by Kirby LindsayFor those who regularly travel Stone Way, the fact that work has resumed in the pit at 40th Avenue North & Stone Way is hardly news. Yet, those who haven’t recently gone by should take a look at the progress being made. This is not some slight sign of activity. On February 16th, heavy equipment dug, shifted and drilled in three different areas of the property, while workers scrambled, consulted and labored to erect a long-awaited structure.
‘The pit’ nickname will soon give way to Stoneway Village - a five-story building, of 154 market-rate rental apartments (including seven live/work spaces along Stone Way,) 17,000 square feet of commercial space and 189 underground parking spaces. Stoneway Village LLC purchased the site, from Quality Food Centers (QFC) late in 2010, and representatives estimate construction will take, approximately, 18 months.
Exactly As Planned
Nothing about development plans for Stoneway Village has changed from the Master Use Permit (MUP) issued in 2008, and the community review process done at that time. Review of the current permit status, according to the City of Seattle Department of Planning & Development, shows no applications for significant changes.
The delay since 2008 had nothing to do with design. The national economic downturn made financing extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find until now. In January, the Daily Journal of Commerce reported that the well-respected Benaroya Company has provided financing for Stoneway Village, to complete the project, and have it sold.
Leasing of the apartment and live/work spaces will start in early 2012, yet Stoneway Village LLC will begin to solicit commercial tenant(s) over the next few months, now that they can promise a completion date. While there have been inquires, the space has not been leased yet. The permit on the project allows for either a single tenant, or several smaller tenants.
Baylis Architects have done the plans for the current development, with Compass Construction Management as the general contractor. CPL Engineering also worked on the project and Berger Partnership will do the landscape work.
After A Long, Bumpy Road
In 2001, Safeway Corporation shut down the grocery store that had long occupied this site. The store was considered too small by current standards, and the chain had longed planned for its closure. In anticipation, rival grocery chain, QFC, had purchased the property.
While the property sat empty, collecting debris and graffiti, a proposed development went through the permit process and a series of contentious community meetings. Neighbors raised concerns about traffic increase due to the proposed structure – a grocery store with underground parking and condominiums above. Also, some declared the development out-of-scale with the surrounding community.
Permits were issued, after many concessions by both neighbors and QFC, and phase one began which included digging a hole and shoring up of the site. As they began phase II, a review showed considerable increases in construction costs, and QFC put the property up for sale.
In 2007, Stoneway Village LLC entered into a purchase and sale agreement, and the property underwent a redevelopment and another permit process for apartments and scaled-back commercial space. While the project hasn’t moved quickly, it has all brought us here – with Stoneway Village on the horizon, finally. It could take up to two years before the finished structure is realized and rented, but even today passers-by can already see the story of the pit become a short footnote in Fremont’s history.
©2011 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.