West Seattle, Washington
Going through online filings in the city permit system, we happened onto an early-stage proposal for a five-story “office building” at 4501 35th SW, a small – 2,369 square feet – parcel immediately north of Brookdale West Seattle, across 35th from West Seattle Stadium/Golf Course. Records show the site is owned by the Sweeney family, currently pursuing much larger developments a few blocks north. So we asked family spokesperson Lynn Sweeney about the “office building” plan. She explained, “We are going through the SDCI process to see what might be buildable given that there is possible steep slope, so we just need to start the process to do some due diligence.” She added that the site currently holds a “shack” that has had squatter trouble and that they’re hoping to demolish but need to be “into the permitting process” to pursue that.
We reported last month that the city had tentatively chosen December 7th as the next Southwest Design Review Board meeting date for the mixed-use project planned at 7617 35th Avenue SW, bordered by SW Holden and SW Ida. Today the Department of Construction and Inspections> sent the official notice finalizing a 5 pm online meeting for that date. The project is proposed for 6 stories, ~134 apartments, and ~50 offstreet-parking spaces. The design packet for the meeting – which will include three “massing” (size and shape) options – isn’t in the city system yet, but you can get an idea of what they’re working on via this draft version from July. It’s the second try for “early design guidance,” as the board rejected what was proposed the first time, in February. The December 7th meeting will include time for public comment.
Last month, the city canceled the second Southwest Design Review Board meeting for Aegis Living‘s 5252 California SW project at the last minute, saying the senior-living company had shelved the project. An Aegis executive subsequently told us it was still under consideration and they’d likely decide its fate within “weeks.” According to the newest filings with the city, formally withdrawing permit applications for multiple addresses at the site, that fate has been decided: “Project will no longer be moving forward” was the applicant’ message. Aegis has not responded to our request for further comment, They hadn’t completed their purchase of the site, which was still listed early this year at $7.7 million but does not appear, at least publicly, to be listed now. Before the Aegis proposal, the site – a former strip mall plus two former restaurants – had plans for townhouses.
That’s a rendering of 4440 Fauntleroy, one of the two “Sweeney Blocks” mixed-use buildings planned in The Triangle. The city has given a key approval to the plan for ~222 apartments and ground-floor retail in a 7-story building with 150 off-street parking spaces. But don’t expect the backhoes to show up any time soon. Like some other projects, this one’s in a wait-and-see phase, according to Lynn Sweeney, spokesperson for the entrepreneurial family that owns the property: “Overall status and timetable continues to be dependent on the overall state of the world, so we don’t have a firm ‘break ground’ timeline yet, though we are pleased to have been awarded the MUPs on both blocks and continue to work on the refinement of the sites.” The other “Sweeney Block,” 4406 36th SW, got the same pivotal approval back in June; it’s planned for 7 stories, ~284 apartments, commercial space, and 162 off-street parking spots.
Meantime, you might recall that part of the development property holds Alki Lumber, which the Sweeneys sold, after a century, two years ago. At the time its new owner was announced, its new location – South Park – was too. But Lynn Sweeney tells us it’s expected to “remain in its current location for at least a year.”
P.S. The approval for 4440 Fauntleroy opens an appeal period, through November 9; this notice explains how that works.
One month after Admiral Church announced it was finalizing an agreement with Homestead Community Land Trust for the future of its site, this Sunday brings your chance to hear details and ask questions about the plan. The site will be developed into for-sale units, “most … to be made affordable to those who make less than 80% of area median income,” plus a new home for the church itself. How many homes and what type, too soon to tell, HCLT told us after the announcement last month, but not “single-family detached.” Construction could start in 2025. The agreement followed four years of soul-searching by the church on how to best ensure its future while contributing the most to the community. The meeting “to discuss the partnership and listen to the community’s vision for homes at the site” is at the church (4320 SW Hill), 1:30 pm Sunday (October 22nd), all welcome.
12:21 PM: This Thursday, the 100-unit senior-living complex proposed by Aegis Living for California/Brandon – site of long-vacant, much-vandalized commercial buildings – was supposed to go back before the Southwest Design Review Board. Late last night, preparing to write one last preview, we checked the city website – and discovered the notation, MEETING CANCELLED. We followed up first thing this morning with Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections spokesperson Bryan Stevens, to find out why. He responded, “We received notice from the applicant on Monday (10/16) that they have decided not to proceed with the project. We don’t have any details as to why they have decided not to move forward.” We have a request for comment out to Aegis. The proposal won unanimous approval from the SWDRB back in February; we first reported in July 2022 on Aegis’s plan for the site, which previously had a proposal for townhouses. The King County website does not show ownership having changed from the company that had pursued that project. We’ll update this story when we hear back from Aegis Living, which built and operates a facility in west Admiral.
4:43 PM: Just heard back from Aegis Living. They say the project’s not necessarily totally dead. Through a spokesperson, Aegis Development president Adam Clark says, “This project is still being considered and we will have a better understanding of its future in the coming weeks. We are proud to continue serving residents at our current community on Admiral Way and remain committed to sustainable buildings and delivering our assisted living and memory care support to even more older adults here in West Seattle and beyond.”
The volunteer, advisory Southwest Design Review Board, which only meets if and when there’s a project to consider (very rare these days), now has two meetings on its schedule for the rest of the year:
5252 CALIFORNIA: We already told you, last month, that October 19th is set for the board’s next meeting about the Aegis Living project to replace vacant, much-vandalized buildings on the northeast corner of California/Brandon – 5 stories, 100+ units, 42 offstreet-parking spaces. Now the draft design packet for the meeting is available, with plenty of project details – see it here. For info on how to participate in the 5 pm October 19th online meeting and/or comment, go here. (Our report on the project’s first Design Review meeting, last February, is here.)
7617 35TH: While checking on the SW Design Review Board’s schedule, we noticed a date tentatively set for the next meeting about the mixed-use project proposed for the west side of 35th/Holden/Ida – 5 pm Thursday, December 7th, also online. This project is currently proposed as six stories, 134 units, 50 offstreet parking spaces. Watch this page for scheduling updates (and of course we will too). This is a second try at the Early Design Guidance phase of review, after the board rejected the project team’s first proposal in February (WSB coverage here).
Two development notes:
JUNCTION DEVELOPMENT CHANGES TO HALF-HOTEL: What’s expected to be the next West Seattle Junction redevelopment project to start construction, 4448 California SW, is open for comments again because of a change in the plan: What was going to be a 7-story building with commercial spaces under apartments is now changing to ground-floor commercial plus three floors of hotel, three floors of apartments. We’ve had a message out to the project team since this appeared in the city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin last Thursday; they haven’t responded, so we went digging through a virtual sheaf of documents to try to find out more. The documents show the hotel rooms are proposed for floors 2, 3, and 4; this document explains the rationale, that developers believe West Seattle needs more hotel rooms since right now there’s only one hotel (The Grove in The Triangle), and that The Junction is the perfect place for it. They are proposing 45 hotel rooms, roughly equal to the number of apartments the revised plan would have (when the project went through Design Review, 90+ apartments were planned). The original plan had no offstreet parking; so far we haven’t found anything in the file suggesting a change in that. The developer’s webpage for the project does not yet reflect the proposed change. If you’re interested in commenting on the new plan, this notice explains how. September 27th is the deadline.
NEXT DESIGN REVIEW DATE FOR AEGIS LIVING: As we’ve been reporting for more than a year, Aegis Living plans a senior-living complex on the site of long-abandoned, much-vandalized commercial buildings at 5252 California SW (and vicinity). Back in February, the Southwest Design Review Board approved the “early design guidance” stage of the 5-story, 100+-unit plan. But the process requires at least one more meeting, for final recommendations, and the city has now set a date for that meeting: 5 pm Thursday, October 19th. Links and design packet will eventually be available here.
Eleven months after it went up, the crane for the 4508 California SW mixed-use seven-story building is about to come down. Thanks to the tipster who shared the notice they received that parking will be off-limits on both sides of 42nd SW between Oregon and Alaska tomorrow and Wednesday for crane removal. This is the only development crane up in West Seattle and no crane-likely developments are on the immediate horizon.
Few projects have gone before the Southwest Design Review Board in the past few years, as large-scale development has slowed down dramatically in West Seattle since the boom years a decade ago. But the board does occasionally get a project to review. This past Thursday night, for the first time in five months, the SWDRB met online, for the second Early Design Guidance meeting for 1116 Alki Avenue SW, a proposed ~60-unit residential building replacing a group of old houses on Duwamish Head.
The board’s newest chair Gavin Schaefer led the meeting. Also present: members Brenda Baxter and Alan Grainger, plus fill-in member Gina Gage, as well as the project’s assigned city planner, Theresa Neylon. She reminded everyone that since this project is still in Early Design Guidance, the graphics in the design packet (see it here) are “conceptual.” Here are toplines from the meeting, which followed the standard four-part format:
Tomorrow (Thursday, July 6th) at 5 pm, the Southwest Design Review Board meets online for its second “early design guidance” look at a residential project planned for 1116 Alki Avenue SW, replacing six standalone houses. The meeting includes a public-comment period; you can preview the new design options by looking at the packet here. Remember that in the “early design” phase, the project team is supposed to offer three options for the “massing” of the building – its size and shape – so these renderings do not show what the building would eventually look like, with materials, colors, etc. The three new options vary slightly but the building is proposed at six stories and around 60 units, with offstreet parking totaling at least the number of spaces required by the Alki Parking Overlay (one and a half spaces per residential unit). The project team’s “preferred option” would remove two trees that were much-discussed at the previous review (WSB coverage here), replacing them with four trees that would anchor two “corner gardens.” If you’re interested in attending Thursday’s meeting and/or commenting, go here to see how.
(‘Preferred option’ massing from last year’s draft design packet by MZA Architecture)
As we reported two weeks ago, the Southwest Design Review Board has one of its now-rare meetings scheduled next month, for the second Early Design Guidance review of 1116 Alki Avenue SW. The date is now corrected to July 6th, and the official notice was made public by the city today. It’ll be a 5 pm online meeting, with the opportunity for spoken or written public comment. The project is proposed for six floors, 65 units, 102 offstreet-parking spaces; here’s our report from its first early-design meeting in April 2022. Information on how to attend/comment is on this city webpage, which is also where you’ll find the new design packet when available; note that the early-design stage is primarily about a building’s massing – size, shape, and placement on the site.
Two development notes this afternoon:
LAND-USE APPROVAL FOR PART OF TRIANGLE PROJECT: One of the two buildings planned on West Seattle Triangle land owned by the Sweeney family of Alki Lumber has received a key land-use approval, which in turn opens a two-week appeal period. The building at 4406 36th SW [map] is the easternmost of the two, proposed for 7 stories, 284 apartments, commercial space, and 162 off-street parking spots. It got Southwest Design Review Board approval a year and a half ago. Here’s the new city-staff decision; here’s the notice, which explains how to appeal (filing deadline is June 15th). We asked family spokesperson Lynne Sweeney about the project’s status recently, and she replied that they’re continuing to work through the permit process on both sites: “We are still moving toward construction, but no firm dates.” (The west building, 4440 Fauntleroy Way SW, is a bit further behind in the process, but received SWDRB approval two weeks after the east building.)
1116 ALKI AVENUE SW: This 6-story, 65-unit building with 102 offstreet-parking spaces [map] is tentatively set for its second Early Design Guidance meeting of the SWDRB on July 11th. We covered the first one in April of last year. Watch here for information on how to participate in the upcoming review.
It’s been four years since we last mentioned the 18-townhouse plan for 2000-2050 SW Orchard, along the north side of the street, east of Delridge Way. They resurfaced in the latest twice-weekly city-circulated bulletin with the latest land-use notices. Land-use approvals have been given for both parcels, each of which would hold nine 3-story townhouses and nine offstreet-parking spaces. The approvals open a two-week appeal period, until June 8th; that process is explained on the public notices – here’s the 2000 SW Orchard decision and notice; here’s the 2050 SW Orchard decision and notice.
As reported here Tuesday, part of the under-construction 4-story apartment building at 5952 California SW fell onto the property next door during windy weather Monday night. No one was hurt, but the fallen material did some damage. A complaint was subsequently filed with the city Department of Construction and Inspections. We asked SDCI if an inspector had been to the site, and if so, what was the result. Here’s what spokesperson Bryan Stevens tells WSB today:
We completed a site visit yesterday morning and saw that most of the fallen material had been removed and cleaned up. Some damage occurred to the neighboring property and was actively being repaired by the builder. We spoke with the contractor from the site, and they increased their temporary bracing to ensure the wall framing is supported per best practices.
The Washington State Dept. of Labor & Industries has been contacted and will be visiting the site to do an investigation of worksite safety and best practices.
We went back to the site Wednesday and took this photo:
Side note: While checking SDCI’s website, we noticed this is Building Safety Month.
12:43 PM: Cleanup is under way today in north Morgan Junction, where a duplex was damaged when part of an under-construction building next door at 5952 California SW fell down onto it last night. Nobody was hurt, and the duplex owner told us the damage wasn’t major, but questions remain about why it happened – the initial report was that the wind blew the pieces down, though last night’s short-lived wind didn’t seem particularly strong.
We checked city files for the project at 5952 California SW; they show its “plywood sheathing” had undergone a construction inspection by a private firm just last week. And now last night’s incident has led to a complaint filed today with the city Department of Construction and Inspections, asking for urgent investigation and action; we’re checking on that with SDCI, and also attempting to contact the project’s owner. It’s been seven years since an apartment building was first proposed for the site; the property was sold last year.
ADDED TUESDAY EVENING: We asked SDCI spokesperson Bryan Stevens about the newly filed complaint. Stevens replied, “Inspectors are aware and looking into it” but didn’t expect an update until tomorrow. The online file also indicates that evaluation of the complaint is “in progress.”
About a dozen people showed up for last Thursday’s informational meeting about the Aegis Living project planned for 5252 California Avenue SW. The meeting was requested by neighbors, who said they were hoping to get more information on the project that had been provided thus far, and led by Bryon Ziegler from Aegis, the company’s director of development and entitlements. Here are the toplines of what happened:
Ziegler started with a recap of the February 2nd meeting with the Southwest Design Review Board (WSB coverage here), at which board members recommended that the project move ahead in the process (which means at least one more design-review meeting, not yet scheduled). That recommendation paves the way for the company to apply for a Master Use Permit for the site, on which Aegis plans to build a five-story, 100-unit complex, a mix of assisted living and memory care.
So what’s the overall timeline? neighbors asked. For one, Ziegler indicated, demolition of the vacant former strip-mall and restaurant buildings on the property is not imminent – but they’re hoping it can happen before year’s end, depending on when the city issues project permits. Construction would likely start several months after demolition, likely in summer or fall of 2024.
Other questions focused on the building’s massing – size, shape, placement on site – which was the focus of the first-stage design review. Is it settled? Ziegler was asked; based on the results of the first SWDRB meeting, he replied, yes. Attendees weren’t happy to hear that, and wondered why they hadn’t had more opportunities for input. (The February SWDRB meeting featured about a dozen comments received before and during the meeting.) Residents who border the alley behind the site also had questions about how the parking entrance, solid-waste pickup, and large deliveries will be handled.
In conclusion, neighbors talked about pursuing a meeting with the city agencies involved in the project, as well as meeting again with Aegis Living; Ziegler said that’s possible. Meantime, since the project is still in the review process, comments on any aspect of it are still being accepted by the city planner assigned to the project, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Aegis Living plan for 5252 California SW is midway through the Design Review process, after “early design guidance” approval three months ago (WSB coverage here). The project is proposed to include 100 units – one-third memory care, the rest assisted living – plus 750 sf of commercial space, and offstreet parking for 40 cars. The project site currently holds three commercial buildings that were vacated several years ago while previous ownership pursued other plans for the property. Neighbors with questions are organizing an informational meeting with project-team members next week, and they’re inviting everyone in the community who wants to find out more. Here’s the announcement sent to us:
Aegis & Architect re: 5252 California Ave SW
May 4 @ 7:00 – 8:00 pm
If you live near 5252 California Ave SW (corner of Brandon and California) or are just interested in the development of this large, senior living complex — please join Aegis, its Architect, and neighbors to discuss this project and its impact on the neighborhood.
Location: West Seattle Senior Center (Nucor Room), 4217 SW Oregon
The organizers also have set up a website with project information. Meantime, the second and potentially final Southwest Design Review Board meeting about the project is not yet on the schedule. Aegis Living has more than three dozen locations in three states, including one in Admiral.
The project team for the northwest corner of 16th/Barton has filed a land-use application for the project, and that opens a new comment window for the site that’s officially known as 9059 16th SW. As first reported here last July, the proposal is for a 4-story, 67-microapartment building with no offstreet vehicle parking and spaces for 67 bicycles. The site is vacant, since the fire-gutted building that formerly occupied it was demolished months ago. The deadline to comment is April 26th; this notice explains how. The project is going through Administrative Design Review, which means no public meetings; here’s the early-design packet by SHW Architecture.
Almost a year and a half after 3010 SW Avalon Way cleared the first phase of Design Review, the project has taken the next step – applying for land-use approval. That opens a new two-week comment period, as announced in today’s city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin. The official city description of the project is “an 8-story, 87-unit apartment building” with 4 offstreet-parking spaces for cars/trucks (the project will include bicycle parking). The site originally held two old houses, as noted when we first reported on an early-stage plan in 2019. Today’s notice explains how to send the city a comment on the project; there also will be another opportunity to comment whenever a meeting is scheduled for the second and final Design Review phase.
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.