Stone Way and the surrounding Fremont and Wallingford blocks continue to be a focal point of new construction. In 2015, I predicted this neighborhood, which some have dubbed “Frelingford”, was developing a retail district to rival Fremont’s 36th Street and Wallingford’s 45th Street corridor. That trend has continued, as new business open on the ground floor of large apartment buildings.

At least 1,500 new apartment homes have been built in Frelingford since 2012, comparatively few have gone in the central districts of Fremont and Wallingford during that time span. Another 500 or so could be on the way based on construction and early designs.

I wrote about the 40 small efficiency homes planned at Stone Way and 47th St; those are still worming their way through design review. The 42 homes planned on Bridge Way–which the builder aims to make the first apartment building to meet the Living Building Challenge–are under construction. Three of the six floors have already emerged from the ground along the north side of Bridge Way.


Construction continues at 3825 Bridge Way N, a building poised to be the first residential building to qualify for Living Building Challenge. (Photo by author)

Also under construction are 59 apartments designed by David Foster Architects at 4025 Stone Way N. The four story building has a handsome brick facade and simple elegance. Next door, 49 more apartments are planned by Clark Design Group in a similar vein. At 4453 Stone Way, 42 more apartments are planned in a four-story building. Each building will also have ground-floor retail on increasingly bustling Stone Way.

Construction is underway for this project at 4025 Stone Way. (David Foster Architects)

Along Aurora Avenue, 147 apartments long planned at 909 N 39th St also might finally be inching toward their master use permit.

Stone Way and Aurora Avenue have been focal points of infill development. (Seattle in Progress)

The next batch of development includes two more Living Building Challenge contenders: office buildings at 900 N 34th St and 3524 Stone Way N. The new Stone Way five-story office project would replace buildings housing Stone Way Cafe, SeaOcean Books, and Hashtag Cannabis. Although billed as a green building, the developer proposes 110 underground parking stalls to go with approximately 90,000 square feet of office space and 6,000 to 8,000 square feet of street-level retail.

Based on the report from the first Early Design Guidance meeting, the building still has a ways to go to win support from the Northeast Review Board, which wanted to see more variety in massing options and more justifications for departures on Living Building Challenge standards.

The development boom is happening faster than the City is moving on the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program which would have provide an extra floor or two to redevelopment sites within Urban Villages like Fremont and Wallingford. That program has the Seattle City Council’s support, but is stalled out due to an appeal brought by homeowner groups united under the moniker SCALE. From a legal standpoint, that appeal doesn’t appear to be going terribly well for SCALE, but they have been succeeding in slowing down the process and delaying the upzones that unlock the affordability requirements.

The delay means a longer wait until every new apartment building or condominium brings guaranteed affordable homes to Fremont and Wallingford and urban villages across the city. Some Seattle corridors are in the midst of being transformed, and Stone Way is one of them. MHA could have made the boom more broadly shared across income groups.

The Development of Frelingford

24 COMMENTS

  1. It’s refreshing read about all the multi-family development that can occur without tearing down single-family neighborhoods. Maybe there really is a future where apartment neighborhoods and single-family neighborhoods can peaceably coexist.

    • Instead of “apartment neighborhoods” and “single-family neighborhoods” peaceably coexisting, why not let apartments and single-family homes coexist on residential blocks throughout the city? Why is there a need to segregate people by the type of home that best fits their needs and budget?

      • “…let apartments and single-family homes coexist on residential blocks throughout the city.” Well I can think of a couple of reasons why not. First, many SF neighborhoods are not located near transit or retail, forcing residents to use automobiles for most trips. Less of a problem in low-density SF areas, but much greater with MF densities. Second, many neighborhoods north of 85th Street don’t even have sidewalks — yet another factor that pushes residents into automobiles.

        I’ve always supported the Urban Village concept. I spoke in favor of it in 1994 when it was written into the City’s first Comprehensive Plan. Put new density in areas where it can be supported by infrastructure, not scattered everywhere, hither and yon. If current Urban Villages cannot accommodate necessary development over the next 20 years (supported by data, please), then upzone the UVs and expand their footprint a few blocks.

        • None of those considerations apply to Wallingford or any other of the hotly contested neighborhoods. All of wallingford (and Fremont, Ravenna, QA, north capital hill) have adequate sidewalks, transit, parks, stores. There is no difference between the UV and non-UV areas of those neighborhoods in terms of amenities. Those UV lines are there solely to protect the interests of wealthy SF homeowners and have zero bearing on good planning. If you want to talk about limiting development north of 85th or south of Othello, then we can have that conversation. But that is not what is currently happening.

          • Not all of your cited neighborhoods are really walkable, within a 10-minute walkshed (0.4 miles) of transit and retail. When those UV lines were originally drawn, those were very middle-class SF neighborhoods — the wealthy people lived in Laurelhurst, Madison Park, and Magnolia bluff. And the only reason most of those current SF homeowners are “wealthy” today is due to inflation of property values, not their class position in society. Your disparaging labels are unwarranted.

          • The 31/32 passes through the middle of single family wallingford. The 40 and 62 pass through the middle single family fremont. I could go on, since I’ve lived in single family areas of all those neighborhoods in my time in Seattle.

            And people with 1-2 million in home equity are wealthy by every measure one could think of. It’s insulting to actual middle class and poor people to say otherwise.

          • “And people with 1-2 million in home equity are wealthy by every measure one could think of. It’s insulting to actual middle class and poor people to say otherwise.”

            Yeah that touches on one of my favorite things about the local W’ford housing debates:

            “our home equity doesn’t count because I’d have to move away if I cashed out because I couldn’t afford a house here at today’s prices”

            “wouldn’t it work to downsize into a DADU on your or a neighboring property, subdivide your lot, or downsize into a duplex or triplex (maybe with some of your long-time neighbors in he same boat), right here in the neighborhood?”

            “Oh I oppose making any of those things legal or easy”

            ¯_(ツ)_/¯

          • There is actually no part of wallingford that is farther than 0.4 miles from a frequent transit stop. I’d like to see you point one out.

        • There are now nearly as many homes and much more land with homes on it within 10 minute bus coverage outside of urban villages as in; for 15 minute it’s not even close

          (city report, page #56 http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/OPCD/OngoingInitiatives/SeattlesComprehensivePlan/OPCDComprehensivePlanUrbanVillageIndicatorsMonitoringReport2018.pdf )

          Everything in dark blue for sure should be an “urban village” based on the 90s logic – tho making the designation contingent on getting sidewalks seems like a reasonable idea.

        • You do know that King County Metro allocates new bus service mostly based on population density and existing bus crowding, right? Low-density areas have little bus service because they don’t have enough people to fill up a frequent bus route. Saying that apartments shouldn’t be built there because of poor transit service is basically just circular reasoning. They have low population density, therefore they have little bus service, therefore they should continue to have low population density, and so forth.

          Also, the city requires sidewalks be installed for any new development denser than a single-family home. I see the urban village areas of Greenwood and other urban villages gradually getting pretty good sidewalk coverage on streets that historically had none. I’d love to see some incentives for developers in this situation to partner with existing neighbors to build sidewalks across the entire block instead of just the new homes. But again, just like density directly leads to improved bus service, it also directly leads to improved sidewalk coverage.

          Regardless, the city has an awful lot of acreage with easy access to transit, shopping, and sidewalks where it is nevertheless illegal to build anything other than a detached single-family home on 5,000 square feet (or more) of land. Even if we accept your premise that adding slightly denser housing to an area with less-than-great walkability and transit access is inappropriate, where’s the justification for the current zoning in the areas that do have these things?

          • Yes, the City requires new development to have sidewalks — but only in front of the developed property! There are many blocks where the new project has a lovely sidewalk in front — one that dead-ends into gravel parking lots or a street gutter on each end. Not useful at all until the entire neighborhood gets re-developed.

        • Yes, there are hundreds of blocks of LR zoning where this occurs already. But no analysis that demonstrates why this current zoning cannot reasonably accommodate future growth. A few years ago, the City published a Development Capacity Report that documented how current zoning was adequate for years to come. Given recent development, that report should be updated, to see what the current situation is.

          • The question isn’t “could some limited areas accomodate future growth,” it’s “why would we reserve any areas exclusively for homes for people with more rather than less money, regardless of whether we’re growing or not”

          • Sounds like a vote for no zoning at all. Build any residential density you can, anywhere you can buy property, because housing shouldn’t be limited; limits = exclusivity.

          • No zoning at all is a moot point here because small wooden walk-up apartments – the sort of apartments that fit within the allowed massing of most single family zones, including Seattle’s, are in most places are the most affordable form of urban housing (outside of super dense places like Singapore – but few such places exist in the US)…so simply “no single family requirement” = no exclusivity.

          • In today’s market, who is going to buy and demolish SF Seattle houses and replace them with “small wooden walk-up apartments – the sort of apartments that fit within” allowed SF massing, etc. etc. I’m confident the numbers don’t pencil out, except maybe housing for the rich.

          • The SCALE EIS anti-upzoning folks are all up in arms about he viability of micro-apartments affordable to people making minimum wage ($900/mo rent) replacing LR1 townhomes (and, by extension, big single family houses, math is basically the same) : https://www.seattlefairgrowth.org/proposed-mha-upzones.html

            The going rate for teardowns is roughly $500k-$700k teardown SFH turns into $1.5M-$2M ~3,000SF SFH. That would work brilliantly for triplexes or fourplexes (3 large 2BRs or 3 small 2 BRs) as an alternative.

            And of course if we let people subdivide big lots nobody has to tear down anything, we an add net new infill–or we can get scenarios like 6 2BR stacked flats, where 6 families effectively gang up to outbid one rich one:
            https://rezoneseattle.org/2017/03/19/qa-what-could-more-open-zoning-look-like/

          • Exactly. They’re already building 3,000 square foot homes in nice neighborhoods and profitably selling them to one family for $1.5 million.

            Take that same building and split it into six one-bedroom condos. Even if you have to charge $250k more for the extra construction costs (kitchens are more expensive than bedrooms, after all), that’s under $300k for a brand new home on a quiet residential street in a nice neighborhood.

            Or you could make three 1,000 square feet family-sized homes for $600k apiece.

            You’re not going to buy one of these on minimum wage, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than what we currently allow to be built there.

  2. STOP.
    SAYING.
    FRELINGFORD.
    FRELARD.

    Etc.

    These places don’t exist. I grew up here. You’re just making it up. Stop. Please. You’re renaming something that already has a name and doesn’t need a new one.

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