Recently purchased distressed properties in West Seattle will add life to area

Old properties in West Seattle have seen better days, as the former locations of the Huling Brother’s auto showrooms have sat vacant for nearly five years. Just a few months after specialty grocer Trader Joe’s opened up a store fairly close to the location, developers have proposed plans for a six-story building with more than 350 apartments above 65,000 square feet of commercial space. The former Chrysler showroom is currently being renovated by Highline Medical Center, and the Trader Joe's took over the Buick showroom. The Highline Medical Center is using the space to build an urgent care and family medical center to open in November.

Distressed commercial property transactions are becoming more popular, and in this case, the distressed property will not only add to the commercial industry, but also real estate in Seattle. According to the Urban Land Institute, United States transactions with distressed property are currently on pace to nearly double those transactions from 2010. Although there are still $183 billion in troubled assets, transactions are expected to increase as capital becomes available.

"They're very visible," Susan Melrose, director of the West Seattle Junction Association, told The Seattle Times of the properties. "They're the gateway to our neighborhood. They were a reminder of the down economy. It was a little depressing."

The new proposed project could cover about 2.5 acres on the west side of Fauntleroy between Alaska and Edmunds Streets. To build the property, a nearby gas station and funeral home would also be destroyed in the process of building the new complex. Real estate experts are hopeful that the new buildings could be a landmark of the neighborhood and aid in the revitalization of the area. Officials are already talking with a grocer who would lease two-thirds of the retail space in the building.

The city's Southwest Design Review Board will take a first look at the proposed project on September 27, and groundbreaking is tentatively set for late 2013. 

The area is also expecting pedestrian improvements at the intersection of 35th Avenue SW and SW Alaskan Street. The intersection in West Seattle will feature an updated pedestrian walk signal, and follows laws outlined by Seattle's City Council, which changed the block's zoning in January. Officials are taking many steps to help improve the pedestrian walkways throughout the entire city.