Thanks to the West Seattle Blog for this informative update on what's happening with the property at the southeast corner of the Junction. A builder/developer named Charlie Conner bought the property 11 years ago, with the intent of eventually re-developing it into a mixed use property. The most recent design was for a 200 unit , two-building apartment complex. They're putting the whole thing on the block however, I'll venture to guess it's because of the economy kind of. . . well, sucking.
It also appears this project would have been something of a departure for Conner; Judging from their website, their emphasis has been primarily on single family residence projects in the suburbs (they even built a community outside of Walla Walla). Per the WS Blog, a firm called Turning Point Realty Advisers out of Kirkland will be acting as the listing brokerage for the property. The folks at Conner Homes seem like good people who actually cared about West Seattle, but frankly I'm glad this 200 unit complex isn't coming to pass, at least for now.
I hope West Seattleites will come together now and in the future, to keep California Ave. from Genessee down to Edmunds, from becoming a concrete jungle lined with 5 story buildings. It would completely destroy the character of this special little "Main Street, USA," greatly reduce the natural light and airy feel of the area, and hamper the view corridors toward the Olympics, the Sound, the Cascades, and Downtown. The taller complexes nearby such as the Mural Apartments building are an example of sound urban planning in my opinion; they provide relatively affordable housing in a densely populated area, convenient to public transportation and numerous amenities. But can't we keep it off California?
My motivations aren't even purely aesthetic. West Seattle already has a couple of Seattle's most important tourist destinations: Alki Beach, Lincoln Park, the ferry to Vashon & Southworth. Imagine the potential economic impact of a "more perfect" Junction. I'm not advocating going all Disneyworld (or Leavenworth for that matter), but let's face it: tourism is seriously low-hanging fruit on the tree of economics (I grew up in a tourist town, I know it's true). Why not continue to make the Junction a destination not just for Seattleites, but for tourists from all over the world? How about some restaurants with rooftop decks showcasing the amazing views we have from our little peninsula? After a lovely meal and a couple glasses of wine, who doesn't want to head down to the Click Designs, the Sneakeries, and the Bakery Nouveaux of the world and spend more money? I can't tell you how many house guests we've had over the years who, after one day in West Seattle, we ask "do you want to go downtown and check out all The Stuff?" and they reply "I don't care, it's really nice right here."
I'll be keeping an eye on this corner, and am interested to see what transpires. Let's all make sure that whatever it is, it's in the best interests of West Seattleites, and not a developer's spreadsheet. For now, I've worked up an appetite for some new socks and a twice-baked almond croissant. -RS