PHOTOS: See inside the new Westside School, as it gets closer to ‘Heading Home’ to new Arbor Heights campusApril 24, 2015 at 11:29 am | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 12 Comments
(Looking southward toward the new Westside School campus)
Story by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
Two and a half years in the planning … seven weeks to “substantial completion” … one year after groundbreaking.
Westside School (WSB sponsor) moves into its new home in Arbor Heights this fall and is now showing off how it’s taken shape.
We toured the construction/renovation site this week with Westside’s head of school Kate Mulligan (above) and assistant head of school Don Cunningham, who has been the “owner’s rep” on the project. (They’re getting ready for an open house tomorrow at Westside’s current location – more on that later.)
Westside, founded in 1981, has been leasing the former EC Hughes Elementary in Sunrise Heights from Seattle Public Schools since 2010, moving there from a former Highline Public Schools building just east of Arbor Heights. So in many ways, this is, as Westside has dubbed the journey of building and moving, “Heading Home” (a theme that figured into its groundbreaking celebration almost exactly a year ago).
The process of transforming the former church – via Sundberg Kennedy Ly-Au Young Architects and general contractor Kirtley-Cole Associates LLC – brought unique opportunities. This wasn’t a teardown project – it’s a remodel and expansion, as is particularly notable from the outside of the former sanctuary, with “pop-out” added space like this:
“We’re excited to repurpose an under-utilized old building,” Mulligan enthuses. “Because (of that), we get a lot of elements a pre-K-8 school doesn’t usually get.”
That includes a gym – already part of the site – and a performing-arts center, which is on what was the choir-loft level and is now a full third level.
The transformation begins outside, where the project includes new sidewalks lining 104th and 34th.
Traffic will enter on 104th and route through the site southbound onto 34th. Queueing will happen on campus, not on the street. The campus has parking as well as an agreement with the New Apostolic Church to the south for overflow use when needed.
34th, on the west side of the campus – where dropoff and pickup will happen – is the street onto which Westside’s grand entrance and lobby are fronting.
Mulligan points out that everyone will come through that entrance.
(Thanks to Sherry for the photo)
12:40 PM: Thanks for the tips (206-293-6302 any time) about the Guardian One law-enforcement helicopter over Arbor Heights. It was gone by the time we got there to look, and nothing was detectable via the scanner, but King County Air Support has just tweeted that they were helping look for a stolen car, and that the car was found.
ADDED 2:20 PM: We asked KCSO spokesperson Sgt. BJ Myers for a few more details. Among other things, this explains why we didn’t hear anything on the scanner:
Early this morning, a deputy on his way to another call got an indication on his in-car LoJack sensor that a stolen car was in the Arbor Heights area. The deputy wasn’t able to follow up on the alert, so Guardian One came out today with their LoJack sensor and located the stolen vehicle dumped near SW 102/26 Av SW. A detective came out and recovered and processed the vehicle for evidence. It was stolen from Seattle.
Reader report with an alert from an Arbor Heights resident who encountered an exposer this afternoon:
In the alley behind 100th between 37th and 39th, a 20-30-year-old white male (was) masturbating, watching me mow my lawn. I contacted SPD. Be aware of your surroundings!
That’s the only description given.
(WSB photo, taken this week, looking southwest across the AHES site)
Someone asked us why the Arbor Heights Elementary rebuild site is idle. That’s by design – as reported several times before, this was intended to be a two-phase project, with demolition/site prep in the first phase, and then a stopdown while the full construction project went out to bid. We checked in with Seattle Public Schools today and confirmed that Bayley Construction is the winning bidder, for $25.4 million; the contract is expected to be awarded within a few weeks, likely going to the School Board on April 1st. If all goes as planned, work at the site is expected to (re)start in early May, though the district tells us neighbors might see some activity – such as “trailer mobilization” – before then. The new school is expected to open in fall of 2016; AH continues using part of the Boren Building as its temporary site until then.
With warmer weather and later light, solicitor reports are picking up – including these two reports from Arbor Heights today, which are followed by information on city rules and what you can do if someone you don’t know comes to your door, soliciting or not:
The Westwood transit hub is a perennial hot topic, for a variety of reasons, particularly safety at the bus stops as well as in Roxhill Park and at Westwood Village. If it interests you, consider making time to be at tomorrow night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting. We just received the agenda and it includes a discussion of the hub, with reps confirmed from both Metro and Westwood Village. The meeting is at Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson), starting at 6:15 pm Tuesday and wrapping up by 7:45 at the latest, when the library clears everyone out in advance of closing time – all welcome.
When we last reported January 12th on the plan for West Seattle’s first charter school, its prospective operator, California-based Summit Public Schools, was planning to organize an informational community meeting; today, it announced two local dates.
As first reported here in early January, the school is proposed for the 2 1/2-acre Freedom Church site (above) on the southwest corner of 35th/Roxbury. Summit already has approval for two other charter schools in Seattle and Tacoma, and plans to apply to the state Charter School Commission for permission to open a high school here. Charter schools are publicly funded and were approved by voters in our state in 2012. The two meeting dates just announced by Summit, if you’re interested in finding out more about their plan, are 6:30-7:30 pm Thursday, February 26th, Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson) and 6:15-7:15 pm Tuesday, March 17th, White Center Library (11220 16th SW). Meantime, the project continues proceeding through the permit process, according to city Department of Planning and Development files.
City Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner has made her ruling on the third appeal filed against decisions relating to the Arbor Heights Elementary School rebuild. The appeal was filed by the Committee to Save Seattle Schools and three area residents; we covered the hearing downtown on February 2nd. Tanner promised a written ruling within two weeks; we found it in the city files today, dated February 9th. Read it in its entirety below (or here, as a PDF):
Toplines: While the appellants had argued that aspects of the decisions allowing the project, including four zoning exceptions, were “clearly erroneous,” Tanner found that was not the case. Her decision notes that two points of contention in the appeal, filed last November, had already been remedied by the district before the case was argued – the matter of two large Douglas firs on the northeast side of the site, which at one point were to be moved, will be left in place, and the issue of contacting the Duwamish Tribe before excavation work starts at the site; district testimony indicated that the Duwamish and four other tribes will be advised and invited to observe the work, in case of “inadvertent discovery” of cultural relics. But Tanner did decide to modify the conditions of the zoning exceptions’ approval, including the possibility of a four-way stop sign at 35th/104th – an intersection which will by fall of 2016 lie between the rebuilt AHES and the new home of Westside School (WSB sponsor) – provided SDOT approves. She also ordered a provision requiring any mitigation ordered for the project’s removal of what was considered an “exceptional” madrone tree.
BACKSTORY: We also covered the previous two appeals, both of which were argued and decided last year – May 2014 WSB coverage here; August 2014 WSB coverage here. The new AHES is being built in two phases, with the first – demolition and site clearing – now complete, and the second to start this spring; it’s still scheduled to open in fall 2016.
Spotlight topics at this week’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting included how the area’s “urban village” has fared in city spending, plus, potential White Center/North Highline annexation.
(Mid-January photo of Arbor Heights site, courtesy Mike R.)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The hearing’s over, and now a written decision is awaited in the third appeal filed against the Arbor Heights Elementary rebuild project.
Testimony heard this afternoon before city Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown included one new wrinkle: A question about traffic effects to potentially be compounded by the charter school proposed at 35th/Roxbury, a plan that just surfaced a month ago, which is why it was not a factor at the time of the two appeals decided last year (May 2014 WSB coverage here; August 2014 WSB coverage here).
APPELLANTS’ CASE: District watchdog Chris Jackins presented the appeal case, though he is not the lone appellant; several nearby residents are listed too.
Followup: See who’s behind the plan for West Seattle’s first charter school, at current church site in Arbor HeightsJanuary 12, 2015 at 8:28 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 36 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Eight days after discovering West Seattle’s first charter school is planned for the north edge of Arbor Heights, we’ve found out much more about the plan.
When we first reported on it January 4th, we knew only that Washington Charter School Development, an arm of Los Angeles-based Pacific Charter School Development, was proposing to remodel and add on to the Freedom Church/Jesus Center property at 9601 35th SW (SW corner of 35th/Roxbury) for an unspecified charter school. Our state’s voters authorized creation of charters two years ago; 10 are approved so far, but only one is open.
We’ve been working for the past week-plus to find out more about the West Seattle plan and have finally connected with WCSD to get answers to some of the many questions raised by the early information we found in city planning files:
(Added 1 pm: Site work continuing at Arbor Heights today)
Quick note from today’s Land Use Information Bulletin: The hearing date for the third Arbor Heights Elementary appeal has been pushed back, “due to a problem with the notice.” Today’s notice says the Hearing Examiner will hear it February 2nd. As first reported here last month, this appeal involves issues including zoning exceptions and the fate of two trees. The construction was already scheduled as a two-phase project, resuming this spring.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Arbor Heights already has two school-construction projects under way – and might soon have a third.
Reviewing city permit application files today, we discovered a just-filed early-stage proposal to remodel and add to what is currently the Jesus Center/Freedom Church building at 35th/Roxbury, in the name of Los Angeles-based Pacific Charter School Development.
The one document publicly visible in the Department of Planning and Development system so far, dated December 31st, is a roughed-out site plan, showing the addition primarily along the Roxbury side of the 2 1/3-acre site.
In addition to the land-use permit filing, we’ve also found a one-month-old LLC filing listing the site’s official address – 9601 35th SW – and listing PCSD’s Washington branch, Washington Charter School Development, as the sole member. The company’s website says it works with charter-school management organizations, so it may not necessarily be the potential operator.
We can’t find any record of a past application for a charter school at this site, or anywhere else in West Seattle, but the next application period is just a month away, opening in mid-February, according to the Washington Charter School Commission website. Of the 10 charter schools approved since a statewide vote legalized them two years ago, the list includes approval for a charter-management organization called Green Dot to open one at an undetermined “South Seattle” site in fall 2016 (added: Green Dot had an informational event in West Seattle last summer). And a charter middle school called Rainier Prep, says it is planning to open in the Highline area this fall, but has no location finalized yet, according to its online FAQ.
Freedom Church bought the site, a former supermarket, for $2.8 million in 2008, according to county records. The 2 1/3-acre site is zoned NC3-40, meaning it could be developed up to four stories, though this proposal mentions only the two-story addition, and renovation of the one-story existing building.
We’ll be following up on this tomorrow, seeking answers to a variety of questions.
SIDE NOTE: The site has four current/future schools within less than a mile – Roxhill Elementary at 30th/Roxbury, the Arbor Heights Elementary rebuild on 104th west of 35th (opening fall 2016), the starting-this-fall campus of Westside School (WSB sponsor) at 37th/104th, and Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) on 28th south of Roxbury.
Just in from SDOT:
Crews from the Seattle Department of Transportation are scheduled to make minor repairs such as filling potholes and depressions on numerous blocks in Arbor Heights starting Monday, Jan. 5, weather permitting. SDOT anticipates the work will be completed in less than a month.
The repair work will focus on non-arterial blocks in the western and southwestern sections of Arbor Heights. These repairs will improve the pavement condition to a level where a microsurfacing preventive maintenance treatment would be effective.
Microsurfacing is a protective seal coat which extends the life of pavement. It is a thin, tough layer of asphalt emulsion blended with finely crushed stone for traction.
SDOT’s contractor microsurfaced approximately 27 lane-miles of streets in Arbor Heights last summer. SDOT is now in the process of finalizing the list of blocks that will be included in a smaller microsurfacing project in Arbor Heights this summer. Streets being repaired at this time may or may not be included in this summer’s microsurfacing project.
Although work on the Arbor Heights Elementary School site has been under way now for more than four months, one more appeal is pending against a city decision allowing the new school to be built. We covered the two appeals that already have resulted in rulings, in May and August; the current appeal, filed in November, has a hearing coming up January 13th, per a notice in this week’s city Land Use Information Bulletin. It was filed by three area residents and district watchdog Chris Jackins, along with his Seattle Committee to Save Schools, who pursued the two other appeals. Here’s the two-page document covering four points, including the fate of two large trees on the edge of the site, and four zoning exceptions that were granted:
(If you can’t read it embedded above, here’s a PDF version.) We believe these are the two Douglas firs at issue (visible toward the upper left of the top photo – the trees between them and the excavator are not part of the site):
Documents related to the appeal are linked on this page of the website for the city Hearing Examiner, whose chambers on the 40th floor of the city Municipal Tower downtown will be the location of the hearing at 1 pm January 13th.
Should the issue of improving safety on 35th SW also take into consideration the proliferation of signs at some businesses? An attendee at Tuesday night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting brought that up, according to meeting notes from co-chair Joe Szilagyi. And from pre-scheduled agenda items, what he describes as “a rolling discussion about the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda and future growth impacts on the Westwood/Highland Park Urban Village” yielded a dozen discussion points.
— WWRHAH Council (@WWRHAH) December 3, 2014
See those points, and the rest of the meeting notes, here. Next WWRHAH meeting: 6:15 pm January 6th, Southwest Branch Library.
1:36 AM: Police and fire are rushing to the 3700 block of SW 106th (map) in Arbor Heights for a report of a man with a gunshot wound to his arm. It’s not known yet if it was accidental.
1:59 AM: The patient, a man said to be around 30, has been taken to Harborview Medical Center. Our crew is just back from the scene. Police there are still sorting it out but believe it was accidental and aren’t seeking any suspects at this point.
11:45 AM: We don’t have followup information from SPD yet, but we did check with SFD regarding the victim’s last known condition – “stable,” we’re told.
It’s been spotlighted on the SDOT website … it was brought up at this month’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting … and we’ve received a nudge from the city about it: If you have anything to say to the city about the microsurfacing work on Arbor Heights this past summer, please take a few minutes and answer this online survey – which also gets into the broader topic of microsurfacing vs. chip seal vs. full road replacement (and even sidewalks).
Two West Seattle Crime Watch notes tonight:
FAUNTLEROY SEARCH: Many were wondering about the police presence in Fauntleroy, near Lincoln Park and the ferry dock, since late afternoon. Officers told us they were looking for a “felony warrant suspect” who had been seen in the area, near the bus stop by the dock. No new incident/crime, apparently, but this was someone they were looking for. We don’t know whether they’ve found that suspect yet, and we don’t have details of the warrant.
PACKAGE THEFT: Fumiko in Arbor Heights (near 35th/100th) says she’s been hit by package thieves for the third and final time, and she’s just not going to get home deliveries any more. Her iPhone 6, delivered by UPS at 3:55 pm, was gone when she got home Thursday night and: “This is the third time an UPS or USPS delivered package went missing from my property (front porch and side door).”
Went out this morning to check on the three largest demolition sites working in West Seattle:
ARBOR HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY: At the Arbor Heights site, the buildings are now all gone. Teardown work here started the Friday before Labor Day, but didn’t really rev up for another week. Seattle Public Schools says work will stop down for much of the winter before the second phase, construction, begins. A decision is also pending on whether the new $42 million school will be built to 500 or 650 capacity. During the two-year construction period, AHES is sharing the Boren Building with K-5 STEM.
Now to the district’s other big WS project:
ON GENESEE HILL: The future home of the Schmitz Park Elementary program is now five weeks into the demolition phase. As shown in our photo, just a bit of the main building of the former Genesee Hill Elementary is still standing, toward the east side of the site. This school will be built for 650 students.
And on the private-development front:
‘THE WHITTAKER’ SITE UPDATE: Back on Wednesday, we reported on the start of abatement and demolition work at the site of West Seattle’s biggest current project, The Whittaker (4755 Fauntleroy Way SW). The work has focused so far on the middle section of the site, between 40th (above) and Fauntleroy – yesterday, that included the wooden building that was the original home of West Seattle Produce (which has long since moved across the street):
A project spokesperson tells us the major demolition work is likely still more than a week away. The site also holds a former auto dealership, former used-car lot, former gas station, and former funeral home. The mural on the side of the dealership is to be digitally re-created on a wall of the new development, which will have almost 400 apartments over street-level retail, plus almost 600 off-street parking spaces.
As our short Instagram clip shows, the last building semi-standing at the old Arbor Heights Elementary School is getting the wrecking-ball-style treatment right now. It’s been exactly four weeks after the heavy-duty equipment first dug into the buildings there, almost ceremonially, on the Friday afternoon before Labor Day. Now the campus is piled high with rubble:
Once the site clearing is done, the project is expected to stop down from November to February. For a look at the new school that will then be built, check our coverage of the community briefing/Q-A meeting in June.
ADDED: Thanks to Mike R. for the view looking eastward over the full site:
We’ll check this weekend on the other old West Seattle school being demolished to make room for a replacement, Genesee Hill.
Update: Big Seattle Fire response after gas line cut in Arbor Heights; no injuries, repairs under waySeptember 18, 2014 at 3:22 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news | 16 Comments
(WSB photo, added)
3:22 PM: Big Seattle Fire callout categorized as “natural gas leak – major” in the 9800 block of 34th SW. More to come.
3:28 PM: Some of the responding units are being dismissed. Crews on scene say it’s a 2-inch line, cut during construction activity.
3:37 PM: Our crew at the scene says Puget Sound Energy has arrived to shut off the gas. It’s a residential construction site. (You can see the excavator behind the truck.) No injuries. The smell – which should dissipate soon – is most noticeable to the north. P.S. Our crew says a TV helicopter has arrived in the area.
4:13 PM: Just in case you live in the area and are wondering what you’ll find when you get home – the SFD response is closed; the gas line is being fixed; SFD has confirmed no injuries, no evacuations.
(UPDATED Wednesday morning with two more views of Arbor Heights)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 10:50 PM TUESDAY: If you’ve been meaning to go take a look at what’s left of the former Genesee Hill and/or Arbor Heights elementary schools before they’re completely demolished, you’re running out of time. As of this afternoon, main-building teardown is under way at both sites – above, our photo from GH; below, Tim Eannarino shared the photo from AH this morning:
(Also, a few closeup views caught Robin Adams‘ eye.) The new schools to be built on these sites are both scheduled to open in 2016.
ADDED 9:04 AM WEDNESDAY: Thanks to Mike for sharing these next two Arbor Heights photos:
We checked again with the school district and they still don’t expect to settle on the new AHES’s final size until next spring (they could build it for 500 students or 650; the current school, temporarily housed at the Boren Building, is adding a third kindergarten class, so growth is continuing).
(WSB photos by Katie Meyer)
If one dog playing “fetch” in a pool isn’t cute enough .. how about two?
Tonight was the first of six season-ending sessions in which Arbor Heights Swim and Tennis Club invites dogs into the pool (which will undergo its annual cleaning before humans go in again next year).
It’s a fundraiser for AHSTC teams. You can buy one-session or all-week admission, 5-7 pm swims nightly through Friday, then 10 am-1 pm Saturday. More info’s in our calendar listing.
When is a teardown not just a teardown? When it’s a salvage operation, too – like Arbor Heights ElementarySeptember 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm | In Arbor Heights, Environment, West Seattle news | 8 Comments
Lots of demolition work around West Seattle this month – and we’ve received some bonus information about one project: With major teardown work at Arbor Heights Elementary starting this week, SODO-based Second Use has spent three days on site “reclaiming materials that still had life in them to divert them from the landfill,” according to outreach coordinator Mary Anne Carter, who shared the photos and adds:
We recovered hundreds of items including slate, trough sinks, porcelain enameled barn lights, fir wall cabinets, fir built in cabinets, stainless steel sinks, and more.
Although the school was built in 1953, many of the fixtures were built in the decades previous and used in other schools before being moved to Arbor Heights. Tags and markings on fixtures listed John Hay School, Fauntleroy Elementary School, and others. Most of the inventory can be viewed on our website, though we are continuing to process items and add new material daily. …
It’s my hope that this provides the community with the opportunity to potentially reconnect with the furnishings of their formative years and glean a better perspective of what happened to the material that the school left behind.
Second Use is not involved with the Genesee Hill school-teardown project, according to Carter (work there also has intensified – here’s video we published on Instagram yesterday).
(2010 WSB photo)
In addition to the meetings and events highlighted earlier in our West Seattle Tuesday preview, we just got word of this from Mike (thank you!) – relating to the area in the photo above, from WSB storm coverage in December 2010:
Learn about drainage in your neighborhood.
Tuesday, Sept. 9th at 6 PM
Meet at corner of 30th Ave SW and SW 104th, on west side of Seola Pond.
Seattle Public Utilities has made commitments to improve drainage in the Arbor Heights area near Seola Pond.
Debbie Harris is project manager: email@example.com
While demolition crews did a bit of work at the old Arbor Heights Elementary School site on the Friday before Labor Day, they didn’t start tearing down its buildings in earnest until this morning, starting on the south side of the campus. (Thanks to Elise and Joe for the tips.)
Arbor Heights students and staff are spending this year and next at the Boren Building, shared with K-5 STEM, while the new school is built. Renderings were shown at a community meeting in June, including these:
That same meeting (WSB coverage here) included the project’s two-part timeline; this site work is expected to continue through November, and then a stopdown is planned until the Phase 2 bid is awarded, with the rest of the work to begin in spring.
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Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
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