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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Thanks to Scott for the top photo and the tip that building demolition has begun at Arbor Heights Elementary, a milestone for the project to replace the dilapidated old buildings with a brand-new school. We went over and got there just in time to photograph the backhoe doing a little more work on the north side of the southern building before parking for the day:
As reported here on August 20th, the city Hearing Examiner rejected an appeal of the demolition-permit granting. Another appeal was rejected in May; that one involved the ruling that the project didn’t need a full environmental review. Following that first decision, a meeting was held to update the community on the construction plan (WSB coverage here). The timetable shared at that meeting called for demolition to begin in August, which now, technically, it has; it also noted that there would be a pause from November to February, when the second phase of the project would begin, by which time the district would decide if the school would be built to hold up to 500 students, or up to 650. The new school is supposed to open in two years; in the meantime, AHES is sharing the Boren building in North Delridge with the school permanently housed there, K-5 STEM.
(Click image to open full-size PDF version of map)
SDOT is now more than halfway through the microsurfacing work in Arbor Heights (and part of south Fauntleroy), and says there have been some changes along the way (as noticed by at least one commenter on our previous story), so it’s revised the map. From spokesperson Caylen Beaty:
The original map we provided contained some mapping errors, so I’ve attached the updated version. As the work has progressed this week, the contractor has been providing correct information to residents and posting “No Parking” signs at least three days in advance of the work.
The work is on track and we anticipate it will wrap up by next Tuesday, August 26. Our thanks to the Arbor Heights community for their attention and cooperation as we work to maintain the residential streets of Arbor Heights.
The microsurfacing plan was first announced back in January, when SDOT explained that this process is now used instead of chip seal to refresh residential streets.
(WSB July photo of awaiting-demolition Arbor Heights Elementary)
The decision is now published for the second appeal related to the Arbor Heights Elementary rebuild, which has had key elements on hold pending the hearing and ruling. City Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner has rejected the appeal by affirming the city decision to allow demolition of the old AHES. Here’s her ruling (PDF), or read it embedded below:
Another alert from SDOT – the “microsurfacing” work in Arbor Heights (and south Fauntleroy) is under way. You might already have seen the crews doing advance weed-clearing work along the roads in recent days. Here’s a larger map and full info. It’s been seven months since SDOT’s original announcement of this work.
(WSB Tuesday photo of awaiting-demolition Arbor Heights Elementary)
Three years ago, demolition of the old Denny International Middle School was well under way within a month of the end of the school year. This year, though a month has passed since the last class at Arbor Heights Elementary School, the backhoes aren’t even onsite yet. That’s because the permits haven’t been finalized, since another appeal is awaiting a hearing.
This is separate from the appeal that was argued and rejected in May, challenging the decision that a full environmental review wasn’t needed. This time, the appeal is for the land-use permit itself, and the fact that the demolition permit was approved in the same action. In all, the appeal statement by four area residents and district watchdog Chris Jackins – see it here – lists eight points.
Though a September 15th hearing date was announced by the appeal notice that appeared in this week’s first Land Use Information Bulletin, the city Hearing Examiner’s files now have it scheduled for August 11th. The move was at the request of the district, according to a letter in the online case files, which quotes district staff as saying the extra month would add $70,000 to the project cost.
SPS spokesperson Tom Redman confirms to WSB that appeals for both the Arbor Heights and Genesee Hill projects (the latter has a hearing August 5th, as reported here July 14th) are now pushing back the timeline: “Limited construction activities can be performed on-site, but the bulk of the work cannot commence at either site until we have received MUP [master use permit] approval from the City of Seattle.” He said the district doesn’t know yet if the opening of either new school will be delayed as a result. The new Arbor Heights is scheduled to open in two years, the new Genesee Hill in a year and a half.
P.S. Appeal hearings are open to the public, though only for observation, not for participation/comment. Next month’s August 5th Genesee Hill hearing and August 11th Arbor Heights hearing are both scheduled to start 9 am on those dates in the city Hearing Examiner’s headquarters on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown.
8:33 PM: Firefighters are arriving at a house fire in Arbor Heights near 34th and 102nd (map), reporting black smoke and also that ammunition is going off in the house – so they’ll be fighting it from outside.
(Photo texted by Joe)
8:38 PM: Scanner now indicates they don’t believe there’s more ammunition in the building and they are changing firefighting tactics.
8:48 PM: Our crew is at the scene. No word yet on whether anyone’s been hurt. They believe everyone in the house got out safely.
— Colby Blanton (@colby_blanton) July 16, 2014
8:58 PM: Just talked again with our crew at the scene. The fire appears to be under control but there are still flare-ups of flames visible here and there. Way too soon to know what caused it.
Above this line, we’ve added a quick Instagram clip – you can see firefighters on the roof and hear the saws they’re using to ventilate the attic.
9:18 PM UPDATE: We’ve just talked again with firefighters. The fire began in a bedroom and spread up to the attic. The house has major damage and isn’t inhabitable. One person was inside when it started, and we’re told he got out OK, unhurt. The “ammunition going off” suspicion is now a mystery – we’re told the resident said there had been firearm(s)/ ammunition in there, belonging to a renter who moved out a few weeks ago, so whatever the bangs/pops were in the early going, they now don’t know. SFD’s investigator is en route to work on figuring out how the fire started.
ADDED 11:16 PM: From SFD: “Cause of West Seattle Arbor Heights fire is man using spray paint can & lighter to try and kill spider in the wall. Damage estimate $60k.”
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