Union-commissioned alternatives shown for 4755 Fauntleroy site

November 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | 44 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Through the city’s half-dozen-plus public meetings related to the design of 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, to be anchored by a Whole Foods Market, members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 were a constant presence, voicing concerns, keeping watch on the project, often with a contingent of members/leaders in yellow logo-bearing T-shirts.

After the project’s design won final approvals in that process from the Southwest Design Review Board and the Seattle Design Commission, the union launched a campaign called Getting It Right for West Seattle, focused on the remaining approval needed by the project – the City Council’s blessing for the project’s requested “alley vacation,” in which the developer seeks approval to buy publicly owned alley land. The campaign scored an early victory with Mayor McGinn‘s July announcement that SDOT would be told to recommend the council reject the alley vacation, for concerns including worker wages.

While that part of the process rolls slowly along, UFCW Local 21 has paid for a University of Washington architecture professor to develop two “alternative designs” for the site. Monday night, those designs – one of which would potentially have room for a Whole Foods or other big chain store, one of which was not – were “offered up as food for thought,” as union organizer and West Seattle resident Elena Perez put it. She organized the presentation at Emeritus-West Seattle (WSB sponsor) with about two dozen people in attendance, not including the site’s developers/owners, Weingarten Realty and Lennar, to whom Perez said she’d given notice too late.

However, a member of the Huling family, which previously owned most of the site, was there and spoke up in a somewhat dramatic moment – more on that later.

Perez characterized their ongoing interest in the site – which she clarified is the focus of GIR4WS, not local development in general – as anchored in the “precedent” it would set, and reiterated that the advocates’ goal is what they stated it to be half a year ago – to obtain a Community Benefit Agreement “with local West Seattle stakeholders” as part of a deal with the city for the alley vacation, which would involve selling two sections of alley for fair-market value plus a public-benefit package (this slide deck from June details the public benefits approved by the Design Commission in that stage of the review).

The alternative designs by Dr. Sharon Sutton turned out to involve only the commercial level of the site, leaving the rest of it to imagination/speculation. Though Dr. Sutton herself was not in attendance, the designs were presented and described by West Seattleite Deb Barker, who served four years on the Southwest Design Review Board and is a retired land-use planner.

Barker made it clear she was speaking for herself as a private citizen, unrelated to other community-advocacy roles in which she currently serves. She extended the invitation for us to cover the meeting; GIR4WS had not sent announcements of previous meetings, either for news coverage or public-calendar postings.

After a condensed primer on the process through which the project already has gone, Barker reiterated that UFCW Local 21 had paid for Dr. Sutton’s work, which she compared and contrasted with selections from the design packet for one of the public meetings about the project’s official design by Fuller Sears Architects, the Seattle Design Commission session on June 20th, like this one:

Barker also explained the alley vacation process (here’s the city’s primer) and the “mid-block connector” currently designed into the project as a sort of replacement alley, the target of criticism at many official reviews because it would be used by trucks as well as pedestrians. “You’re going to get to play duck-dodge with a panel truck or semi-truck,” Barker contended. (The union had talked at previous city meetings, like this one in April, about its studies of a North Seattle Whole Foods store, with at least 4 semitrucks daily and up to 31 panel trucks making deliveries.)

Continuing to set the stage before showing the alternatives, she also zeroed in on the “gateway” corner of the development, the southwest corner of Fauntleroy/Alaska (roughly where the former gas station is being dismantled/dug up right now). Here’s what the official design includes:

(See the two alternatives below, one for each envisioned concept.) Barker explained that Dr. Sutton was just asked to deal “with the pedestrian experience” – not the residential floors of the project. The input she was given included a survey circulated online by Getting It Right for West Seattle (in response to a question later, Perez said 357 responses had been received, this past July and August) as well as two charrettes whose participants were described as “community activists and UFCW 21 representatives.”

The two concepts were labeled Alley and Market. Barker said she wasn’t sure which she liked better: “To me, these are breaths of fresh air, just imagining the possibilities.” Here is “Alley”:

The parking access would change, and any “large retail opportunity” would front Fauntleroy. Deliveries for that would be on the Fauntleroy/Edmunds corner. The midblock connector/pass-through “would be for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles only.” There would be second-floor roofs with raingardens.

The gateway area – Fauntleroy/Alaska – concept for the “alley” design was described as an “egg” because of its shape:

Next, the “market concept.” Barker referenced the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, the Reading Market in Philadelphia, Melrose Market on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, saying it was envisioned as including “a big place for small businesses, lots and lots and lots of small businesses, access onto streets,” with live-work units on the southeast side, facing Fauntleroy, “places for hanging out,” and a “huge internal space” on the north side, with doors opening to the streets on the west.

“From inside the market, you pour out into a stage area with outdoor seating and a performance area,” and sunshine from the southwest corner (though it should be noted a development is set for that side, too).

From the back of the room at that point: “Where’s Whole Foods?”

“Maybe not in this project,” Barker replied. She went on to show the imagined “gateway” for this configuration, “a very, very, very large space several stories tall, surrounded by windows,” enabling people to see into the “market space,” and out to the theoretically sun-dappled public park/performance area.”

She declared this to be a design that would be more of a “gateway,” more of a “true entry statement than the 4755 Fauntleroy design currently has.”

Sharonn Meeks, who had served on the Triangle Advisory Group whose work was part of a city zoning overhaul of the area – including this site, technically west of The Triangle – asked at that point: “This is one-sixth of the project; what are you doing with the rest?” She pointed out that this configuration would certainly include fewer residential units.

Barker reiterated that “Dr. Sutton wasn’t asked to get into (that).”

The next question asked again about what kind of supermarket could fit into the envisioned space. Barker thought a “two-story Whole Foods” might work. She also recalled a “three-story Home Depot in the middle of a dense Chicago neighborhood,” and noted that developers have choices.

Though project developers weren’t at this meeting, as noted earlier, this is where a member of the family that sold most of the site to the developers spoke up.

Grant Huling said he wanted to “offer himself as a resource,” including availability to talk with attendees post-meeting (which he did).

He expressed appreciation for people caring about development, but said it appeared to him that “UFCW has picked a fight with this one project” at a time that is “particularly late in the process … I think a lot of community energy is getting steered toward this project, when there are a number of mixed-use things happening and they all should have community fingerprints on them … ”

Another attendee asked, “So who’s going to see these proposals?”

Perez replied: “Well, you are, tonight …”

The questioner asked, “But, in terms of making changes” to the project …

Perez acknowledged, “It’s not that you’re going to vote tonight and say ‘yay’ and it’s magically going to happen.” But, she said, they believe Seattle is “hot,” a place developers want to be, but they don’t “think it’s good enough” for an “urban infill” project.

Then addressing Grant Huling, she defended UFCW 21′s “concern about jobs … we have thousands of members who live in West Seattle like myself who want an enjoyable development. … We’re not saying our vision is the correct one. One of these designs does have space for a large anchor tenant, that could be Whole Foods.”

The next comment from the audience suggested that the “safety issue” might be the “wedge” that could be taken to the city. (It has been – our coverage of the project’s reviews by the Seattle Design Commission includes this report from last April, at which time UFCW reps brought up the truck-traffic concerns.)

Two other attendees asked about coordination of major projects, and about the Junction and Triangle plans on file with the city. Barker explained that they can be found as documents in city files (here’s the 1999 West Seattle Junction Neighborhood Plan; here are documents containing results of the recent round of Triangle planning), noting that the midblock connector for this site was a concept in the Triangle plan, not something the developer pulled “out of mid-air.” Here’s how it’s shown in the plan (before this project was proposed):

Dr. Sutton is meeting with Councilmember Rasmussen and possibly others to discuss “from a professional standpoint why there are major concerns in the (developers’) proposal,” said Perez, adding that other “neighbors” are setting meetings with councilmembers too. “Our position is that this can be a win-win, a developer can have a very profitable development. If it ends up having a Whole Foods in it, so be it.”

At that point, Meeks, president of the nearby Fairmount Community Association – south of SW Alaska, uphill from The Triangle – noted that the Triangle Advisory Group had “worked for 14 months” and “worked on the concept of what we considered a true gateway into West Seattle – It’s not this project (site), it’s what was funded (by City Council earlier this week, as reported here), the (Fauntleroy) Green Boulevard. … My concern here is that this seems to be targeted toward a (certain) project, not a vetting of what the Triangle group came together to work on. I didn’t see you supporting (the Green Boulevard).”

That’s when Perez clarified, “Getting It Right for West Seattle is very specific to this project.”

Questions still persisted about what the alternative designs would be used for, what could still happen at this part of the process. That’s when Shawn Terjeson got up and explained how he got involved, and why he is currently making the rounds to meet with city councilmembers. “I got excited about the alley vacation,” he said. “They’re building a trench from Fauntleroy to California that’s only good for cars unless you’re going to Whole Foods or LA Fitness” (in Spruce, the former “Hole,” across the street) … “My goal is to have these people build us something that is livable, exciting, that will draw us into West Seattle. The Triangle plan is fantastic.”

An attendee asked, “What’s to stop them from building this is there is no alley vacation?” Barker replied that the “existing configuration of the alleyway limits the footprint of the building.”

Asked again at the end if the designs would be taken to the developer, Perez said she sent an invitation to the “community liaison for the developers on Saturday” but “they didn’t have enough time … we’ve been very open about wanting to sit down and work with them on this, but at this point all we can do is work through the public process – democracy isn’t always pretty.”

We asked a development team spokesperson for comment:

We have not met with the union on this topic. We are already more than two years into a design that is wholly consistent with the West Seattle Triangle Plan’s community-led vision for this property. Additionally, the existing design has been approved by the West Seattle Design Review Board and the Seattle Design Commission.

We are moving ahead with the City’s process for an alley vacation, which includes paying fair-market value for the alley, as well as providing more than $2M in additional on-site public benefit. The City process for an alley vacation does not include a community benefit agreement.

When a date is set for the next step in that process – likely going to the City Council’s Transportation Committee after the first of the year – we’ll let you know.

SIDE NOTE: For an example of a “Community Benefit Agreement” precedent, the one negotiated in 2008 for a Central District project is cited. (The project was canceled the following year, after recession hit.)

44 Comments

  1. Why is this fight for just one project? What about all the other mega projects going on around here. It smells like the union trying to push their views on the general public to me.

    Comment by Mark — 4:03 pm November 20, 2013 #

  2. GIR4WS is lobbying city council to oppose the alley vacation, and to go along with their opposition to the alley vacation, they respond with two designs that would need … an alley vacation!

    Comment by gotb — 4:07 pm November 20, 2013 #

  3. I do like the idea of not having to dodge trucks to get into Whole Foods. I really like Dr Sutton’s first design.

    I am afraid, however, that we are too far along to implement a new design.

    Comment by K8 — 4:49 pm November 20, 2013 #

  4. Dr sutton had no public meetings but just looked at survey reults from anonymous People, this is not about greeting it right for ws this isI about getting it right for the union. I want a whole foods I think calling their group getting it right for WS is an insult to all other community groups In WS, they only formed al few months ago to fight this project. Shame on them. Why don’t they picket trader joes? If you want to fight the project that’s fine, but tell people on your FB page you are the union! You certainly don’t se to be involved in any other items such a crime or the project that had a meeting last night with no parking.
    Lastly I hope they didn’t pay the dr much for her designs- straight out of suburban bellevue, yuck. Give us a whole foods!

    Comment by Ws gal — 4:55 pm November 20, 2013 #

  5. Anything that goes in there will be an improvement over what’s it’s looked like for the 5 1/2 years I’ve been here.

    But what’s the big deal with “alley vacation”? Why is it such an important issue if it has an alley or not? I don’t get it.

    Comment by transplantella — 5:10 pm November 20, 2013 #

  6. What happened to plan A? Why do we need a plan B and C? Fishy!

    Comment by yojoe — 5:11 pm November 20, 2013 #

  7. At the end of the day GIR4WS only wants to get a Community Benefits Agreement attached to this development in the hopes of scaring off a POTENTIAL tenant. If WF walks, who comes in behind them, WalMart?!? Where were you when WF started to develop at The Hole directly across the street? UFCW 21 needs to stop meddling around in our ‘hood. Go “get it right” somewhere else.

    Comment by OesteGuy — 5:23 pm November 20, 2013 #

  8. First off – THANK YOU to the blog – this is first-rate journalism at the local level – spending this much time covering an issue and providing all the links to other information. This is why I turn to the blog daily.

    I see the competing sides … but remain suspicious of union-driven activism about planning decisions. The unions have a primary goal about their memebers’ interests (and good for them about that). But they are only about that.

    I would be sick if Whole Foods walks from this site and we ended up with a Walmart or other big-box store (even Home Depot would be a bad choice). For better or worse, the Triangle and Alaska corridor are going to be high-density neighborhoods, and mostly populated with a demographic who will shop at WF. Just the truth. Hopefully with McGinn out of the way, Mayor Murray will not push SDOT the way MbGinn did, purely to appease labor unions.

    Comment by WS commuter — 5:40 pm November 20, 2013 #

  9. This is an important issue, as a “welcome” and true gateway to West Seattle. BUT, I’m actually commenting to “second” the above comment, a HUGE thank you to the West Seattle Blog. The hours spent, the extra links, not only on this issue but on all things West Seattle (and gratefully, parts of White Center too)! We sure have a treasured resource. Thank you!

    Comment by Josh — 6:30 pm November 20, 2013 #

  10. Seriously, now we are going to allow unions to offer input on development in the City of Seattle? And what union cares about anything other than the enrichment of it’s members and union? Where have they been over the years? Have they ever tried to become involved in any development in Seattle before? In West Seattle before? This process is becoming a joke.

    Comment by KT — 6:39 pm November 20, 2013 #

  11. I want the Whole Foods I was promised when we bought our house in 2007!

    Comment by DFW — 6:46 pm November 20, 2013 #

  12. I’ve never witnessed an architect being absent to unveil or explain their visions to a community…. Seems like the Dr. was commissioned to turn the crank of the Union’s desires. There are a lot of omissions and assumptions in this work. Maybe this is why professors teach and not do…
    /
    It’s naive to overlook that there is a developer who purchased the property and a tenant agreement with Whole Foods. These drawings are unproductive. If you are truly worried about public benefit and alley vacation focus on that. No one is wiping the slate clean, money has already been invested.
    /
    The political card is gone and so is McGinn’s empty promises to win another term. The truth is that his reasons to “strongarm” the no go for alley dedication is silly. The City can’t enforce living wages to a private entity while there are no codes/regulations for the entire City.
    /
    Maybe this is why the decision hasn’t been made yet… McGinn punted.

    Comment by McFail — 7:08 pm November 20, 2013 #

  13. It is important to note that the 2008 CBA cited above was on a project that never came to fruition. The developer walked away from that one.

    Is the project level an appropriate place to be fighting for union wage jobs? I am eager to see council take up this issue but it seems to me that this could set a really dangerous precedent. Would all the businesses in one of the alternative visions have to be unionized? How would that impact the viability of that ideas anyway? The truth is they don’t care, they just want to stop WF.

    The truth is that this is likely a 50 plus million project. And the anchor tenant is a big part of underwriting a project like this. If WF goes away, there is likely not a project, at least not in the near term. Melrose Market is about one fiftieth the size of this project, so really cannot be compared as a financially viable alternative. I find it ironic that we may end up with another “hole” after so many years of people complaining and wrongfully blaming WF for that situation!

    Comment by Kgdlg — 7:24 pm November 20, 2013 #

  14. Unions — the folks who brought you the weekend.

    Comment by LivesInWS — 7:31 pm November 20, 2013 #

  15. Kudos to WSB for this in-depth report. Much appreciated!

    Comment by LivesInWS — 7:32 pm November 20, 2013 #

  16. I want a whole foods. I want this project to go through. I don’t understand why the union thinks there is no room for a non union store. This ” gateway ” is downright ugly. I think the original plan is better.

    Comment by jjones — 8:31 pm November 20, 2013 #

  17. I’m wondering where the unions were, if they are so “concerned” about jobs, when Trader Joe’s went up – a NON-UNION store.
    /
    Unions – the folks that are driving Boeing out of Washington.

    Comment by Ex-Westwood Resident — 8:43 pm November 20, 2013 #

  18. The original plans are a lot better than this. The union is kinda looking like a joke on this, and just wasting everyone’s time. Time to move on.

    Comment by JVP — 9:09 pm November 20, 2013 #

  19. This is getting ridiculous. Build what was planned already.

    Comment by Etaoin Shrdlu — 9:42 pm November 20, 2013 #

  20. So many people had expressed concern of the size of this massive project before.
    .
    Yes, the union group has an agenda they are pressing, but if it results in changes that address the mass/open space/ped alley-with-semis issues, do you really care how the change came about?
    .
    I am intrigued by the Melrose Market type change. But the plan with the “egg” shape looks more open on paper than the design packet proposal.

    Comment by Melly Mel — 10:03 pm November 20, 2013 #

  21. I for one am looking forward to parking and shopping at Whole Foods, and walking over to Trader Joe’s. If only the produce stand was nearby it would be a tri-fecta.

    Comment by INCOGNITO — 10:53 pm November 20, 2013 #

  22. This project has been scrutinized and approved over a two year period, by the numbers. The approved design is part of a larger community process, which took almost two years prior, looking at the Triangle as a design concept to transform the area, to benifit West Seattleites for generatons to come. That concept and hard work, with those hundreds of volunteer and city management hours working together, came to an agreement. The process concluded. This current position by the unions, including not giving the developers ample notice to even be present, is an injustice that they, the unions, would certainly not tolerate. The unions should be embarrassed. The current project is good for West Seattle. Who in their right mind would try to come into this project if we let this fail? The ship has sailed. West Seattle Lifer

    Comment by West Seattle Lifer — 10:57 pm November 20, 2013 #

  23. All very interesting,but I wonder where everyone was in the previous generation when this all Important “gateway” was turned into a super ugly gas station and amateur looking office and asphalt lot? Where was the concern of the “lifelong” residents back then? How did they let it be so poor and ugly then,but now all of the sudden we’re concerned about this alley and every architectural detail. If you want to decide what this looks like,buy the lot and build what you want. But otherwise this strikes me as crazy micromanaging.

    Comment by David — 11:14 pm November 20, 2013 #

  24. A lot of community members and board members have expressed concerned very early on to this design team about the massive scale and lack of gateway character and streetscape activation back when it was earlier in the design. The developer and design team ignored every comment. And these boards got worn down and tired of dealing with it. Having their DR and DC approvals does not mean the design was endorsed. This is not just a union initiative. There are community members who were active in the early discussions, who simply care about our community, who want to see this project done right. Whether it is Whole Foods or another big box is irrelevant. What matters is the bulk and scale of the building, pedestrian safety relative to semi and vehicular traffic flows, is there an identifiable gateway in such a key corner entering into West Seattle, do the retail components open out onto grade (rather than the design which has it significantly in a hole below grade) activating the sidewalk in creating a vibrant and safe pedestrian experience, etc. Yes, the Union is opposing the WF. But many of the community members also involved with this analysis who have dedicated so much time over the last two years do not oppose WF. They want a development that is right for WS. And for the record, I am not a part of this group. Forget about whether you want a Whole Foods and actually take a serious look at the design drawings for this project. We are losing publicly owned land and not getting the right massing or public benefit in trade. This is something we will all live with in our neighborhood, most of us the rest of our lifetime. This is a key project that will set the precedent for all future development in this Triangle area. Demanding that a developer, one such as this who is not from this state let alone West Seattle, demanding that they give two hoots about the neighborhood they are coming into and providing an appropriate development is not too much to ask for.

    Thank you to the WSB for their thorough coverage, it is appreciated. And thank you to the community members that continue to fight although it appears this developer will bully their way through to build what they want regardless of whether it is the best or right design for the site and neighborhood.

    Comment by rws — 11:24 pm November 20, 2013 #

  25. Great David. Let’s just sit back and let any out of town developer come in and plop down crap so we as a community can live with the eyesore for another 50 years until it’s time to rinse and repeat.

    Comment by rws — 11:27 pm November 20, 2013 #

  26. I wish “Getting it Right for West Seattle” would focus their energy on the development happening all over our existing walkable area – the Junction – which development a majority of West Seattle residents seem to dislike, instead of targeting the Whole Foods project that is eagerly anticipated by so many. (As an aside, I am immediately irritated by self-serving names like “Getting it Right” – those of us who disagree must be “Getting it Wrong for West Seattle”).

    Comment by cmt — 7:26 am November 21, 2013 #

  27. @rws – I think the new building looks pretty good actually. Far better than the SUPER UGLY gas station and homemade looking office building and sad one story funeral home and asphalt lot that is there now. Sadly it’s called freedom. If you buy the property you CAN put up anything you want (within zoning laws). You don’t own the property, why do YOU think you get to decide what it looks like? The city has “some” minimal control because it’s giving up an alley (no on used, was part of a commercial car dealership). Did your neighbors get together and get to tell you what color you can paint your house, or what kind of shingles you can use on your roof, or have a committee meeting to tell you what kind and arrangements of of trees you should have in your front yard? Just because this is a commercial property why do you think you have the right to tell them what it looks like? And again, where was all this concern from all of the “lifelong” residents (everyone claims to be) to begin with? Why didn’t they care 25 years ago what West Seattle looked like, but now all of the sudden they’re all wanna-be architects. I guess it’s good they’ve finally decide to care now. I DO want something “nice”, but it doesn’t matter THAT much. All of the proposals look much better than it is now. And it’s NOT that many more people. West Seattle is ~80,000 people. We’re talking about adding another hundred here or there (maybe much as 5,000 in the all apartments in the last many years). That’s still statistically not very significant, less than 10% change in a decade. Everyone calm down. That’s reasonable growth. Seattle isn’t static. (FYI, not that concerned, just trying to play ‘devils advocate’ so everyone is just jumping on one band wagon and ‘thinks’ about the other perspective)

    Comment by David — 7:46 am November 21, 2013 #

  28. As someone who used to live in a house that touched the alley, the concern with pedestrian/truck interaction is overblown beyond belief. And, oh by the way, any pedestrian could easily walk 20 feet or so to take a different route if he or she was so concerned about vehicle interaction (apparently these people have never set foot in a parking lot either).

    The reality is that this project is on a major traffic pipeline (unlike, say, some of the recent projects in the junction).

    And oh – the gateway to West Seattle – well, I’d like a Whole Foods and the currently contemplated design a lot more than the HOLE that has been there for a half decade.

    Unions – please stop pushing your garbage agenda on this one. We don’t want you interfering with a construction project. How about you do what you do best – organize workers (or at least attempt to do so) once a business is up and running. I mean, you already ran a big chunk of Boeing out of town. Now you want to stop business from happening before it even beings. Way to go.

    Comment by 33Pete — 8:07 am November 21, 2013 #

  29. Looking forward to the unions and GIR4WS taking their unionization fight to other area businesses that are currently taking advantage of their employees. May I suggest you start with Easy Street Records and then move on to Café Verite / Cupcake Royal, maybe finish up with the Sneakery. Hipsters Unite!

    Comment by TopHatGuy — 8:49 am November 21, 2013 #

  30. The agenda of GIR4WS is troubling to me, if they have money to spend on architectural drawings as “food for thought”, I would question the use of my dues, were I a member of UFCW. I can come up with a whole range of possibilities with my imagination and at no cost to hard-working citizens who I’m guessing like many people, can find themselves struggling from paycheck to paycheck to keep food on the table. Whole Foods is probably not a place I will favor for my grocery shopping but it’s clear to me that many friends, acquaintances, and neighbors in the West Seattle community are excited about the prospect, same as it was many years ago before the resulting ridiculous hole in the ground was left behind. It seems misguided and kind of makes me ill that UFCW via GIR4WS, will campaign against ventures that will spur job creation in our much loved home territory. I suggest their resources would be better spent developing relationships with employers toward increased opportunities and improved conditions for their members. I think they’re the ones getting it wrong.

    Comment by borderska — 9:24 am November 21, 2013 #

  31. David a lot of numbers there, you say (maybe much as 5,000 in the all apartments in the last many years. That’s still statistically not very significant, less than 10% change in a decade) If those were true numbers and I believe your on the low side. How many cars does that add to the this area ? The problem is it’s all being built in an area that has traffic problems already as W/S has limited access in and out with the bridges. Look at this project, being built at one of the busiest intersections in W/S, how many cars will be going in and out of it’s parking lots daily ? 600+. This intersection also has to handle ferry traffic that is growing. I can see huge traffic issues and very long travel times to get through this area. W/S traffic will continue to only get worse. Until this city gets traffic on I-5 moving along with a new multiuse bridge built for transit, bicycles, pedestrians all new building of this area should be stopped. Allowing the build up of this area is just Irresponsible Planning on the City’s part nothing else. For people that like living in an area like Manhattan great for the rest of us it sucks. I always wonder why people move to on area like W/S then want to change it to fit their ideas and needs ?

    Comment by wetone — 10:08 am November 21, 2013 #

  32. It seems to me there are two separate issues going on here that perhaps the Union involvement has muddled a bit…

    1) Are current public review processes that are in place (i.e. Design Review and SDOT Alley Vacation Process) effective in shaping a project and extracting maximum “public benefit” as allowed under current code/law? (This is a separate question from whether the current zoning/building code and/or Growth Management approach is valid and/or good for the region and presumes that we all understand that density is the right way to go).

    2) Should there be a standard for “living wage jobs” for some or all new businesses wanting to locate in new developments in urban centers?

    Personally, both of these questions, to me, deserved a City-wide evaluation and approach. i.e. the Union should be lobbying City Council or the Mayor not individual projects…

    Comment by kgdlg — 10:39 am November 21, 2013 #

  33. Have any union members ever shopped at Safeway, QFC, Trader Joe’s, or PCC around rush hour? I suspect not, because they would realize pretty much all grocers are packed during those hours and another grocer will be a welcome addition to West Seattle. The Union simply does not want the competition and their members are starting to look like fools with their continued efforts to prevent Whole Foods from entering this market.

    Comment by Pro Whole Foods — 11:08 am November 21, 2013 #

  34. This is amazing. The mayor says “no” to the alley vacation, and then get’s endorsed (and $$ contribution) from the union as I understand. Whole Foods, non-union, coincidence? Now the union comes up with an alternate design plan that, hmmmm, does not include a Whole Foods store. Get the unions the heck out of the decision making process and out of the wallets of the politicians! Unions have been a non-factor since the 1920′s. I was in SC last weekend. They are excited about more jobs from Boeing!

    Comment by JS — 11:32 am November 21, 2013 #

  35. I am sympathetic to unions, and I rarely shop at Whole Foods. But unions have no business in this process. It seems ridiculous to me that this whole squabble started over the giveaway of an alley filled with broken glass that no one gave a crap about until Mayor McGinn exploited it to get his base worked up during the primary. Thanks Mayor. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Get this project going!

    Comment by hg — 11:45 am November 21, 2013 #

  36. I loved the 2nd rendering of the gateway. It’s much nicer than what was proposed. Though I can’t say I’ll shop at Whole Foods. I can’t afford it. But I do think we should fight to have a wonderful presence to our community. Instead of having just sidewalk, front door and some token trees for a relative-to-neighborhood mega-building.

    Comment by tonari — 3:24 pm November 21, 2013 #

  37. Interesting comment noted “…Demanding that a developer, one such as this who is not from this state let alone West Seattle…”. How is your impartial judgment of this project being affected? Just asking.

    Comment by KT — 4:56 pm November 21, 2013 #

  38. The most disappointing issue is the dismal turn out to such a big change to our West Seattle future. How many of you anti-union folks were even at this meeting or have even attended a meeting like this? I find it disturbing how complacent most West Seattle-ites are when it comes to the over-development of our part of the city yet I find many people love to complain after the fact, when it’s too late. If it takes the union to make the necessary changes (yes the original design from the out of state firms are ugly and massive), then that’s the spotted owl of West Seattle development. There is no conspiracy here it’s just a chance to for us as residence of our neighborhood to help guide the development so that our neighborhood remains a desirable place to live. Here is your chance. Take it.

    I thought some of the alternative designs were more inter urban and pedestrian friendly than the strip mall design of the developers. At least we should decide on it, not some firm from Florida.

    Comment by DB Coop — 7:37 pm November 21, 2013 #

  39. This blog post was quite difficult to read.
    To summarize: This presentation was put together even though the two “alternative plans” can’t be submitted for consideration. Is this correct? Is it safe to assume Dr. Sutton was paid to draw up these plans? Frivolous, isn’t it?

    Is this more about Whole Foods vs. a union, or the project’s impact on pedestrian and vehicle traffic?

    This is another confusing statement: “That’s when Perez clarified, ‘Getting It Right for West Seattle is very specific to this project.’” If it’s about getting it right for this specific project, why is it titled this way? How sketch.

    Comment by BabaYaga — 8:02 pm November 21, 2013 #

  40. “…When it’s too late.” The project already has been guided during design review and approved. The missing piece is the alley vacation and whether the development provides adequate public benefit in exchange for City rights of way. If the mixed use Safeway in Admiral was successful in their alley vacation with their minimal public benefit, then I can’t see any reason why this one won’t be approved. This process does not open up the entire development to redesign. I don’t think there is any other public involvement pieces… I appreciate the effort and hope this group is active for the next “mega” project but I really think this ship has sailed.

    Comment by McFail — 9:13 pm November 21, 2013 #

  41. Does anyone else think there are enough grocery stores in this area Safeway, Trader Joe’s, and QFC. Don’t forget the WS Produce market and the Sunday farmers market. I would like to see more retail development along Delridge which could include a grocery store!

    Comment by cece — 9:19 pm November 21, 2013 #

  42. “There is no conspiracy here it’s just a chance to for us as residence of our neighborhood to help guide the development so that our neighborhood remains a desirable place to live. Here is your chance. Take it.”

    Maybe you should actually read the posts – a supermajority of the people are not against the project. They are against the union’s attempts to derail it for their own purpose.

    In other wordws, most people are fine with the development the way it is going and therefore don’t feel the need to attend these meetings. The only reason most feel the need to get involved now is to make sure the union gets the message – stay out of it; not to rail against the project.

    What we don’t like is some special interest group with an agenda – i.e., the union – coming in under the false guise of being there for West Seattle, when in reality all they care about are their own interests and their dispute with Whole Foods.

    Union – if the message isn’t clear enough already. Stay out of this. We don’t want you interfering.

    Comment by 33Pete — 9:40 am November 22, 2013 #

  43. I am not an anti union person, but the unions involvement and voice in this project from the beginning, has caused me to rethink my support of their purpose. They were present and well represented at every design review committee meeting. The design of this project has been approved and the process has moved on. The alley vacation will allow the alley to be moved and become a useful connector street allowing the project to move forward. This street will become a benefit to the community. The alley will be payed for by the developers, at market value and is not going away (just moved and improved). The unions are delaying the process of this projects completion, moving forward because of their own agenda and for no other reason (Whole Foods is non-union). They are wasting valuable public resourses in the process. The Parks Dept. has supported this project and has purchased over 1/2 acre on 40th, where the connector street terminates to build a community park. Mabe the unions should buy the project from the developers, call it McGinnville and build what ‘they,” want. “Get over it or buy it,” they seem to have lots of money to spend. I agree with McFail, that the ship has sailed.

    Comment by West Seattle Lifer — 10:22 am November 22, 2013 #

  44. Expect more noise from labor unions. Their membership numbers will continue to decline as more states adopt “right to work” legislation. This decline is forcing unions to adopt aggressive tactics to sustain and grow membership in union-friendly states. Preventing non-union businesses to open seems to make sense to them. Hang in there though – extinction of labor unions is on the horizon.

    Comment by Desperation — 11:07 am November 22, 2013 #

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