4435 35th SW makes it through Design Review 1st round on 1st try

November 20, 2009 at 3:06 am | In Development, Triangle, West Seattle news | 22 Comments

That’s one alternative for 4435 35th SW (map) – the proposed 100+-unit residential/12,000-sf commercial project on the Redline-and-south site – shown for the first time at Thursday night’s Southwest Design Review Board meeting, but not in the online packet. It’s the one that won the most attention – as an option that would feature a little more than 100 condos, over two stories of commercial frontage. More on the meeting ahead:

Architect Roger Newell was the only project representative who spoke:

He recapped the site’s history, including the fact part of it was originally going to the now-dead monorail project, and that it’ll be on the West Seattle RapidRide bus line in the not-too-distant future.

Another of its unique features is a tiny undeveloped street stub – SW Oregon – on the south side of the site, which the architects propose developing into a cul-de-sac of sorts for entrance to the building’s parking (it’s where you see the cars in this Google Street View image):


View Larger Map

The meeting was relatively low-key – six area residents in attendance, besides the 6 board members, 2 project architects, and a city rep – and ended with the board giving the project the go-ahead to advance to the next step of the process.

If they seek to develop the site as apartments, Newell said, it would be closer to 150 units, mostly 1-bedrooms, and would be more likely to resemble the original drawing seen in the packet:

The official mission of the first Design Review meeting is always “early design guidance,” and it was clear this project wasn’t too far along – a board member asked Newell about how the project might address the city’s Green Factor, and he said they hadn’t hired a landscape architect yet, so hadn’t really figured out how to do that – maybe a “green roof” element, he offered.

One element that clearly had been discussed – livening up the pedestrian experience along that stretch of 35th, which all involved agreed is currently abysmal. That’s part of why the newly introduced rendering, with a 2-story commercial setup along the street, held more appeal for the board members, as well as for Rene Commons, one of the three audience members who spoke: “I like the idea of it being condos – we have a lot along (nearby) Avalon – and also, activating the pedestrian experience. We need it to be activated there. … Hundreds of people get off the bus (there) every day.” She envisioned “little bistro tables” outside at least some of the future storefronts.

Sharonn Meeks of the Fairmount Community Association, whose neighborhood is just blocks away, also supported the design with the 2-story commercial level. “Maybe with multiple doors, to engage the public?” Like Commons, she thought condos might make sense by the time the project is developed, particularly since that market has done well along Avalon, and this site has extra appeal: “You have the best view of the park, the city, would be a shame to see it go to studio apartments.” She also supported the concept of a pedestrian connection from the site into the Triangle area to the west: “It’s critical that we join the neighborhood together.”

When time came for the board members to make their comments and decide whether the project could advance, they made some of the same points, but also talked about viewing the project in the context of what might eventually happen to its north – what if, for example, another 65-foot building eventually went up on the site that’s now home to a KFC drive-thru? How should this project “respond” to that possibility?

The rekindling Triangle planning process (recent WSB updates here and here) also was mentioned, and it was suggested that the architects/developers get involved with the groups working on a vision for the area. Board member Joe Hurley said that would be a priority for him to hear from the developers at the next meeting – how they had reached out to/worked with nearby residents. Board member Brandon Nicholson said “streetscape compatibility” would be one of his priorities in the next review – focusing in particular on the ground floor of the buliding, including details like lights, marquees, signage.

WHAT’S NEXT: When a project like this passes “early design guidance,” it gets to apply for its Master Use Permit. You can watch the application process here. But it still has to go back to Design Review at least once more – with a more detailed presentation, all the way down to the planned colors and materials. We’ll let you know when that date is set.

22 Comments

  1. Did they give any direction as to how the ‘hundreds’ of daily bus passengers would be accommodated?
    It’s a pretty busy stop now, and if RapidRide is to also make a stop there, it will be even more so.

    Comment by old timer — 7:59 am November 20, 2009 #

  2. Let’s move right ahead with this beauty!
    Just compare it to the Redline and vacant oil tank disposal lot.

    Comment by Happy Nulu — 8:56 am November 20, 2009 #

  3. “You have the best view of the park, the city, would be a shame to see it go to studio apartments.”

    Why? Are renters not good enough to have a view? Are those who rent studios not good enough?
    I am not against this proposal. I do think RR is being built up and used as a selling point when RR won’t really, truly be so rapid. But jeez, the whiff of exculsivity is IMHO not a good sales pitch.

    Comment by Al — 9:21 am November 20, 2009 #

  4. The traffic in this area has grown progressively worse ever since the Mastro building was partially constructed, and there aren’t even people living in it yet (who knows when that will ever happen). I can’t imagine having 100+ extra cars navigating through this area during commute hours.

    This developer (well, ALL developers) should have to pay for some traffic mitigation plans as part of the permit process. I’ve complained repeatedly to SDOT about the messed up corner of 35th and Avalon where the unfinished Mastro building sits and they have done nothing to improve the traffic flow or increase pedestrian safety. Grrrr. This building will just make things 100 times worse.

    Also, what are the ingress/egress plans??? This is located mid-block on a busy thoroughfare. I can’t even imagine all of those cars trying to pull out onto 35th to get to work. Does anyone think about this?

    ps- the building is U-G-L-Y. Is it 1981 or did I miss something?

    Comment by swimcat — 9:22 am November 20, 2009 #

  5. #1 – the hundreds of daily riders were mentioned in context to who uses the area now.
    .
    #3 – good questions, PLEASE come to the next meeting or send a delegate. For the 30-plus comments on our original report about this project, even the board chair remarked it was a little surprising to see just a few people show up. The Design Review process is one of the few where there is open public comment welcomed and often incorporated into the recommendations – I never knew about this until we started covering community news three years ago (starting with the now-dead Charlestown Cafe site development proposal) and it really is a remarkable opportunity.
    .
    If you are absolutely unable to come to a meeting no way/no how, you can also send comments to michael.dorcy@seattle.gov, the city planner assigned to this project (and many other major ones in WS), but nothing has the impact of standing up at a DR meeting and saying something for the official public record (and for the DRB members, who are volunteers but have a key decisionmaking role at this stage of the game).
    .
    TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:36 am November 20, 2009 #

  6. Sweet Ray’s Pizza!! Is that Ray’s Original or Original Ray’s?

    Comment by zs — 9:53 am November 20, 2009 #

  7. “Sweet Ray’s Pizza” is the code name for Trader Joes.

    Comment by Eddie — 10:22 am November 20, 2009 #

  8. Eddie FTW.

    Comment by WSB — 10:33 am November 20, 2009 #

  9. Ray’s, I thought the same thing, but I think it says Bay Pizza.

    Comment by CandrewB — 11:55 am November 20, 2009 #

  10. Thanks for the link. I work most evenings, so attending these meetings are usually not an option for me.
    -
    Hope the first picture is closer to the final product. It still has a retro-late 20th century look to it, but of a style that is settling into architectural middle-age much better than the wavy cornice as a design flourish on the ready-to-demolish building represented in the second picture.
    Maybe it is a weak attempt by the “architect” to pay homage to Gaudi and the Modernist movement. “Look. I have curves and (some) soft edges!”
    That building should come pre-wired for implosion.

    Comment by dawsonct — 1:15 pm November 20, 2009 #

  11. I agree with the design criticism. Surely, Seattle architects can be challenged to come up with something more engaging, even when costs are a consideration. These look severely mundane much like the other projects around the junction. Architects should ‘raise the bar’ on themselves!

    Comment by nightowle — 2:40 pm November 20, 2009 #

  12. I like the building actually. It’s engaging but probably won’t get much more engaging. I think Seattle architects would be more capable of pushing the envelope every now and then if there weren’t these lengthy design review processes populated by nimby’s.

    If that turns into a trader joe’s on the bottom then I’m not setting foot there.

    Comment by seven — 6:08 pm November 20, 2009 #

  13. What’s all this desire to have trader joe’s in West Seattle anyhow? Most of their stuff is bland and tasteless and usually near or past it’s expiration date. Besides all that TJ’s is owned by a german company called Aldi (I think that’s how you spell it) who is like the european equivalent of wal-mart. Plus their produce sucks which is surprising because the “progressive” yuppy-hipsters seem to love the place.

    Comment by seven — 6:16 pm November 20, 2009 #

  14. seriously folks – you might as well wish for a wal-mart and a nascar track to come to town.

    Comment by seven — 6:18 pm November 20, 2009 #

  15. The architect is doing what he’s paid for, no more. Huling needs to step up on this site and others to repair his legacy in West Seattle. He and two others STILL control the gateway to Seattle so bug them, not the architects.

    Comment by elevated concern — 9:10 pm November 20, 2009 #

  16. Re: “You have the best view of the park, the city, would be a shame to see it go to studio apartments.”
    ~
    as a lifelong renter, single woman, who lives in studio or 1 bedroom apts, I find this comment startling & offensive

    Comment by Diane — 12:47 am November 21, 2009 #

  17. “Seven” regarding Trader Joes, “Most of their stuff is bland and tasteless and usually near or past it’s expiration date.”
    This is false and outright slanderous.
    Opinions are one thing , slander and libel are another.
    Seven’s opinion about “bland and tasteless” are opinions. But to state that most are past their expiration date is a provable lie and has no place in WSB or in a thread about design review.
    WSB, who is minding the blog?

    Comment by Trader Nulu — 8:30 am November 21, 2009 #

  18. Sharonn Meeks’ choice quote “You have the best view of the park, the city, would be a shame to see it go to studio apartments.” = The thinly veiled bigotry of the property owning class.

    If people want an active street life with vibrant retail and lots of pedestrian activity than studio apartments are the ideal housing type to achieve this goal.

    Also, the podium needs to be better integrated with the top

    Comment by Paul — 10:14 am November 21, 2009 #

  19. Why would they choose the ugly and uninspired design for apartments? Are they hoping for fast turn-over so rents can be raised regularly?
    -
    If I were a developer, I would HATE to have such horrid piece of crap associated with my work. But, then again, there is a reason so many of them do this kind of slap-and-dash construction. Obviously there is no reward in the industry for a well designed project and the successful developers are probably the ones who don’t care about quality, just expediency.
    Doubtful they can even understand why they should be embarrassed.

    Comment by dawsonct — 10:52 am November 21, 2009 #

  20. I am concerned at the rate the multiple story dwelling units are going up here in West Seattle. Has there been a study or any information about the rate of occupancy for some of the buildings built in the last 12-18 months? I am also concerned about the impact to traffic and the West Seattle bridge. Do they have to present any information on this?

    Comment by karisue — 3:17 pm November 21, 2009 #

  21. it will be very difficult to lease the retail spaces in that location. I don’t know who would sit “at a little bistro table” in the shadow of that six story building, on that busy street, sucking up all of the exhaust from the cars and buses.

    Comment by Tim — 4:28 pm November 21, 2009 #

  22. For all of the calls for “active street life”, use your heads for a moment and consider that street. There will never be active street scene on a four lane road, where traffic travels at 40 mph, without angle or paralell parking and other traffic calming measures, and which only has 13,000 sf of retail on ONE side of the street. If you are selling an active pedestrian scene on that street, you either don’t know what you are talking about, or you are lying.

    Comment by Tim — 4:34 pm November 21, 2009 #

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