West Seattle, Washington
While the “for (re)sale” sign flaps in the breeze outside Gatewood Baptist Church (on Cali, just before the big hill), the city has just issued a fat set of permits for the multi-family housing that’s going up on what was church property across the street: two “duplex townhouses” at 7200 Cali, two more (plus a demolition permit) at 7202 Cali, two more at 7206 Cali, and last but not least, two more at 7208 Cali. As a meditative scene, if this density disturbs you, ponder this photo of West Seattle housing some decades back.
-Last reminder that the city’s Southwest Design Review Board meets tonight @ the police dept.’s SW Precinct, with 2 projects on the agenda: the controversial apartment/condo/”park-pool” proposal for 4515 41st SW, and “mixed-use” @ 4116 Cali.
-Tipster wrote to tell us about Salon.com’s comic “K Chronicles” giving a shoutout to West Seattle. (Since Salon requires subscriptions or “day passes,” good news is, a different site has a free link to the strip here.) Further investigation reveals its author Keith Knight will be at the T(ea) Gallery (in the SOA zone) tonight for an afterparty following his appearance at Hugo House; per the comic, he’s related to the TG’s owner.
An interesting albeit accidental discovery that may be relevant to one neighborhood’s fight against a sizable development planned in their midst: While looking for something else, we happened onto the city’s 1999 plan for Junction development. It describes the area from 41st to 44th, Genesee to Edmunds, as targeted for creation of “a more compact mixed-use commercial core.” That would seem to include the area on 41st, just north of Alaska, where folks are upset about a proposed 7-story apartment/condo building with a “park-and-pool” facility (lots of interesting info in the comments on our original post); the SW Design Review Board takes up the project this Thursday night. Not sure how closely that 1999 plan is still being followed, but you can still easily find it (and plans for other city neighborhoods) from here.
-A comment just posted a ways down the site is worth spotlighting: Some folks who’ve had it with the Mars Hill guy’s misogyny are planning a protest outside MH-Ballard next weekend.
-News on two churches entirely unrelated to MH (so far as I know): Gatewood Baptist Church is moving from Cali & Othello to 35th & Cloverdale. GB has sold its land on both sides of Cali; the land on the east side (sold for $3.2M) will turn into “townhomes” (here’s a story about the company that bought it) — the west side is up for “re-sale” in two chunks, the school/office building along Othello ($800K) and the church itself ($1.8M). Meantime, with at least part of the proceeds, Gatewood is taking over the former Calvary Lutheran Church. Calvary’s signboard already reads “Welcome, Gatewood Baptist” but the person who answered the phone at Gatewood told us they’re not moving till renovation work is complete after the first of the year. As for Calvary’s future, its phone recording says that as of last weekend, it’s holding services at The Kenney.
Just east of The Junction, an all-too-familiar story is playing out in a neighborhood that is looking for support in their quest to make sure this version will not have the usual ending. Neighbors worried about a project on the board for 4515 41st SW say that even with condos and commercial development creeping closer to their block, what’s proposed for that site just doesn’t fit — a 7-story apartment/condo building. Only single-family homes and townhomes are on their block right now; adding this project would be something like going from 0 to 60. The Southwest Design Review Board will take another look at the plans when it meets a week from tomorrow (8 pm Nov. 16, SW Precinct on Delridge). One neighbor tells me he’s been trying to contact the city planner assigned to the project and hasn’t received so much as a courtesy reply. This is one of two projects on the SWDRB agenda for that night; coming up in December, the same board checks back on Fauntleroy Place.
A shiny new city land-use alert sign (the posts look like they just came out of the lumberyard) is now up in front of the Schuck’s/Hancock Fabrics parking lot that eventually will make way for Fauntleroy Place. No new milestones on its city DPD tracking page; the architect’s site (it’s craftily framed; follow “what we do” to “business/commercial” to “mixed use” and find Fauntleroy Place there) says construction will start in 2008 — we wondered, is it really that far away? Maybe so, given that several city agencies/commissions still seem to have some questions (or so you’d gather reading the last page of these minutes from last month’s meeting of the city Design Commission).
Speaking of driving … We seem to spend more and more time stuck in the right lane on The Bridge in the mornings, sludging along to get to the viaduct, then in the right lane on the viaduct in the evenings, sludging along to get to The Bridge. Problem is, more and more of us are pouring into those funnels, now that the city is granting new teardown-to-townhome permits almost daily (putting a dozen or more households where just one once sat). I totally admit to being part of the problem, in my single-occupant (albeit little) vehicle. The bus would cost me 3 hours a day roundtrip right now — 3 hours I can’t spare — and I don’t think Ron Sims’ bus tax is going to make things any better. Laugh at me if you want, but I still mourn the monorail. (I’d settle for a year-round Water Taxi.) See you in the funnel …
Months after we first got a tip that Rainier Roaster at Fauntleroy & 35th would be transformed into West Seattle’s first drive-thru Starbucks … it’s finally about to happen. After a reader wrote to tell us that RR has a sign up saying it’s closing as of this Saturday, we checked the city permits … and there it all is, plain as day. Let’s see … Alki, Admiral, Morgan Junction, Westwood Village, three Safeways, Westwood QFC, and the “half” would be WV Barnes & Noble. Don’t we need just a few more?
-The historic Satterlee House on Beach Drive (aka “The Painted Lady”) and its massive front yard are now separate listings, and the “subject to inspection” status of the listing for the “front yard” land would suggest a sale is near. (That’ll leave the house as a $1.2 million “fixer,” $300K more than it sold for in 2000.)
-Sad to see the latest permit granted for yet another teardown-to-buildup, this one at 1350 Alki Avenue, a red-and-white duplex where we recall seeing planters full of brilliant flowers (almost as memorable a display as Cindi Laws’ old place), till it was sold and marked for death. Goodbye, wood and planters, with a little room for the hillside behind it to breathe; hello, another five-story chunk of concrete, glass, and steel.
Maybe the city is a little bit serious about saving trees after all. Walking down a section of Cali Ave between junctions last night, we noticed two trees in the parking strip by a teardown-to-townhome project at Cali & Spokane — each with a plywood fence around its trunk, each with its trunk marked by a big bright green flyer with this admonition — PROTECT TREE! (I’d like to get a sheaf of those flyers and run around tacking them on just about every tree in sight.)
-Finally tried Cactus. Tasty food, even better atmosphere. Kept thinking about what used to be in that space two lifetimes ago — the original OLD Alki Market, with a crab tank that had a moldy plastic decoration and always one sad crab, right about where the new restaurant has beautiful colored glass panels near the front door.
-Several people have written to ask what’s up with the other half of the market space, the half that Cactus isn’t using. Still listed for lease.
-An eyesore may be finally on its way out … a renewed notice just went up online for theÃ‚Â development permit application at the site of the burned-out Schuck’s at California & Charlestown. Interestingly, it mentions restaurant space … interesting since nearby Charlestown Street Cafe is on its way out.
-The teardown-to-townhomes project on Cali Ave south of Morgan Junction, north of the Caffe Ladro etc. business districtlet, now has a name … sign just went up proclaiming these the “Bayberry Townhomes.” From the mid-300s. Wow.
-Last but not least, for lovers of semi-classic ’70s cars … particularly Fords … we spotted a very clean Pinto on a lawn along 62nd just north of Admiral … then seconds later, along the other side of Admiral, a well-preserved Maverick. Sigh.
(Apologies to Joyce Kilmer.) As someone absolutely passionate about being a truly green greenie — as mentioned before, if you looked at our house from Google Earth, you would barely see its roof amid all the trees and shrubs we’ve allowed to grow around and over it — I’m skeptical about Hizzoner‘s new “WE (HEART) TREES” campaign, lovingly (and mostly uncritically) previewed in the P-I and Times this morning. One even more fabulous way to slow tree loss would be to apply tougher standards to the rampant infill that’s under way in areas like ours. On the slopes over Lincoln Park, in the past few years, we’ve seen acres of greenery fall to developers’ backhoes (here’s just one example), replaced by oversized houses (do 2 or 3 people really need 3.5K sf?). How about we save a little more greenspace than just what’s left in our parks? Dare to look at an “undeveloped” lot and consider that maybe its highest and best use is to stay “undeveloped.” There’s more to “environmentally critical” than streams and wetlands.
If you share my sadness at every fine old house that is swept away to clear space for condos, or twinge a little when a franchise moves into a business space once held by a local original … even while knowing deep inside, “the only thing constant is change” … check out the second half of this post on chasBlog. My hat’s off to him (and in this case, perhaps a Mariners trident logo hat would be appropriate).
My gosh, we must have some lightning-fast construction crews on tap for Fauntleroy Place. This listing for a nearby condo says Whole Foods is opening this fall. And I haven’t even seen the groundbreaking announcement yet!
Not long after I posted about the apparently doomed historic house at 4532 42nd SW (thanks to “WS Guy” for the comment on that post, enlightening me about its history — my copy of the wonderful “West Side Story” is in tatters and I need to find a “new” one), we were startled by this sight: The historic “Satterlee House” on Beach Drive is up for sale again, billed as a “$3 million fixer” with suggestions as to how some of its massive front-lawn space could be developed. It’s been five years since the slugfest over a plan to put cottages on that land; now the MLS listing suggests it could be used as “possible 3 building sites with completed short plat.” Whatever happened to the campaign to save the house and its site as is? Isn’t there any kazillionaire around here with a few spare bucks (I wish I did!) to preserve a little history? (or are they ALL on Lake Washington?)
Several of the projects already in the pipeline will make 42nd the “second Main Street of The Junction” more than ever. One wasn’t really on my radar till we walked along 42nd yesterday, from the north edge of the Junction down to Jefferson Square. This one saddens me a bit. At 4532 42nd, if you look behind and over the fencing and the overgrowth, there’s a huge old house with some style and flair (despite what must be, by now, years of neglect and disrepair). It almost looks like a Southern plantation house, with a huge balcony under the eaves on its top story. The golden-yellow land-use-ap sign in front has been there so long, somebody has tagged it; the online information doesn’t say a whole lot, though the architect who’s listed seems to be associated with the fabled Roger Newell — it’s just listed as another proposed “mixed-use” building. I know old houses come down all the time so the land can be cleared for condos, townhomes, “mixed use,” whatever, but few of them are as striking as this one. I’d bet it has a bit of history, too. (And in fact, Googling its address just before finishing this post, I found it on a document of “cultural and historical resources” that were “inventoried” at some point along the way in the monorail studies. Hmm. Might have to check with the Log House Museum people on this one.)
Two tales today of things going up:
-The Admiral Way Viewpoint’s new pole will be celebrated this afternoon. The P-I’s version of the story today is fairly vanilla; the WS Herald’s version (with photo) is spiced with the backstory of how the log used for the pole was “poached.”
-Taller and wider than perhaps a thousand poles, yet another “mixed-use” project in the Junction (this is the one on ex-monorail land across from Jefferson Square) is advancing through the city pipeline. The latest Land Use Info Bulletin (a must-subscribe if you are interested in early word on what might be going up, and coming down, near you) announces an “early design review guidance” meeting in two weeks. Now the big question — in the two months since this P-I article spotlighted the dilemma to be posed by the loss of that parking lot, is there any progress toward a solution? (as was semi-promised in the following section ofÃ‚Â that article) The concerns are significant; I wound up parking in that lot last Sunday while trying to get to the Farmers’ Market, since everything on the west side of California (and beyond) was taken (except the “pay spaces,” which I suppose we’ll now see more of), and no, the bus wasn’t a good solution — the Sunday schedules are horrible. Anyway, here’s what was in that May P-I article. Love to hear what’s transpired regarding staying “in touch with the community”:
The company that catalyzed high-rise downtown living with Harbor Steps apartments has shifted its sights to close-in neighborhoods, snapping up a parking lot in the heart of West Seattle’s Alaska Junction.
It fits Harbor Properties’ criteria perfectly: good public transportation, a walkable business district and a neighborhood “with a soul,” said chief development officer Denny Onslow.
Though specifics for the roughly 100-unit development the company plans to build there are up on the air, it’s clear the building will supplant the parking lot behind Petco, which will be forced to move once those 40 spaces are gone, store officials say.
It’s also functioned as a free community lot where anyone dropping in for dance lessons, beers or kids’ art classes could usually poach a spot.
“In my opinion it’s going to be devastating to lose that as parking,” said Michael Hoffman, owner of Liberty Bell Printing. “We were trying to get it back for our merchants association … but there was no way we could compete.”
Harbor Properties, which bid $4.5 million, has already begun talking to the community and is well aware of the parking concerns, said development director Steve Orser.
The company is willing to work on those, he said. Junction businesses, though, should also benefit from an influx of new residents looking to walk to restaurants, shopping or yoga classes.
“Sometimes our parking is lower than what you might expect because we offer alternative transportation and we encourage that as part of our sustainable and green development,” he said. “But we’re going to do our best to be in touch with the community and see if there aren’t solutions.”
The city’s latest semiweekly bulletin of land-use applications & decisions contains a few more “subdivisions” of lots on this side of WS. All along Cali Ave, it seems like at least a dozen houses have made way for townhomeplexes in just the past half-year or so. A Times columnist muses today on the subject, certainly not something affecting our side of the city alone.
A new comment on an old post reminded me I hadn’t heard much lately about the rumors of Trader Joe’s finally, finally, FINALLY coming to West Seattle. Seems speculation is centering around the forthcoming mixed-use project on Admiral just west of Metropolitan Market, so we went fishing around a bit.
Project description mentions “grocery store.” MM & Safeway are so close by (and PCC not much further), it would have to be something “specialty” like TJ’s.
The contact name on the applications traces to the same architect that handled the same owner’s project to the north (Bartell’s and what’s above it) — no sketches on the site, though.
A notice on a pole at the site mentions another design-review meeting just about a week ago — anybody got the scoop on that? Just curious.
Did find a couple other notes of interest along the way. First — a little history about part of the site. Second — I can’t find a direct link to the relatively recently renamed “Admiral Neighborhood Association,” but it looks like neighborhood leaders joined in a “street-level survey” a little earlier this year, with results documented here.
Enough about all that, though. Any inside info on TJ’s, or not TJ’s, very much welcome. Definitely tired of driving to Burien. And this is one of the last few franchises we still don’t have out here (in the years since WS Blogger Spouse and I arrived, we’ve stopped having to drive somewhere else for Pagliacci, Jamba Juice, Barnes & Noble, to name a few).
Maybe you heard the saga of the older lady who spent some time today sitting in a tree near Alki, trying to protect it from further hacking. I don’t know if this particular tree is such a cause worth fighting for, but I certainly sympathize with the escalating loss of our urban forest. Personally, if I had been Cindi Laws, I would have held a sit-in in that splendid garden she had, now a long-forgotten ghost on yet another spot claimed by condos.
(Wed. morning update: here’s a link to the tree lady’s story.)
As we passed through a bluffside neighborhood tonight, the view to the Sound and Blake/Vashon Islands seemed a bit clearer than usual. Won’t be able to verify till daylight, but I suspect more trees have come down; developers have stopped shying away from the area’s steeper hillsides. Brings back wistful memories of our earliest WS years, when I wished so hard to have enough money to buy a particular lot along Beach Drive where a thicket of trees hung over the northbound lane, marked ominously with a “FOR SALE” sign. It sat there for years, then finally went away when houses started going up atop the bluff where the trees grew. And the tree-thinning began. Now a “FOR SALE” sign hangs in the same spot again, in the shade of only a few remaining west-leaning trees. Most likely fewer birds sing, fewer bees buzz; did anyone notice but me?
The Morgan Community Association site has posted the architect’s vision of what Fauntleroy Place might look like, in advance of an “Early Design Guidance” meeting next Thursday. (I found a closer look here — click the link below the image.)
West Seattle Blogger Spouse and I both asked the same initial question: “Where’s the bowling alley?”
The bowling-alley question might sound odd to you, but it seems relevant to the issue of plopping a huge new retail/residential development into an area like this. Perhaps everything around it will fall away and/or transform in time. Right now, my mind is hung up on not just the neighboring bowling alley, but also the funeral home across the street. Does it survive, thrive, or eventually get the boot?
P.S. Found an interesting link to the floorplans for Fauntleroy Place, for anyone interested in immersing themselves in every little detail.
The woman who inspired this Times column today had a kindred spirit along Alki Avenue not that many years ago.
I am fuzzy on specifics. But I can see it in my mind — one of those mondo-condo high-rises that went up, east of the beach, had to wrap itself around a home whose owner just wouldn’t sell out. Eventually either she sold out or died, and the home went away.
As they all do … even here in my neighborhood on the south side of the West Side, homes never seem to just change hands any more; if they are on land with even a hint of a view, the “sold” sign is followed by the backhoes, the debris, the new construction. We know we are the last owners of our little house, whether we are here six more months, six more years, or until the day we pass on to the next plane of existence (and no, I don’t mean Ballard).