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Advice on building on inherited land. (L2 Zoning, 11, 200 sqft) - North Seattle

Hi everyone, My dad owns a small apartment building (4-plex) in North Seattle. The building is roughly 50 years old and doesn't bring in enough rent to cover expenses. There's a lot of unused land on the property and as a result the property taxes have more than doubled in the past 6 years. The value of the property is in the land.

We're contemplating building on the land, whether it's to tear down the existing structure and build anew (9 units) or build an additional multi-unit (5 units?) in the unused land. It is currently zoned as L2. I have almost zero knowledge about construction (Residential or otherwise). I guess I am trying to figure out how to even get started. a few questions

1. Is there a consultant or general contractor I can speak to get some idea around this? If so, any recommendations?
2. Is the current zoning written in stone? is it possible to get the property rezoned to allow for the construction of more units? say L3?
3. Is there a "for dummies" guide of some kind I can use for a project like this?
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May 03 - Seattle
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Answers (7)

I have a client that may be interested in putting an offer in on this property, feel free to reach out.
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May 07
Profile picture for Rajmago
Wow! Thanks guys, I really appreciate the advice. I am heading down to Seattle's DPD tomorrow morning. Will report back with more questions, I am sure. :-)

Thanks again,
-Rajat
 
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May 05
I have an architect to recommend if you'd care to message me privately.
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May 04
Yes, make new best friends with planning and development and find out what you can and cant bulid on the land. I know in LA even though something is zoned X does not mean future use may permit it.....

Second, talk to a professional trifecta of a Realtor, appraiser and contractor to figure out what - given the allowable use - what would financially be the best use of the land, and factor that into the expected term of your ownership. 

If its a long term hold, brand new construction may be the best.... If the area is going 'downhill' and you want to sell, you may just want to rehab and list it for sale. 

Talk to multiple Realtors, appraisers and contractors. Talk to some of the neighbors, you may find one owner who is buying up a lot of the sites for assemblage purposes, especially if the value is in the land. 

First step is though is the planning department...
 
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May 04
I agree with Mike and Kary, great advise!
Best of luck,
Kari.
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May 04
I agree with Mike about the zoning issues and add once you get that information you might want to consult a real estate attorney about any zoning and permitting issues that arise.

As to the rest I don't think anyone could advise you without seeing the property (and I couldn't advise you even with seeing the property).  All I'll say on that topic is that it would probably make the most sense the raze the existing building if it is clearly the worst property in the neighborhood, because it will hold down the value of your new construction. You basically don't want to be your own bad neighbor.  Other situations would be a much tougher call.
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May 04
The first thing I would do is talk to someone at the Dept of Planning and Development (known as "DPD) at the City of Seattle.  I'd go to them in person, if possible.  You could also communicate with them via email but going in person is better.  Tell the person you meet with what you own and ask about your options.  The DPD staff is usually quite helpful (or so I've found).
 
http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/

Feel free to contact me.  Good luck.
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May 03
 
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