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):
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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.