4755 Fauntleroy: Rasmussen’s response to ‘volume of correspondence’

(From project team’s presentation at last Tuesday’s hearing)
Following up on Tuesday’s City Council Transportation Committee hearing (WSB as-it-happened coverage here) on the requested “alley vacation” for 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, recently named The Whittaker, aka “the Whole Foods project” for the only tenant announced so far for the ~400-apartment, ~600-parking-space mixed-use building: The committee’s chair, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, has made public the e-mail he is sending to those who’ve contacted him with concerns. Read it here or below:

As noted both in Rasmussen’s e-mail and our Tuesday coverage linked above, the next official step is the April 8th committee meeting. It will also have a public-comment period, but since it’s not the formal public hearing on the proposal, it won’t be as long as the hour last Tuesday. Along with Rasmussen, the committee includes vice chair Mike O’Brien and member Jean Godden. The final vote on the proposal would be up to the full council.

35 Replies to "4755 Fauntleroy: Rasmussen's response to 'volume of correspondence'"

  • JanS March 14, 2014 (10:15 pm)

    Tracy, thank you. I get the feeling that Tom Rasmussen is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. This is so complex, but in the end, no one is giving away anything. And everything that they have planned is legal and allowed. Some of us may not like the density, but that’s something we are all going to have to deal with. And I gathered that the information from Whole Foods regarding their pay, their health benefits, etc., will just have to be dealt with. I will not shop at Whole Foods. I have 3 grocery stores surrounding me…Safeway, Met Mkt, and PCC. But some people will….I seriously doubt that it will not be supported. We community members have choices here…one choice is to still try and get this project shut down. I, for one, don’t like how that corner looks right now. Or they can choose to let the developer develop.

    Thanks again, TR. I can hear Tom’s frustration just reading that letter.

    And thanks to Tom Rasmussen for being on top of this.

    Happy weekend, everyone.

  • Jeffrey March 14, 2014 (10:24 pm)

    Welcome to West Seattle Whole Foods!

    Clyde is giving you a double paws up and a double bark out!

    The Whole Foods in Westlake is fabulous! I’m sure the one in West Seattle will be its equal. They’ve got a great meat department.

    Sorry, I’m gushing.

    What a treat! Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s right across from each other… yaba … daba … dooooo!

  • Jeffrey March 14, 2014 (10:43 pm)

    Woohoo… Whole Foods! It’s REALLY exciting. We should have a parade to welcome Whole Foods to the neighborhood!

    Heck Clyde and I would get out of our car and walk in the parade. It would be a real scene!

  • ollie March 14, 2014 (11:14 pm)

    Can’t wait for Whole Foods!

  • Diane March 14, 2014 (11:30 pm)

    we were not fighting the density; we were fighting the design; HUGE difference

  • Diane March 14, 2014 (11:31 pm)

    thank you for posting the letter TR; very revealing

  • WS gal March 15, 2014 (4:38 am)

    Thank you tom! Let’s get this alley vacation approved! People need to realize if the developer tires of this process they will sell to someone else who will NOT ask for the alley vacation and build something two stories taller no grocery and no parking at all!!! It’s legal!!

  • Sutton March 15, 2014 (7:41 am)

    I am now a bigger Rasmussen fan!
    That letter outlines FACTS, a component many people from both sides have complained are missing from this process.
    The facts show that this has not been a hijacked process by greedy out of state developers as some have claimed. This is a project that has evolved and passed every step of our City’s complex development process.
    His letter also states that fact of what can and likely will be done if this project falls. Get ready for even more units with less parking and no mid block connector. Also, lose out on most of the public benefits (whether you liked their list or not) – we will have much less leverage over the next developer. That next developer will certainly not be more interested in getting it right for our little burg.
    Thanks Tom!

  • MyEye March 15, 2014 (9:23 am)

    Here’s an idea, lets not have allowed such over development in an area so undeserved by transit options and throughput.
    The real fault here is that even the threat of a 85 story building is even allowed in the area at all. So, nice job planning that one out Rasmussen.

    • WSB March 15, 2014 (12:01 pm)

      MyEye – please note, it is an allowable height of 85 feet, not 85 stories. The site is zoned for up to 85′; the current proposal is 70′.

  • 33Pete March 15, 2014 (10:15 am)

    Thank goodness iy looks like the project will be approved. This is going to be great for WS. Really, a VERY small but vocal minority was trying to hijack this project and hold it hostage to special interest. Thankfully they will it dictate what 99 percent of us want.

  • Sutton March 15, 2014 (10:38 am)

    MyEye –
    Chicken and Egg…can’t get more transit and services without more density, can’t build more density without transit & services…
    it’s up to us to continue to demand improvements in services for the area.
    Would rather have this density here than in the Single Family Zones that cover the vast majority of West Seattle.

  • Jenava March 15, 2014 (10:51 am)

    As a neighbor to this project I know it’s going to change things a lot. But, I’m so glad that we have Tom Rasmussen to look into and get our questions and concerns addressed. I feel like he has been a good advocate for our community in this project.

  • WS4life March 15, 2014 (10:58 am)

    “Hijacked” is exactly what the unions have in mind. They have been trying to derail this project since day one. Because they don’t like or want real competition. They simply want to control what they’ve had a monopoly on in WS for years. Trader Joes has already put a dent in there gross profits. Yes transit is terrible in that area and will continue to be but that is the DOT fault. So hooray for Whole Paycheck! Let’s get this project Done.

  • ahem March 15, 2014 (11:56 am)

    I am just going to make a small comment that some people are very naive about council members’ “heroics”.

    These kinds of out-of-town REIT developers are de facto greedy developers. Our city’s system to engage with them is bereft of meaningful inclusions of policies which benefit our need for infrastructure.

    Grown up, mature, experienced metropolitan areas and cities know this and have requirements for developers. We don’t and it is BUSH league not to. At this point in our city’s growth, THIS FACT points to the absolute deleterious omissions.

    It is my opinion that if Mr. Rasmussen wants to represent West Seattle as the District 1 representative to the future Council, he needs to get cracking on new policies to address this because he appears to be bending over backwards for these developer dudes and that is not politic any longer.

    The Triangle Advisory Committee did NOT want the upzoning. People have frigging short memories when they are land-use amateurs and small business entrepreneurs engaged in serious development issues.

    The whole process is shameful as it stands, from lack of city policies for development to local yokels without learned guidance on the issues.

    Mr. Rasmussen, you need to be a leader here for the entire city, but you dropped the ball on the opportunity for West Seattle.

    People won’t forget.
    Unless you change your game.

  • Diane March 15, 2014 (12:04 pm)

    @ahem; well said; thank you

  • ppfm March 15, 2014 (12:23 pm)

    I can’t wait for this project! Good job Tom. You have my vote!

  • Sutton March 15, 2014 (12:47 pm)

    @Ahem –
    Noted land use amateur here.
    Also member of said Triangle Advisory Committee that had the zoning thrown in towards the end of the process.
    You are right – not everyone wanted it. Not everyone wants anything.
    And yet the processes move forward…progress? Sometimes.
    Our City Council members aren’t heroes in this, I haven’t seen any heroes in this process. It’s a policy and land use debate – what would heroics look like?
    Yes, there are lots of people in West Seattle with less sophistication towards the intricacies of urban development who still hold strong opinions about how we should grow as a community.
    I am one of those local yokels without learned guidance on these issues. And I am willing to put my name on my comments in a public forum so my neighbors know who is accountable for them.
    I am all for improving this shameful process. I’ll work on my own naïveté and also try to be open to the opinions of others.
    If there are specific policies our city should adopt to hold developers to more significant infrastructure investments, I would be for that too.
    Thanks for advocating for them, let me know if you want any help.
    Take care, Josh Sutton

  • JanS March 15, 2014 (1:05 pm)

    Diane, I love you, and maybe I don’t have as discerning eye as you do, but the design is beautiful to me, as far as the street level goes. I see a good looking facade, I see more trees and walkability on Alaska. T. If the vacation is not granted, those trucks still have to get to the store somehow. Maybe I’m just immune to that considering where I live, across form Adm. Safeway. There is heavy traffic most of the time, there are trucks, there are cars parked everywhere, there are people into the wee hours of the night. But, we have trees, and walkability, and it’s not as bad as some made/make it out to be. This argument has been going on for a long time re: Whole Foods. At what point do we simply look at the facts and agree to simply move on.

    And those green walls that you talk about at Safeway. They planted right before the cold season, and nothing had a chance to get a foothold. I’m betting that will change, but it’ll take longer. That’s the least of my worries. I worry that the battle over Fauntleroy and Alaska will just go on and on, and that corner will be more and more of an eyesore…the naysayers get their way, but…so what? It’ll still be ugly.

  • JanS March 15, 2014 (1:19 pm)

    ahem….I am not an architect, a developer. I just live here. I don’t have close connections to city council, representatives in Olympia, etc. But, I don’t, like you, think that my way is the only way. I simply have an opinion. We all have an OPINION, including you. I don’t know who you are, I can’t tell by your name. But, because you feel one way does not make you the expert. It makes you “ahem”. To call all those who disagree with you “naive” is disingenuous, condescending. . The rules and allowances are out there…you want someone to ignore them. Tom Rasmussen isn’t that guy…he’s, for lack of better words, not your “lackey” to go along with whatever you want. He listened to both sides, he checked the facts, he stated how he feels about the facts. Live with it.

    I have lived in West Seattle for 39 years. I have seen many, many, many changes. Do I like them all? No, of course not. But, to use the title of an old movie “Things Change”. And West Seattle hasn’t crumbled yet.

    Let’s let them get on with this project. If you want it a different way, pony up the money, and build it yourself.

  • ahem March 15, 2014 (1:32 pm)


    Learn about the policies.
    Teach your cohorts.
    Demand action from the Council.

    West Seattle has been late to the learning process. But it can lead the city if you and your neighbors learn how this SHOULD work to optimize development infill. It’s bad business not too. Pay somebody who is fluent to represent the West SEattle Districts on Land Use. Start with the SW District Council.

  • ahem March 15, 2014 (1:34 pm)


    I was not writing for you. Though I see you love to think all comments are directed at you :)

    Have a nice day.

  • Sutton March 15, 2014 (4:35 pm)

    Thanks for that. I’ll keep trying to do better.
    Given that folks like me (and likely some other WS community volunteers you referenced) are uneducated in these intricate development matters, we might be slow to get up to speed.
    Also, our city processes aren’t known for moving quickly, so it’s going to take a while to make meaningful, lasting change.
    In the meantime, is this leadership something you are willing to give to our West Seattle community? As you know, groups like the Southwest District Council are grassroots and have little funds to hire such an expert advocate. So they volunteer to do their best and work to find solutions that most people can agree on will help our community be strong.
    We all acknowledge that our community is in a period of great change, and is at risk if not done well.
    It would be great to add more community leaders who bring educated backgrounds and knowledge in specialty areas so we can work together and really get things right in West Seattle.
    Let me know how you’d like to help with that.
    Josh Sutton

  • MyEye March 15, 2014 (8:50 pm)

    Feels like 85 stories… I of course meant feet.

  • ahem March 15, 2014 (8:52 pm)

    Just go to the SW District Council Meeting Josh and express YOUR desire, as a self-proclaimed “Leader” to address land use issues. A group was just formed recently and that’s where the other “volunteer leaders” will gather. Start there. The people who call themselves leaders are the people to research this with.

    And raise your expectations of how things should be from what they are. Try a bold, bodacious, visionary hat on for this. Engage with people who think differently and creatively.

    Just a thought. Take it or leave it.

    Meanwhile, I will be contemplating who the heck is worthy of my vote. It doesn’t seem to be anybody I have yet heard of. I hope other folks besides Tom Rasmussen and Chas Redmond step up.

    Have a good day.

  • Sutton March 15, 2014 (9:54 pm)

    So your answer is that you want others to do what you are not prepared to help with? And for people you deem unsophisticated in the ways of urban planning to have bolder visions and think bigger like you do?
    It is likely we will each be disappointed with one another now and in the future.
    I’m ok with that.
    Thanks for the tips and conversation today.

  • E March 15, 2014 (10:04 pm)

    Just do it! We can’t stop progress! We are expanding and there are many benefits to a growing city!!

  • Alphonse March 16, 2014 (1:09 am)

    I’m putting on my bold, bodacious, visionary hat and suggesting the creation of a crowdfunding project to raise money for a vaccine for smugness and passive-aggressiveness.

  • JanS March 16, 2014 (1:11 am)

    wow…interesting posts. Dear Mr. or Ms. Ahem. Please forgive me. I thought you were being condescending to the whole community, of which I am a member. I, like Josh Sutton, thought that I was allowed to make my personal opinion known on here. I didn’t realize that I was supposed to defer to you, since I am so ignorant on this subject, and you are the expert. Again, forgive me.

    No wonder people don’t get involved. If they disagree with a certain faction, they are considered naive, ignorant on land use laws of the city, etc., and on and on ad nauseum. So they feel they should just shut up, because, after all, what the hell do they know? They’ll just be belittled by the likes of you. Not exactly a good way to recruit people to your way of thinking.

    @Josh Sutton…you are much fairer than I am afraid I’d like to be in this conversation, so I’m leaving. Something will get built, and there will always be someone to bitch about it. Big Sigh :)

  • grr March 17, 2014 (9:43 am)

    Great email from Tom.. Great compromise by the developer. Plenty of parking, lower height.. Design looks nice to me as well.. Whole Foods has made a business decision to place a store in the building.. They’ve obviously done their market research and determined the demand, just like EVERY OTHER business that has decided to open shop in WS. Some make it, some don’t. The free market will decide.

  • sam-c March 17, 2014 (3:11 pm)

    thank you for sharing the letter.
    re: the last sentence:
    “The final vote on the proposal would be up to the full ”
    the full council?

    • WSB March 17, 2014 (3:17 pm)

      Yup. Not sure which rev of this ate that word, but somehow it vanished … thanks.

  • Leah March 19, 2014 (9:57 am)

    When will the store open? Also how and when will they be interviewing people? Leah

    • WSB March 19, 2014 (10:09 am)

      We’re years away. 2016 at the soonest. You’d have to ask Whole Foods about its interviewing process.

Sorry, comment time is over.

WP-Backgrounds by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann