West Seattle, Washington
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 email@example.com, to reach the city planner assigned to the project.
Thanks to the texter who tipped us that the backhoe has arrived at that destined-for-demolition house, 4022 Beach Drive SW [map], a particularly visible spot because of its proximity to Weather Watch Park and La Rustica. Online records say the 107-year-old house, sold late last year for $925,000, will be replaced by four townhouses, each with a single-car garage. The 5,000-square-foot lot is zoned Lowrise 2. One other note of interest: The city’s Shaping Seattle map now includes information on how development projects are dealing with the Mandatory Housing Affordability requirement (either incorporating affordable unit[s] or paying a fee that the city will invest in affordable housing elsewhere); it shows that the developers of this project will be charged a $106,000 fee.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
More than three years ago, Admiral Church told community members that “big changes” were in its future.
Planning for those changes was subsequently shelved. But now it’s actively happening again, as the church has flatly declared that a “looming financial crisis” makes the status quo unsustainable.
So, church leaders told a community meeting this afternoon, they’re pursuing three potential paths for the future of the church (4320 SW Hill) and its 27,000-square-feet site:
From today’s city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin, key approvals for nine single-family houses east of Puget Park. The lots carry addresses on Puget Way just south of SW Alaska [map], from 4704 through 4726, in a greenbelt-adjacent neighborhood uphill from West Marginal Way. Documents indicate the houses will each have parking for two vehicles. The proposed development has long been in the works – you can see the city notification signage in the Google Maps Street View image above, which is timestamped June of 2019, and city records show documents going back a year before that. The land-use approvals open a two-week window for appeals (deadline March 3rd), as explained in the notice.
Almost three years ago, we reported on an Early Outreach for Design Review meeting about a 14-unit rowhouse project at 8415 Delridge Way SW [map]. The project is now reactivating, with a formal land-use application to the city. That opens a new comment period. The project is described on the city website as two 3-story, 7-unit townhouse buildings, with 14 offstreet-parking spaces. (See the most-recent design packet here.) Comment deadline is February 14th; today’s notice explains how.
One month ago, we reported on the new plan for 1704 SW Roxbury and adjacent parcels on 17th SW – a mixed-use building with more than 200 apartments. The project is now listed on the city’s Early Community Outreach for Design Review website, which means the project is in the phase requiring the developers to offer early commenting opportunities to the community. It’s still described, albeit briefly, as a 4-story building, though the project’s page on one development partner’s website describes the plan as six stories and 214 units, broken down as “171 attainably priced market-rate units, and 43 rent-restricted units through Seattle’s Multifamily Tax Exemption Program.” City policy only stipulates notification within a specific area fairly close-in to the development site, but there’s a contact email address in the online notice if you want to ensure you’re in the loop.
From the latest city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin, the townhouse project planned for 6314 41st SW [map] has advanced to the next major step in the planning process. We’ve been reporting on this HALA-upzoned site for two years – first, a larger project was planned; then, one year ago, the developers presented a revised plan to the Morgan Community Association. That’s what’s moving through the system now – three 4-story buildings with 34 units total, and 14 offstreet-parking spaces. Though the city website continues to label this an “apartment” project, the developers told MoCA last year that it’ll be a mix of small townhouses and flats that will be sold, not rented; the project is described on their website as “34 stacked townhomes in the heart of West Seattle.” They’ve given the project a name, too – Callie. The project is going through Administrative Design Review and passed the first phase, which is why it’s advanced to the application stage. That opens a new public-comment period; this notice explains how to comment. January 26th is the deadline.
That’s the sign up at 7142 47th SW [map], where today’s city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin includes a notice that a comment period has opened for a townhouse proposal. That’s notable because it’s the first of the surrounding parcels sold off by The Kenney to move to the application stage of redevelopment. As we first reported in November 2020, the proposal on this site is for five townhouses. At that time, records didn’t show a completed deal for this site and the others that The Kenney had put up for sale with an asking price of more than $5 million, years after previous ownership scrapped a massive remodel/expansion plan. But now records do show the changes; most of the parcels are now owned by entities related to Seattle Luxury Homes, which we noted in that previous report as the prospective developer. We checked all the sites’ records to see if any other projects are proceeding; the only ones we’ve found are a plan to turn part of 7141 Fauntleroy Way SW into a nine-space parking lot behind an existing house, and to convert the duplex at 7150 46th SW into a three-unit apartment building. Meantime, if you want to comment on the application for the five-townhouse plan at 7142 47th SW, today’s notice explains how; the deadline is January 19th.
What might be the longest-stalled development site in West Seattle has a new plan. At 5249 California SW [map], the small commercial building that was previously on the site was demolished almost a decade ago. The foundation for a new mixed-use building was put in six years ago, and some framing followed. After that, the site went dormant, and as reported here a year and a half ago, the property went up for sale. County records don’t yet show an ownership change, but city records show a new early-stage proposal – nine townhouses, with five offstreet-parking spaces. The site plan shows that two of the townhouses would face California SW, with the other seven lined up in north-south orientation, rowhouse style, behind them, and parking off the alley.