West Seattle, Washington
Thanks to John for the tip: Demolition is under way at the site of Junction Landing, the four-story, 62-apartment, 26-offstreet-parking-space project approved earlier this fall for 4417 42nd SW. It’s been exactly two years since we first reported on the plan; the building will replace three 1930s-built houses at 4417, 4421, and 4423 42nd SW. The site is between the West Seattle Eagles parking lot and the West Seattle Christian Church-owned house at 4411 42nd SW – those two properties are not part of it.
Is this the flip side of the small-apartment boom? Now there’s a third self-storage project on the drawing boards in West Seattle. We’ve already reported on two in the works for Harbor Avenue SW; this one is proposed for 6045 West Marginal Way SW, at a site that currently holds a landscaping-materials yard and has been on the market for five months. The proposal says the building will be four stories, approximately 109,700 square feet, with 16 parking spaces. Documents suggest the prospective operator is StorQuest, which has only one facility in this region right now, in Federal Way.
Up in January … down in December. While checking out something unrelated late today, we discovered the tower crane being removed at the 1307 Harbor SW mixed-use project site (aka “where Alki Tavern used to be”). This means West Seattle has only two tower cranes in use right now – one at The Foundry (northeast corner of Fauntleroy/Edmunds), the other at the PCC Community Markets (WSB sponsor)/Luna Apartments site (2749 California SW).
Two months after we last checked on Upton Flats – the mixed-use development at 35th SW/SW Graham in High Point – its management has announced a “grand opening” event for this weekend. They’re inviting people to stop by for a look at the ~100-apartment complex Saturday or Sunday, 10 am-5 pm, and they’re promising beer and snacks. No confirmed tenants yet for the retail space, though; as we’ve reported previously, Seattle Housing Authority offices will occupy about 80 percent of the complex’s commercial space.
6:44 PM: One year after a coalition of neighborhood groups, including five from West Seattle, challenged the Final Environmental Impact Statement for HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning, city Hearing Examiner Ryan Vancil issued his ruling late today.
Short version: He says the city’s FEIS stands, with the exception of one section.
That’s Vancil’s decision, toward the end of the 38-page ruling:
The neighborhood groups had argued that the EIS was inadequate in a variety of ways, including contentions that it was “one size fits all” rather than addressing unique potential impacts on neighborhoods. They argued their case in hearings over a two-plus-month period this summer; documents and audio recordings are all linked on this page of the Hearing Examiner’s website.
HALA MHA would implement upzoning in urban villages, as well as on commercial/multifamily property throughout the city, in exchange for developer/builders either including a certain percentage of “affordable” units, or paying the city a fee to finance construction of such units elsewhere. The plan now needs City Council approval; the council has had months of hearings (including this one in June in West Seattle) but its vote has been awaiting the appeal decision. (You can use this interactive map to see how any specific property would or wouldn’t be affected.”
So what happens now?
The Hearing Examiner’s decision is the final word from the city but not necessarily the final say in the matter – the appellants could choose to pursue a court case. We’re awaiting their reaction to the ruling.
On the city’s side, Mayor Jenny Durkan has issued a statement calling the ruling “a step forward for more affordable housing in Seattle.”
We’ll be updating this story as the evening goes on.
7:26 PM: First appellant reaction is from the Junction Neighborhood Organization, which filed its own appeal as well as being a member of the citywide coalition:
“On behalf of our neighbors and friends along the West Seattle peninsula, we are deeply disappointed with this ruling,” said Carl Guess, a member of the Junction Neighborhood Organization’s land-use committee. “It’s a big setback for neighborhood-level planning, and represents a new low in the relationship between the City and its urban villages.”
Indeed, hearing examiner Ryan Vancil chided the City for its lack of neighborhood-level analysis even as he largely affirmed its final environmental impact statement.
“[T]he choice not to tell a more detailed story of the City’s neighborhoods contributed to why the City faced a very protracted appeal and hearing process from representatives in many of its neighborhoods,” he wrote.
JuNO made those details the centerpiece of its appeal, pointing to what it called deficiencies in everything from traffic-flow analysis to conflicts between the HALA/MHA legislation and the neighborhood plan of the West Seattle Junction Urban Village.
Guess said those deficiencies remain, despite today’s ruling.
“When we wake up Monday morning, the City will continue to tell us that it takes only eight and a half minutes to cross the West Seattle Bridge during peak traffic flows, which is absurd. It will tell us there is enough infrastructure to support development, when we showed that 90% Seattle’s sewer lines are at or above capacity. It will tell us there are no conflicts with our neighborhood plan when we cited those conflicts specifically and repeatedly.”
Guess said JuNO will study the examiner’s ruling more deeply, then meet with its neighborhood to talk through possible next steps.
“Our neighborhood has been incredibly supportive throughout this process and we can’t thank them enough,” he said.
As for next steps beyond that meeting, one possibility for JuNO is to lobby the City Council in the ritual horse trading expected to take place as the HALA/MHA legislation moves toward approval. Another is to join a nascent effort to create an organization representing neighborhood groups within City Council District 1, now represented by Lisa Herbold.
“The City has destroyed a lot of goodwill in this process, and voters have very long memories,” said Guess.
ADDED 11:25 PM: We also asked Deb Barker, president of the Morgan Community Association – which joined the SCALE appeal as well as filing its own – for comment. Her reply:
MoCA is proud to have joined with the communities of SCALE. We took a stand against the city that acted without properly taking into account the voice of its residents and the impacts of its plan. SCALE made a tremendous effort to identify MHA FEIS deficiencies, and we are saddened how easily that effort was dismissed. MoCA is committed to ensuring that affordable housing remains in our community. To that end, MoCA will be evaluating options to achieve that goal as well as those of SCALE.
The MoCA and JuNO appeal documents were part of this 2017 WSB report.
(WSB photo, July 2015)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Another new real-estate listing of note has a unique backstory.
The auto-shop site at 9200 16th SW is up for sale as the result of a court settlement that traces back to the SWAT-involved drug raid we covered there in 2015.
It’s not mentioned in the listing, which heralds this as “Westwood Development Site” and says:
ZONED LR3 RC: 12,918 sq. foot lot, suitable for up to 14 townhomes at 1,350 sq. feet each or 19,000 sq. foot apartment Building (Buyer to verify). Excellent value at less than $65,000 per door. Development is rampant in this area. Excellent investment opportunity. Vacant at closing.
We recognized the address, as we’ve been checking in from time to time on the long-running court case’s files. Those files now contain a settlement agreement, filed in October. The settlement ends what had been a forfeiture case brought by the city in 2015.
The original filing’s documents tell the story of an unlicensed marijuana-sales operation at the site, known as “The Wolfpack,” including a detective’s report from 11 days of surveillance in 2015. On those days – scattered through the period of March to July – the detective wrote of counting 2,873 vehicles arriving to make purchases from the operation, plus 1,621 arrivals on foot, while the auto business handled a total of 7 cars for repairs. The documents also detail subsequent undercover buys which allegedly were made without requests for documentation such as proof of age.
The settlement agreement stipulates that the property will be listed for $900,000 and any offer below that would have to be approved by the city. The city will get 70 percent of the sale proceeds; owner Paul Noble, 51, will get 30 percent minus any and all fees and commissions. The city also gets to keep about half the $59,000 in cash that was seized.
In the extensive case files spanning three-plus years, a judge ordered the city to show this past February why the case should not be dismissed “for failure to prosecute” after both sides reportedly failed to fulfill a requirement to update the court on trial readiness. Lawyers for Noble subsequently responded that they expected felony drug charges to be filed against him shortly, and indeed they were; files show he then pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in July. Another city case seeking the forfeiture of his residence was dismissed.
Watching the real-estate listings, we saw this relatively new one of note:
3600 CALIFORNIA SW: Listed as “California Court Apartments and Redevelopment Site,” the 90-year-old 9-unit brick complex at 3600 California SW is on the market for just under $3 million. The marketing flyer (PDF) elaborates:
Situated on a prime 12,500 square foot corner lot on California Avenue SW at the epicenter of West Seattle’s vibrant North Admiral District, the California Court presents investors with the rare opportunity to invest in a trophy asset with significant redevelopment and value-add potential.
A massing study provided by Neiman Taber Architects shows the potential to develop 13 townhomes with an average unit size of 1,172 square feet, as well as an alternative plan for a 14+ unit condo or apartment development with an average unit size of 826 square feet. A wealth of potential exists for an investor to capitalize on historically high demand for both single-family and multifamily housing in a fantastic West Seattle location. The existing 9 unit provides investors with immediate income to off-set holding costs prior to redevelopment.
On that point, the flyer adds: “The current owner has intentionally kept 7 rent-ready units vacant upon turnover to allow the future purchaser the opportunity to quickly boost Net Operating Income with new tenants on market rate leases. 2 units remain occupied by tenants on a month-tomonth basis at rates well below comparable units in the neighborhood.” This also is the first flyer we’ve seen noting that the 2030 light rail is “1 mile away.” The site is zoned Lowrise 3.
P.S. The adjacent, similar complex to the east, which has different ownership, is not part of the listing.
Noticed while out this afternoon that demolition has begun on a long-in-play redevelopment site south of Southwest Library, 9030 35th SW. 10 years ago, the two-house site started Design Review as a 4-story, 33-unit, 38-parking-space mixed-use project; that went idle. Then in 2016, a new mixed-use proposal emerged and went all the way through the process – this time 5 stories, 40 apartments, 32 parking spaces.
As shown in our photo, one of the two houses on the site is now gone; the other is next.
P.S. If you’re wondering about the also-fenced-off property to the north, the Alison Apartments at 9020 35th SW, it’s not part of this project, but it’s vacant, after changing hands last year, and city files note a “substantial rehabilitation” is planned.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Though the city’s Design Review process is just about design, it’s often the only part of the development permit path that provides a public meeting. And that often means public comments about other aspects of the project.
Such as – in the case of two commenters on the 7-story, 75-apartment, mixed-use 4508 California SW (map)’s second Early Design Guidance review last night – whether it should be built at all.
This process isn’t built for that decision. It’s up to the property owner (in this case, longtime local entrepreneur Leon Capelouto, who has completed two other projects nearby, Capco Plaza and AJ Apartments) and you could argue it goes back to the decisions decades ago that zoned the heart of The Junction for future redevelopment up to 8 stories (9 if HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning gets final approval).
So when all was said, done, and discussed, the four Southwest Design Review Board members who were present – chair Don Caffrey, John Cheng, Crystal Loya, and Scott Rosenstock – agreed unanimously that the project could move to the second phase of Design Review, three months after their first look at it. They were joined at the front of the room by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections planner assigned to the project, Allison Whitworth.
Here’s how the meeting unfolded along the path to that decision:
(Design packet provided for tonight’s meeting, downloaded from city website)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Eight months after getting thumbs-down on its first Early Design Guidance try, the 15-apartment Alki proposal for 3015 63rd SW (map) got thumbs-up tonight.
The proposal went through some major revisions before returning to the Southwest Design Review Board.
Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections‘ assigned planner Tami Garrett noted that since the project’s first turn at Early Design Guidance, the project team has said it will seek a contract rezone that would allow an extra floor plus incorporate Mandatory Housing Affordability. That will be considered in a separate process after this one.
Board members present: chair Don Caffrey along with Crystal Loya, John Cheng, and Scott Rosenstock.
ARCHITECT/PROJECT TEAM PRESENTATION: Oly Wise, representing the family that owns the site (see our original report here), opened by saying they’d learned a lot had changed since the project was initiated. They were pleased to learn about MHA and thought it would turn their project from good to great. He then made way for architect James Raptis.
Tonight (Thursday), the Southwest Design Review Board will consider two projects’ second tries at the first phase of the DR process. Both reviews at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon) include public comment, so if you’re interested, here’s a look at the “design packets” for both:
3015 63RD SW, 6:30 PM: While this was originally proposed as a 3-story, 15-apartment building, the new packet says the owners will be seeking a rezone to allow four stories with Mandatory Housing Affordability (which they would incorporate into the project). That would require 22 offstreet-parking spaces under the Alki “overlay.” City reports on its first review eight months ago are here.
4508 CALIFORNIA SW, 8 PM: As with the night’s first project, this one is a second go at the Early Design Guidance phase of Design Review, meaning the discussion is meant to focus more on the building’s size and shape than on the fine points of its proposed appearance. This project is proposed for a seven-story building with ground-floor commercial, a level of lodging, and five floors totaling about 74 apartments, plus ~17 offstreet-parking spots, to replace the commercial building that holds Lee’s Asian and Kamei restaurants as well as the former West Seattle Cyclery space. Here’s our report on the project’s first review three months ago.
12:24 AM: Five houses were originally on the site that will be redeveloped into a ~40-condominium project by Vibrant Cities (formerly SolTerra, which originally planned an apartment project). One was moved off the site last January; another is being moved right now; the remaining three will be demolished. We’re here to cover the move, with the renowned house rescuers of Nickel Bros” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Nickel Bros set to pull this house off 1254 Alki and truck it almost half a mile southeast to a barge at Don Armeni Boat Ramp, as was done with the 1262 Alki house nine months ago. Its new owner says it’s headed for Anderson Island.
The crews prepped the site days earlier but just rolled out of Don Armeni after midnight to start setting up for the move.
12:57 AM: The house’s new owner says it’s one of two that he’s buying and moving via Nickel Bros. The other one, taken from a site in Poulsbo, is already on the barge, which he says is scheduled to dock on the island Tuesday. Also here, Vibrant Cities’ co-owners James Wong – who has West Seattle roots – and Ming Fung. They tell us the condo project will likely start construction early next year and will be called Infinity.
1:59 AM: The move is expected to start shortly. Alki Ave will be blocked for a while east of here.
2:30 AM: The house is off the lot and headed down the street, with the help of not only the Nickel Bros crews but also pilot vehicles. We’re headed back to HQ and will add video and a few more photos from there.
3:59 AM: Here are two angles of video as the house left the site:
Local videographer Mark Jaroslaw, who has been recording the operation, reports that it hit a temporary snag: “The house slowly rounded the corner onto Harbor Ave, but was forced to halt in the 1200 block because someone failed to anticipate a low-hanging utility line. The crew tried lowering the load to no avail. So, they improvised. They laid a path of plywood sheets across the park grass, allowing the truck to detour off the street into the Armeni lot. The house was secured at 3:30.” We’ll be checking its status in daylight.
12:24 PM: Thanks to Mark for sharing his video including the house being loaded onto the barge, followed by the sailaway:
Anderson Island, the house’s destination, is Puget Sound’s southernmost island.
That’s the house at 1254 Alki SW, ready for its move late tonight. We first told you a week ago that this would be the second house moved off the future condominium-project site (here’s our coverage of the first one back in January) and we’ve just confirmed with site owners Vibrant Cities that the “house rescuers” of Nickel Bros are still on for the move after midnight. As with the January move, this house will be trucked a half-mile away to Don Armeni Boat Ramp and barged away to its new location. (We’re still awaiting info on that from Nickel Bros.) The other houses left on the site are set for demolition.
From today’s city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin, approvals for two West Seattle projects:
ARBOR HEIGHTS TOWNHOUSES: This land-use approval is for the nine-unit project long in the works for a sliver of multifamily/commercially zoned land at 4220 SW 100th – eight townhouses and one live-work unit, with eight offstreet-parking spaces. The notice opens a two-week appeal period until November 5th. The project’s third and final Design Review meeting was back in June.
JUNCTION APARTMENTS: This land-use approval is for the four-story, 62-apartment, 26-offstreet-parking-space Junction Landing project at 4417 42nd SW, north of (and by the same project team as) Junction Flats. This notice also opens an appeal period through November 5th. The project went through Design Review in three meetings concluding last spring.
The third West Seattle informal community meeting in the city’s new “Early Community Outreach for Design Review” process is set for October 30th. If you have questions or comments about the project proposed at 5009 Fauntleroy Way SW, that’s the date you’re invited to drop in 5-7 pm at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW) and talk with members of the project team. According to what’s online so far, this project will replace a 70-year-old duplex with three rowhouse-style townhouses and three single-family homes, with six offstreet-parking spaces. The new Early Community Outreach phase of the process is meant to offer neighbors a chance to get involved relatively early on. We covered the first two West Seattle meetings held as part of this process, both last month – this one for five townhouses at 1772 Alki SW, then this one for eight townhouses at 5616 California SW. Also participating in this process, though no meeting date is set yet, will be 1604 SW Henderson.
As we reported here in August, another Alki house is set to be moved. This one is at 1254 Alki SW, part of the future ~40-condo project at 1250 Alki, next to the site where a house was removed and moved back in January. And now the date is set. A project spokesperson tells us the move is scheduled for one week from tonight, Friday night/Saturday morning (technically the window opens at 12:01 am Saturday, October 27th). Like the last one, this house will be trucked to nearby Don Armeni Boat Ramp and placed on a barge for the rest of the move.
A local business has moved, and that’s a springboard to a development update. Salon West has cleared out of 7009 California SW, and according to what’s posted on the window, is moving to the former Tiffany’s salon at 2738 Alki SW (the space actually fronts 61st SW, behind B’s Po Boy and north of the Homestead). This is happening as development plans for the south Morgan Junction site proceed; we first reported back in May that a four-townhouse development was proposed for part of the block starting at the dog-care corner (formerly Stella Ruffington, now Good Dog). The newest site plan in the city’s online files shows five townhouses proposed for 7001-7009 California SW (the latter was Salon West’s address). If you’re wondering about the southernmost business on the block, Caffe Ladro‘s Bob Ohly told us last time we checked in, “We are staying in our current building with a bit of a size adjustment, removing the old Bakery space. There will be a building facelift inside and out. We will at that time take ownership of the building.” This site-plan document covers that part of the project. All this is continuing to move through the permit system. It’s not the first redevelopment proposal for the site, but the first we’ve seen get anywhere near this far.
From today’s city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin:
4722 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: A week ago, we mentioned that construction was likely starting here soon since the Goodwill truck had to move. We’re still awaiting official comment from developers Legacy Partners, but in the meantime, today’s LUIB includes the land-use decision (PDF) for the larger of two buildings in this project – described as a “7-story, 239-unit apartment building (25 small efficiency dwelling units and 214 apartment units) with 16 Live-Work units and Retail Sales and Service. Parking for 230 vehicles proposed.” The approval opens a two-week window for appeals; the notice (PDF) explains that process.
5616 CALIFORNIA SW: We reported three weeks ago on the “early design community outreach” meeting for this 8-townhouse, 5-offstreet-parking-space project. Now it’s officially open for two weeks of public comment in Administrative Design Review – see the packet here; the notice with how-to-comment info is linked here.
8823 9TH SW: A land-use-permit application has been filed to build two 3-story buildings totaling 7 townhouses. This opens a two-week period for comments on the application; the official notice (PDF) explains how to comment.
We mentioned last month that demolition was ahead for the Charmann Apartments at 5917 California SW, long boarded up after a history of complaints. Thomas, who lives nearby, sent the photo and word that the teardown is under way today. As reported here in February, a redevelopment proposal is in the works for the site – eight townhouses.
A fourth West Seattle project is now listed as a participant in the city’s new Early Community Outreach for Design Review program – seven townhouses with six offstreet-parking spaces planned to replace a 66-year-old triplex at 1604 SW Henderson [map]. This means the developers are supposed to contact nearby residents for feedback before the project gets to official Design Review. So far, two other projects in the program have had informal community meetings – announced via postcards to people living close by – and we covered both: 5616 California SW and 1772 Alki SW. The third program to appear on the city’s list is 5009 Fauntleroy Way SW – no early-outreach meeting on the schedule so far.
So far, the Southwest Design Review Board does not have a meeting scheduled in October – but it’s tentatively set to start November in a big way, with two projects’ Early Design Guidance encores in one night on November 1st. 4508 California SW – a 7-story, 79-apartment mixed-use project with 20 offstreet-parking spaces – is set for the 8 pm slot; you can see a draft version of the design packet here (PDF). The night will start at 6:30 pm with 3015 63rd SW, an 3-story, 11-unit apartment building with 19 offstreet-parking spaces. We covered the Junction project’s first review last month here; we couldn’t cover the Alki project’s first review, but you can read the city report here. Both reviews on November 1st will be at the board’s usual meeting site, the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon)
An early-stage proposal has appeared in city files for a 30-townhouse development in the upper Luna Park area, at 3101 SW Bradford [map]. Documents describe the site as “vacant”; a collection of what’s listed on the city website as “site photos” shows a greenbelt at the end of SW Bradford, downslope from the approach to the West Seattle Bridge. Also in the file: A city letter to the site owner saying the project will have to go through Design Review, so they need to arrange for Early Community Outreach to neighbors. The information available online so far suggests the townhouses would have 34 parking spaces in an underground garage.
“Name that street corner.” If you can’t without referring to the address in the headline – then you’ve underscored the point made before tonight’s second Southwest Design Review Board meeting wrapped up.
Board chair Don Caffrey and members Scott Rosenstock, Matt Hutchins, and John Cheng decided unanimously to send the mixed-use proposal for 7617 35th SW – the Complete Auto Repair site (whose future has been in play for 5+ years) – back to the drawing board for a second try at Early Design Guidance. Here’s what preceded that decision: