I’ve written a number of posts (here, here, and here) about relatively small-scale projects in Ballard — that is, projects that aren’t multi-story, mixed-use developments. The large-scale mothballed projects in the neighborhood are obviously not hard to spot. Just look for the huge vacant lots and chain-link fences. Although not nearly as conspicuous, there are also smaller projects-in-waiting that are readily apparent if you live nearby. It didn’t take a crystal ball or an internet connection to know that the developer that owns this house — or lot, as they probably view it — at 17th Ave and NW 59th Street has just been biding their time.
Construction of four residential units was approved on this lot back in 2008, right around the time the housing market went belly up, which explains why the house has just been sitting empty. Apparently residential house prices in Seattle continue to fall. A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times focused on Seattle in an article entitled Housing Market Looks Sickest in Cities That Once Seemed Immune, kicking the piece off with this: “Seattle — Few believed the housing market here would ever collapse. Now they wonder if it will ever stop slumping.”
They have the Case-Shiller Index and charts and stuff, so no doubt they’re right. But here in Ballard, several new, smaller projects have recently been completed, and others are ongoing. And now this one is shaking off the cobwebs and showing signs of life.
A couple of weeks ago, the asbestos siding was removed, leaving the tar paper exposed and old brackets clinking in the breeze like wind chimes. (Note the original siding showing through where the asbestos guys ripped the tar paper.) And a Notice of Application was posted out front last week, with the main message, as follows:
Land Use Application to subdivide one development site into four unit lots. The construction of residential units has been approved under Project #6192751. The subdivision of property is only for the purpose of allowing sale or lease of the unit lots.
So essentially it’s a done deal and really the only question is whether the recent changes to Seattle’s multi-family zoning code will have any impact on what gets built here. My guess, given the timing, is no. All signs point toward the classic Seattle four-pack. But I’ll be very happy to be proved wrong.
UPDATE March 8, 2011: Somewhere a fat lady is singing. Yep. It’s all over, at least as far as the house is concerned. For the neighbors, the fun is just beginning.