West Seattle, Washington
This just appeared on the list of upcoming Design Review Board meetings — 9030 35th SW (map) has been added to the agenda for the February 14th Southwest DRB meeting that was already set to consider Fauntleroy Place. This proposal would replace the two 85-year-old houses shown above with what the city project page describes as a “new 4-story building providing 3,000 sf of retail and 33 apartments with parking for 38 vehicles.” Apartment buildings already bookend this site, by the way.
Some updates on the biggest development/redevelopment project in West Seattle, from a presentation at last week’s joint meeting of the Delridge and Southwest District Councils: Project manager Tom Phillips from the Seattle Housing Authority told the groups he’s “very proud” of the way things are going, he says High Point Phase I has only 10 homes left to sell. As part of Phase II, the 160-unit seniors’ complex on Morgan will open in May, and the new park with amphitheater is in the works along with Neighborhood House. (NH construction is set to start this September; a capital campaign is under way now — read more here.) Phillips also told the councils that paperwork had just been signed with a developer for the commercial center at 35th/Graham, though there’s still no grocery-store commitment — he said he’s been told West Seattle is “over-grocered,” particularly with Whole Foods coming to Fauntleroy Place and QFC coming to Capco Plaza. The SHA’s official High Point site is here.
A bill to give cities the power to limit condo conversions is coming up for a State House hearing this Friday, says Slog. It’s HB 2014, which died last year. Here in West Seattle, the conversion pace seems to have slowed, with high-profile conversion cancellations at Strata and West Ridge/Gables, but apartment buildings continue to sell (and be put up for sale, with descriptions like “condo-quality”). If you want to tell your legislators what you think about HB 2014, remember your new State Representative is Sharon Nelson (WSB interview here, including contact info) and your new State Senator is Joe McDermott. 10 PM SIDE NOTE: The P-I has just posted an article about a condo development near Seattle Center that’s going to be finished as apartments instead; an expert quoted in the article says apartments “are the pre-eminent land use” in the city right now.
That house is at 5933 California (map), immediately south of the townhouses going up on the former Guadalajara Hacienda site (as we most recently documented here). On Friday, the city granted a permit to tear down this 85-year-old house; more townhouses are on the way. About a mile and a half north on California, in the 3400 block (map), demolition equipment is likely to be seen soon here:
We first mentioned the impending teardown-to-townhouses status of this site in October. The demolition permit’s been in effect since November but we just noticed the fence.
These numbers just in from West Seattle Realtor (and WSB sponsor) Bill Barna:
Average market time: 2006: 34 days / 2007: 42 days (up 24%)
Median price: 2006: $390,000 / 2007: $402,000 (up 3.1%)
Average price: 2006: $445,422 / 2007: $469,473 (up 5.3%)
Number of homes sold: 2006: 1,728 / 2007: 1,642 (down 5.0%)
Bill adds, “Although the annual appreciation is off a little from the record year of 2005 (almost 15% that year!) we are still growing here in West Seattle.” The numbers are from a detailed report he compiles every year, and he says anyone who wants a full copy is welcome to e-mail him (click here).
2 sizable projects in the south half of West Seattle got a second look from the Southwest Design Review Board tonight. One will be the new home of Swedish Auto Repair, at 7901 35th, currently home to the ex-Adventist church building and a Mars Hill bus pen; concerns from board members and neighbors have sent it back to the drawing board for one more round of revisions, particularly regarding the need for its 30-plus-foot-high L-shaped building fronting 35th and Kenyon to be more streetfront-friendly. However, city planner Holly Godard did laud the project for its voluntary “green” features such as solar panels and rainwater-collecting barrels. So that one will be back for one more SWDRB meeting. This next project, though, got the green light:
That’s what you’re going to see in a year or two at California/Graham, kitty corner from the almost-condos of Strata, north of the ex-Chuck and Sally’s. We knew this would be “live/work units” as well as townhouses, but now we have even more details:Read More
We first told you in October (detailed report here) about Spring Hill, the development planned for the area shown above, in the 5000 block of California, just south of The Junction (map). The developer is BlueStar Management, same firm behind Fauntleroy Place, future home to Whole Foods, 170 apartments, etc. Now, a date is set for the Southwest Design Review Board to give “early design guidance” on the project — January 10. According to the city project page, the scope of Spring Hill (no known relation to the future restaurant) has grown a little since our original post – it’s now described as six stories, 90 apartments, 4,000 sf of retail, 100 parking spaces.
Gee whiz, leave the house/computer for a couple hours and look what happens – for the second time today, Mosaic Homes announces it’s canceling a West Seattle condo conversion (thanks to everyone who e-mailed us about this; we also got our own e-mail, above, since we were on the mailing list). As we’ve reported previously, it’s been trying like mad to sell “Strata on California,” formerly the Graham Street Apartments at California/Graham north of Morgan Junction, but apparently not doing so well, hence the announcement above that Strata will be rented out. (And remember, as also reported here, the much-marketed West Water condo conversion less than a mile south is already resorting to rentals.)
Two weeks ago, we brought you a WSB reader’s report that the office staff at West Ridge Park on Delridge told her the condo conversion to “Gables,” by the same people who brought you “Strata,” was slowing down. Then one week ago, we noted that the Mosaic Homes website no longer listed “Gables” as “coming soon.” Mosaic still to this date hasn’t returned our messages, but another West Ridge resident just e-mailed WSB to tell us this notice landed on the doorstep this morning:
“We are pleased to announce that the owners of West Ridge Park have decided to not go forward with the planned condo conversion at this time. The property as a whole will remain a rental property … We sincerely want to thank each and every one of you for your patience and understanding during these past months of change and uncertainty. We hope this announcement will please all of you. I know you are very excited that we are staying as a rental community, and hope each of you will stay with us in 2008.”
This was to be a huge condo conversion and got a lot of citywide coverage earlier this year, as harbinger of a trend — can’t help wondering if it might become the same thing now, in the opposite direction.
From Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council leaders: An urgent call to neighbors to find out if they want to meet this week with the principal/CEO of the firm behind a sizable housing development on 22nd SW (city info page here), because that executive can schedule a meeting either this week, or not till next year. The development centered at 3816 22nd SW (here’s a map) would include 14 housing units — 2 single-family homes plus 12 townhouse units. Neighborhood leaders need to hear by 6 pm tonight from anybody who would be interested in a meeting this week; if you’re in the Pigeon Point area and not already on its list, contact info is at the PPNC site.
TOWNHOUSE GLUT? WHAT TOWNHOUSE GLUT? Not long after reading this article (which we also mentioned over the weekend), we found permit applications for another teardown-to-townhome project in north West Seattle, on 44th just south of Atlantic (map): it spans two addresses, 1506 44th and 1508 44th, and is next to what appears to be a similarly sized project for which permit applications were filed a few weeks earlier, 1510 44th and 1512 44th.
LAST CALL FOR DESIGN REVIEW ON 2 PROJECTS: The official notice on these came out last week but might have gotten lost in the pre-holiday rush: The Southwest Design Review Board meets December 20th — at Denny Middle School instead of the usual SW Precinct — for the “recommendation” phase on the townhouse/”live-work” proposal at 6053 California (where the martial-arts tenant just had its moving sale weekend before last) and 7901 35th, known for spiritual pursuits from the Seventh-Day Adventists to Temenos to Mars Hill bus parking, now proposed for auto repair (including a new 2-story building).
Thanks to Tanaya for pointing this out in a new comment on our “West Water, the video” post: The massively marketed condo conversion on California Ave south of Morgan Junction is already offering units for rent. Maybe that’s par for the course with big conversions? Interesting, whatever the case.
Mosaic Homes never responded to our request for comment on this WSB report that the West Ridge Apartments‘ conversion to Gables condos is on hold if not completely canceled. However, we have been checking their website weekly, and as of today, the “coming soon” page that mentioned Gables is suddenly blank.
That was the scene outside the West Ridge Park apartment complex on Delridge in mid-summer, as the complex advertised cheerily for “month-to-month” and “short-term” renters while proceeding with plans to convert to condos and rename the complex “Gables,” under the umbrella of Mosaic Homes, which recently turned the Graham Street Apartments into “Strata.” We had been wondering why we hadn’t seen any stirrings of marketing yet for Gables, though the city permit files show work aplenty; this note from a reader may give us a clue:
Thought you might be interested to find out that the West Ridge Park Apartments are no longer going to be converted to condos anytime in the near future. I am a resident there and recently inquired to find out when I would receive my 90-day notice to vacate. The front office worker told me that I wouldn’t be receiving a notice because the real estate market had turned and the remaining buildings were no longer going to be converted (at least for a while). They have begun the conversion of four of the buildings, which are almost finished, but according to the worker, the owners haven’t decided what to do with them once they are finished. She thought they may either keep them vacant for purchase at a later date or eventually lease them out.
We have a message out to Mosaic asking for comment; will let you know if they respond.
-As of this writing, the West Seattle Bridge ramp to northbound I-5 is STILL closed because of the situation which, piecing together various accounts (see comments on post below), appears to involve public-safety/emergency workers trying to talk someone off their perch on that ramp. This has been ongoing for almost 11 hours, according to the city 911 log, which shows the incident open since units were first sent to a “rope rescue” at Columbian/12th at 10:27 this morning.
-WSB reader Venkat found an advance link to an article in this Sunday’s New York Times about “what you get for $900,000” in several real-estate markets. One is right here in “West Seattle, Washington,” where the article features an Alki condo.
-We mentioned last week that the city Parks Department is holding meetings all around the city in the next few weeks to gather thoughts about what should be in its forthcoming Strategic Business Plan. We also promised to let you know when a link was up for an online survey to be offered to people who couldn’t attend those meetings. Now it’s up — go to this page and follow the “short online survey” link.
New low-low-low-price West Seattle real-estate listing: 4801 23rd Ave SW (map shows that’s a couple blocks off Delridge), 7 bedrooms/4 baths, described as “a serious fixer that needs a lot of work, not for the faint of heart,” $175,000. The listing agent’s page doesn’t have photos, but you can find them on search pages like this from other agents’ sites (from which we have pulled the photo @ left). County property records show its owner bought it for more than twice that two years ago. Googling the address shows an appliance-repair business there at some point, but nothing more nefarious, aside from a city stop-work order on some remodeling/rebuilding there earlier this year. Hmm.
Yes, we know the West Water condo-conversion marketers are likely laughing all the way to the bank, while observers grumble and gripe and gnash teeth over the unprecedented overkill of their over-the-top campaign. Nonetheless … it’s the gaudiest thing to hit this side of West Seattle in a long time, so we’re all over it. Earlier today, we discussed the spotlights that are the latest bling in this blitz. After dark, we couldn’t resist heading down the hill with our video camera:
In today’s earlier post, and its comments, readers shared info about how to complain about aspects of this condo campaign that appear to break city rules, such as the sandwich-board signs along roads and highways. One more to add — this one from Jill:
Please add the Seattle Dept of Planning and Development number 206-615-0808, so that citizens can complain. Or file one online at
The marketers have laughed off the city’s attempts to assess 500-dollar/day fines. Apparently that’s less than the cost of renting throw pillows. Maybe a lawsuit over light pollution, the windsail signs, or a traffic accident in front of Ladro will be needed to do the trick.
A few new comments and e-mails have come in about the latest marketing tactic deployed by the heavily marketed West Water condo complex, ex-Watermark(e) Apartments, south of Morgan Junction — a light show (equipment at right of above photo, taken late yesterday). The latest e-mail, from WSB reader Kerri, begs the question, how much marketing is TOO much marketing?
Is anyone other than me tired of West Water condominiums’ overzealous and trashy marketing campaign? I thought I would share the contact information for the person who takes credit for the sandwich boards every 200 feet going both directions on the viaduct, the posters staked every 15-20 feet up and down Fauntleroy and California, the dozen giant flags, used-car lot style balloons and now giant spotlight laser show that pollute the front of the building, etc….
Her name is Judy Gamel, office phone: (206) 216-7200.
I went in to complain tonight and she seemed pretty pleased with how successful their trashy marketing campaign has been so far. It sounds like they plan to keep it up full force until the building sells out.
Got another one of those “Dear Ms. Blog” e-mails from the Strata mailing list; seems today is Grand Opening Day (as opposed to Priority Opening Day) for the condo-converted ex-Graham Street Apartments at California/Graham (map). The e-mail includes a link to this video tour for the curious, and florid design descriptions aplenty, so we screen-grabbed it to share:Read More
It’s been four months since we last checked on this empty lot in the 6000 block of California, north of Morgan Junction. Just discovered a couple new permit applications came in only days ago for a big grouping of townhouses and “live/work” units here — Knoll Development is seeking permits for four addresses: at 6021, at 6025, at 6029, and at 6031.
For everyone who just couldn’t wait to find out more about this suddenly much-advertised condo conversion south of Morgan Junction … the website is now up. (As are [illegal] sandwich-board signs all along southbound 99 going at least as far back as the Battery Street Tunnel.) If you’ve got some time to kill, take a look at the site and (a) find the errors and (b) tell us if you recognize the coffee shop on the “contact” page.
-After driving under the Fauntleroy overpass “Help 7-year-old Dylan fight leukemia!” banner again, we caught the phone number (and realized we originally posted the wrong name – surname on the banner is actually Redlinger). So we called that number last night to try to find out more; it was answered by a very generic voicemail/machine message. We left our contact info; no response yet.
-More on the lightning-speed condo conversion at the newly renamed West Water, south of Morgan Junction. Sarah e-mailed to say she saw a TV commercial for it, adding: “Thought it was interesting that they didn’t show any pictures of the condos themselves, but there sure were plenty of Alki and downtown!”
-One week till Election Day. You may well have voted already (if you vote in person, like us old traditionalists, this may be your last chance, we’ll see you at the polls). There’s been so much great election coverage all over other media sources lately that we haven’t had anything unique to add, but here’s one note we’ve been meaning to mention — if you are still trying to sort out where you stand on Proposition 1 (“Roads & Transit”), Chas Redmond pointed out the recent Sustainable West Seattle forum on Prop 1 is captured in a podcast (mp3 download) on the SWS site. One other election note – saveseattleschools.blogspot.com has an interesting West Seattle-specific observation on the School Board District 6 race. (Though the entire city votes on every School Board seat that’s on the ballot, whoever wins District 6 — Steve Sundquist or Maria Ramirez — will be “our” representative, replacing Irene Stewart, who decided not to run again.)