124 condos for Shorewood

The proposal to add 124 new living units in five additional buildings at the Shorewood Heights Apartments received preliminary approval from the Design Commission earlier this month.

The approved plans include the construction of 114 condominiums in new three-story buildings and 10 side-by-side two-story townhomes on the edges of the property. According to the city planning department’s staff report for the project, the design also includes a system of trails and other amentities. Planning staff summarized the project as a well-designed plan that utilizes the topography of the site to maintain architectural harmony with the surrounding apartments and neighborhood.

City planners recommended approval of the project with three additional conditions, which include providing an elevation plan to highlight pedestrian entrances, a lighting plan and establishing locations for garbage and recycling areas.

Security Properties Inc., which owns the property, stated last May that it plans to sell the proposed structures as condos and townhomes, but the City Council must approve a subdivision on the 44.5-acre property.

In July, Security Properties requested a variance from the city’s Planning Commission to subdivide the property as a short plat, meaning it would only require planning department staff approval. City code requires subdivisions of lots over five acres to receive permission from the City Council. Security Properties made the request for a variance from that code, but it was rejected by the Planning Commission on July 18.

As shown before the Planning Commission at the July 18 meeting, the largest subdivision of the property, which would contain most of the existing structures remaining as apartments, would be just over 28 acres. The second largest lot established by the division, 8.3 acres, in the northwest section of the property would get the majority of the new structures. The third lot, a little less than six acres, would contain the remaining existing structures. The smallest lot, just over two acres, would get new developments.

While Security Properties announced the plans for the new developments last May, it had two study sessions with the Design Commission in December and January.

In those study sessions, commissioners expressed concerns that the proposed buildings’ architecture varied too greatly from the existing structures. Commissioners also stated the new units were too dense and would impact the existing vegetation.

In the staff report before the commissioners, Sept. 12, city planners wrote the proposed buildings looked different because the designs are much more modern.

“The existing apartments on site are primarily 1970s box apartment design with a standard pitched roof,” the report states. “The proposal does not maintain a similar architectural theme with the other buildings on site; the proposed design is much more modern.”

Shorewood Heights was originally built in 1949 by Island resident Charles Clise. New structures were added to the property in 2001, and it currently has 646 apartments in 40 separate buildings, according to county records. Security Properties, which owns more than 20,000 apartments in 35 states, purchased the compound in 2005 for $114.25 million. Seattle-based HAL Real Estate bought the 44.5 acre development in 1998 for $54.75 million and did a $22 million renovation of the original 567 residences and added 78 apartments.

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