Redevelopment puts fresh face on Delridge neighborhood

Not long ago, looking to buy a house in Delridge was cause for concern and much deliberation. Old and neglected, rough and rundown, the area wallowed in a funk of stagnant home values.

Now, 10 years into a sustained redevelopment effort, Delridge, in southwest Seattle, has gained momentum by creating a fresh identity.

On a recent Saturday, Carrie Abernethy drove down Delridge Way Southwest, the main north-south thoroughfare, and was impressed by what she saw: new town houses, attractive shops and restaurants at Westwood Village, and an elegant cultural-arts center nestled at the foot of a steep, lush hill.

"I can tell you when you drive through there it has a long way to go, but there's new development and you can see it's definitely going to make it," Abernethy says.

Living in a one-bedroom condo in Queen Anne, Abernethy was searching for a more spacious unit with easy access to her job downtown. She viewed a two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath town house on Delridge Way with 1,110 square feet, wood floors, stainless-steel appliances, a patio yard and attached garage. The listing price: $289,500. She made up her mind on the spot.

"It was a bonus to find something under 300,000," she says. "Everywhere else is already so high, there's not much room for going up. But here you can still count on a good appreciation on your investment. There's room to grow."

Much of the development has been led by the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, a nonprofit organization formed in 1996.

Its accomplishments include renovating the old, red-brick Cooper Elementary School building (which was closed as a school in 1989) into the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, constructing the Vivian McLean Place affordable-housing apartments, and shaping a 4-mile walking trail along Longfellow Creek.

The Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, which opened earlier this year, provides working studios and affordable apartments to artists, as well as offering art, dance and drama programs to the community at large. The Seattle Symphony and Pacific Northwest Ballet are among the groups scheduled to perform in the center's 150-seat theater.

Bonnie Beddall, a real-estate agent with Re/Max Metro Realty, says buying a home in Delridge offers affordability and appreciation. In mid-November, the median price of a home in the Delridge area was $268,500, up 16 percent over the past year, Beddall said.

The median price of a home in the area that includes Delridge and West Seattle was $405,000 in November, up 17.6 percent over the past year, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service figures.

"The Delridge area has come a long way," says Brian Marshall, also a Re/Max Metro agent and developer.

"And it definitely is continuing to improve by leaps and bounds."

New homes are going up in Delridge, where a nonprofit community-development association has led much of the progress. (GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)


Population: 29,270 (2006 est.)

Schools: Delridge is served by the Seattle Public School District.

Distance from downtown Seattle: About 6 miles

Public facilities: Delridge Community Center, 4501 Delridge Way S.W. Westcrest Park, 9000 Eighth Ave. S.W., an 81-acre park with a panoramic view of the Seattle skyline, short walking path and dog off-leash area

Historic moment: The original Frank B. Cooper Elementary School (4408 Delridge Way S.W.) is where, in 1947, Thelma Fisher Dewitty became the first African American to teach in the Seattle Public Schools.

— Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf