UPDATE: After posting this story, a representative of the McNett family reached out to us and clarified that their family had owned these buildings for over 100 years. The McNett family agreed to the property sale and development two years ago and have had no involvement with or control over the design and development. The real estate deal officially closed on February 23, 2022, and Blueprint Capital now owns both tax parcels.
A large development project at 4417 & 4421 Wallingford Ave. N. is expected to begin demolition soon. On February 3, Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections issued a Master Use Permit (no. 3036100-LU) that allows demolition of two existing buildings and construction of a 5-story building with 78 small efficiency apartments and two commercial spaces on the ground level, without any parking.
This project will displace three local businesses (4 Your Eyes Only Optical, Wish, and Tangerine Spa) as early as the middle of this month (see full quote from Vanishing Seattle below.) With a development recently announced at 45th & Burke, these newest and biggest construction projects will be directly on either side of Wallingford Center.
New Commercial Spaces
The approved plan set shows two commercial/retail spaces facing Wallingford Ave. The commercial space on the north side of the building (“Commercial A”) will be 350 sq. ft. and the space on the south (“Commercial B”) 1,102 sq. ft. Unfortunately, three businesses will be displaced to make room for just two new spaces. This trend of reducing the number of storefronts with each new development is troubling.
The new building will include 78 efficiency studio apartments, fit tightly together. The small apartments will range in size from 275–320 sq. ft. For context, these studio apartments are a bit bigger than some of the “micro” units at Wallingford Studios (4516 Meridian Ave.), which can be under 200 sq. ft. Units in this new development will be similar in size to those at 1240 Wallingford Apartments (1240 N. Midvale Pl.).
Affected Businesses & Apartments
Vanishing Seattle (https://www.facebook.com/vanishingseattle and https://www.vanishingseattle.org/) summarized the project and affected businesses in this Facebook post on January 21:
1953-built building that’s home to women-owned small businesses 4 Your Eyes Only Optical and Wish clothing & gift store – plus an adjacent 1922-built apartment building [with 4 units] and storefront to Tangerine Spa on Wallingford Ave – will be demolished for a 5-story apartment building of 78 small efficiency dwelling units and retail and no parking, by Blueprint 4417 LLC/Blueprint Capital REIT/McNett Family Partnership and CONE Architecture.
Wish, 4 Your Eyes Only, and Tangerine have until mid/end of February to move out.
4 Your Eyes Only opened in 1985 and has been in this location for about 6 years. It used to be across the street in Wallingford Center. They plan to look for a new location in the neighborhood. Before 4 Your Eyes Only, the space was home to Mirage Comfort Shoes.
Wish was established in 2000, opening its first store in Phinney Ridge and later in Fremont. Wish will also be seeking a new space. Prior to Wish, the storefront was home to Terra Hemp.
Tangerine opened in #Wallingford in 2006 and has been in this space since 2017. The owner plans to move to a new location (TBA) in Spring. The current Tangerine storefront also used to be home to Dr. Viola Gay’s Family Eye Care.
Who’s Developing, and Designing?
The project is owned by Blueprint Capital, a Seattle-based development and lending business. According to their website, Blueprint holds more than $200 million in development assets and over 900 units. While Blueprint also develops single-family residences and townhomes, “[they] are focusing on studio apartment homes that are affordable for residents making 60-80% of the median area income.”
The small firm CONE Architecture, which happens to have offices right here in Wallingford (1319 N. 49th), designed the new building. According to their website CONE is “driven to produce projects with a timelessness that can stand for generations, constantly seeking opportunities to create architecture that speaks eloquently and for itself.”
Unlike other recent development projects, the two tax parcels haven’t changed ownership recently. This suggests that longtime owners are behind the development. According to King County real estate records, the McNett Family Partnership has owned both parcels (4417 & 4421 Wallingford Ave. N.) since 1991. Anna McNett, individually, owned the parcels prior to that. (As an aside: while researching ownership I learned that Anna McNett lived a full and interesting life before passing away in 2020 at the age of 100.)
How to View Project Documents
To view drawings and documents associated with this project, go to https://cosaccela.seattle.gov/ and do the following:
- Search “3036100-LU”
- Follow the link on the same line as “Master Use Permit”
- Click on the “Attachments” tab
- You can filter by “Upload Date.” The final “Approved Plan Set” was uploaded 2/3/2022
“[they] are focusing on studio apartment homes that are affordable for residents making 60-80% of the median area income.”
Wow. That’s great.
Does anyone besides me think that 280 square feet ( not to mention 200 square feet in the other building) sounds more like a room than an efficiency apartment? I have a friend who lives in Manhattan, which is way more expensive than Seattle. His apartment is much bigger than 280 square feet and it is considered tiny even by NY standards. Sounds to me like the owner/developers are trying to maximize profits by cramming as many people in the building as they can get away with. I wonder how much they plan to charge and how affordable they will really be. Are dogs allowed? I know someone who lives in a small apartment in Greenlake, it’s around 500 square feet. She can’t wait to move out because lots of the tenants have dogs, so she hears barking all around her 24×7 which is maddening!
This is an extremely first world way to form a point of view, but we spent nearly a month in cruise ship cabin that was about 280-290 square feet, and it would have made a perfectly fine small apartment, in our experience.
I’ve never lived in anything that small, but back in the day I rented a bedroom in a large apartment with shared living room/kitchen/bathroom, and if my choice was between that and this sort of small apartment I’d take the latter in a hot minute (your mileage may vary!).