‘Alley vacation’ for The Whittaker? Preview what City Councilmembers will see at Tuesday’s public hearingMarch 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | 12 Comments
As we’ve been reporting for a month, next Tuesday is the official City Council Transportation Committee public hearing on the “alley vacation” request by the developers of The Whittaker, the 370-apartment, 600-parking-space project at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, with Whole Foods Market the only announced tenant so far. Two days ago, we showed you the SDOT memo sent to the committee by the staff that’s been reviewing the request for months. Now, the committee meeting’s agenda is out, and it includes other documents:
*Slide deck explaining the Seattle Design Commission‘s four reviews of the project before it voted last June to approve the “public benefits” that are required for alley/street vacations – see it here or via the Scribd viewer below:
*The Whittaker’s presentation – see it here or via the Scribd viewer below:
Again, the SDOT memo and an attachment were featured in this WSB story on Tuesday (and are also linked in the meeting agenda). Toward the end of that story, we noted we were reading the 22-page memo so we could post excerpts for those who didn’t want to go through the whole thing. We never got to add them so we’re doing so now, after the jump:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
We are now one week away from the project at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, now known as The Whittaker (previously nicknamed the Whole Foods project after its anchor tenant), going to the City Council Transportation Committee for a public hearing.
The public hearing, the date for which was set last month, is your chance to comment on the “alley vacation” requested by The Whittaker’s developers – asking for City Council approval of their potential purchase of alley space on the site, for their 370-apartment, 600-parking-space mixed-use project. It includes what some have described as a new private alley, a “midblock connector” through the project. In addition to paying what the city calls fair-market value for the alley space, developers are supposed to include a package of “public benefits” in order to gain approval.
With behind-the-scenes meetings and advocacy campaigns having been long under way, the hearing is shaping up as a showdown between project supporters and opponents; the latter most notably include UFCW Local 21, which funded a campaign called “Getting It Right for West Seattle” focused on raising concerns about the project, from Whole Foods’ pay scale to potential truck traffic. The project team launched a campaign of its own recently, including this website mentioned in postal-mail cards sent to people in proximity of the project.
The Seattle Department of Transportation reviews alley-vacation requests before they go to the City Council. Last July, you might recall, then-Mayor Mike McGinn told then-SDOT director Peter Hahn not to recommend approval of the alley vacation. The SDOT staff review was not complete at that time. It is now, one week in advance of the hearing, and we have just obtained it:
(The table/attachment referenced in the document is here.) In our first quick read of the 22-page document, we note that SDOT concludes that, “Should the City Council choose to support the vacation, it is recommended that the vacation be granted upon the Petitioner meeting” conditions laid out at the end of the document – you can see the long list of those conditions in the embedded document above.
We’ll be adding more to this story later this afternoon, and we’ll have a followup looking more closely at the campaigns focused on this proposal. Next Wednesday’s hearing is at 9:30 am in City Council Chambers at City Hall downtown.
West Seattle development followup: Formal notice of March 11th hearing on 4755 Fauntleroy ‘alley vacation’February 14, 2014 at 8:50 am | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Environment, West Seattle news | Comments Off
Back on Wednesday, we reported the date had finally been set for the City Council Transportation Committee’s public hearing on the “alley vacation” that needs council approval before The Whittaker, aka “the Whole Foods project,” can proceed at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW: 9:30 am March 11th in council chambers at City Hall. This morning, the official city notice is out – see it here. It includes details on how to comment at, and before, the March 11th hearing. It also includes this map of the site and the surrounding area (partially shown at right). The hearing before the Transportation Committee, chaired by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, is the first step in formal council consideration; the full council would consider it afterward.
(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.
‘The Whittaker’ chosen as name for 4755 Fauntleroy project, in honor of West Seattle native Jim WhittakerJanuary 10, 2014 at 4:27 pm | In 4755 Fauntleroy, West Seattle news | 38 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The largest development currently planned for West Seattle now has a larger-than-life name:
The name chosen for 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW is a tribute to the West Seattle native who first made history as the first American to summit 29,028-foot Mount Everest, Jim Whittaker (right).
The legendary outdoorsman was, typically, outdoors when he talked with us about it – near the sea, not far from the mountains, standing in the rain at a spot where he could get a cell connection. Exactly one month shy of his 85th birthday, Whittaker says he has never had a building named for him before, jokingly telling us, “That’s usually something that happens after you’re dead.”
We also talked with spokespersons for project developers Lennar and Weingarten about the name choice and the status of what until now was just nicknamed “the Whole Foods project,” after its first announced tenant.
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.)
The advocacy group Getting It Right for West Seattle is going public Monday with its alternative visions for the 4755 Fauntleroy Way project site. As reported here in community-meeting coverage last month, the group that grew from union concerns about the Whole Foods Market-anchored project hired University of Washington architecture/urban design/planning professor Dr. Sharon E. Sutton to come up with alternative “design concept” for the site, based on feedback from an online survey. (She had earlier outlined concerns about the project in her role as urban-design consultant to UFCW Local 21.) Her two designs will be shown at a meeting Monday night. The group says the public is welcome at that meeting – 6:45 pm Monday (November 18th) at Emeritus (formerly Merrill Gardens; WSB sponsor)-West Seattle, 4611 35th SW.
SIDE NOTE: If you are wondering about the project’s official status – the former gas station at the Fauntleroy/Alaska is being demolished/dug up, as reported here earlier this month, but the rest of it continues to await a key city decision, regarding the alley vacation required by the design that was approved by the city’s Southwest Design Review Board and Design Commission. The alley vacation is not expected to go to the City Council before Mayor Mike McGinn, who told SDOT to oppose it, leaves office in early January.
You might have noticed that some demolition work started today at 4755 Fauntleroy Way – aka the Whole Foods (and ~370 apartments as well as other retail) site – but that does not mean the project has its final approvals, and it has nothing to do with the results of last night’s mayoral election (you might recall that the “alley vacation” needed for the project became a campaign issue, when Mayor McGinn told SDOT not to approve it). What’s happening here, a project spokesperson told WSB today, is demolition of the former gas station on the Fauntleroy/Alaska corner, so that its tanks can be dug up and the site can be cleaned up.
This work will take about three weeks, according to the project spokesperson. (Even if the site had remained under its previous ownership, the tanks were slated for removal and replacement – we had been watching permits and processes there for a long time.) As for the aforementioned alley vacation, it still has to go before the City Council Transportation Committee, which wouldn’t happen any sooner than next month. As SDOT’s street/alley-vacation specialist Beverly Barnett told the Junction Neighborhood Organization in September, the proposal remains open for public comment.
4755 Fauntleroy alley spat: Development team defends its ‘public benefit’ plan; Whole Foods says, ‘We’re a good employer’July 25, 2013 at 5:44 pm | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | 37 Comments
In the second week since the 4755 Fauntleroy Way project – 370 apartments, a Whole Foods Market, and other TBA retailers – was catapulted into the citywide spotlight by a mayoral letter, we heard yesterday from the advocacy group rallying concerns, and now, today, we hear again from the development team and WF. Reps for Lennar Homes and Weingarten Realty tell WSB they are still hoping to engage the mayor directly in dialogue, but for now, here’s their defense of the “public benefit” they are proposing as a prerequisite for City Council approval of an “alley vacation” for the site, which would lead to the city selling the alley land in question to the developers, which the mayor says the city shouldn’t do:
… This is the first project implemented under the West Seattle Triangle Plan and is an exciting opportunity for the community to have the environmental issues on this site remediated, abandoned buildings removed, and vacant parking lots replaced with new businesses, housing and, most of all, jobs.
Early in this process, the development team reviewed the planning and zoning documents for these parcels and we were impressed with the grass-roots effort that created and implemented the West Seattle Triangle Plan.
Accordingly, this re-development fully supports the recommendations of the community as expressed in the West Seattle Triangle Plan. This vision, passed by Council and signed by Mayor McGinn less than two years ago, includes vacating the public alleyway and creating a midblock connector.
The proposal to vacate an on-site alley went through extensive vetting by DPD, SDOT, the Design Commission and the West Seattle Design Review Board. Under the City’s established process, the Design Commission unanimously recommended approval of the alley vacation and the West Seattle Design Review Board also recommended approval of the project. Strong public support in favor of the re-development was seen at all meetings and is also seen in comments posted on media websites.
The total width of the midblock connector is 51 feet on 40th Avenue and 41 feet on Fauntleroy Way. This is the normal width of a typical city street in Seattle and exceeds the minimum required standards for an alley, which are just 20 feet.
Along with providing a new midblock connector that is more than twice as wide as the requirements of an alley, this redevelopment will also create a functioning north/south alley. Currently, the existing alley that runs north and south, dead ends into a 6’-0” high retaining wall and is impassable for vehicles or pedestrians.
Although we are replacing approximately 6,600 square feet of vacated alley with a 11,000-square-foot midblock connector, which includes a public easement, the city requires us to purchase the vacated portion of the alley from the city. This transaction will occur after a post-construction appraisal is completed.
In addition to purchasing the vacated alley from the city at full-market value, we are required to provide a “public benefit” package. For this project, more than $2 million will be invested into the community by providing:
• Activation of a city-designated Green Street on 40th Ave. SW
• Creation of 5,000+ s.f. of public plazas and open space on site
• Widening of 40th Ave. SW on the north end of the block
• Creation of 6- to 10-foot-wide bands of landscaping around the project
• Addition of a 5-foot-wide bike lane on Fauntleroy Way
• Curation and installation of public art
• Funding for design of a new city park on 40th Ave SW
Another positive outcome of the re-development will be a new source of sales and property tax revenues for the city.
Through all of this and more, we are demonstrating a strong commitment to the community, and West Seattle will benefit from a blighted area being re-developed into a thriving, pedestrian-friendly business and residential district.
Meantime, Whole Foods – which is not part of the “development team” but rather a signed tenant for the project – has sent us its latest rebuttal. From regional president Joe Rogoff, from whom we first heard July 16th (in a statement toward the end of our story the day the controversy erupted):
Click to read the rest of 4755 Fauntleroy alley spat: Development team defends its ‘public benefit’ plan; Whole Foods says, ‘We’re a good employer’…
(West side of 4755 Fauntleroy, rendering by Fuller Sears Architects)
One week ago today, the 4755 Fauntleroy Way mixed-use project’s path through the approval process hit a sudden pothole when Mayor McGinn sent a letter to SDOT, saying the department should recommend the City Council reject the project’s request for an “alley vacation” to facilitate 370 apartments, 600 underground parking spaces, and retail including Whole Foods Market. The “vacation” would involve the city agreeing to sell a section of alley on the property to the developers. The mayor cited concerns including most notably the proliferation of supermarkets in central West Seattle and the wages and benefits that non-union Whole Foods would offer its staff, points that had been made at prior hearings on the project by members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21, which has recently become involved with an advocacy campaign called “Getting It Right for West Seattle,” focused on this project.
Our initial coverage a week ago, which you can see here, includes the mayor’s letter, Whole Foods’ response, project background (we’ve been covering 4755 Fauntleroy for a year), and 185 reader comments. Then last Wednesday, we published a followup including the developers’ response (see it here) and what happens next – the project’s referral to the City Council Transportation Committee for a public hearing on the alley vacation. (No date yet; SDOT communications director Rick Sheridan tells WSB, “In terms of schedule, the earliest a recommendation could be delivered is the fall.”)
In the past week, all this has circulated into regional media. And now there’s a followup – Getting It Right for West Seattle has sent a letter to the Transportation Committee’s chair, West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, and e-mailed us a copy late today:
As you’ll see if you scroll through it, the letter is signed by representatives of more than two dozen local businesses, three unions including UFCW Local 21, 22 people identifying themselves as West Seattleites, four political/advocacy groups, and five clergy/faith-group representatives. If you can’t read the embedded document, the heart of the letter reads:
This project, if approved, would be the largest multi-use development ever built in West Seattle. While acquisition of a public right of way would greatly increase these developers’ profits, the project in its current form will:
• increase West Seattle’s traffic and congestion;
• degrade pedestrian safety;
• create low-wage jobs and housing unaffordable to those workers;
• drive away existing local, small businesses; and
• set a lower standard for future development in West Seattle.
We are aware that the Seattle City Council has final authority over alley vacations. We urge you as chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee to let the Executive’s decision stand.
Once that committee has a hearing and takes a vote, the alley-vacation request would then move to the full Council. If it voted to approve the request, the mayor could veto it; if he did, the council could override it, and that would be the final say (pending legal challenges, etc.). Before this letter arrived, we had been working on a separate followup we expect to publish tomorrow, with other updates.
P.S. If you are just coming in on this – this project was first proposed a year ago for a site including the former Huling (and briefly Gee) auto property along Fauntleroy south of Alaska, plus the Shell station north of it, the Howden-Kennedy Funeral Home west of that (they are moving to a new location in Sunrise Heights), and another former auto-sales property at the corner of 40th/Alaska. It would abut the Alki Masonic Temple on two sides; the developers announced during the May Design Commission review that they would pay to improve the Masons’ parking lot.
(40th SW side of the 4755 Fauntleroy project, from the “packet” from last week’s Design Review meeting)
As reported – and extensively discussed – here on Tuesday, Mayor McGinn has put up a potential roadblock in the permit-seeking path of the 4755 Fauntleroy Way project, by telling SDOT to not recommend approval of the “alley vacation” the plan requires. While continuing to update that story Tuesday afternoon and evening, we sought comment from the development team, Lennar Homes (responsible for the residential component) and Weingarten Realty (handling the commercial component, anchored by a Whole Foods Market). Here’s the statement we received late today:
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to Mayor McGinn’s comments about our mixed-use re-development, located at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW.
Less than two years ago, the City Council adopted, and Mayor McGinn signed, an ordinance creating the West Seattle Triangle Plan. The Plan calls for the vacation of the alley in this block and the creation of a new mid-block connector – goals this project has fully embraced.
Mayor McGinn’s comments are surprising given the Mayor’s past support of developments that add housing and retail along transit lines and bike lanes. In fact, our re-development is designed with alternate modes of transportation in mind.
The statement continues after the jump:
(NEWEST UPDATE BELOW: Response from regional Whole Foods exec, added 5:35 pm)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 11:58 AM: Mayor McGinn has told SDOT that he will not recommend City Council approval of the “alley vacation” request by the 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW (“Whole Foods”) megaproject. We’ve just obtained a copy of the memo from the mayor’s office – read it here or embedded here:
The memo’s ending summary:
… it is difficult to see how the alley vacation proposal meets our public benefit standards when it does not support equitable economic development as stated in our Comprehensive Plan, does not support community vibrancy and walkability, and does not support our local urban design plans. It is the position of the executive that because this project is not in the public interest, we will not forward a recommendation to approve this alley vacation request to the City Council at this time.”
The project just passed Design Review last week, and has also been approved by the Design Commission, which reviews projects that require alley or street vacations, as does this 370-apartment, 600-parking space proposal. But other reviews are ahead because of the alley-vacation request – in fact, they were part of a separate followup we were working on when this broke – including the city Transportation Commission. (P.S. Since we believe in credit where credit’s due, hat tip Slog.)
ADDED 12:19 PM: As one commenter has pointed out, “alley vacation” isn’t exactly an everyday phrase. Here’s our basic breakdown: If a developer wants to buy and include city-owned right of way – part of an alley, or a street, or a “street end” – in a project, that right-of-way has to be “vacated” by the city – as explained here. West Seattle projects for which alley vacations were approved include Admiral Safeway and Spruce (formerly Fauntleroy Place, aka “The Hole”); one was also approved for the not-yet-begun Equity Residential (formerly Conner Homes) two-building project at California/Alaska.
(added) Here’s the east-west alley, looking to Fauntleroy from 40th, that the developers are asking for, along with part of the north-south alley:
Further south on the site, their proposal includes a “midblock connector,” seen here in the west-to-east view:
ADDED 12:36 PM: If you haven’t already read the mayor’s memo – he specifically calls out the non-union Whole Foods Market as cause for concern:
We have a strong commitment to social and economic justice at the City of Seattle. One of our core economic development goals is to provide fair and livable wages and benefits for our residents. The Economic Development elements of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan contain clear language to this effect: “seeking a greater proportion of living wage jobs that will have greater benefits” and “support key sectors of Seattle’s economy to create jobs that pay wages that can support a family, provide necessary benefits, and contribute to the vitality of the City including, but not limited to, the industrial, manufacturing, service, hospitality and retail sectors.” The primary retail use in the proposed project is a 41,000 square foot Whole Foods Market. There are already seven large supermarkets within a mile and half of the site, at least six of which offer employer-paid, comprehensive affordable health benefits for full and part-time employees and their families, as well as family-supporting wage scales.
Family health benefits and employee wage scales offered by the proposed anchor tenant are
significantly lower than other similar businesses, particularly for the growing percentage of employees who work part-time. In addition, if the City is going to transfer its assets or otherwise help grocers build new facilities, we should encourage grocers willing to locate in underserved areas identified as having low food security and poor food access, consistent with the strategies identified in the City’s Food Action Plan.
Whole Foods remains the only signed commercial tenant for the project, confirmed its developers at last week’s Design Review meeting; they said they might lose the unsigned drugstore tenant because they pulled out the much-criticized drive-thru window that had been proposed. The Whole Foods (and supermarket-oversupply) arguments made by the mayor above have also been voiced at prior project meetings by representatives of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21, which, as noted in our preview of last week’s Design Review meeting, is spearheading a campaign called “Getting It Right for West Seattle” seeking a “community benefits agreement” for this project.
1:50 PM UPDATE: More background: It’s been almost exactly one year since we broke the news this development was in the works. It spans everything along 40th and along Fauntleroy between Edmunds and Alaska *except* the Alki Masonic Temple and its parking lot. Here’s the Fauntleroy view, as photographed today:
Here’s our February report from when the alley-vacation application was announced. According to the city website, the next steps in the process would be the SDOT recommendation – which, as noted in the mayor’s memo, he says should be thumbs-down – and then a public hearing before the council’s Transportation Committee, which is chaired by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, which in turn would make a recommendation to be considered by the full council.
ADDED 5:37 PM: We’re expecting comment from the development team, no later than tomorrow. In the meantime, we just received unsolicited comment from Whole Foods’ regional president Joe Rogoff:
I wanted to contact you directly because the information that Mayor McGinn shared in his letter regarding Whole Foods Market is factually inaccurate and it’s important for us to set the record straight. The vast majority – 70-80 percent, depending on the store – of Whole Foods Market’s team members work full time and that will be reflected in the team members we hire for our West Seattle location. That’s opposite of many other supermarkets, where part-time employees are the norm.
We do more than provide team members with fair and livable wages and benefits. We create a great place for our team members to build a career. We offer training, competitive benefits, stock options for all team members, gain-sharing and much more. Company benefits include a team member store discount of 20-30%, health care coverage for domestic partners and a health spending account to help cover health care expenses. Nearly all of our part-time workers can participate in our health care benefits. Our average wage for non-leadership Team Members in our Seattle stores is $16.15/hr. which is excellent for grocers.
In addition to our team members, we are also committed to the health and well-being of the communities where we do business. In every local community, we cultivate valued partnerships with a wide range of organizations – from school districts to non-profits to academic institutions. Programs like our Local Producer Loan Program and funds made available through the Whole Kids Foundation to add salad bars and school gardens are examples of this commitment to community. In addition, quarterly 5 Percent Days provide direct funding to local non-profit partners.
We’re proud to have been part of Seattle since 1999, and that our 6 metro stores now employ over 1400 Team Members. Many of those Team Members live in West Seattle, and they’re excited to work in their immediate community. We’re also looking forward to being part of this vibrant community as we are in so many others – socially and environmentally conscious citizens who contribute in many ways. This store will employ another 150 or so Team Members, most of whom will be local.
We’re reaching out in hopes to meet with Mayor McGinn very soon to share the facts and discuss how Whole Foods Market is absolutely in line with the City’s core economic goals.
After almost four hours, the Southwest Design Review Board‘s doubleheader meeting has just wrapped up. We have it all on video, and detailed notes to come, but for right now, the bottom line: Both projects advanced. First one up, ~150 units and 115 parking spaces at 4745 40th SW, moves from the Early Design Guidance phase to the “recommendations” phase – meaning there might be just one more meeting for that project. Second one up, the ~370-apartment, 600-parking-space 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW megaproject, won final SWDRB approval – technically a recommendation to city officials – after four meetings. Both recommendations come with conditions that will be formalized by city planners, and this is nowhere near final approval for construction – a variety of other permit processes will follow, and there’s still time to comment (we’ll explain how in our longer coverage). The 4755 Fauntleroy team has said they hope to get their project going by year’s end; we’ll check with the 4745 40th SW team tomorrow.
(Looking south on 40th from Alaska, at project’s northwest corner)
The next Southwest Design Review Board meeting has been scheduled for the 4755 Fauntleroy Way megaproject – 370 apartments, ~600 parking spaces, Whole Foods, a still-unnamed drugstore, and more – 8 pm July 11th, Senior Center of West Seattle. The date appeared on the city Department of Planning and Development website late today, just hours after the Seattle Design Commission took its fourth – and ultimately, final – look at the parts of the plan in which it has jurisdiction.
That meeting at City Hall downtown ended with commissioners voting to recommend that the city approve the “alley vacation” requested for the plan.
First, they reviewed an updated presentation – now posted to the city website in its 59-page entirety – about the “public benefit” that the development team is offering, which they calculate is worth more than $2 million.
Because it involves an “alley vacation,” the 4755 Fauntleroy megaproject (more than 300 apartments, 600 parking spaces, Whole Foods) has to get signoff from the Seattle Design Commission, which has reviewed the proposas three times now. The fourth meeting is now set – 9 am next Thursday (June 20th) in the Boards and Commissions Room at City Hall downtown. All are welcome, and there is a public-comment period. Documents for Thursday’s presentation aren’t online yet, but here’s what was reviewed last month (WSB coverage here).
(TOPLINE: After almost 3 hours, the Design Commission told 4755 Fauntleroy to tweak its proposed “public benefit” plan and come back a 4th time)
1:43 PM: We are downtown for the third review of the 4755 Fauntleroy Way (Whole Foods/apartments) megaproject before the Seattle Design Commission – and it’s another crowded room, more than 50 people this time, including golden-shirted members of UFCW Local 21, which has expressed consistent opposition to the project, and others including members of the project team, Parks and SDOT reps and, among community members, Steve Huling, former owner of most of the land on which the project will be built, and Nancy Woodland, from the board of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce. The commission’s role in this is to review its “urban design merit” and the “public benefit” the developers plan to offer in exchange for the city granting an alley vacation. Highlights as they happen.
Lance Sherwood of Weingarten, the retail developer on the project, starts with three big announcements:
*There is no longer a drugstore drive-through in the project
*The developers will pay to improve the Masonic Temple’s nearby parking lot
*The developers will contribute money ($25,000) toward public outreach regarding the design of the park that the city plans to create on land it’s purchased across 40th from the project’s west side.
The presentation then is taken over by Bill Fuller of Fuller Sears Architects. He explains that the Masons’ parking lot will be graded to be at a single level (it’s on two now), with one entrance. He also notes that part of 40th SW will become the first true “Seattle Green Street” under their plan. Removing drugstore drive-through traffic and Masons’ entry from the project’s “midblock connection” will resolve many of the persistent concerns about it, he says.
He also shows the “iconic corner” at Fauntleroy/Alaska (northeast corner), which now will have glass and lighting.
Next, landscape architect Andy Rasmussen, a West Seattleite who works for Weisman Design Group, is talking about the corners of the project as part of its public benefit. An artist named Troy is here and is involved with the project, Rasmussen says.
The art will involve corten/rusted metal and will be inspired by maritime West Seattle – he shows anchors and pilings as “inspiration.”
He says the connection on 40th to the future park has been “strengthened” in the latest design. Also – more street trees, fewer curb cuts (4 total – compared to 15 on the site now), and overhead weather protection for pedestrians all around the project, he says.
2:02 PM: The discussion of the art, in particular at the Fauntleroy/Alaska SW corner, continues. Some of the forms also will be evocative of the mountains, Rasmussen explains; others, of waves. They also are continuing to work with SDOT, as mentioned previously, on a crosswalk across Alaska at that corner (where Spruce – which just started construction – will be). He says the “water-like” elements will continue down 40th south from Alaska, into the raingarden area that’s streetside on the site there:
Back to the midblock connector that will cut between the project’s two buildings, from Fauntleroy to 40th, it will still have a raised crosswalk midway through. One area on the Fauntleroy edges will also have some extra public space, north of the connector. It’ll carry on the nautical theme with “oar-like forms.”
On the Fauntleroy/Edmunds corner, it will be a more “pier-like/dock-like space,” Rasmussen continues. The major residential entry is there, as is bike parking. Fuller picks up the presentation after that, summarizing the points they believe comprise the public benefit – what’s mentioned above, and more.
OUR AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE CONTINUES BELOW: Click to read the rest of As it happened: Design Commission tells 4755 Fauntleroy to come back for 4th review…
Though this morning’s breaking news pre-empted our usual roundup of highlights from the calendar, we do want to call attention to one meeting tonight: The Southwest District Council is scheduled for a presentation by, and Q/A with, the developers of 4755 Fauntleroy, the 40th/Alaska/Fauntleroy/Edmunds megaproject with 370 apartments, a Whole Foods Market, and TBA drugstore. (Their planned appearance last month was postponed.) The agenda also includes a briefing on Seattle Parks‘ Legacy Plan (see the draft here) – which despite its name is about the future, not the past (as explained here). SW District Council meets at 6:30 pm in the lower-level meeting rooms at SW Teen Life Center/Pool (2801 SW Thistle).
As-it-happened: Seattle Design Commission OKs ‘urban design merit’ of 4755 Fauntleroy Way on 2nd tryApril 18, 2013 at 1:43 pm | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | 15 Comments
(TOPLINE: After a 2 1/2-hour meeting, the citywide Design Commission gave the project the first of two approvals it must confer before its “alley vacation” can be approved)
1:43 PM: We’re at City Hall for the Seattle Design Commission‘s second review of the 4755 Fauntleroy Way megaproject – and there’s even a bigger crowd than there was for the 1st review in March. The Design Commission does not review the entire project – their scope is to decide if it has “urban design merit” and “public benefits” worthy of city approval for the “alley vacation” that is part of the project. The presentation is starting with architect Bill Fuller recapping some of the key points of the 372-apartment, 60,000-square-feet-of-retail, 70-foot-high project. Key commission concerns the first time included how the “mid-block connector” through the two-building project would be configured. Fuller also notes that the plan for the “iconic corner” at Fauntleroy/Alaska is “under construction” since there was so much feedback to incorporate from the Southwest Design Review Board.
1:55 PM: Fuller is showing the newest version of the mid-block connector, which will incorporate more of a “city sidewalk” design. The west side of it will be narrower, so there’s more room for planters. That side also will include bicycle parking. There’ll be a six-inch-high concrete curb along the sidewalk side of the mid-block connector for people walking between the west and east sides (Fauntleroy and 40th SW). Next to the Whole Foods loading dock, which is enclosed and behind doors, there’ll be a raised crosswalk that will be “one more speed bump” as Fuller put it. There remains a drive-through for the tenant-not-yet-announced drug store, and Fuller is explaining why that’s needed – using the example of a parent driving up with a screaming, sick child in the car, needing to pick up some medication, wanting a “more private” transaction with the pharmacy. The rendering includes the re-created mural from the existing site, on the side of the drugstore, on the lane leading up to the drive-through, as Fuller shows a more detailed look on how the drive-through’s traffic will work.
He says there’s no way that cars can or would drive fast at that spot.
*EDITOR’S NOTE, POST-MEETING – THE REST OF OUR AS-IT-HAPPENED NOTES FROM THE MEETING ARE AFTER THE JUMP*
As discussed when the Whole Foods/370-apartment megaproject at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW came back to the Southwest Design Review Board two weeks ago (WSB coverage here), the proposal also is in the midst of a crucial review by another city-organized group: The Seattle Design Commission. They must sign off on the developer’s request for an “alley vacation,” a process that would make public land private, and they must decide whether its “urban design merit” and “public benefits” pass muster. At their first review March 7 (WSB coverage here) they sent the project back for revisions and so will be reviewing its “merit” again on April 18th, 1:30-3:30 pm. The public is welcome; the meeting will be in the Boards and Commissions Room on the L2 level of City Hall downtown.
4755 Fauntleroy Way megaproject: Southwest District Council discussion tonight; Design Review detailsApril 3, 2013 at 8:29 am | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | 18 Comments
(The much-scrutinized “connector” between buildings, this view looking from 40th toward Fauntleroy)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Tonight brings the next public discussion of West Seattle’s biggest mixed-use project ever: 4755 Fauntleroy Way, to be home to two buildings, 370 apartments, 600 parking spaces, a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market, and a TBA drugstore.
The Southwest District Council‘s monthly meeting (6:30 pm, Southwest Teen Life Center, 2801 SW Thistle) includes a panel discussion of sorts about the project, with representatives from the development team and a project opponent. (Afternoon update: The project team is no longer planning to attend.)
This is not a formal part of the approval process, but other meetings are in the works as part of that: The project is expected to return later this month to the Seattle Design Commission, whose role is to vet it before the city grants a request for an “alley vacation,” allowing public property – part of an alley on the site – to become private.
Last Thursday night, in a separate part of the approval process, the Southwest Design Review Board looked at the newest version of the project’s design, and – as reported here immediately afterward – said it wasn’t quite ready for final approval.
Ahead, how that public meeting unfolded, from the presentation, through highlights of the more than 20 people who offered comments, to the conclusion:
(4755 Fauntleroy Way SW’s proposed northeast corner; rendering by Fuller Sears Architects)
We’re at the Senior Center of West Seattle, where a long meeting about a huge project has just wrapped up. The topline for the Southwest Design Review Board‘s third discussion of the 370-apartment, 600-parking-space 4755 Fauntleroy Way project: There’ll be a fourth meeting. After a 3-hour meeting including extensive comments from almost two dozen members of the public, and an hour of board debate, members decided to require the project to come back with “refinements” – especially regarding the “iconic corner” at Fauntleroy/Alaska and the “midblock connector between the project’s two buildings.” More to come. Our coverage of the project’s previous public reviews by city-sanctioned bodies: The project’s Design Commission review earlier this month; its second Early Design Guidance meeting last November; and its first EDG meeting last September.
As-it-happened coverage: Crowd at City Hall as Design Commission looks at 4755 Fauntleroy’s alley vacationMarch 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | 35 Comments
1:39 PM: About 25 people are in the audience at the City Hall Boards and Commissions Room right now as the Seattle Design Commission takes a look at part of the 4755 Fauntleroy Way megaproject – the requested alley vacation. We’ve never seen a crowd this size in five years of covering West Seattle project reviews here, so we’re going to publish live updates. Some of those here are wearing T-shirts with the logo of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21; we recognize members of the project team and some local community leaders as well. This will start with a presentation by project team members – Bill Fuller from Fuller Sears Architects and Lance Sherwood of Weingarten Realty (developing the site with Lennar) will lead. Land-use lawyers and representatives of the developers are here too. (Added: As introductions went around the room, West Seattle Thriftway [WSB sponsor] owner Paul Kapioski was among them. The project, if you don’t know, includes a Whole Foods Market.)
1:44 PM: The presentation has begun. This is the first time it’s gone before the commission, so the briefing starts with basics including where in West Seattle it’s located. Fuller says the building will have “approximately 400 residential units” – that’s 30 more than has been mentioned previously. Fuller notes the project site was upzoned last year to 85′ height (though this project is not proposed to be that tall – 70′ for most of the site). He also refers to Spruce across the street (“The Hole”) as “about to start up”; last time we were here covering a Design Commission meeting, that was the project, with an update last year. Fuller says this project’s streetscape will “complement” the Junction, rather than “compete with” it. He also shows a grid of alleys in the Junction/Triangle area, and an overview referring to development goals for the area, which includes respecting its status as a “gateway” to the area. While 4755 Fauntleroy is not a “transit-oriented development” by the city’s definition, Fuller says, they believe it will function as one, with its proximity to the RapidRide C Line, etc. He’s explaining everything around the site so that the commissioners, who are appointed from around the city, will have context (though we believe at least one is a West Seattleite).
2 PM: Background over, presentation begins. Fuller says they plan to improve the section of the alley they are not seeking to have “vacated” – the section that runs north-south north of SW Edmunds, east of the Masonic Lodge (which is adjacent to the project on two sides but not part of it). Fronting Fauntleroy, he says, there will be small retail spaces on the north part of that frontage, but they are proposing to move the drugstore drive-up to be on a driveway parallel to that north-south alley, rather than the original proposal on the east-west “midblock connection” between 40th SW and Fauntleroy. The site height will be mostly 70′ except for the “tower” element at the Fauntleroy/Alaska corner (something new since the first two Design Review meetings). He mentions the site across 40th just purchased by the city as a new park and says they are hoping to find a way for pedestrians to get from Fauntleroy to the park. The current mid-block connector section across the project site also will be utilized by cars. Fuller now brings up the mural that’s on the current ex-Huling building to be demolished and says that while it’s not in good enough shape to save, they plan to take a digital image to recreate it on the project site.
2:13 PM: Fuller shows what the project would look like if the alley vacation isn’t granted – including going to its full allowable 85′ height.
Then he recaps what the project is offering – retail frontage on Fauntleroy, “safe circulation for all vehicle classes” from trucks to bicycles, supporting the “green street” plan for 40th on its west side, and more. The presentation ends, and Beverly Barnett of SDOT – who handles alley vacations – says she’s glad to see so many people here.
She says SDOT is not satisfied right now that the configuration of the interior east-west mid-block crossing (above) would provide safe usage for everything from deliveries to people trying to park: “Right now, there’s so much happening in there, where we see drive-through for a drugstore, delivery trucks … we’re not satisfied that the design as proposed is going to meet all the safety fundamentals plus go so far as to provide public benefits.” She thinks either design changes to the loading area or pedestrian accommodations elsewhere on the site might help; she also expresses criticism of the proposed drive-through drugstore. “Design changes, space enhancements, figuring out how some of the functions might happen differently, or just go away” will be their recommendation. She says “West Seattle loves midblock crossings … but it’s gotta be safe … not putting kids (in the path of) grocery trucks backing up.” (Editor’s note: This concern came up in early design review meetings, too.) Now a City Council staffer, Michael Jenkins, speaks. He says Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is also concerned – especially about the midblock connector and the corner of Fauntleroy/Alaska – and has asked him to follow the project through this process as well as Design Review (where its next meeting is in three weeks).
2:21 PM: Public comment, now.
Steve Marquardt of UFCW Local 21 (above right) says he’ll speak for the group here (the commission asked for some consolidation) and for their 10,000 members, 750 of whom he says live in West Seattle. He says the design contortions are to accommodate Whole Foods, which they oppose: “This neighborhood already has 7 major supermarkets within a radius of 2 miles. Construction of an 8th supermarket … is a threat to the viability of neighborhood jobs.” He also says they believe this plan undermines the walkability viability of the Triangle site, as well as traffic trouble at Fauntleroy/Alaska, and has massing issues – all of which they want to see “better addressed.” .. “Our members don’t see a public benefit here” and “don’t think this is in the public interest.” Now Chas Redmond speaks for the Southwest District Council and Morgan Community Association, saying they have four concerns – seeking a “more striking structure” at Fauntleroy/Alaska; concerns about whether the midblock crossing is safe for pedestrians; concerns about the pedestrian access to the Alaska side of the project – “although there are windows, Alaska has become a showcase of brutalist architecture and we hope it won’t continue that way”; and “knowing there are 3 other projects to be built now or in the future adjacent to this intersection, we are particularly concerned about transportation – deliveries, residents (etc.)” Then a local resident stands up to speak, saying she lives in High Point, used to live in Junction area, and she agrees the additional grocery store is unnecessary and placing burdens on the design of the project. She thinks the pedestrian environment, as others said, will be dangerous, and thinks the midblock connector should be a public right-of-way without the loading dock and other elements. After her, another resident says “what you see now is an eyesore and a danger right now … I think the project that’s coming in is awesome and is going to be beautiful … for me, I think it’s a great project … I think it’s a great idea, is going to bring a ton of jobs, is going to bring a lot of life to the area.” A resident standing next to her says she feels the same way. “I’m concerned about my health, I don’t want to eat at Safeway, I don’t want to have to go to (various stores) … basically Whole Foods is amazing and if I have to sell it, I’ll sell it. I like shopping at Whole Foods and I have to go all the way to Interbay. I want to shop where I live.”
2:32 PM: Commissioners are now asking questions – starting with the “midblock crossing.” Trucks would enter it off Fauntleroy, headed west, “two or three a day” then would go into Whole Foods to the north (behind a door). Residential access would be into the alley off Edmunds on the south side. Visitor parking would be entered from Edmunds too. That side of the alley also would include the aforementioned drugstore drive-through, possibly with a one-way flow. In response to another question, the architects say, people would be moving in/out off Fauntleroy and two spots along Edmunds, which also is where most of the residential traffic is supposed to be. Access to the drugstore drive-through would be from 40th or from Fauntleroy, then “out the alley to the south.” Discussion veers into the Triangle Plan itself and how it envisioned these corners – but then goes right back to the traffic-flow issue. One commissioner asks how much vehicle traffic has been measured in the area; while the architects look it up, she says, “A lot, qualitatively.” 1,500 PM peak-hour trips on Fauntleroy, they find. How many will this project add? “We are adding … about 250.” Among a subsequent discussion of parking, a commissioner asks about bicycle parking; Fuller says “it will be a bicycle-friendly project,” meeting the city’s bike-parking requirements, and he says they’re working on having a bike shop as part of the project. They also are undergrounding utilities along Fauntleroy to make room for a bike lane along the Fauntleroy frontage while preserving vehicle parking there too.
2:52 PM: This was only supposed to go until 3 pm – it’s definitely going overtime. A commissioner says that while there’s a “plaza” proposed at Fauntleroy/Alaska, for the public, it seems from the renderings to have a “private” nature. This is a topic more for discussion at a later meeting of this group, when they talk about “public benefit” – the topic here is “urban design” of the site – but it’s agreed that they can discuss it. There is a four-foot-high or so buffer structure at the corner meant to be more about safety and separation from traffic, not to close off the “plaza.” Parking comes up again, and Fuller says the parking along Fauntleroy will be the only “visible” parking on the site aside from a few visitors’ spaces (for the leasing office) along Edmunds. How does the site speak to the Masonic Temple and its parking? the architect is asked. A currently blocked section of alley will be improved, which should benefit them and their visitors too, is the reply.
3:03 PM: Commissioners’ questions continue. One asks about utilities. The overhead power goes north-south but does not run along the alley, which was added after the site was originally developed. Now it’s on to the commissioners’ discussion among themselves. First one: The midblock crossing does not appear as pedestrian-friendly as the Triangle Plan suggests one should be there. Another commissioner says he agrees the midblock connection is “tighter and more active” than the plan would suggest, but the plan, he says, is a guideline, and this could just be seen as “a departure” from the plan. The next commissioner says she believes this project meets the “urban design merit” on which they’re reviewing it – the cut-through, for example, is an improvement over what’s there. But she has concerns about traffic impacts. Another commissioner says she too will have concerns about the cut-through if not improved by the “public benefit” review, but for now, “urban design merit” for the project is OK. Then two commissioners say they’re wondering why the project came to the Design Commission since SDOT has concerns.
3:18 PM: The idea of digitizing the mural and putting that replica on the site is not a hit with one commissioner (perhaps the original artist should be contacted, it’s suggested), who also says the plaza at Fauntleroy/Alaska strikes her as a “private space.” Another brings up the Spruce project across the street (“The Hole”) and says that it’s just not “a great corner to hang out.” Now, the review of the commissioners’ observations/recommendations – noting that “urban design merit” is the first of two reviews from the Design Commission before SDOT can approve the alley vacation (and send it to the City Council, which gets the final say). The member reading the list of concerns reiterates what has been voiced over the preceding hour and a half.
3:25 PM: The vote – unanimously against approving the “urban design merit” at this stage. So this project will have to come before the Design Commission at least two more times, one for UDM and one for “public benefit.”
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One big step came last month when the mixed-use megaproject passed the Early Design Guidance phase of the city’s design-review process, on the second try.
That in turn paved the way for what the project team did yesterday (Tuesday, December 11th) – formally meeting with the city Department of Planning and Development to apply for the Master Use Permit (explained here), according to Lance Sherwood of retail specialists Weingarten, one of the project’s developers, along with housing specialists Lennar, and Seattle architects Fuller Sears.
They also confirm they are continuing to meet with community members who are watching the project closely and still concerned about some of its fundamental design elements, while preparing for another Design Review meeting that could come as soon as next month.
BULLETIN: Whole Foods confirms its new West Seattle plan – anchor tenant for 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW megaprojectNovember 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm | In 4755 Fauntleroy, West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 94 Comments
(4755 Fauntleroy Way rendering, looking toward corner of Alaska/40th; store would wrap around this corner & run along Alaska)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 3:19 PM: Whole Foods Market has confirmed a new West Seattle location – right across SW Alaska from the spot where it once planned to open. Here’s the news release we just received:
Whole Foods Market – the world’s leading organic and natural foods supermarket – announced plans to open its seventh Puget Sound store location in West Seattle. The 41,000–square-foot store will be located within a mixed-use project at the intersection of Fauntleroy Way SW and SW Alaska Street. The store is scheduled to open in 2015.
The West Seattle store opening will create 150 new jobs throughout Seattle. Whole Foods Market has been ranked for the past 15 consecutive years as Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.”
“We’ve long wanted to be part of the West Seattle community and we’re grateful to all the residents who have reached out to support our efforts,” said Joe Rogoff, president, Whole Foods Market, Pacific Northwest Region. “Creating jobs, supporting local producers and lending a hand to area schools and non-profits are core to our philosophy and practices, and we’re eager to share this with West Seattle. And of course we’re thrilled to be expanding the selection of natural and organic food, sustainable seafood, humanely raised meats and housemade prepared foods and bakery items to the community.”
Whole Foods Market announced signing a lease with Weingarten Realty for West Seattle during its quarterly earnings call on November 7, 2012.
Robert Smith, Senior Vice President of Development and Acquisitions for Weingarten, commented, “We are extremely excited about this project which will be a signature property at the gateway intersection to the Junction area of West Seattle. Weingarten, Lennar and Whole Foods Market are substantial companies that are working intently together with the City to design a functionally well integrated project that is appealing to its customers and a positive reflection of the community. We believe this project fits the vision and objectives developed by the community and the City in their recently adopted Triangle Plan for this commercial intersection. This is an important project for us and reflects the growing trend toward more dense, urban, mixed use projects, desired by many metropolitan areas like Seattle.”
Once complete, Whole Foods Market will provide local shoppers with a wide selection of high quality natural, organic and local products. The company’s quality standards are outlined online at www.wholefoodsmarket.com.
ADDED 3:33 PM: We’ve just talked by phone with Lance Sherwood from Weingarten, who notes that the project still is in early development stages – it goes to its second Early Design Guidance meeting before the Southwest Design Review Board tomorrow night (at 8 pm – after the 4724 California review), a process that then will be followed by permitting as well as completion of financing and purchase before construction begins.
Whole Foods backstory: It was originally set as anchor tenant for what was Fauntleroy Place, announced in 2006 but stalled in 2008. While that project (which has NO link to this one) went through court battles in the ensuing two years, WF eventually announced in 2010 that its lease for FP was no longer valid, saying at the time that it was still seeking a West Seattle location. The former Fauntleroy Place, by the way, was sold at foreclosure auction last year, to Madison Development, which has filed plans with the city to develop it as Spruce West Seattle, with the former supermarket space instead changed to a fitness center that, according to the artwork with the filed plans, is expected to be an L.A. Fitness branch.
Just published to the city website this afternoon – the “packet” of graphics and information for this Thursday night’s first Southwest Design Review Board meeting reviewing the biggest West Seattle development proposal yet – 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, including the ex-Huling Chevrolet site between Alaska and Edmunds on Fauntleroy, the gas-station site to the north, and the funeral home and ex-used car lot facing Alaska to the west.
You can see the packet here (PDF).
It includes four proposed alternatives for the site. Three – #2, #3, #4 – split the commercial area into 60,000 to 65,000 square feet apportioned between a grocery store, a drug store, and other shops; each includes two buildings and would require an “alley vacation” – seeking City Council approval for a current alleyway to be built over. This one is Alternative 2:
Here’s Alternative Three:
The apartment count, according to each alternative, could range from 400 to 600. The other one (Alternative 1) – the version that could be built if no alley vacations were allowed – would not be able to accommodate the grocery, so it would have three buildings, 662 apartments and 32,000 feet of retail:
(The project team reconfirms that the overview page’s mention of 105,000 sf of retail is an error; the four alternatives range from 32,000 to 65,000.) As is always stressed, this is a very early stage of design, meant to determine the size, shape, site coverage, and other factors – so take a look, and bring your opinions to the meeting, 6:30 pm Thursday, Senior Center of West Seattle.
5:53 PM NOTE: We’ve added the “massing” (height/shape) renderings for each of the four alternatives that are in the documents for Thursday’s meeting. Again, the “packet” includes details specific to each one, and a lot of other information regarding where entrances might be, among many other details, and the reason we’ve been watching closely for this to appear on the city website is so those interested can get as much time as possible to take a look before bringing comments to Thursday’s meeting. Page 20 has detailed summaries of the pros and cons – as the project team sees them – for each of the alternatives. (Pay attention to the list of “departures” – those are specific aspects that would require an exception from the zoning code’s rules.) Another interesting point, in case you read past it above – we had reported that developers confirmed they were talking with a grocer, but this also mentions a drugstore, and then miscellaneous shops. No potential tenants have been publicly identified yet.
(Click image for PDF with larger view)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
On September 27th – one week from Thursday – the Southwest Design Review Board gets its first look at the mixed-use megaproject (we haven’t used that term in a while, but this one seems to merit it) proposed for 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW.
As noted in our September 7th report on the project – which first came to light in July – it would span not only the ex-Huling Chevrolet site at that address but also, fronting Alaska, the block from Fauntleroy to 40th, now holding a gas station, funeral home, and ex-used car lot.
By the end of this week, the “packet” with visuals for the meeting should be available online. Over the weekend, the project team went public with three sketches that envision the streetscape in the spots where they are looking at mid-block connectors, aka passthroughs Above, a possible Fauntleroy view looking into the “connector” – next, a possible view from 40th SW on the other side.
(Click image for PDF with larger view)
The project site does NOT include the Alki Masonic Lodge, though its Fauntleroy side would be immediately east of that. Right now, the project – which does not have a working title as of last check – is envisioned at six floors, more than 350 apartments, and around 55,000 square feet of retail, over more than 530 parking spaces. While no retailers have been named yet, the project team confirms they’re in “advanced” talks with an unnamed grocer for about two-thirds of the space.
The September 27th Design Review Board meeting is set for 6:30 pm at what’s become the board’s usual venue in West Seattle, the Senior Center (California/Oregon). Public comment is welcome; if you’ve never been to a DRB meeting before, here’s the city’s guide outlining the process.
P.S. For one more layer of public process, an alley vacation – which triggers a different review process that includes the city Design Commission and City Council – would be involved in the plan, too.
The city has just sent the official notice for the first Design Review meeting for the 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW development proposal – which will span three properties on SW Alaska west of Fauntleroy, as well as stretching to SW Edmunds along the west side of Fauntleroy. As reported here last Friday (along with new information on the proposed 350-plus-apartments, 55,000-sf-retail project itself), it’ll be at 6:30 pm September 27th (two weeks from tonight), Senior Center of West Seattle.
P.S. In case you saw it and wondered – newly added text on the DPD page for the project includes some erroneous details, according to our followup conversation with the project team after we noticed it. The current apartment count remains at “more than 350 units,” and the retail remains “around 55,000 square feet” (with the caveat “possibly more, possibly less”), with parking projection remaining around 530. The packet for the Design Review meeting should be out at least a week in advance – by next Thursday – and the numbers will be refined by then.
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Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
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