Thursday, March 21, 2013

Neighbors And Local Real Estate Agent Weigh In On Another Large Construction Home Going Up



The 1940's 740 square foot house at 5129 48th Avenue no longer exists. It was demolished recently in a matter of minutes to be replaced by a "Mc Mansion,"as one neighbor calls it, over 5 times as big,  totaling 3,999 sqaure feet with a 441 square foot garage, according to the City's Department of Planning and Development.

Here is the link to the project and permit summary:

The owner/contractor, Bruce Wallace, who lives in Edmonds, bought the orginal 1943 house  sitting on 6800 square feet of land on October 24th of last year for  $444,000, originally listed for $459,000. The permit states that the house is valued at $486,595. The house was on the market for 22 days.  Wallace applied for the building permit on January 13th of this year, and the permit was approved and granted on February 28th, after an administrative review, meaning that the codes had been met.

Kim Dales, a neighborhood Windermere agent, told us that the lot size especially on the west side of the street is quiet large. "And with that said I think $444,000 for any no view lot is a lot to pay. However, there is a premium to raw land so if anything comes on in Laurelhurst that is buildable it goes quickly."

48th Avenue NE has some of the smallest houses in the neighborhood, especially on the southern end of the street closest to NE 45th Street. Some are only 1000 sqaure feet and were built in the 1940's and 1950's.  Over time many of the very smaller houses have been either added on to with a second floor or have been and are being completely torn down.

One neighbor told us "It is natural for small houses that have only two bedrooms but a decent sized lot to be replaced by larger houses.  And while this new house is next to the smaller houses, it is not unusually sized compared to others on the block.

He added "While I understand people being concerned because of lack of light and size, there is already a precedent on this street in the same block. There are 7 homes above 2400 square feet  with one already at 4,030 aquare feet.

Kim said that "I think neighbors become resigned to the lack of view or light. The city clearly does not get involved."

She added that new construction homes always sell well, especially in Laurelhurst, however she said "I think that some are overbuilt on the site decreasing green space. I also think if a builder is buying and pays premium for the lot they will push the envelope on size to get their investment back."

Some of the other neighbors living around the area are concerned about the character of the neighborhood of this new two story construction construction home, with the roof line reaching the maximum height allowed of 35 feet.

One neighbor said:
This is another example of building a home with total disregard for the character of the neighborhood from a person that never plans on living in the home. There are several alternatives that can/should be taken by the developer that can net the same value from the property. 
I am all for development, but the lack of restrictions and oversight by the city of Seattle to protect neighboring interests is down right ridiculous. Development in a responsible manner should enhance the properties of the surrounding properties, not be built with ambivalence toward them.
Here are some reasons that a home this size is undesirable in the location for which it is planned:  
-creating unreasonable restrictions on sunlight to surrounding properties 
-promoting a maximization on the creation of square footage rather than appearance 
-dying neighboring vegetation due to lack of sunlight 
-the home being out of scale with the rest of the houses in the neighborhood rather than hiring an architect to build home that meshes with the existing character of the neighborhood
The City's Department of Planning and Development (DPD) told us that there is no no public review or comment period for this type of project given the scope, as it is allowed “outright” by the code, as there is no Master Use Permit process required. 

DPD said:
Existing zoning allows a single family home on a flat lot to be built as high as 35-feet to the ridge of the roof.  We have some provisions that reduce the height of structures on narrow lots, but that does not apply to this particular property due to its overall size and shape.    
The current zoning code has standards in place to establish basic form for buildings, dealing with issues such as lot coverage (bulk), setbacks (house placement) and height. Neighborhood character is important, but does evolve over time as homes are redeveloped, based on architectural choice and as  materials are changed.  In some areas of the city, neighbors have established private regulations through a home owners association.  Those are not established or enforced by the City, but are a tool sometimes used by residents to control aesthetics or protect their view.

If residents have specific zoning questions about the project, Naomi Henry at is the contact, and for building code questions contact Cindy Hoover at

Bruce Wallace, passed around this letter to nearby neighbors:

Subject: Demolition and Construction Advisement
Hello,  please be adisted that starting March 4th, 2013, the house located at 5129 48th Avenue NE will be demolished and a new house constructed. Dump trucks for the demolition and excavation will run 5-7 days. 
We expect construction of the new house to be completed around October 15th of this year. 
Should you have any questions or concerns with the projecct please contact me. I know that it is never pleasant to have a new house built in an existing neighborhood, but we hope you like the finished project and we'll do our best to accomodate during the construction process.
Best regards, 
Bruce Wallace 

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