No new big development proposals have popped up lately. No new Design Review Board meetings on the schedule. But some smaller projects are of note, including these three which if nothing else will be noticeable with demolition activity on arterials:
3923 CALIFORNIA SW: The first demolition-permit application for the multiplexes on the northwest corner of California/Andover (map) is in. The city’s online files say a four-unit rowhouse is proposed (with the address 3925 California) for this side of the site, while the SW Andover side of the site is proposed for three single-family houses and a two-townhouse unit. (We first reported on this site two months ago, when a lot-boundary adjustment was sought.)
4151 CALIFORNIA SW: The same developer (Block II LLC) has been granted a demolition permit for two houses behind the California-fronting Pica Border Grill restaurant (map) on the north end of The Junction. The restaurant building is NOT involved in the project; the two houses behind it are slated to be replaced by a building with one townhouse and one live-work unit.
3036/3038 ALKI SW: Two “residential structures” here (map) are the subject of another demolition-permit application. As noted here last month, a proposal is on file for four townhouses and one single-family home, with a subdivision application to make it possible.
(February rendering from NK Architects)
From today’s city Land Use Information Bulletin: Key approvals for the 5-story building with 36 apartments, 2 live/work units, 5 offstreet parking spaces planned by Isola Homes at 44th and Alaska – kitty-corner from the West Seattle Farmers’ Market site. Here’s the official notice; here’s the full text of the decision. The image above is from the project’s final Design Review meeting in February (WSB coverage here), and some changes were recommended. Today’s decision opens a two-week appeal period – how to do that is explained here.
(“Concept drawing” by Roger Newell AIA Architects)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Neither board members nor neighbors were thrilled with what they saw – but, with extensive comments and recommendations, board members agreed unanimously to allow the project to move on to the next phase anyway, with a stack of suggestions for tweaks and changes to be made, after extensive discussion.
(Architect Thompson at left, board at the table in right side of photo)
Architect Neal Thompson presented on behalf of Roger H. Newell AIA Architects (see the “design packet” here). As he noted, the project would replace eight residential units and commercial properties including a pet shop, medical-marijuana dispensary, and restaurant. It will offer two retail/restaurant spaces as well as 13 apartments and 23 surface parking spaces – it can’t offer an underground garage because of soil conditions (a peat-settlemenet zone) at the site, the architect reminded the board.
Referring to feedback from the first Early Design Guidance meeting, Thompson showed a two-building proposal.
(WSB photo taken Sunday morning)
Thanks to Martin for the tip that the construction cover finally came off 2141 California SW this weekend. The 1920s-era former home of Admiralty House Antiques – closed when its owner, the late Fred Dau, retired a year ago, and sold a few months later – has been undergoing renovations for about six months. It’s been under a white canvas/tarp for most of that time; according to the city’s online files, most of the renovations have involved window replacement/repair. Workers had also said early on that the space was being divided; no public word yet on tenants – city files mention “office” as the expected use. Plans to build townhouse/live-work units behind it, fronting SW Walker, are still going through the city permit process.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
A change in architects meant a big change in fortune for 3824 California SW, the townhome/live-work project proposed on the three-years-vacant ex-Charlestown Café site. On the third try – first one since the changes – the proposal passed Early Design Guidance and moved on to the second and final phase of Design Review.
In contrast with the evening’s first meeting, which was sparsely attended, dozens of neighbors and community members turned out for this one – they have long been working hard to make sure their voices would be heard in plans for the ex-cafe site, and this time, according to those who commented, they were, even though its basic composition hasn’t changed – a mix of townhomes and live-work units.
Johnston Architects is the firm now leading the project; Ray Johnston briefly described the site, saying that they hope to bring a “diverse mix” of uses into the property, with its status between the Admiral and Alaska Junctions.
Johnston’s Megan McKay led the presentation.
Southwest Design Review Board report #1: Eye-clinic project @ 7520 35th SW sent back for second round of early-design guidanceJuly 10, 2014 at 8:17 pm | In Development, Health, Sunrise Heights, West Seattle news | No Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Making its debut before the Southwest Design Review Board, the proposed Clearview Eye Clinic project at 7520 35th SW was sent back for a second round of Early Design Guidance.
Concerns included how the building would interact with the evolving streetscape – busy as 35th SW is, and can be – and whether it was too close to the street, and should be set back as are other buildings. A paucity of landscape was identified as a concern, too, as was the fact that the proposal includes a parking area fronting 35th SW, and how the site’s vehicle entries should work.
This project will be a medical/commercial building – no residential component – and the architect described an intent for its look to be “crisp, clean, and clear.” (We first reported the project plan two months ago.)
Four of the SWDRB’s five members (with T. Frick McNamara absent) were present, with planner Tami Garrett from the Department of Planning and Development.
Architect Peter Bocek from PB Architects explained that the clinic doctors are building a permanent home for their practice, with a staff of about 20, because their lease at Westwood Village is expiring:
West Seattle development: See the newest renderings for next 3 projects going before Southwest Design Review BoardJuly 7, 2014 at 10:12 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | No Comments
The “design packets” for all three of the Southwest Design Review Board‘s scheduled July reviews are all available online, if you’re interested in an early look at what will be presented at the meetings. All three of these are “early design guidance” (EDG) meetings.
First, this Thursday, July 10th, at 6:30 pm, it’s the first EDG for 7520 35th SW, Clearview Eye Clinic, planned on a site that currently includes Red Star Pizza. We first told you about the project two months ago; a three-story building is planned, with retail/commercial on the first floor, while the clinic would be on the second and third floors. Depending on the final design, it’s expected to have up to 41 parking spaces. See the design packet here.
Second meeting that night, 8 pm, is the third EDG meeting for 3824 California SW, 28 townhouse/live-work units on the site of the former Charlestown Café. We reported key changes to the project – including a new architect – here last week. The packet wasn’t available then, but it is now – see it here.
Finally: The design packet is also available for 2626 Alki Avenue SW, which goes back to the board for its second EDG meeting at 6:30 pm July 17th, the only project going before the board that night. This is a three-story, mixed-use building proposed for 13 apartments and commercial space at the corner of 59th/Alki, on a site holding three buildings with a variety of tenants, including several businesses. See the design packet here.
All these meetings are at the Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon); all include public-comment time, but if you won’t be able to go, you can e-mail comments via the projects’ respective planners, all listed here.
Demolition-for-redevelopment notes today:
4745 40TH SW TEARDOWN UNDERWAY: Thanks to Maris for the heads-up on Monday that backhoes had taken up position at the 40th/Edmunds project site. They hadn’t started work by day’s end but this afternoon, they’re taking down the office building on site, former home to businesses including what might be West Seattle’s biggest tech firm, Tango Card. (You’ll recall our story last August about its search for a new WS location, which it found not far away, in Jefferson Square.) 4745 40th SW won final Design Review approval in December (WSB coverage here), and applied for the demolition permit in March. is slated for 150 units and 115 parking spaces, with some live-work units and a relatively small commercial space on the ground floor, adjacent to the future city-park site to its north. (That site in turn will soon be the temporary home of Fire Station 32 while that station is rebuilt on its site in The Triangle at 37th/38th/Alaska.)
THREE DEMOLITION-PERMIT NOTES: From the city files today, all in single-family-house projects:
*1 DOWN, 2 UP AT 4316 SW THISTLE: A demolition-permit application is in for the site of this 106-year-old Gatewood house across from the top of the fabled Thistle stairway, as well as early word of two houses to replace it, pending a lot-boundary adjustment which has a case number but no documents on file so far; county data for the 7,500-sf site does show two lot numbers.
*1 DOWN, 1 UP AT 3426 38TH SW: The permit has just been granted for demolition of this 106-year-old bungalow, with a new house slated to replace it.
1 DOWN, 1 UP AT 4707 14TH SW: A demolition permit is sought for this 85-year-old house on 15,000 sf of land, where records show one new house is planned.
West Seattle development: New architect team and changes for 3824 California project, as next Design Review meeting approachesJuly 1, 2014 at 12:57 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 8 Comments
(Click image to see full-size PDF)
After two Early Design Guidance meetings ended with the Southwest Design Review Board basically saying “try again,” the developer of the former Charlestown Café site at 3824 California SW has hired a new architect going into its third round of EDG (scheduled for 8 pm July 10th, as previously noted). A spokesperson for developer Intracorp tell WSB that Johnston Architects is the firm now on the project, replacing Caron Architecture: “Their designs are quintessentially Northwest with an organic nature and human scale that Intracorp is seeking to capture for the 3824 California Ave. community. Intracorp has also added a new landscape architect, Karen Kiest, to the team. This team brings an immense amount of experience and creativity to the process of creating great places.” The proposal is now for 28 townhouse and live/work units instead of 30, and the list ahead was provided as a summary of major changes:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Not growing is not an option, says the city. So, reps from three city departments asked at a first-of-its-kind meeting in West Seattle, what should that growth look like, and where should it happen?
Another question posed: How do we make room for the people moving to Seattle now and for those who will need housing in the future – such as current residents’ kids?
Questions like those were at the heart of the city-organized event in West Seattle this past Saturday, titled “Let’s Talk.” The documents you see throughout this story weren’t presented slide-deck-style, but instead were on easel-borne boards around the room. The meeting was formatted loosely, in hopes of conversation, and that, we can vouch, was under way from the start.
Then, about half an hour into the event on the upper floor of the Senior Center of West Seattle (with decorations lingering from Rainbow Bingo the night before), a few minutes of speeches were offered, but more in the explanatory vein than declaratory – and then the conversations resumed.
Two city department directors were among the city staff on hand, Diane Sugimura (above right) from the Department of Planning and Development, Bernie Matsuno from the Department of Neighborhoods. Not long after the brief speeches, they wound up in a conversation circle with more than two dozen attendees in the back of the room, near the bingo board.
Back in the rest of the room, one-on-one conversations continued, and dozens of other attendees continued perusing the boards. We asked for digital copies so we could share them with you here. (Most are self-explanatory; the ones atop this story show options for what it would take for the city to become carbon-neutral by 2050, with now-digitized red or green dots regarding whether attendees liked or disliked specific options.) Here are the main boards – the first one was displayed at the room’s entrance to set the stage, and then the next eight with lots of information about development and growth in West Seattle, zoning, how to give feedback on development, and questions too:
Noticing the conversation group setting up with Sugimura and Matsuno, we took notes. “We want to be able to participate in the decisionmaking,” said one attendee, and that was at the heart of almost everything else.
The questions, concerns, and suggestions were many (please note, the following are paraphrased bullet points, not exact quotes unless contained within quotation marks):
-West Seattle’s transportation infrastructure isn’t made for intensive growth.
-The city permit system is an expensive hassle.
-Why isn’t development focusing on streets that could handle it, say, 35th SW?
-People need to get involved in the Comprehensive Plan process (Seattle 2035).
-City reps should come back for an intensive three-to-four-hour summit to really talk in depth with and listen to West Seattleites.
-Neighborhood groups are small and don’t network and don’t know the “rules, codes, options” so they are outgunned when prolific developers come into the neighborhood with a project.
-The city needs to push out development information – perhaps an app – it’s not good enough to have it just there waiting to be discovered; an app should keep checking what’s happening in an area of interest you identify, and push out the information to you when something is planned in your area.
*West Seattle needs a hospital. Matsuno said the city can “encourage” it, but has no authority to force a health-care organization to build one. “Well, ARE you ‘encouraging’ it?” asked one attendee. Reply: “In conversations with any kind of businesses, we encourage them to go where they are needed.”
*West Seattle needs employers so fewer people will have to commute outbound. This generated a significant amount of discussion, with Matsuno saying you can offer incentives for employers, but you can’t force them to locate in a specific area. One participant said she was a commercial banker and “the way you do it is to give them money.”
*”Regular” people are being pushed out by “wealthy” people.
*Applications by prolific developers often show up with “sloppy paperwork,” leaving neighborhood advocates wondering “how did this get through?” and suggesting there should be a penalty for repeat offenders. Couldn’t a computerized review check for chronic offenders?
*The issue of projects with little or no parking came up. Sugimura noted that the mayor had asked for a review of that, and “we are in the middle of it.”
*Why doesn’t West Seattle have a transit center “like Burien”? Sugimura said she wasn’t familiar with the Burien Transit Center. The centralizing of bus routes at Westwood was mentioned. One attendee countered, “But it’s all on the perimeter and there’s no parking.” The city of Seattle doesn’t build parking garages, pointed out city reps, so “it always takes somebody (private) willing to put money into it.”
*Projects are reviewed on a standalone basis, without the “cumulative effects” of changes in a specific area being considered. One attendee said the parking study done for a 40-unit project didn’t take into effect other apartment projects within a block or two.
*Environmental reviews are not triggered if, for example, a single-family house is being replaced by a single-family house.
*What about a “cap and trade” type of program? one attendee suggested – requiring developers to “replace the affordable house they’re destroying” when a “$300,000 bungalow” is demolished and replaced with a $1 million house.
11:30 came, and the discussion circle was wrapped up. Two community-group reps volunteered themselves as liaisons for a followup meeting with the city to get and share information on what would be done with what DPD, DON, and SDOT heard at the meeting. So watch for that (we’ll be following up, and information will be circulated through community councils too). And, as was exhorted several times, get involved in the Comprehensive Plan process – there were boards for that too:
SIDE NOTE: During the brief “remarks” portion, attendees were asked to raise their hands in reply to questions such as how long you’ve lived here and whether you own or rent. A quick look around revealed mostly people who’ve been here more than a few years, and almost entirely homeowners. Some suggested maybe the Saturday morning meeting time was wrong – but it’s a frequent observation that evening meetings aren’t convenient either – so, if you’ve read this far but didn’t go, was it a matter of time? Or?
Morgan Junction and Harbor Ave. rezones, citywide policy changes all part of Comprehensive Plan amendment proposalJune 30, 2014 at 10:03 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 3 Comments
A public notice published today lists 11 potential changes to the city’s Comprehensive Plan, with at least four of interest to West Seattle. All 11 will be lumped together in one public hearing set for the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee on July 15th. The four are:
*Rezoning to allow a six-townhouse project on land owned by the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene south of its 42nd/Juneau sanctuary and parsonage in north Morgan Junction. (Here’s our most recent report on the project, from a meeting in which the Morgan Community Association endorsed it; see the proposed amendment here.)
*Rezoning to “remove an area waterward of Harbor Avenue Southwest and south of Southwest Bronson Way known as Pier One from the Duwamish Manufacturing/Industrial Center and change the designation of that area from industrial to commercial/mixed-use.” We first wrote about this proposal two years ago; see the proposed amendment here.
*An amendment to “limit live-work units along arterials.” See the text here.
*An amendment to “add policy language regarding the monitoring and reporting of growth and to require action when an area exceeds its growth targets.” This comes up often in development discussions regarding the West Seattle Junction area, already well past its current “growth target” and is in fact proposed by a West Seattleite, Cindi Barker. See the text here.
DEVELOPMENT P.S. We covered Saturday morning’s well-attended “West Seattle: Let’s Talk” meeting and expect to publish the report by tonight.
West Seattle development: No Whittaker appeal; Alki demolition; Saturday meeting not just DPD; more…June 27, 2014 at 2:13 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 5 Comments
Another round of development notes, including demolitions current and future:
THE WHITTAKER UPDATE – DEMOLITION THIS SUMMER: Despite previous controversy over the 4755 Fauntleroy Way project, aka The Whittaker, no one had filed an appeal of its key land-use approval by the deadline yesterday, so the project is moving ahead. A spokesperson tells us they expect to start demolition by summer’s end, but don’t yet know which of the buildings on the site will be first to go. This is the project with a Whole Foods Market (we’re checking to see if any other retailers have been signed), ~389 apartments, ~594 parking spaces. If construction does start this year, it would be on target for completion in 2016.
3008 ALKI DEMOLITION: Nine months ago, we noted an application to build five “rowhouse” units in two buildings at 3008 Alki Avenue SW. This week, the existing structures on the site were torn down:
(Thanks to the person who texted the photo!) One building, with two units now described as townhouses, will carry the Alki Ave. address; the 3-unit building will be at 6502 SW Stevens. Documents filed with the city say the offstreet parking will total 10 spaces.
1 DOWN, 2 UP AT 5421 49TH SW: A demolition-permit application was filed this week for that 93-year-old house at 5421 49th SW.
City files say it will be replaced by two single-family houses; its lot is 15,000+ square feet.
UPDATE ON 2-REPLACING-1 AT 8437 41ST SW: We reported earlier this month on the plan for two single-family houses on the site of one to-be-demolished house in Upper Fauntleroy. The owner/developer is now seeking a lot-boundary adjustment, to split the site into 4,500- and 7,300-square-foot parcels.
DESIGN REVIEW REMINDER NOTICES: The dates have already been reported here, but in case you missed them, the formal Southwest Design Review Board meeting notices appeared in Thursday’s Land Use Information Bulletin for 3824 California SW (8 pm July 10th) and 2626 Alki SW (6:30 pm July 17th).
‘LET’S TALK’ WITH DPD, SDOT, DON IN WEST SEATTLE TOMORROW: One more nudge before our Saturday morning calendar highlights – tomorrow is the West Seattle “Let’s Talk” conversation with Department of Planning and Development reps including director Diane Sugimura, 9:30-11:30 am at the Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon in The Junction) – and we see on the DPD’s website that reps from SDOT and the Department of Neighborhoods will be there too. It’s listed there as “open-house-style” so we’re trying to find out more specifics about the format.
Five development notes tonight:
ANOTHER DESIGN REVIEW MEETING SET: The Southwest Design Review Board hasn’t had a reason to meet since May 1st, but next month is getting busier. A second project has been added to the schedule for July 10th’s meeting, which already had the 7520 35th SW eye-clinic project on the docket for 6:30 pm. The 8 pm slot is now scheduled for the third Early Design Guidance review of 3824 California SW, the former Charlestown Café site. Two months have passed since the second EDG meeting for the townhouse/live-work-unit project (WSB coverage here). The July 10th reviews will be at the SWDRB’s usual meeting site, the Senior Center of West Seattle (WSB sponsor) at California/Oregon in The Junction.
ANOTHER CORNER ROWHOUSE ON FAUNTLEROY WAY: One block south of the south end of 4755 Fauntleroy Way (The Whittaker), a 65-year-old duplex on a LR-1-zoned corner at 5003 Fauntleroy is proposed to be demolished and replaced by a 7-unit rowhouse.
It’s a few blocks north of Fauntleroy/Findlay, where the 5-unit corner rowhouse mentioned here a few times is almost complete.
LAND USE APPROVAL FOR ARBOR HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY DEMOLITION: Days after the last school year for the old Arbor Heights Elementary ended, the city has published a notice of land-use approval for its demolition. The publication opens a 2-week appeal window, until July 7th.
APPEAL HEARING SET FOR 3078 SW AVALON: Permits for the 102-apartment building planned at 3078 SW Avalon Way are being appealed by the group Seattle Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development, founded in an adjacent neighborhood. They’re scheduled to go before the city Hearing Examiner on September 8th. The project received a key land-use approval last month.
REMINDER – ‘LET’S TALK’ WITH DPD ON SATURDAY: Interested in development/land use? Set aside 9:30-11:30 am Saturday morning to meet with DPD director Diane Sugimura and others from the city, specific to West Seattle issues and policy – here’s our most-recent preview.
That little building at 3230 California SW is about to end its 40+-year run as a West Seattle hair salon, according to the proprietor of the one there now, Styling Studio. It was built in 1945 and is on the South Admiral site where work will start this year on the 134-apartment 3210 California mixed-use project. Styling Studio proprietor Robert Lopez contacted WSB to let us know June 30th is its final day. He says, “I tried to find another space, but negotiations fell through, and I’ve joined the staff at Belli Capelli, at 3902 California Ave SW, another longtime West Seattle hair establishment.”
3210 California’s land-use approval came in a month ago, as reported here; this week, its developer, Intracorp, filed for the shoring/excavation permit. We have asked for an update on when they expect to start demolition and construction, and are checking with other businesses about their plans. (If yours is among them and you see this before we contact you, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with info on where you are going, as Robert did – thank you.)
Another update on the Department of Planning and Development “Let’s Talk” event in West Seattle one week from tomorrow: We’ve confirmed with DPD that its director Diane Sugimura will be there. So if you have a question or comment for the person in charge of the department that reviews and approves development, she’s the one, and this is your chance. Here’s the announcement we published last week; the event was first announced two weeks before that, during the West Seattle “conversation” with Councilmember Mike O’Brien (WSB coverage here), who chairs the committee that deals with development and planning. “West Seattle: Let’s Talk” is scheduled for 9:30-11:30 am Saturday, June 28th, at the Senior Center of West Seattle (WSB sponsor), California/Oregon in The Junction, all welcome.
SIDE NOTE: Sugimura was in West Seattle last June to talk with the Southwest District Council (WSB coverage here).
Big stack of development notes/updates, all involving teardowns large and small:
First, the city has officially given a key land-use approval to The Whittaker, the 7-story, 389-apartment, 594-parking-space, Whole Foods-including project at 4755 Fauntleroy SW. It’s received a Determination of Non-Significance, meaning a full environmental review will not be required. Here’s the notice; here’s the decision. This is appealable until June 26th (this explains how). A project spokesperson tells WSB that they hope to start work at the site (which still holds five buildings, all to be demolished) this summer.
Next: The second Southwest Design Review Board meeting for 2626 Alki SW is on the schedule for July 17th (6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle). This is a three-story commercial/residential building planned for the corner of Alki and 59th, replacing three buildings that currently include a rental company, a retail store, a café, and a dispensary. The date is technically still temporary, so it has not yet appeared on the Land Use Information Bulletin. Here’s our coverage of its first Early Design Guidance meeting in February, when the board told it to give EDG another try.
Nor is a new lot-boundary-adjustment application we noticed in city files. The line adjustments proposed for 8437 41st SW in Upper Fauntleroy would make way for what are shown on a filed “site plan” as two houses, replacing the existing brick house on an 11,000-plus-square-foot site that was sold to a developer last month.
A one-into-two subdivision is being sought at 3036 Alki SW, turning one into two (2,663 and 4,049 square feet), with four townhouses and one single-family home proposed to replace what’s on the site now.
And one was recently approved at 1310 California SW, adjacent to Hamilton Viewpoint Park, splitting an 11,000-square-foot lot into two almost-equal-size parcels also bordering Donald and Palm. This review carried some controversy, according to the full decision document, saying that a surveyor determined the site to be about 50 percent larger than it was believed to be, which paved the way for the split. Two new houses are proposed, replacing a 79-year-old house; the appeal period on the lot split is open for one more week.
OTHER DEMOLITION/NEW-CONSTRUCTION PLANS: In Admiral, a demolition permit has been granted for 2600 45th SW, a 108-year-old duplex (County Assessor’s photo above) to be replaced by a two-unit townhouse (following a recent lot-boundary adjustment). … In Gatewood, one has been sought for 7931 California SW, a 64-year-old house slated to be replaced by a new single-family house. … And in Westwood/Roxhill, there’s one pending for 9411 35th SW, where an 89-year-old house is proposed for replacement by a three-unit townhouse … On Pigeon Point, 3816 22nd SW is proposed for demolition and replacement by a single-family house and a two-unit townhouse; we note that a separate application for 3806 22nd SW (no teardown, though) proposes four single-family houses nearby.
Wondering if anything’s planned near your home/townhouse/apartment/business/etc.? Browse the map on the DPD home page – and if you see something, follow the link to find out more. Caveat – we’ve noticed this map shows some idle/canceled years-old proposals as well as new and recent plans, though.
When City Councilmember Mike O’Brien came to West Seattle to talk about development and land use last week (WSB coverage here), the meeting included early word of another conversation, one for which Department of Planning and Development officials would come to West Seattle later this month. Details weren’t quite set that night but now they are. Just in from DPD:
West Seattle: let’s talk! Encouraging civic engagement around development issues
The City of Seattle will host an event to provide information about development in West Seattle, and to provide opportunities for discussion. The event titled “West Seattle: Let’s Talk” will take place on Saturday, June 28 from 9:30-11:30 at the West Seattle Senior Center (4217 SW Oregon Street).
Usually, DPD reps just come here for meetings on specific projects – this time, you can ask about policies and other big-picture issues.
P.S. Speaking of development, we’re working right now on a roundup with news of several West Seattle projects, new and not-so-new, big and not-so-big. That’s coming up later this afternoon.
Some site-clearing work is under way today at 4515 41st SW, the official address of three lots proposed for a memory-care facility (last updated here in November), and that led us to check the online files for new information. Indeed, new details are available: The project team, led by Nicholson Kovalchick Architects, has told the city that they’re planning a four-story building with 48 units for 66 residents and 15 underground parking spaces, to be accessible from 41st SW, since the alley to the east is 20 feet higher than the street. The city has told them that the project will require Design Review (no meeting on the schedule yet) and will have to follow the West Seattle design guidelines put into place by the city last December. It’s in a “lowrise” zone but won’t be affected by the future “lowrise code corrections,” which haven’t been finalized yet. Living Care Lifestyles‘ sign is still up at the site, though its website doesn’t mention this project yet.
6:42 PM: We’re live at American Legion Post 160′s headquarters in The Triangle as the community conversation with Councilmember Mike O’Brien gets under way.
On behalf of the hosting Southwest District Council, Cindi Barker (below left) has just announced that Saturday, June 28th, the Department of Planning and Development will come out for a conversation of its own – time (morning) and location TBA.
Councilmember O’Brien starts off by saying he’d like it to be a productive conversation for both sides. He says, “I never asked to be land use chair … I’m learning a lot. It’s a field that goes from the experience we all completely understand, living our lives, down to all sorts of laws I’m still trying to appreciate.” We’ll be updating as this goes. About 50 people are here and there’s room for more.
First question is from West Seattle developer John Nuler, who asked about the recent action to regulate smaller lots, in light of the city’s encouragement of backyard cottages and other accessory dwelling units. He says the original recommendation was 2,000 square feet, rather than the 2,500-sf lot size, and wonders why the change, which he says resulted in some lots being rendered unbuildable. O’Brien says he doesn’t have all the details on that, but his legislative assistant is keeping track of the questions, so that answers can be procured later.
Second question is from someone who says he considers zoning changes have resulted in “the rape of West Seattle” and wonders how many people can be crammed in here. “I’m not buying this urban-village rationale. … How far is it going to go in West Seattle?”
O’Brien: “I don’t have an answer to ‘how far it’s going to go’.”
Next question: “Is there a citywide movement for reforming land use?”
O’Brien: “There are all sorts of specific aspects of land-use code that specific individuals (&) neighborhoods have concerns about …” He lists the small-lot issue, the low-rise-code issue as examples. “DPD is addressing these issues as they come up, and there are a lot of them.” But, he said, they’re not going to “throw the (zoning) out and start from scratch.” He goes on to mention the Comprehensive Plan and its “major overhaul” that’s under way (aka Seattle 2035). “I think the hope of the city is to take a look at it and really rethink how growth happens, where it happens, how we manage that growth in the city …” more big picture than small details, he said.
At that point, Barker, who is moderating, mentions the next public meeting on Seattle 2035 – Seattle Center, June 24th, regarding its “key directions.” (We’ll have a link for that shortly.)
6:51 PM: Jim Guenther talks about what happens when the city rules change and projects suddenly are allowed such as buildings without offstreet parking, and how it affects “quality of life” for residents who were already there.
“There’s a balance we’re trying to strike between the common good and individual rights,” O’Brien begins. He says that things have evolved as “lots that weren’t interesting to developers became interesting,” in the case of the small lots, for example. “Something like 45 percent of the lots that are zoned single family 5000 are smaller than 5000 square feet.”
“Where do we get heard (when our quality of life is affected)?” Guenther pressed. O’Brien says, “I don’t have a good answer for that,” but mentions that even though, for example, one house was on a lot, the owner might have always known it was really two lots that might qualify for two lots someday. O’Brien tries to say that the city didn’t really change the rules.
**CLICK AHEAD TO CONTINUE READING AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE** Click to read the rest of As-it-happened: Talking West Seattle development with Councilmember O’Brien…
Tonight’s calendar highlight: Come talk about West Seattle development, land use, zoning with Councilmember Mike O’BrienJune 4, 2014 at 10:27 am | In Development, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 3 Comments
(May aerial looking eastward over Spruce, the ex-”Hole”; photo by Long B. Nguyen)
One more reminder about tonight’s highlight event – City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee, comes to West Seattle for what community advocates are billing as a conversation about development, land use, and zoning. This isn’t about one specific project – this is the “big picture”; O’Brien’s committee has been reviewing major issues/areas of concern – most recently, microhousing, with another discussion just yesterday resulting in a plan to create a new “stakeholders’ group” before new city rules are finalized. What is YOUR biggest concern? What do you think councilmembers could/should do regarding development and land use? Be there, to ask questions, speak out, even just to watch and listen. The event is led by the Southwest District Council, in lieu of its regular monthly meeting, along with the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, and is at a bigger venue than usual so there’s room for everyone: 6:30 pm, American Legion Post 160/Pershing Hall, 3618 SW Alaska in The Triangle – which by the way is shown in the photo above, top right.
WHAT ELSE IS ON TONIGHT’S CALENDAR, YOU ASK? See it all here.
Just spotted demolition in progress at the former U-Frame-It/Amante Pizza storefronts (3239 California SW). No, this is NOT related to the mixed-use/apartment buildings planned on both sides of the street a bit to the north. As first reported here in December, live-work units and single-family homes are going in – two of the former, facing California; four of the latter, behind them; six parking spaces on the alley. The developer is Dwell. As also noted previously, the two businesses have moved to other West Seattle locations.
The minimum wage is just one of the hot topics the City Council‘s dealt with lately. Land use and zoning – as in, the rules regarding development – remain on the front burner. Tomorrow, the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee has another conversation about the proposed microhousing rules/definitions. And then on Wednesday, the councilmember who chairs that committee, Mike O’Brien, comes to West Seattle for a conversation about the broader issues of development, land use, and zoning here. Here’s our most recent preview; it’s at 6:30 pm Wednesday, June 4th, at American Legion Post 160/Pershing Hall, 3618 SW Alaska.
(“Preferred” massing – size and shape, not design – from early renderings filed with the city)
The Southwest Design Review Board only meets if there are projects to review – and its two-Thursdays-a-month schedule has been open since its last meeting almost a month ago. But now there’s a date on the horizon: July 10th is tentatively scheduled as the Design Review debut for a project we first told you about in early May: A three-story eye clinic planned for 7520 35th SW, currently the site of Red Star Pizza (which, as reported in our earlier story, has been looking for a new location), and a 32-space parking area. The July 10th meeting is set for 6:30 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle; since that’s six weeks away, there’s always a chance the date could change, and we’ll publish an update if that happens.
Lot-boundary-adjustment proposals are often first word of development plans on the way for a site, so we watch the city’s online files for early word of them. Two more West Seattle proposals have just appeared:
3917 CALIFORNIA SW: This two-lot, two-building, six-apartment site at California/Andover has been listed for sale for a while. Now there’s a proposal to change the lot boundaries/sizes. While the eventual development plan has not yet appeared online, the application says the 71-year-old, California-fronting four-plex is to be demolished, with the Andover-facing duplex to remain, for now. The site is currently split into two equal-sized rectangular parcels; the “adjustment” would result in two L-shaped lots, both with frontage on both California and Andover.
The site is zoned Lowrise 3.
4023 SW GRAHAM: This 7,500-square-foot site at 41st/Graham on the east edge of Morgan Junction is on the books as one 7,500 parcel but technically two lots, and is proposed to be “adjusted” into two 3,750-square-foot lots. The application says the 67-year-old house and slightly newer garage/carport currently on the parcel will be demolished; the future development plans are not yet on file. The site is zoned single-family 5,000, and a document in the file says 3,750 sf is the minimum allowable building-lot size.
Very busy Land Use Information Bulletin from the city today; we’re working on several stories, but for starters – it’s officially comment time for proposed multi-family zoning changes dubbed the “low-rise code corrections.” They’re meant to be a response to neighborhood concerns that zoning changes back in 2010 enabled multi-family projects that were out of scale with some neighborhoods. The notice summarizes the key parts of the proposal (which you can see in full here):
Specific proposed development standard changes are:
*Eliminate a height allowance of up to an additional four feet above the base height limit for apartment housing type developments that include a partially below grade story.
*Eliminate a floor area exemption from the floor area ratio (FAR) calculation for the portion of buildings in a partially below grade story for apartment type developments.
*Add a new height control to limit the maximum street-facing façade height for development on sloping sites to 44 feet in a 40 foot maximum height Lowrise zone, and 34 feet in a 30 foot maximum height Lowrise zone.
*Place a 30 percent coverage limit on how much of a rooftop may be covered by clerestory architectural features.
*Require the area of unenclosed exterior stairs, hallways and breezeways to be included as chargeable floor area in FAR calculations.
*Include the floor area of loft spaces that are less than full ceiling heights in the FAR calculation.
*Add a side setback requirement for rowhouse developments that are next to other types of housing.
*Change the rounding up threshold for the density limits in Lowrise zones from 0.5 to 0.85.
*Add a density limit of one dwelling unit per 1,600 square feet of lot area for rowhouse development on small lots in the Lowrise 1 zone.
Not sure if there’s lowrise zoning near you? The city’s zoning maps are here. Today’s notice, meantime, includes a “determination of nonsignificance” – meaning the city doesn’t think these changes will have environmental (noise, traffic, etc.) ramifications; the comment period runs through June 12th – scroll to the bottom of the notice to see how to comment. The proposal requires City Council approval, and would not affect any projects currently in the pipeline.
With more than 3,200 new and planned residential units – plus single-family rebuilds and infill – development and land use have been hot topics in West Seattle, to say the least; not just specific projects, but also city policies. This past Wednesday night, we brought you first word of the Southwest and Delridge Neighborhood District Councils‘ plan for a June 4th community conversation about land use and development featuring City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee. Today, the time and place have been announced: 6:30 pm June 4th, which is the regular monthly meeting time for the SWDC, but not the usual place – this will be in a larger space, American Legion Post 160‘s hall at 3618 SW Alaska in The Triangle, so there’s room for anyone and everyone interested. No RSVP needed – just be there.
Local community leaders have been working on more ways to convene discussions about one of our area’s hottest current topics, development. And while covering tonight’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting (full report to come separately), we got semi-early word of an event in the works, and wanted to let you know to save the date: On June 4th, DNDC will join the Southwest District Council on the SWDC’s regular meeting night, to host City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee (which this week alone has handled issues from small-lot development to microhousing). Some details are still being worked out, including the venue/time, but if you want to hear about and talk about where things stand and where they’re going, save the night of June 4th.
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Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
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