also includes 2 ex-restaurants to the south)
4:26 PM: The long-dormant, frequently vandalized development site in the 5200 block of California SW – two former restaurants and a former strip mall – has a new plan, according to what we just found in online city files: An assisted-living complex. An early-stage site plan filed with the city Tuesday shows the proposal is from Aegis Living, which already has one West Seattle assisted-living/memory-care complex, in west Admiral. We reported one year ago that the site was back on the market, after a plan to redevelop it as townhouses stalled, and the listing has had the notation “(sale) pending” for some time; King County Assessor records do not yet show a completed sale. The site is zoned for four-sstory mixed-use development (NC2-40). We’re contacting Aegis to find out more about their plan, which the city website summarizes simply as “new assisted living and life neighborhood building.”
7:17 PM: We’ve heard back from an Aegis spokesperson who says there’s not a lot to say as this is so early-stage but promises some information tomorrow.
THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE: In response to our inquiry, we’ve received this statement from Walter Braun, Aegis Living’s Chief Development Officer:
Aegis Living is in the early stages of a potential second development in West Seattle. Our team has loved being a part of West Seattle and hope to bring another Aegis Living assisted living and memory care community to the area. It is too early to share details, but we can confirm we have signed a purchase and sales agreement to explore this development. We are excited about the potential project, and as we continue in our due diligence, are hopeful we can share more details soon.
Less than two weeks after fire gutted that building at 16th and Barton last fall, the site was put up for sale – and now it has a development proposal: A 67-unit microapartment (small efficiency dwelling units) building. The proposal has just appeared in the city’s “early design community outreach” pipeline. It would be a four-story building with no offstreet parking, spanning this site and one on its north side. Records show this site sold for $612,000 (original listing price was $700,000) two months ago, about the same time the same ownership LLC also bought the north parcel. Online records for the microapartment project indicate the developers are Sound Real Estate Development and the architects are SHW.
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