The proposed new development. Photo courtesy of Roger Newell
The proposed new development. Photo courtesy of Roger Newell
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The white-and-red buildings on 32nd Avenue West next to the Ace Hardware in Magnolia have long been empty. But within the next year, they will be a four-story apartment building with retail space on the first floor.

The building (2406 32nd Ave. W.) will have 24 units, basement parking with 32 stalls and 6,300 square feet of commercial space on the first floor. All of the units will be one-bedroom with a study or two bedrooms. The units are large enough so that they could be changed into condos in the future if desired, said architect Roger Newell.

Changing plans

In 2007, the building’s owner, Terry Yoshikawa, hired Roger H. Newell AIA Architects to redevelop the site and design a mixed-use building. The new building fulfills current zoning and height limits. The remodel has been a long time coming, but the project had to go through many Design Review Board (DRB) meetings with the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) before it could get approval.

The architects got the DRB’s approval, and now they’re just waiting for their final permits. Newell expects the permit process to take another four months and then the construction will take about one year.

“My client’s anxious to get the building up, and the neighbors are anxious to see the current buildings go down,” Newell said.

Margaret Flaherty is one of those neighbors. She co-owns the Magnolia Garden Center (3213 W. Smith St.), which is across the street. Flaherty has seen the buildings go through its former tenants and then sit vacant. She would like to see something done with the buildings, to clean it up and have less graffiti.

A parking lot, new building and new activity would be good for the area, Flaherty said. She said she’s not worried about construction impacts; she’d “just like to see something happen over there.”

The applicants have been taking longer to develop the property than expected, said DPD spokesperson Bryan Stevens. The DPD sent a correction on the plans at the end of August 2013, and the corrections weren’t returned until February 2014, nearly six months later. A typical time frame for corrections is usually a month or less, Stevens said.

“The rate at which a permit is obtained does depend on when DPD reviews it, but also how accurate the plans are and how quickly an applicant responds to required corrections,” Steven said. “In this case, the pace of permit issuance was dictated by the applicant’s rate of responsiveness.”

The delays were caused by changes to the plans, Newell said. There were client revisions and a discrepancy between what his client wanted and what the DRB requested for the project plans. That new set of plans took a while to create.

The plans have gone through DRB and technical reviews. What remains is the master use permit (MUP) and the construction permits. Typically, an applicant will start the construction-permit process while part of the way through the MUP.

The applicants for this development applied for the MUP in June 2013, after which they then put a DPD notice up on the site. Typically, this takes a few weeks, but they didn’t install the sign until August. The time frame from going through the DRB meetings to getting the permit usually takes seven to 10 months, Stevens said; so far, no construction permit has been filed for this site. The construction permit takes about four months for a project like this; it’s typical for there to be at least one round of corrections.

The developers are in the process of submitting the final documents for the construction permit; they have been waiting on information from the structural engineer and other involved parties. Newell estimates they’ll submit that application within four to six weeks.

Yoshikawa declined to comment for this story.

Starting over

From the beginning, Yoshikawa and Newell wanted to create a brick building, but the DRB wanted a “very vertical building,” Newell said. To compromise, they created a tall building with vertical columns of brick “to emphasize the verticality of the design,” Newell said.

The building is a combination of fiber-cement panels and red brick. Many of the units have raised roofs with exposed-timber-beamed ceilings inside. There will be green roofs on the decks; those decks will be offset from floor to floor. The retail space will be 3 feet back from the curb and will offer outdoor dining and sidewalk seating options, Newell said.

The current buildings are not up to any codes. Rather than retrofit the buildings, they decided to demolish them and start over, Newell said.

During construction, there will be partial closure of the alley and some disruption along 32nd Avenue West. Newell hopes there is minimal disruption to the adjacent properties.

The larger sidewalk and better atmosphere will create more business activity in the area and a friendly place for the community, Newell said.

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