4755 Fauntleroy: First alley-vacation hearing expected March 11th

(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.

24 Replies to "4755 Fauntleroy: First alley-vacation hearing expected March 11th"

  • bolo February 12, 2014 (3:48 pm)

    Should be a slam dunk now that McGinn is gone.


    Can’t help thinking that traffic at that intersection is going to suddenly become messier once cars & trucks are going to be wanting to come in and out of that access entrance.


    The new owners sure have let the former gas station and funeral home get rundown-looking.

  • Westside45 February 12, 2014 (3:50 pm)

    I’ve heard of no-frills vacations, but even I can do better than a vacation in that alley.

  • David February 12, 2014 (4:21 pm)

    WHO cares. This hasn’t been an “alley” for 30+ years. Yes in PAPER it’s an alley that belongs to the city, but the car dealership was more or less the only user for the last many decades. I actually assumed it was part of their property, and never even knew it was public right of way. So the hand wringing over this was insane. Just like the “alley” in the Admiral Safeway block…who ever through of that as a public street?

  • old timer February 12, 2014 (6:05 pm)

    The city should trade the alley for an additional traffic lane on the south side of Alaska.
    The ‘right turn only’ lane would extend from the west boundary of the project to the east boundary.
    “RapidRide” will otherwise be hanging up on right turners to Fauntleroy from Alaska.

  • bolo February 12, 2014 (6:32 pm)

    The alley is evidently city property. What if we let the market* set the price?


    *Market as in the “market” in capitalism.

  • Genesee Hill February 12, 2014 (7:03 pm)


    I always thought the Admiral Safeway alley was an alley.
    And yes, the former Huling lot ON paper had a city owned alley. And still has a city owned alley. No hand-wringing involved, that I am aware of..

    “old timer”: great idea.

  • westisbest February 12, 2014 (8:38 pm)

    Really, the Union is trying to hide behind the facde of “design” flaw? Please let the project go forward. I am sick of this site sitting idle. We need to move forward in West Seattle with this project. What other projects are providing 600 parking spaces?

  • PigeonPoint Ben February 12, 2014 (9:05 pm)

    Our municipal government should do everything in their power and by all means available to them to ensure our collective values are reinforced. I encourage these decision makers to reject this alley vacation as long as Whole Foods is the tenant. Whole Foods can and should be able to open up a legal business anywhere they find it desirable and feasable, however our government need not do anything whatsoever to help them out. Instead of paying market rate for this property perhaps this developer should find a tenant that pays their employees a living wage. Why can’t my neighbors show up at work for 40 hours a week, work hard, contribute to their community and then be paid sufficiently to live here? Is that so radical? Our neighbors getting paid a living wage? Why do people have to work 2 or 3 jobs just to be?

  • Chas Redmond February 12, 2014 (11:04 pm)

    Remember: It’s a City Council decision, so contact your Councilors. One way OR the other!!

  • larkshead February 12, 2014 (11:14 pm)

    Agreed, email city council. Getting It Right For West Seattle has an email action page where I sent an email to all city council members at once. They also have a good graphic showing how truck and car traffic will be forced to line up on Fauntleroy under the current design. There’s got to be a better alternative for this critical intersection.


  • Sigh February 13, 2014 (7:24 am)

    Living wages? This is about an alley….Is the city going to force Chris Hansen to pay a living wages to everyone working at his new arena? For every decision the city makes it should be about who is providing a living wage? Perhaps another developer is waiting in the wings and will build to the allowed zoning, making it seven stories instead of five, and zero parking.

  • sam-c February 13, 2014 (8:23 am)

    really, changed to weber Thompson? they are doing the other 2 new buildings in the junction. can’t there be a cap on the number of projects by a single architecture firm within a certain area? ha, I know that is a dumb question. but, the bldgs are all going to look the same, or brown. oh, I should have read the rest of the text. the exterior is not changing.

  • ZoomZoom February 13, 2014 (8:37 am)

    It would be illegal for me to over take the alley space behind my home. Why are we willing to cut this development such a big break? If they can make a compelling case for it and the public wouldn’t be adversely affected, I’m fine with them taking it IF they pay for it. No freebies, sorry.

    • WSB February 13, 2014 (8:43 am)

      Just to clarify (and the alley/street-vacation process is explained in a couple of links in the story) – no one is asking for a freebie. They pay what is described by the city as “fair-market value,” IF the vacation is approved. – TR

  • Lindsey February 13, 2014 (8:52 am)

    Yes, this is a real alley. I walked or drove through it everyday to access my alley parking spot behind my first apartment. This will dump even more traffic in the triangle area.

  • sadfatbastard February 13, 2014 (9:37 am)

    I followed several links referenced in this article to get some background as I had no idea what “alley vacation” even meant and firstly, I would like to commend the blog on the thorough and objective reporting.

    Seems to me like the city has no use for this alley and a sale at fair-market value is good revenue for the city from property that’s obsolete.

    RE: “The group has said it wants a Community Benefits Agreement.” – The description (linked in the final paragraph) of more than $2 million dollars ponied up by developer as “public benefit package” seems adequate, thoughtful and in good faith.

    Developments like this are the way of “progress”, like it or not, but to me it sounds like the project is meeting the city standards for design review, let them have that crummy alley.

  • McFail February 13, 2014 (9:55 am)

    Can “living wage” still be a hanging point when it appears that the City is moving in that direction? I would be more concerned about the traffic from the population increase from the tenants than delivery trucks…

  • Grant February 13, 2014 (10:42 am)

    The alley is not going away. It will be sold to the developers who will be required to maintain it as an alley in perpetuity. This improved, widened alley will have a sidewalk on either side with planters to protect pedestrians from through-alley traffic, and it will open up to a new city park that is planned for 40th Ave.

    Please don’t less misinformation and misdirection from the anti-Whole Foods union UFCW determine your stance. They want the city to block the alley vacation because they want to punish/block their competitor Whole Foods. It’s unfortunate (and still a bit surreal) that McGinn politicized an alley vacation during the primaries, but City Council will be able to consider matters more objectively. The Whittaker development is an attractive, thoughtful, pedestrian-friendly one, it’s benefited from an exceptional number of rounds of public feedback, and it’s definitely good for the neighborhood. Time to move past the longstanding blight at that lot.

  • wetone February 13, 2014 (11:07 am)

    If the proposed alley vacation is okayed then developer should pay full market value of property or put it on the open market. The city just recently bought the two lots across street for a new park, 4731 40th SW (11,500 sqft. $1.44 mil) and the one to the north 5750sqft $720k. Figure out sqft of full alley and setbacks then charge developer such. No public benefit package, hard money to the city. Public benefit package is just on extra tax break for them. Investor should be paying the city back for the park cost, that would be a good value on alley and cost involved.

  • drag-on-for-years February 13, 2014 (11:23 am)

    How transparent can you be. UFCW Local 21 opposition to Whole Foods is as blatant as McGinn’s vote getting pandering to this union last year.
    No grocery competition is what this opposition is all about.
    And as far as increased traffic as a reason to oppose, sorry, but with all the apt. blocks built in West Seattle recently and on the books, cutting of bus service, McGinn’s ingenious bus bulbs and road diets, the traffic in WS is already effed.
    Let them buy the damn alley and move this project forward.

  • Jena February 14, 2014 (9:10 am)

    How many of you opposing it actually have to look at it everyday? I do, because I live right across the street. In the 10 years that I’ve lived here this alley has used for drug deals and that is pretty much it. Let’s come together and do something, anything. Like it or not this neighborhood is growing. I’m tired of watching all the vacant lots and giant holes in this area attract criminal behavior. Believe me there are lots of it. We passed getting it done right at this point.

  • WestofJunction February 14, 2014 (10:08 am)

    Whole Foods is a great addition to the area. Given so many more people moving in due to development, QFC/Safeway/Trader Joes combined lack the capacity. I like to buy (different thngs) from all of these stores.

  • WholeFoods Fan February 19, 2014 (8:23 pm)

    I can’t wait for this development to get underway and for Whole Foods to open. Oh, and despite their CEO’s politics they do pay decent wages for the work expected… do your homework Union reps and embrace competition – it’ll make you stronger. But about this alley vacation… yeah, we should at least get some green space, trees, and a safer crosswalk. Why not fight for something useful rather than just being anti-development?

  • Not Old School February 20, 2014 (4:07 pm)

    Dear Whole Foods (and your developer partner),

    I am not a huge fan of all your business practices or your prices. Like the majority of people I meet in West Seattle though, I look forward to the transformation you will bring to a blighted corner at the gateway to our fair neighborhood.

    Please do not read the tone of most of the comments here as representative in any way of the attitude West Seattle has to your arrival. You will be welcomed by this neighborhood.

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