West Seattle, Washington
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.
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.
Last December, the mixed-use project proposed for 9218 18th SW [map] got final Southwest Design Review Board approval (WSB coverage here), and today, after staff review, the city has published a key decision for the project, which is summarized as “a 5-story, 48-unit apartment building with retail,” with 28 offstreet-parking spaces. Publication of the decision opens a two-week appeal period; this notice explains how to appeal. The project still needs other permits/approvals before construction can begin.
BACKSTORY: The proposal for this site first appeared in city files in March 2020; it was originally envisioned with up to 76 units, but that number dropped as the project went through reviews. The triangular site was upzoned during the HALA process.
This isn’t particularly controversial, but if you pay attention to public process, it’s notable: A City Council vote tomorrow is expected to pave the way for the end of a five-year process involving a West Seattle street vacation. That’s the term for a publicly owned right-of-way – whether developed as a street or not – being given up by the public entity that owns it. In this case, both the West Coast Self-Storage facility that opened more than a year ago on Harbor Avenue SW and nearby Nucor are getting something out of the transfer of three-fifths of an acre of land that technically have been undeveloped parts of 29th SW and SW City View. We wrote extensively about the plan back in 2017, when councilmembers approved it. The self-storage company offered a package of “public benefits” estimated to be worth more than $300,000 (originally detailed in 2017), including metal art panels like these two and various pedestrian/bike-trail improvements:
Last Tuesday, the council’s Transportation and Utilities Committee got a presentation how it had all turned out. You can see it about 30 minutes into the meeting recording:
(Added: The slide deck from that meeting is here.) The purpose of this final part of the process is to confirm that the beneficiary of the street vacation has completed their obligation, The committee members who were present signaled their approval with “yes” votes. Tomorrow, the full council has to take one last vote. After that, there’ll be one last step to finalizing the turnover – the property will officially be transferred to WC Self-Storage, which has already paid the city more than a million dollars for it. If you’re wondering about Nucor’s role in all this – it involves part of the railroad tracks.
What could be the next West Seattle Junction redevelopment project to start construction needs one more level of approval from the Southwest Design Review Board, and a date is now set for their next look at it. The proposal would replace a small commercial building at 4448 California SW [map] with a seven-story mixed-use building, including almost 100 apartments as well as ground-floor commercial space, with no offstreet parking required or planned. The project cleared the first phase of Design Review last year (here’s our coverage from November), and is penciled in to return to the board at 5 pm Thursday, August 4th, online. Here’s the draft design packet with details on the plan. The August review will include a public-comment period, but if you have something to say, you can also email the project’s assigned city planner, at email@example.com.
Back in April, we reported on Admiral UCC Church‘s decision on what future to pursue for its half-acre North Admiral site, after years of discussion, both within the church and with the wider community: The church decided to explore partnering with Homestead Community Land Trust, so that part of the site could become “permanently affordable, ownership-focused housing.” Now the next step: Admiral Church has launched a brief community survey, 10 questions on one page. You can respond here. The church has been journeying toward change for its site for more than three years, realizing that the status quo is financially unsustainable, as discussed in a February community meeting.
Just added today to the city’s Early Outreach for Design Review list, a plan for up to 140 “affordable” apartments at 8830 25th Avenue SW, currently the site of a driver-licensing office, across the street from the east side of Westwood Village. The description proposes “a mix of studios, 1-bedroom and 3-bedroom units for a total of 120-140 units [for renters] up to 60% AMI [Average Mean Income].” A site plan filed with the city says it’ll be a 5-story building with an unspecified amount of on-site parking, to be built by SRM Development. The “early outreach” phase mandates community feedback, so if you want to be involved with that, there’s contact info in the item on the city website. Online records show the almost-one-acre site was sold last year for $3.1 million. We’ll be asking the state about future plans for a new driver-licensing location.
If you were in The Junction for the West Seattle Farmers’ Market, and/or other business, today, you might have noticed that after a week, the demolition is done at the 4508 California SW mixed-use project site (we reported on its start this past Tuesday). Also as of a few days ago, part of the parking lot east of the alley is fenced off:
On the California side of the site, the sidewalk remains open, as stipulated in the construction-management plan, with scaffolding and plywood currently hiding the work. The alley is open too but subject to intermittent closures. Re-reading the plan today, we also note a slightly different description of the 7-story project – 38 apartments, 20 Small Efficiency Dwelling Units (microapartments), 12 lodging units, 3,500 square feet of commercial space, and 14 offstreet-parking spaces, all but 1 underground. The plan says construction is expected to last just under a year and a half.
This morning we described the 4508 California SW mixed-use project site as “about-to-start-demolition.” We had gone by at 9 am, looking at both sides of the site, and noting no heavy equipment in sight, so it didn’t seem like the teardown would start today. However, when we checked back tonight, we discovered demolition has indeed begun, from the alley, at the back of the former Kamei Japanese Restaurant.
(The building being demolished for redevelopment also was home to Lee’s Asian Restaurant and Naked Crepe.) No hint of the demolition from the front yet – just plywood and scaffolding. The project is planned as 7 stories, 58 residential units, 12 lodging units, 3,500+ square feet of commercial space, and 17 offstreet-parking spaces. Its owner/developer is longtime Junction entrepreneur Leon Capelouto, who also built two mixed-use buildings close to this site, the AJ at 42nd/Oregon and Altamira/Capco Plaza at 42nd/Alaska. We don’t have a recent timeline estimate but mixed-use projects of this scale usually take a year to a year and a half to build.
Two development notes this norning:
4508 CALIFORNIA SW: Going through The Junction this morning, we noticed crews putting up scaffolding in front of the three vacated business spaces that comprise this about-to-be-built mixed-use building, indicating demolition is approaching. When approved in 2019, the project was described as 58 apartments, 12 lodging units, 17 underground parking spaces, and ground-floor commercial space; other details are in our coverage of its final design review. This will be the first construction project on California SW in the heart of The Junction since the two projects built last decade one block south.
3201 SW AVALON WAY: This week’s first city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin brought word of a key land-use approval for this 8-story, 144-unit mixed-use building with 70 off-street parking spaces, proposed to replace the Golden Tee Apartments. Project details are in our coverage of its final design review last September. This approval opens an appeal window – deadline to file one would be May 23rd; the official notice explains how.
Three development notes from the West Seattle Junction area:
4508 CALIFORNIA SW: First, a reminder that the first of the next wave of major projects in the heart of The Junction is expected to start soon. This is the mixed-use project that will replace the building that housed recently closed restaurants Lee’s and Kamei as well as the former Naked Crepe/West Seattle Cyclery space. It finished Design Review more than three years ago – here’s our report on the final review meeting in January 2019, at which time it was described as 58 apartments, 12 lodging units, 17 underground parking spaces, and ground-floor commercial space. When we asked property owner/developer Leon Capelouto about the timeline recently, he said work could start by month’s end; the most recent permit filing for the project, related to use of the alley behind the building, suggests an early May start is expected.
CHURCH-PROPERTY REDEVELOPMENT: An early-stage filing with the city this week proposes 30 townhouses for the parking lot and former school building that West Seattle Christian Church owns to the east of its main building, 4401-4425 41st SW. We asked WSCC’s Pastor Worth Wheeler about the plan; he explained that the filing is part of a feasibility exploration for a potential buyer, but both sides have two months to consider it, so it’s not finalized yet. The church also formerly owned land across 42nd SW, including the 42nd/Genesee corner where a new owner is currently developing an apartment building.
MICROAPARTMENT PROJECT: Several blocks south on 41st, it’s been five years since we first reported on a plan for 22 microapartments at 4807 41st SW. Last time we made note of it was when the site went on the market in 2020. The building-permit file showed activity on the project recently, so we checked out the site and noted that work is under way (below is the view eastward from the alley).
We don’t know how long the work’s been going on, as we weren’t tracking this one closely. County Assessor records do not show an ownership change having resulted from the aforementioned 2020 listing.
Back in February, we covered a community meeting at which Admiral Church leaders explained three paths they were considering to avoid an eventual financial crisis. At an all-church meeting earlier this month, the church has decided which path to take. As summarized by pastor Rev. Andrew Conley-Holcom, “We have decided to start the process of drafting an MOU with Homestead Community Land Trust to gift them the total of our real estate for the development of permanently affordable, ownership-focused housing. The development will include a flexible use space exclusively for Admiral Church’s ministries to continue in the North Admiral neighborhood.” He offered context in a message to the congregation, published in the church newsletter this past Sunday – here’s an excerpt:
Those who gathered and those who voted by proxy [on April 3] decided that Admiral Church would no longer be a wealthy landowner in North Admiral. The congregation has consented to begin a process by which we discern who we are and the problems we want to solve in cooperation with Homestead Community Land Trust, who themselves are focused on solving the problem of generational poverty. This discernment is not new, but is part of a legacy of renewal here at Admiral Church. We are called to honor our ancestors, learn our history, and meet the current moment with the same fierce Love and welcoming Spirit that kept this church relevant and impactful for generations. So many institutions in our society are living off of their wealth rather than living into their purpose. Admiral Church has always been a church of purpose, a gathering place and a sending space for faithful people in North Admiral. We are choosing to trust God even more, extending Christ’s footsteps into the world.
The church sits on a half-acre of land at 4320 SW Hill in North Admiral, zoned for lowrise multifamily residential development. Its building is 60 years old. Church leaders have been considering some form of redevelopment for three years. They’re promising more information soon about their chosen path.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
At the first Southwest Design Review Board meeting of the year – the only one on the schedule so far – board members told the project team they have to come back for another try at getting Early Design Guidance approval.
The project is a residential building planned for 1116 Alki SW [map], a water-view site that currently holds six houses.
Present at the online meeting were board chair Scott Rosenstock along with three of the other four members – John Cheng, Alan Grainger, and Johanna Lirman, all West Seattleites. Also there, Theresa Neylon, the city planner assigned to the project.
The Early Design Guidance phase is the first of the two Design Review phases, and the focus is on “massing” – the building’s size and shape, and its placement on the site – as well as on which of the city’s design guidelines are most important for the project to meet. As Neylon reminded everyone, “the graphics are conceptual,” meaning that, especially for this phase, they don’t reflect all details that will be in the final design. (For example, it was reiterated, what the graphics show as big blank panels at the front of the building WILL have windows in the actual design.) See the design packet here or below:
(‘Preferred option’ rendering from draft design packet by MZA Architecture)
The meeting proceeded along the standard format – here’s our recap:
(‘Preferred option’ rendering from draft design packet by MZA Architecture)
Thursday night brings this year’s first – and so far only – scheduled meeting of the Southwest Design Review Board to look at a West Seattle development plan. It’s 1116 Alki SW, and the design packet for the meeting finally appeared online this afternoon, if you’re interested in reviewing it to comment on the plan – see it below or here.
This is the Early Design Guidance stage of Design Review, which means the board has to be shown three options for massing – size, shape, site placement of the building. Above is the project team’s “preferred option,” which would include 58 residential units in a six-story building with 92 parking spaces: 27 described as “mechanical,” 30 at ground level, 35 underground. The packet includes many other project details. The meeting is online at 5 pm Thursday (April 7th) and includes a public-comment period – this page has details of how to watch/listen/participate.
Another chapter in the long history of the development site centered on 3257 Harbor Avenue SW [map] – it’s back on the market, commercial real-estate listings show. We’ve written about it more than a few times over the past 15 years; it was once owned by disgraced developer Michael Mastro. The site subsequently has had multiple development proposals – in 2014, a mixed-use plan with 80+ apartments went into Design Review, and then two years later, that plan was scrapped and a 32-townhouse plan emerged. That plan went all the way through Design Review and land-use permitting but then went idle. Now the site’s on the market, with the plans for those 32 townhouses offered as part of the $5 million listing. A buyer could choose to start something else from scratch, as the townhouse project was approved under 40-foot zoning, and the site now has a 55-foot height limit.
It’s been more than 7 years since the last time a ceremonial groundbreaking launched construction of a residential project in West Seattle. That was for The Whittaker in 2014; today, it was for the first of at least eight West Seattle projects on which Housing Diversity Corporation and STS Construction Services (WSB sponsor) are partnering. This will be a 114-apartment building at 3405 Harbor Avenue SW (previously 3417 Harbor, when we covered its journey through the Design Review process). Before the shiny ceremonial shovels went into the ground, the project was explained by HDC’s Adina Eaton and Brad Padden, STS’s Craig Haveson, and architect Atelier Drome‘s Michelle Linden (whose firm is also investing in the project):
We asked Haveson a few followup questions, starting with a question about the “puzzle parking” he had mentioned in his remarks. This building was planned with 65 parking spaces, and Haveson says that’s only because they’re required by the city – while the project is in a “frequent transit” zone, that only partially reduces the amount of required parking, as the site is not part of an urban village. “Puzzle parking” enables more cars to be parked in less space, thanks to a mechanical system (explained here) that stacks and shuffles them. If traditional lot or garage spaces had to be built, Haveson says, this project wouldn’t have penciled out.
The word repeatedly used for the future apartments, especially by HDC, is “attainable” rather than “affordable”; though there will be some 1- and 2-bedroom apartments, the focus is on smaller spaces. The target residents, Haveson observed, are more into experiences – if their rent is $100 cheaper, that’s “two more dinners out.” The partners also stress the location of this project, on the path to Alki and the Water Taxi dock, a bus ride away from the businesses in The Junction.
WHAT’S NEXT: As we reported four weeks ago, site work has begun; construction of a project this size typically takes at least a year and a half. We asked Padden which of the partnership’s seven other West Seattle projects – all listed on the HDC website – is likely to break ground next; he said 9201 Delridge Way SW and 4448 California SW are the closest.
A demolition crew is working right now at 6016 California SW [map] on the north end of Morgan Junction, starting with the house on the alley side of the lot, before moving on to tear down the small mixed-use building in front. The site is to be redeveloped with seven townhouses; the three fronting California will be live-work units. According to city permit files, the project will not include offstreet parking. This is a downsized plan for the site, which had a plan for 30+ microapartments five years ago; that was scrapped two years later.
Three quick updates tonight:
4022 BEACH DRIVE: Almost a month after the heavy equipment showed up at this redevelopment site, demolition was finally under way when we passed by this morning. As we noted in February, the 107-year-old house is to be replaced by four townhouses, each with a one-car garage.
1116 ALKI: The official notices went up this week for the upcoming Southwest Design Review Board meeting we told you about three weeks ago, the board’s first look at the proposal for 1116 Alki SW. The meeting date and time are the same – Thursday, April 7, 5 pm, online – and the link for participating in the meeting (which will include a public-comment period) is now available here. Though the city description calls the proposal a ’65-unit apartment building,” project materials online describe it simply as “residential” and include potential configurations that could have fewer units. This project is planned for a site that currently holds six houses.
2516 ALKI: The building that includes Duke’s Seafood Restaurant on Alki (WSB sponsor) has a new owner. An investment firm just bought it for $4.8 million, according to online records. The seller was a company to which Duke’s owner had sold it in 2015 for $3.3 million. Records show the new owners are part of an Eastside firm that has at least one other property in West Seattle, the Westwood Vista apartments just south of Westwood Village. According to a news release from the brokers who handled the recent sale, Duke’s has a “long-term lease” in the building, which also has a top-floor residential unit. There is no redevelopment proposal for the site currently, but it’s zoned for 4-story mixed-use.
The development site at Harbor/Avalon is being cleared, as work begins for the six-story, 114-unit building that’s been in the works for three years.
This project now goes by the address 3405 Harbor Avenue SW (previously 3417) and is being developed by Housing Diversity Corporation with West Seattle-headquartered STS Construction (WSB sponsor) and Atelier Drome Architecture. HDC announced today that it’s closed a $25.7 million loan to finance the 3405 Harbor project, which is described as “91 attainably priced market-rate units as well as 23 rent-restricted units through Seattle’s Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program.” HDC, STS, and Atelier Drome are collaborating on a half-dozen other West Seattle projects, as noted on the HDC website, all projects we’ve been covering – 214 apartments at 1704 SW Roxbury, 96 apartments at 4448 California SW, 76 apartments at 9201 Delridge Way SW, 48 apartments at 6007 California SW. 39 townhouses at 2501 SW Orchard, and 24 apartments at 9038 21st SW.
Back to 3405 Harbor – documents in city files indicate the construction should last just over a year and a half, and that the Mandatory Housing Affordability fee paid for this project was just under a million dollars.
(‘Preferred option’ rendering from draft design packet by MZA Architecture)
Almost two years after we first reported on a development proposal for 1116 Alki Avenue SW [map], the project on Duwamish Head is set for its first Southwest Design Review Board meeting. We last mentioned the project one year ago, when the developers ran a survey as part of the Early Community Outreach process. The project is described on the city website as “a 6-story, 65-unit apartment building (with p)arking for 102 vehicles” but the draft packet for the upcoming meeting features three massing (size/shape) options that max out at 58 units with 87 offstreet-parking spaces. The project is to be built on a site that holds six houses, four of which are more than a century old. The SWDRB meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 7, at 5 pm, online; watch here for participation information when it gets closer. You can also send pre- and post-meeting comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, to reach the city planner assigned to the project.