Bulletin: Conner Homes’ Junction project done with Design Review

April 23, 2009 at 8:25 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

A milestone tonight in Junction development: The 5th time turned out to be the charm for the Conner Homes two-building megaproject, which is now done with Design Review, one year and twelfth days after the first DR meeting on the project. The rendering above shows “scheme D” from the latest round of proposals for the till-now-undecided final element of the project – the shape/look of its western building, at California/Alaska. That shape, with a few changes large and small, will form the framework of the recommendations made tonight by Southwest Design Review Board members as they concluded their fifth — and now, it can be said, final — meeting on the project, which ended moments ago. About 50 people filled the room at one point – breaking several times into applause during the public-comment period, especially for West Seattle resident Rene Commons‘ impassioned presentation (second one she has made to the board) requesting architectural details that would at least give a nod to the area’s history.

Board members did make one stipulation that’s a major change from any of the four options shown: They want the retail facade along the southwest street-front of the project to be two stories instead of one story, in no small part to “mask” the higher stories from those passing by on the street. And they’re calling for some sort of strong element at the California/Alaska corner – maybe a vertical sign or some other “supergraphic” element, as board member Vlad Oustimovitch put it – to give the project some of the “quirky” West Seattle flavor to which Commons had alluded during her presentation.

4 Comments

  1. Somewhere on the top of the retail structure at the corner would be an ideal location for a Junction-Cam – it would look across the street towards both Easy Street and Cupcake Royale – maybe there could be two – one looking up and down California and the other looking in an out Alaska – that one would have awesome sunrise and sunset view. This “could” be a great new structure if the details get taken care of correctly. Vlad’s on to something with the supergraphic – maybe something a little less than Ballard Oil, though. A giant, flashing ALL WALK sign which changed colors depending on the weather a la the old Gulf Building in downtown Pittsburgh.

    Comment by chas redmond — 12:09 am April 24, 2009 #

  2. Kudos to Rene and her presentation about historical and quirky detail. I also spoke to why we love West Seattle; its historical nature and how it provides respite from metropolitan high-rise scale. I think this building and this process will have huge impact on what’s happening to the fabric of West Seattle. I’ve thought about other things I should have said last night…..

    1) Change and growth happens and there are many examples of places where difficult decisions were made to hold with historical heritage and limit scale: Santa Barbara, CA; Pike Place Market, etc, and I would like to see something like that happen for West Seattle. If this doesn’t happen West Seattle will (continue to) become a hodge-podge of Bellvuesque, junky, or whatever.

    2) On this building where are the mini courtyards and roll-up garage doors for retail?; I appeal to better judgment to include something with historical styling and appealing details that folks can be proud of forever instead of just for some relatively short-term financial gain.

    3) I see some poor looking buildings seemingly built for and near the end of their relatively short functional lifespans. A big growth spurt is on the horizon so the time to act might be now before a battle can’t be won. Consider that “just” a 6-story building is an incredibly massive overwhelming structure and can irreparably alter the essence of a neighborhood.

    So I ask; who knows how to approach a change to what seams like terrible codes/guidelines allowing a ridiculous push to litter West Seattle with big boxy high-rises? Perhaps limit new structures to 6-stories where 8 stories are currently allowed? Require sufficient set-back for 6-stories and only if disguised/hidden by maximum 2-story retail; require historical façade with cornices and/or craftsman details? Anybody interested or already involved please reply to my post. Thanks.

    Comment by Chris Caster — 1:26 pm April 24, 2009 #

  3. I just hope that when the only retailer that can afford the rent on a 2-story corner retail space is a national chain like the Gap (instead of a local, independent retailer), the same people who argued for that change without considering the economics of it don’t complain! But somehow I think they would.

    Comment by Patrick — 2:11 pm April 24, 2009 #

  4. The proposed changes shown here further add to the cozy comfortable feeling I’m sure to get when walking past this super inviting building. How proud the architectural committee must be, sparing no expense on mitigating materials to ‘soften up’ the ambience between the consumer and the structure. With just a few gallons of paint or lengths of siding, they can transform this already eye-pleasing jewel into a magical palace of which we can all be proud. I can’t wait to invite all my eastside friends over to show them that West Seattle can also produce endless monolithic penthouses to the sky. Hopefully we can have a ‘Parade of Condos’ in the near future, if of course, the economy comes back.
    I know our local retailers are jumping at the chance to lease some ground floor space, and how saavy of the review board to suggest more retail on the second floor as well. This will really help mitigate that big, overpowering feeling that so many disliked about the original design. This looks on track to be the best development since Jefferson Square.
    I am so proud that I live in a city that cares so much for the welfare of its citizens when it comes to enhancing our everyday life. It is with great humility that I step aside for the ultra developers who so keep the history and livability of our great little neighborhood in mind as they design away week by week. I’m humbled by your ingenuity, foresight, and gall.
    P.S. Will these have granite countertops and stainless steel appliances?

    Comment by Deeno — 1:13 am April 28, 2009 #

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