(WSB file photo of the east-west alley that the development wants, along with a north-south section)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One key approval still needed if the 4755 Fauntleroy SW (map) project, aka The Whittaker and “the Whole Foods project,” is to go forward is the one that became an issue in last year’s mayoral campaign: The “alley vacation” request, in which the developers are seeking approval to buy part of the alleys on the site, which are city-owned right of way. A date is finally set for the City Council review of the request to begin – March 11th, 9:30 am, the first hearing before the council’s Transportation Committee, chaired by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.
Though the date technically is still tentative, Councilmember Rasmussen tells WSB they expect SDOT to get all the necessary documentation in by then.
You’ll probably recall that last July, after the 7-story, ~370-apartment, ~600-parking-space project had gone through four Southwest Design Review Board meetings and four Seattle Design Commission reviews, then-Mayor Mike McGinn announced he was ordering then-SDOT director Peter Hahn to have his department “not forward a recommendation to approve this alley vacation request.” The project had already been opposed by UFCW Local 21, which has provided the funding for a group focused on raising concerns about the project, Getting It Right for West Seattle. We reported in November on “alternatives” for the site, commmissioned by GIRWS. The group has said it wants a Community Benefits Agreement.
We have a request out for a comment from Mayor Ed Murray, to see if he has taken a position on the alley-vacation request.
Meantime, SDOT has continued to review the alley-vacation request; we don’t know yet if its recommendation is final, but are also asking for that information if it’s available. Following Transportation Committee review, the proposed alley vacation would have to go to the full City Council for approval, as outlined in the city’s Street/Alley Vacation policy. (For a primer on the process, see this WSB story from last year.)
The project has changed architects, from Fuller Sears to Weber Thompson, which worked on two Junction projects now under construction (4730 California and the West Seattle Apartments at California/Alaska/42nd), but a project spokesperson tells us the design is not changing, saying the architect is changing because now they’re focusing on interior details and WT is more of a residential architect than FS.
WHAT’S NEXT: Watch Transportation Committee agendas for the formal listing of the 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW hearing, which will be in City Council chambers at City Hall downtown – there will be public comment, in case you want to save the date (again, March 11th). The Design Commission also has an administrative review (no public comment) later this month for final renderings of several elements of the “public benefit package” (detailed here) that it vetted as part of the alley-vacation process.
ADDED THURSDAY: The City Council agenda for next Tuesday (one day later than usual, since Monday is Presidents Day) includes a resolution setting this hearing date.