New Development on 45th

There’s another big development project coming to Wallingford, this one on 45th Street.

You know those old houses between the Walgreen’s and Smash?



Going to be gone. Going, going, gone. In their place?

photo 2

The project is the work of Mack Urban, a real estate and investment company based here in the Northwest.It’s the successor to Harbor Properties, which built downtown’s Harbor Steps (and also developed Stevens Pass and Mission Ridge ), but this latest incarnation of the company came after a partnering with the New York Mack family.

“This kind of mixed use building, in a walkable neighborhood, is right in our strike zone,” TJ Lehman, project manager for 45th told me.

The concept calls for 150 units plus three retail spaces with a retail patio along 45th Street, and 150 underground parking.

According to TJ, it will be designed to “creatively reflect Wallingford with real brick and other materials common to 45th”. The building will include shared studio space, a rooftop deck and a 5,0000 square foot outdoor common area.

Mack Urban is a long-term hold company, so the idea is that the building will remain in their portfolio for a long-time. From TJ’s telling, that’s a good thing for the neighborhood. Mack Urban retains ownership of the building, which gives it an interest in building something that has long-term value.

For TJ, that means he can think about the long-term business plan vs the balance sheet. For example, I noticed the corner of Interlake Ave and 45th Street had a patio with outdoor seating in the drawing.

“There’s a spot where it might be tempting to value engineer,” TJ explained. “But if you’re able to have a long, nuanced conversation with your partners, which you can if you have a family decision, they can make a decision like this. We can look for a client that doesn’t necessarily create as much rent, but we’re willing to do something that’s better for us long-term, but might not make independent sense.”

TJ tells me they’re seeking local tenants, as opposed to national chains to fill the space, and outside, on the corner, they hope to design something that builds “community placemaking, a ‘there, there.’”

“We have a really neat area to play with here,” TJ explained. :”Wide sidewalk, we set our business back 25′ from the curb and it would fit nicely with a sidewalk cafe. Maybe we could even fit a performance space in there.”

Further west on 45th Street, they hope to talk a Little Free Library in back of the bus stop.

“We want to be thoughtful about every corner and window. We want a handsome building. The Little Free Library came out of a setback that exposed the back of the Walgreen’s building.”

The footprint of the building will extend from the edge of the Walgreen’s building to Interlake, all the way to Allen Place, and then as far east on Allen as it goes on 45th Street. There will be a few daylight basement units on Allen, and private patios east and south.

Aerial View

This will leave a large blank wall facing Stone Way above the parking lot, so the company is hoping to get the city to allow them to design a  mural for the space, something “authentic to Wallingford” “We would like to work with the neighborhood but first we have to get city permission,” said TJ.

According to TJ, the owners would like to create a culture around the building where “your default becomes something that makes you better. That translates into a million little things: sure, compost and recycling, but that’s all required. It’s making sure you have a quiet place to sleep, laying out apartments so they naturally lend themselves to less visual clutter, the retailers along the strip that help you have that great night grabbing a beer with your buddy, an exercise room that works, a lending library by the bus stop that helps people read more, setting out guidebooks in the common spaces that lead someone to take a hike, sponsoring the Wallingford Kiddie Parade, things like that.”

Groundbreaking is coming soon, around Spring with a target completion date of July 2015.

While the construction material will primarily be moved via Aurora, there’s going to be traffic disruption along 45th Street in the meantime (sorry, Ballard commuters!), but TJ said they will try to minimize it. The city helps align the neighborhood’s interests with the developers: “it costs an arm and leg to keep the street partially closed,” explained TJ, ” so we’re going to move as fast as we can. It’s better for all of us.”

  1. Jaws said,

    So just as I was worried about… Wallingford is going to so the same way as Ballard… :-(

    Mon, February 10 at 11:45 am
  2. Donn said,

    You’re not going to believe this, but there is some controversy over the design of this building, and it doesn’t involve gimmicks like free libraries and whether the city will let them decorate their atrocity with a mural. What an incredible puff piece!

    Mon, February 10 at 12:51 pm
  3. AnnaPhylaxis said,

    Yea – paint a mural of the houses and yards that they destroyed. That would be “authentic to Wallingford” – what it once was.

    Mon, February 10 at 12:51 pm
  4. Wallyhood said,

    Hey Donn, I’d love to hear about and give some visibility to the controversy. Care to share?

    I’d love your constructive help in improving this puff piece.

    Mon, February 10 at 1:57 pm
  5. Buster G. said,

    Amazing! The developer thinks it’s a great project. Unfortunately, the neighbors seem not to agree>

    Mon, February 10 at 2:01 pm
  6. Donn said,

    Someone from University House presented an account of their appeal to the design review, last week to the Wallingford Community Council. Issues included service & emergency vehicle access on Allen, inadequate setback (2 feet?) on Allen for 5 stories. WCC and University House would have more details. I don’t remember when a verdict was due. Funny TJ didn’t mention it.

    Mon, February 10 at 2:17 pm
  7. Cameron said,

    As a Wallingford resident, I’m happy to see more density along 45th, which should help local businesses succeed. …just to provide a balancing viewpoint.

    Mon, February 10 at 2:39 pm
  8. Jeff Dubrule said,

    The blank-wall (with maybe-mural) would be overlooking Stone, not 45th, right?

    Mon, February 10 at 3:34 pm
  9. Jack said,

    I grew up in Wallingford and live here again as an adult. I like this project – the building and the retail. I think that it’s an attractive project, a good use for the land on 45th and will be a positive addition to our neighborhood. Not all change is bad.

    Mon, February 10 at 4:38 pm
  10. Holly said,

    Add my name to the “pro” list. I don’t mean to offend those who own/use that land now, with the little houses and the weird business building that (ahem) has zero interaction with the street. It’s an incredibly unappealing stretch to walk through, and if we can get some neighborhood retail and another outdoor space that would be fantastic. I must say, I really don’t understand the dislike of Ballard–anyone been there on a weekend day/night when the shops and the restaurants are full and people are walking everywhere, conversing with neighbors and meeting new people? Even though we live here, it’s much more fun to hang in Ballard for an evening than on 45th as it currently stands.

    Mon, February 10 at 6:08 pm
  11. Wallyhood said,

    I’ll follow up with the WCC and post results. I talked to TJ back in November, so it’s not SO funny he didn’t mention it.

    And, FWIW, I would say that level of issue is fairly standard for any project of this size. I was expecting something a bit more controversial.

    Imagine, if you will, a developer proposing to build dilapidated houses and graffiti covered fences on the property. I imagine there would be controversy about that, too. It’s just status quo, so we look at it differently.

    Mon, February 10 at 6:19 pm
  12. Wallyhood said,

    Oops, thanks. Corrected!

    Mon, February 10 at 6:28 pm
  13. Donn said,

    We look at the status quo differently because we aren’t being asked to commit to it for generations. Proposals for development have to meet a higher standard than “better than what’s there now”, because once they’re in, the opportunity to get anything better is foreclosed for a long time.

    Mon, February 10 at 6:47 pm
  14. Dennis said,

    This seems like a good addition to the neighborhood to me. The idea behind our current zoning is to create this level of density along 45th (similar to Bagley Lofts and the Solid Ground building).

    Mon, February 10 at 8:32 pm
  15. sandra marrion said,

    I live in the block that is going to be developed. It is a huge undertaking and everyone has to be gone (latest word from the current owners) by April 1st. We all got notices taped to our doors. So, a part of Wallingford is biting the dust, to make room for a huge monolithic development which locals of course,will not be able to afford….

    A Seattle company, Urban Partners and Harbor Urban. is handling the sale and the new development. The demolition start date has been pushed back twice now, first slated for Feb. 1st. then March 1st, now April 1st. A recent email to the assistant manager at the company about whether or not the latest date stands, has not been answered.

    The entire block, excepting Walgreens is owned by a couple, who have held all these properties for 30 years. They are really kind, retired and most likely ready to move on from managing multiple rentals. It will be interesting and shocking to watch something of this magnitude, being built in Wallingford. Rents have already nearly tripled in the last year….wonder what one of these upcoming condo units are going to sell for????

    Goodbye and Goodnight Wallingford

    Mon, February 10 at 10:22 pm
  16. Wallyhood said,

    Note that they are not going to be condos. They are going to be long-term lease apartments.

    For whatever difference that makes.

    Mon, February 10 at 10:28 pm
  17. Jon Berkedal said,

    For those of us who have a difficult time with change, and keeping things the way they were…..we may remember that for the longest time, many of the small shops in the heart of Wallingford were vacant. Most of the small shops with apartments above just a block from Wallingford Center (also empty for some time before redevelopment) were inexplicably empty. Many of the commercial buildings along 45th are old, outdated (charming) and so far out of current codes that it could be argued that they pose a threat to the neighborhood. Someone will eventually come in and redevelop these areas. Developers are will come in if they see investment opportunity (the American way), not because they want to enhance the neighborhood, regardless of what they say. That being said, what would you rather have, a developer who gives a bow to the community, or another CVS. How quickly we forget.

    Mon, February 10 at 10:33 pm
  18. mike said,

    The stakeholder that appears to have missed an opportunity is the Seattle Public Schools. For years the district has communicated a plan that includes redeveloping the Lincoln school as a high school. People commenting on the plan have almost universally decried the lack of space available on the site footprint to accommodate the needs of a secondary school.

    Now a major parcel of land adjacent to the Lincoln School changes hands and the school district appears to have been absent. The space could have been used to develop a number of educational facilities (academic, arts, athletic – even parking)

    Tue, February 11 at 6:52 am
  19. jude said,

    I didn’t think the city allowed so many curb cuts on an arterial? like 45th St. This development doesn’t support pedestrian access or safety. Not to mention the aesthetics of all the curb cuts to the parking lot

    Tue, February 11 at 7:33 am
  20. Dennis said,

    There don’t appear to be any curb cuts on 45th. Are you sure you’re reading the map correctly?

    Tue, February 11 at 7:43 am
  21. jude said,

    I tried to read the plan. Walgreens is west of the project, so it is the only one with frontage (its parking lot) on Stone Way. Try enlarging the plan and let me know if I got this wrong.

    Tue, February 11 at 8:09 am
  22. sandra marrion said,

    Did TJ have a specific date yet for the demolition to start?

    Tue, February 11 at 9:14 am
  23. Dennis said,

    The vehicular access to the new building appears to be only via N Allen Pl. The parking lot belongs to Walgreens.

    Tue, February 11 at 10:55 am
  24. jude said,

    Right you are. I read “retail entry” as vehicular, when it is presumably a pedestrian entry to a storefront! Thank goodness.

    Tue, February 11 at 1:52 pm
  25. Lawrence Folsom said,

    Thanks Jon. A good reminder that John Wallingford was a developer. He did a pretty good job if you ask me. I really wish the common knee jerk reaction to be opposed to any new development would stop. It’s really irritating. All of these lovely charming craftsman homes in Wallingford are located where old growth forests once stood so let’s get over it. I think this building design is pretty damn good looking.

    Tue, February 11 at 2:11 pm
  26. Donn said,

    Or, how little we know what’s going on. From what I’ve heard, the developer on the CVS deal actually worked very productively with the community to come up with a design using the existing building to stay significantly more in character with its neighborhood. I’m not sure that’s the final chapter or even the latest chapter in that story, but as I understand it, it’s a lot more real “bow to the community” than this developer’s self-congratulatory, hand-waving BS about how much it means to them to do every little thing right (as long as it doesn’t mean pulling their 5 story building back more than 2 feet from the sidewalk.)

    Tue, February 11 at 7:11 pm
  27. hayduke1 said,

    “it costs an arm and leg to keep the street partially closed,” explained TJ, ” so we’re going to move as fast as we can. It’s better for all of us.”

    Aw, I feel all warm and fuzzy knowing they have the neighborhood’s best interests at heart.

    Tue, February 11 at 10:03 pm
  28. Jon Berkedal said,

    Thanks Donn, you are correct about CVS, but you may remember that they did not start out with a bow to the community. It took some fairly intense pressure from the community at public meetings to move them in this direction. Who knows what the real intentions (other than economic self interest) of this developer are? I prefer to think his interest in the community are honest and a much better starting place than CVS, until he proves himself otherwise.

    Wed, February 12 at 12:12 am
  29. Donn said,

    The neighbors who have an appeal in progress have some idea about his intentions.

    Wed, February 12 at 12:21 am
  30. DOUG. said,

    I truly hope that TJ is committed to finding “local tenants, as opposed to national chains to fill the space.” At this point in a project, that’s what most developers are going to say to placate a neighborhood like Wallingford.

    It was a great day for this neighborhood when the McDonald’s at 45th and Stone was torn down, but in more recent days I feel like we’re taking steps back from local retail with the addition of Walgreens and (likely CVS). Time will tell…

    Wed, February 12 at 9:01 am
  31. walkinroun said,

    It isn’t just the design of the building or the loss of a few more single family residences that upsets some of us: it is the loss of greenspace and the opportunity for gardens, it is the coming increased traffic and population, the tightening school boundaries and the introduction of more and more transience into what has historically been a family oriented neighborhood. These units will be high priced and definitely not family friendly.

    We are pig-piling people into these tiny apartments all over town at outsized prices, encouraging high income urbans and forfeiting the creative diversity that inspires us. Our neighborhoods are sliding toward sameness, slickness, and faux sophistication. Capitol Hill, Ballard, Eastlake, South Lake Union, Wallingford, West Seattle, Columbia City, Fremont – what the hell, they are all becoming the same place, owned and operated by the often out of town rich.

    Wed, February 12 at 8:00 pm
  32. wildnwonderful said,

    I agree completely. however this is nonproductive thinking. We hav eno alternative than to buy property to save it from the dense city lovers or to get out. If it were not so hard to log-in I bet we would have hundreds of angry negative comments. LOOK at those lovely older houses which will be destroyed. ( I don’t like the wild colored fences, tho.)

    Thu, February 13 at 6:23 am
  33. Fremontom said,

    Remember the Seattle Commons? That was an opportunity for Seattle to have a huge new green space right in the middle of the city. It was voted down by short-sighted folks who couldn’t see past the density and development that would have circled the property. So what happens? South Lake Union gets developed regardless into something many people would call far worse. Urban density (with all of it’s good and bad) is going to happen. Simply wishing it would not happen is fantasy.

    Thu, February 13 at 12:32 pm
  34. jeffinfremont said,

    Rents have tripled? Really? So a $900/month apartment now goes for $2,700? Hyperbole much?

    Sat, February 15 at 8:18 am
  35. jeffinfremont said,

    There are some people who are hell bent on repeating the San Francisco experiment of preserving historical character at the expense of affordable housing. I hope Seattle continues to push towards density so that working class folks like myself can continue to live and play within a comfortable commute from their jobs.

    Sat, February 15 at 8:21 am
  36. wildnwonderful said,

    tis a sad situation in that house /apartment/storage corner. The development will likely end the drama and make the neighborhood safer.
    Ive followed rent in this area for the last year or so.. and so can you by reading craigslist ads regularly. Rents have gone up from 800-1000ish to about 1000-1300 for studios and 1 bedrooms.. this is ballpark. Rents in one building will increase about 11% in a year. Ive spoken to the new building staff ( Stone & 44th) re their rates… about 1600 for smallest with fees for parking, garbage, and more extras.

    Sat, February 15 at 12:27 pm
  37. AnnaPhylaxis said,

    I would love to see more schools/parks/open space.

    Sun, February 16 at 1:23 pm
  38. Eyflyn said,

    What difference does that make? Seems that Wallingford needs more storefronts and amenities (not more Wallgreens and subways though – places with CHARACTER) than condensed, stacked apartments. Mortgage vs. rent, what does it matter how they pay for their homes?

    Thu, February 20 at 9:34 am
  39. AnnaPhylaxis said,

    People who pay mortgages traditionally tend to be more invested in the community in which they live than people who pay rent.

    Thu, February 20 at 12:12 pm
  40. Eyflyn said,

    People say that, but I think it is a stereotype with no real facts to back it up. There are many reasons in this day and age to rent and it doesn’t mean you are a transient, less interest in a nicely kept up home, or indifferent to the community you live in.

    Thu, February 20 at 2:05 pm
  41. Barbara Melrose said,

    I’m a resident of University House and one of the group that has been working to bring about some neighborhood-friendly changes. We would like people to understand that we have never attempted to stop the construction of the building. As a matter of fact, we feel that replacing the long-empty brick two-story “clinic” on 45th will be a great improvement. We remain concerned, however, about such items as the building height (five floors) and the lack of significant setback and landscaping on N. Allen, a residential street. Resident of University House whose only windows face on N. Allen will be greatly affected by the loss of light and sun.

    Thu, February 20 at 7:26 pm
  42. wildnwonderful said,

    I didnt think it could happen. i was soo wrong.

    Sun, February 23 at 7:01 am
  43. wildnwonderful said,

    These will not likely be affordable for the masses. if it follows the pattern of Prescott and the megalith on 44th and Stone then in an area where small apt rents ranged from 900-100.. those rent theirs for 1600 lowest rent with little additional fees like fo rparking. Why would this development rent for any lower than the new ‘standard’?

    Sun, February 23 at 7:04 am
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Tiare Mathison from the Wallingford Presbyterian Church sent this thank you note: Wallingford Presbyterian Church is very grateful for the donations...