Kitty-corner from the West Seattle Farmers’ Market, that image is what you’re going to see – with a few changes – if Isola Homes goes ahead with 4400 SW Alaska, 36 residential units and four live-work units that got thumbs-up from the Southwest Design Review Board tonight. As noted in our first report last May, it will replace this:
And though you don’t see it in the renderings, you will see brick, as part of the conditions laid out by the board.
Early in the review, board member Daniel Skaggs expressed some concerns about the green/white colors, and noted that Isola had been building projects all around the area and “they look just like this.” What about some brick? he wondered. Steve Fischer from Nicholson-Kovalchick Architects mentioned the nearby brick project (4535 44th SW, which passed Design Review in December) and said this one just didn’t seem to be the right kind of project for that. But he also said the project green might not be as “apple green” as it was showing on the projection screens in the meeting room.
Here’s a look at the courtyard area of the front of the building, which evolved from some suggestions given by the board last summer:
You can see the full set of renderings in this “packet”). The project passed Early Design Guidance – the first round of the city’s design-review process – seven months ago, in July (WSB coverage here).
Fischer said tonight that the materials would include an aluminum composite that bends and facilitates “a clean transition” (where you see white and black) and then “Hardie panel” where you see the green color in the design. Board member Laird Bennion pointed out via a sample that he was able to write on it using a key – raising concerns about graffiti vandalism. The project has two streetfronts, and the landscaping along Alaska will have a much different feel than the landscape off Glenn, the project team said. Bennion wondered about the “vine wall” shown up the middle – what if, like other projects, the vines fail to thrive – what would it look like?
PUBLIC COMMENT: First to speak was Diane Vincent, who said she “love love love(s) the green and … the angles,” as well as “the open stairway.” The white color, though, she’s “not thrilled with.” She echoed concern about the projected “green wall,” pointing out that Admiral Safeway’s planned green wall has never happened. But overall, she voiced appreciation for the “creative” aspects of the project.
Next, Deb Barker, who said she is “very glad to see … that this project has transitioned and addressed some concerns” from its first review. She said she hopes that retail can be successfully attracted to the spaces penciled in as live-work. She said she was “fine with the color scheme, less thrilled with the treatments along the Alaska facade.”
A man identifying himself as “living a block away on 46th” said there’s “no warmth” in the colors/materials, and “no texture … everything is smooth.” It won’t match anything in the area, he said. “I will walk by this building every day … I want to be able to enjoy it, because this is a neighborhood.” He wondered what kind of signage it would have – saying he didn’t want to see neon – and also feared the spaces are too small for retail. Offering a few comments of appreciation, he said he did like the fact it’s not a “flat facade.”
The next person to comment said he hopes the board will strongly encourage retail instead of live/work in those spaces.
“Maybe the two at the corner could be retail, and the other two could be live-work,” he suggested.
Another nearby resident said he likes some aspects including the use of wood along the stairway, the “boldness” of the green.
A man who said he was representing the developer said they are hoping to get retail on the corner – maybe even before construction so they can “build to suit” – and that there will be a beam so that a wall could be knocked out in the future for a bigger space.
BOARD DELIBERATIONS: The first major point of discussion involved the lighting that had been shown in the renderings
Board members thought the “podium level”/corner should be lit more than the residential windows. The colors came around again. Todd Bronk said at one point that if the colors were taken off, the building had the right proportion, but there needed to be more details and he thought that being entirely devoid of brick didn’t necessarily work for a building that’s part of The Junction. Other board members agreed it needed to have some brick, as part of the base getting a “finer texture, more human scale, more timeless” feel. Their recommendations also reinforced expectations that the corner spaces will be retail-focused rather than the not-so-retail uses that “live-work” have been taking on lately – at one point they were going to suggest, rather than require, but Bennion said, “Let’s go big or go home.” The “aggressive” conditions of approval, as the board put it, also include a “more substantial entry canopy at the corner to promote retail use.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Until the project gets final land-use approval, you can still send comments to its assigned city planner, Lindsay King – email@example.com.