90 people pack virtual Architectural Design Board hearing on proposed downtown apartment

The proposed new apartment complex at 6th and Main in downtown Edmonds is either “a handsome building… a nice place for people to live in downtown Edmonds” or a warning: “Don’t let this project be the pioneer for new projects that choke out our city.”

Developer’s rendering for the proposed 611 Main Street Apartments

The only person to testify at the Edmonds Architectural Design Board (ADB) public hearing Wednesday night in favor of the 24-unit project was the project architect, Phil Frisk. Everyone else who offered their opinions via the Zoom meeting or emailed comments was critical of the plan; several ADB members also criticized elements of the plan.

The developer, Glenn Safagado of GBH Holdings in Edmonds, envisions 24 units on three floors with underground parking. For Safagado to build the apartments, the city will have to approve combining two lots into one at the very edge of the downtown business district, north of the Edmonds Library.

A rendering of the project as viewed from 6th and Main, looking east along Main.

Through a zoning quirk, the old house you see above on the corner at 6th and Main, and the two lots the project would occupy (the developer does not own the little house), are already zoned Downtown Business. The rest of that block is zoned only for residential, multifamily units. No one has said how that happened. But what it means is that businesses – or – multifamily units can be built on those two lots. The architect, Frisk, told Architectural Design Board members the project tries to look “at all the (city) requirements in a creative way… to provide living a downtown lifestyle for as many families as we can.”

The project would create 24 units on three floors (including the ground floor), which would all range from 600-800 square feet. The project would take up basically the entire lot, with minimum setbacks for adjoining properties. No proposed rents have been announced.

3rd and Edmonds apartment building

Safagado is the same developer who in 2018 provoked complaints and city zoning changes when he built an apartment at 3rd Avenue North and Edmonds Street with no parking for residents. At the time, the lot he built on there was too small under city code to require parking. After a building moratorium, the city now requires all new multi-family housing in Edmonds business zones to have at least one parking space per unit.

Architectural Design Board virtual public hearing Wednesday night.

On Wednesday night, more than 90 people virtually packed the Architectural Design Board hearing.

One of the key complaints was what the developer wrote about his project:

“Structures on the adjacent parcels do not support the intensity of development under the current zoning and comprehensive plan and are anticipated to eventually be replaced with higher-density development. The proposed project is seen as a guide for future redevelopment allowed and encouraged by the comprehensive plan.”

— Developer Glenn Safafgado

We called Safagado for his comments; he has not returned that call. But what he wrote is what Edmonds resident Chris Cusco told the hearing she feared: “Don’t let this project be the pioneer for new projects that choke out our city.”

Resident Lynda Fireman (whose condo backs onto the alley behind the project) argued the plan “does not fit in,” that it will take away sunlight and privacy for her condo and others, and that cars driving in and out of underground parking will create safety hazards in the narrow alley.

And Edmonds resident Karen Herrick told the board: “It provides no open area for residents to use, no balconies, no way to enjoy fresh air… it’s not senior friendly or (disabled) veteran friendly… it looks like a flat wall…I  feel like I’m looking at a building in a communist country.”

From Edmonds architect Keith Soltner: “This is the reason we need to get multifamily design standards passed…(the project) could add more windows, landscaping, stepped-back terraces.”

Architectural Design Board member Lauri Strauss

ADB member Lauri Strauss questioned project spokesman Frisk about his comment that the developer “figured out we could put 24 parking spaces in.” Asked Strauss: “So that’s how you decided on the apartment numbers; you don’t have to put 24 units in, could put 20 in?”

Added Strauss, “What I‘m hearing from people is a little bit more green space, setbacks in front and on top so it is not a square box… It just feels like a big warehouse right now.”

Phil Frisk, architect, 611 Main Apartments.

Frisk responded: “We do want to consider all the input and balance that with what it will cost. We do want to make a great building.”

ADB member Kim Bayer-Augustavo told Frisk “I don’t see this supporting the (city) Comprehensive Plan at all; I see a lot of disconnect with what we’re hearing.”

The Architectural Design Board will hold a second hearing April 6. That’s to give city and the developer’s staff time to respond to the criticisms and concerns and to offer new recommendations if they choose to. The ADB will make its final decision after that hearing. Any project would still have to get all necessary permits to proceed.  Bayer-Agustavo put it this way: “We need to feel a lot more confident moving into the next stage.”

— By Bob Throndsen













  1. Ah Yes, a 700 sq.ft apartment/condo on Edmond’s Main Street. The realization of the American Dream, for less than $2500/mo. Build it and they will come.

  2. Glad to see conversation going on and that the Architectural Design Board had such a great meeting. Nice to see people expressing opinions and considerations being talked about together. I thought the article was good and it looks like Mr Fisk is it is willing to wiggle too. So lets see in April.

  3. Hi Clint, Well 700 sq ft is small. But If open concept it would be a nice studio apt. I lived in an 800 sq ft house for a year while we were in college. It was ok if you don’t have any kids etc. I think there are some who will pay a bunch if these are for sale or rent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sold to locals who already have a home in the Bowl particularly… I would if I were a multi millionaire. I would have a spot there for guest overflow.
    The reason I say this is the crazy high rental prices in apt buildings that are old and even dangerous also with inadequate parking and crime. Its crazy. So If I had to choose between say 2300 a month for new, clean and safe instead of say 1800 for the exact opposite… I would go for the 2300. So I don’t know. I know they are ugly and sure not enough yet to make me want it. But we already live in Edmonds, many looking I would be are just moving here from other places such as Ballard or Seattle… Who knows.

  4. The demand for housing exists, but we have this one window to constrain how it integrates with our community. There is nothing wrong with asking for a beautiful, livable Main Street addition. Walkable, friendly, and a long-term benefit, versus a slab block that will age badly.

  5. I suspect the owner or owners of this property had to pay a considerable amount of money to buy it and are in a position to have to try to maximize the return on their investment to actually make lots of money on it (assuming that’s their goal). Hence, the simpler the design and building costs and the more units that can be crammed into the design, the better for the developer. Their interests have nothing to do with what might or might not be good for the ultimate livability of Edmonds for all the people who are already here beyond their facilities’ ability to attract and retain future tenants. They are testing what the architectural and building esthetics oriented people will let them get away with.

  6. Developers should be able to build condos in downtown Edmonds, but this proposed building is a monstrosity.

    Developers should not be permitted to build on every square inch of the lot. They should be required to include setbacks from the edges of the property for landscaping and sufficient open space between buildings on adjacent lots. It’s ridiculous that parking lots in Edmonds have to have more landscaping and open spaces for benches than do buildings.

    Downtown Edmonds has a parking problem. Most of these units will have 2 residents who both drive cars, so the condo should be required to provide spaces for 2 cars per unit. Anything else increases the parking problem in Edmonds.

    1. Not of any real importance, but several have referred to this proposed building as a condo building when it is apartments that’s being proposed.

  7. “Open space” requirements (typically 5%) are not inline with our Edmonds collective community values and environmental stewardship duties. If Edmonds had a stricter and more realistic open space requirements within its development zones, this project would simply by default have a much better and more palatable design offering, just my Humble opinion.

  8. City of Edmonds government knows it has operated with a flawed Code for over 20 years. This includes both the Edmonds City Code (ECC) and the Edmonds Community Development Code (ECDC).

    During the October 25, 2005 City Council meeting, former Development Services Director Duane Bowman said he had been describing the need to update the zoning code since he was hired in 2000. The comment was also made that the City’s Code dated to the 1980s and piecemeal amendments made it difficult to use and administer.

    Former City Attorney Scott Snyder stated in his November, 2007 City Attorney annual report that the biggest issue at the start of 2007 was the Code Rewrite. Mr. Snyder stated the intent was to begin the Rewrite last year and finish it this year (2007). Mr. Snyder summarized that the Code Rewrite was approximately a year behind schedule as of November, 2007.

    The 2009-2010 Budget stated the Edmonds Community Development Code rewrite will occur in 2009-2010. Completion of the Code rewrite did not occur.

    Over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been budgeted yet here we sit with a Code that is still flawed and has been for over 20 years.

    There was an open house in March of 2015 trumpeting the City’s just-launched Code Rewrite process – a process advertised as a major update of the City’s development code.

    I made the following request as part of a Public Comment for the Public Hearing on the 2021 Proposed City Budget:
    Please finish the Code Rewrite – including the ECC which is also flawed. The Code Rewrite was supposed to be the top priority over a decade ago!
    Please budget to complete the long overdue Code Rewrite from start to finish.
    Please also provide full disclosure of all public funds spent on the Code Rewrite since 2006 as well as an accounting of what the use of that public money has accomplished. Please make sure all citizens know what percentage of the Code Rewrite has been completed.

    City officials have simply refused to respond and provide requested information.

    1. Ken, Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention and for requesting the City to do it once again. The Code Rewrite is so important and so past due. With many impending developments it is imperative that it be done ASAP for clarity and understanding for all. The Rewrite should prioritize the citizens’ vision for our city, not what’s easy and profitable for developers.

  9. More of the Edmonds Dictatorship by Committee, in which white women of a certain age have a final say in any decision anyone makes about their property. Look out, they are coming for you next.

      1. Never. Scum of the skies. If I were to travel, who knows what nanny state I’d return to here?

  10. Let me address a few of the comments. Per the Snohomish County Assessor’s website, on 6/23/21 GBH closed on the 605 parcel for $812,000 and on 2/26/21 they closed on the 611 parcel for $1,350,000.

    Also, just so everyone is on the same page this is an apartment project, not a condo.

    Also, this same buyer is listed as an owner of a similar parcel at 627 Dayton St. So if there needs to be a code rewrite, it should begin quickly so that we do not have a repeat of this project on that parcel.

  11. I think for national economic reasons, this might be one of the last of these types of projects for a while. It’s malinvestment at the top; will be fun to watch.

  12. I totally agreed with the esthetic comments about this building. It will be an eyesore for sure and is not in keeping with what one likes to see in Edmonds. Minimal parking for tenants who want to live in a small box? I think this is not something anyone likes to see or live in for that matter. Allowing buildings like this detracts rather than adds to the character of Edmonds. It does not have to be this way!

  13. So this developer/buyer bought the two individual lots for a combined $2,162,000. That means that the only way to make this a really profitable investment is to combine the lots and cram as many dwelling units as possible into as cheap a building as possible. It is irrelevant whether you call them apt.s or condos, just as long as you are on the receiving end of the monthly revenue required to live there. AFM is right on this one. The city should just not allow the combining of the lots and let the courts decide what happens there. That’s not going to happen, of course, because the current political and special interest structure in Edmonds very much wants to see that apartment get built to push and promote the walkable Main Street meme, support the idea of Edmonds being a party destination town, and get those nasty polluting cars out of downtown.

  14. Yeah, those buildings are only allowed in the Highway 99 corridor… or was AFM wanting more density building in the bowl, or is that building contributing to un-Affordability, while adding supply? I think the bowl is full of ugly building and this one is better than average. God Speed to 611 Apartments. They’ll get their investment back sooner than I will in my endeavors.

    1. Hi Matt.
      I didn’t understand your comment –

      “Yeah, those buildings are only allowed in the Highway 99 corridor… or was AFM wanting more density building in the bowl, or is that building contributing to un-Affordability, while adding supply?”

      What does “those buildings… Highway 99 corridor “. mean?
      Is it a code, zoning situation. ? Or just sarcasm?

      But It seems true to me that is exactly the kind of building- big box- you see on 99….

      Seems like Edmonds is outside in a snow storm with only underwear on – by not having the kind of codes we need to get the buildings build that we want.
      So every development by this group will push to get the maximum advantage nailed down before we are prepared….and have updated codes.
      How can that be forced…to happen? Crazy code delays. So, these code writers can just not do their job? Is there a mayor who works to unravel these important problems?

      The developer knows exactly what codes are not there…He needs to make a big profit.

      1. Yes Sue, exactly. That building is a typical one you see in the Highway 99 corridor. I think I’m juxtaposing a lot of noise together {Nimby, Affordable Housing, Density, Parking}. Anyone seems to be able to take any side of any argument. I forgot to touch on building codes and I think you’re making a great point.

        In 2022, the billionaires are going to sell half of their stocks in their own companies. All inflation seen last year will briefly become extreme deflation as stocks and real estate tank and cash become king for a short while. Then the bailouts will come as people scramble to deal with the double blow of negative real estate equity and a wiped out stock market retirement plan. I think this year and dont know when for sure, but look at Evergrande in China. No-mo-FOMO.

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