Affordable housing complex headed for University Place

A University Place property that began life more than 50 years ago as a suburban clothing store – and ended as a sad victim of disuse and recession – is about to gain a second life as a senior housing complex.

Robert Green, president and designated broker at Northwest Advisors LLC, reported Monday that the former Samuelson’s Apparel property at 8411 27th St. W. has been sold to Grandview Senior Living Associates for $1,562,000.

Demolition at the site has begun, he said.

The buyer, Green said, will build a 140-unit group of affordable apartments built to accommodate seniors. The company, operating as Senior Housing Assistance Group, or SHAG, operates other properties throughout the Puget Sound area.

“We’ve been trying to sell it for four years,” Green said. “All the way through the downturn there was absolutely (no interest). Now I’m getting calls like you can’t believe.”

Those calls, he said, concern the balance of the property that includes a former Red Apple grocery store.

“We are so pleased. That’s been in in the works for quite a while,” said Mariza Craig, University Place assistant city manager.

Becky Metcalf, University Place project assistant, said, “It’s a fantastic opportunity for us. It’s going to clean up that area and provide another level of senior housing. We’re excited to see that development happen.”

A representative from SHAG was not available for comment on Monday.

Green said he did not have a precise opening date for the project, although, “I would suspect by June next year, after six or eight months of construction.”

The former Dairy Queen, now Lefty’s Drive-In, will remain at the site, he said.

The former owner of the Samuelson’s building, entrepreneur Dale Fonk of Woodinville, said Monday that he has plans for the overall site beyond the SHAG property.

“My goal is to demo that building and build an assisted living facility,” he said.

The facility would then be built where the empty grocery store now stands.

“Over the last eight or 10 years I’ve had multiple companies in the business approach me, but the property wasn’t platted. Now that it is, I’m able to sell it,” he said.

However, he may choose to develop the facility himself.

“It’s just not viable as a commercial retail center,” he said. “The buildings are very old. You’re looking at demo-ing them anyway, and after having three operators in the assisted living businesses express interest, it just made me take a look at that. Maybe they know something. I think it’s a viable business.”

The SHAG building will contain some 6,000 square feet dedicated to commercial space, and Fonk speculated that “some of it will be retail, such as a coffee shop, or services that will be attractive to the residents.”

Beyond SHAG and a possible assisted living center, Fonk said he has considered building a medical center at a site on the eastern section of the property.

“A longer goal is to put a 51,000-square-foot medical building on the remaining piece of land that is now a parking lot,” he said.