West Seattle development: ‘Whole block fenced off’ for 3210 California SW project

November 26, 2014 at 8:47 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

As noted by one of several people who e-mailed us today to ask about that development site, you seldom “see a whole block fenced off.” It’s pre-demolition fencing, just put up this week at the redevelopment site known as 3210 California SW, which we’ve been covering for seven years – from the original rezone proposal for an entire block between Hanford and Hinds turned up in city files in 2007, to the subsequent development plan’s emergence in early 2013, to its final approval at Design Review. So here’s a refresher on what’s going in, once that block of buildings is torn down:

(Rendering courtesy NK Architects)
It’s a 4- and 5-story project with 134 apartments, 2 live-work units, 152 offstreet-parking spaces, and about 6,000 square feet of commercial space, being developed by Intracorp. It went before the Southwest Design Review Board five times before receiving a recommendation for final approval in April; by the fifth meeting, the developer lowered the north part of the complex to four stories, with its other two sections remaining at five.

The demolition permits were granted three months ago, but we don’t know how soon the demolition will start – once a fence goes up, the next thing to watch for is the arrival of no-parking signs, and then, of course, the heavy equipment. The contractor is Exxel Pacific, according to this page on the website of the project’s architecture firm, West Seattleite-owned NK.

SIDE NOTE: Wondering what happened to everything and everyone who were in the buildings? For starters, the city website says tenant-relocation licenses were granted for 23 units in all. Some of the buildings held businesses, like the Styling Studio, whose owner decided to join another salon, as he told us in June; the former Cayce and Gain Property Management, now Cayce Real Estate Services, moved to the Andover business park in North Delridge. Cometa Playschool is still in operation, at a different location.

West Seattle development: New Junction apartment-building proposal, 60 units at 4528 44th SW

November 21, 2014 at 8:57 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 66 Comments

Scouring the latest Department of Planning and Development data, we turned up another new apartment-building proposal for The Junction. The 1952-built 8-unit building at 4528 44th SW (map), shown above in a King County Assessor’s Office photo, is proposed for replacement with what the city website describes as a “new 60-unit apartment building, five stories plus basement, five enclosed parking spaces.” The 5,850-square-foot site is zoned for development up to 65′ and borders the alley behind several retailers. It’s also almost directly across 44th from the under-construction 38-unit Lofts at The Junction at 4535 44th SW. According to the DPD website, this proposal will have to go through the Design Review process; no date set yet – it’s in the relatively early stages, with its newest “site plan” filed just this past Monday.

West Seattle development: 3824 California SW finished with Design Review after 4th meeting

November 20, 2014 at 8:34 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 27 Comments

(Renderings by Johnston Architects)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The project proposed for the former Charlestown Café site at 3824 California SW went before the Southwest Design Review Board for the fourth time tonight. Board members agreed to allow it to advance out of the process, provided several conditions were met – mostly fine-tuning.

The project now includes 27 units in six three-story buildings, punctuated by courtyards, with 26 parking spaces on the east side of the site. (You can see the full “design packet” here.)

As the two-hour meeting began, Megan McKay of Johnston Architects reviewed changes to the project since last time around, including removal of a live-work unit, and revisions in landscaping and street-tree plans (they’re asking for a “departure” to maintain the existing street-tree zone along California, and they’re planning to add trees along Bradford, on the project’s south side).

Click to read the rest of West Seattle development: 3824 California SW finished with Design Review after 4th meeting…

West Seattle development note: 4031 California lot-split, rowhouse plans

November 18, 2014 at 1:07 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

The last house on the west side of California between Dakota and Andover is 96 years old but isn’t likely to reach the century mark. Now in the city files for that site at 4031 California SW – a lot-boundary adjustment proposal (involving two lot numbers, though county files say this is on the books as a 3-lot site) and an early-stage plan to replace the house with a 4-unit rowhouse building. Neither has appeared in the Land Use Information Bulletin yet, so the clock hasn’t started running on the comment period.

West Seattle development: 3824 California’s new design; 4505 42nd back to Design Review; 7-lot Beach Drive site for sale; more

November 14, 2014 at 7:25 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

Development notes:

REVISED DESIGN FOR 3824 CALIFORNIA SW: The 14-townhouse/13-live-work-unit development on the ex-Charlestown Café site goes back to the Southwest Design Review Board next week (as noted here last week), at 6:30 pm Thursday (November 20th), Senior Center of West Seattle. And now, the “packet” showing the newest design proposal is online – see it here. This will be the fourth time the project goes before the board. It changed architects before the third meeting (WSB coverage here), and the new firm, Johnston Architects, remains at the helm.

ALSO GOING BACK TO DESIGN REVIEW, WITH A NEW COMPONENT: 4505 42nd SW, just across the alley from the Senior Center, now described as:

7-story structure containing 50 residential units, 6,900 sq. ft. of lodging use and 3,600 sq. ft. of ground floor retail use. Parking for 15 vehicles to be provided below grade.

No design packet yet; “lodging” was not part of the project in its previous reviews (most recently, seven months ago). It’s just been added to the schedule for the 8 pm December 4th SWDRB slot (following the 6:30 pm review of the assisted-living project at 4515 41st SW).

DELRIDGE SITE IN FOR ‘STREAMLINED DESIGN REVIEW’: 5206 Delridge Way is proposed for a “five-unit townhouse structure” that’s in for streamlined design review, which means no meeting.

7-LOT BEACH DRIVE SITE ON THE MARKET: Just spotted last night in an online listing, seven lots comprising 2 acres of potential homesites at 5606 Beach Drive, listed at $2,432,250.

TEARDOWNS: In the city permitting system, updated over the past week or so: Demolition permits issued or sought for 3810 California SW (aforementioned ex-café site that’s being developed as 3824 California); single-family house at 4035 36th SW (new house to be built); duplex and garage at 5003 Fauntleroy Way SW (7-unit rowhouse to be built); single-family house at 5269 California SW (West Seattle Nursery expansion site); 4500 40th SW (development plan reported here); single-family houses at 2835 and 2837 SW Adams (three-story, 6-unit rowhouse proposed to replace them).

BOUNDARY CHANGES: 5915 Fauntleroy Way, lot-boundary change sought (rowhouse project proposed); 5008 Fauntleroy Way, lot-boundary change sought (rowhouse project proposed and comments being taken).

P.S. – NEW WAY TO SEE WHAT’S HAPPENING WHERE: The city Department of Planning and Development home page has a map that will show you spots where projects are proposed. But someone outside city government has just come up with an even-better way to take a look at what’s happening where – at least, for now, the larger projects. It’s called Seattle In Progress. Ethan Phelps-Goodman explains it here.

West Seattle development: Groundbreaking for The Whittaker

November 13, 2014 at 2:22 pm | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | 20 Comments

(WSB video by Patrick Sand)
FIRST REPORT, 2:22 PM: With ice axes digging into dirt near the southwest corner of Fauntleroy and Alaska, ground has just been ceremonially broken for The Whittaker, ~400 apartments, ~600 parking spaces, and Whole Foods Market (the anchor, and lone announced, retail tenant). A two-year construction process now ensues; demolition and site clearing has just concluded, and excavation/shoring is expected to start in a few weeks. It’s been almost two years since we broke the news of an ‘early’ proposal for the site. We have the by-invitation ceremony on video and will add it, along with photos and more details, after our return to HQ.

ADDED 6:12 PM: We’ve substituted a slightly longer YouTube version of the actual “groundbreaking” video above, in place of the short Instagram clip (which you can still see here). And here’s our video of the speeches that preceded it:

Most of those on hand for the event, held near the northeast corner of the project site – just south of where the gas station used to be – were affiliated with members of the project team – residential developer Lennar Homes, retail developer Weingarten, Whole Foods, local communicators, general contractor Chinn Construction, whose owner Kevin Chinn was there:

(WSB photos by Torin Record-Sand)
With him at left above is Josh Sutton from the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor). Sutton was on the community advisory group that worked with the city on the Triangle Plan a few years ago, as was West 5 restaurateur Dave Montoure of the West Seattle Chamber/Junction boards:

That’s Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director Clay Eals at right above with Montoure. Speaking on the Chamber’s behalf, its board chair Nancy Woodland (leaning to the left and smiling in photo below):

She mentioned the community’s strength and its many “opinions,” the only overt allusion to the controversy that beset the project for months, including former Mayor Mike McGinn’s instruction to SDOT in July 2013 to not approve the project’s “alley vacation” and a standing-room-only City Council hearing last March, followed by the council’s 6-3 approval vote in April, the last major hurdle the project had to clear.

That was three months after the development team had announced the project would be named for climbing legend and West Seattle native Jim Whittaker. He and wife Dianne Roberts were at today’s ceremony:

In his honor, mountaineering metaphors were plentiful. The groundbreaking was described as “base camp,” but with a long climb ahead – two years of construction, to result in this:

And even as today’s celebration continued, so did site-prep work on the south side of the site.

Development manager Kelley Kohout told WSB the excavation work will start from that side, and head north. The project is so big, two tower cranes will be required; he says they’ll arrive sometime in the first quarter of next year. It’s already been a month since the start of demolition/abatement.

As construction ramps up, Whole Foods will continue planning its store; VP of store development Tee Ayer promised the market will reflect the community’s spirit and personality, saying, “you will see West Seattle” in it. (Just a week ago, WF announced plans for another new Seattle store, on Capitol Hill.)

As for what else you’ll see in The Whittaker’s retail space – Weingarten executive Lance Sherwood told WSB today they have nothing to announce yet, but “lots of interest” and an expectation that they’ll “have no problem” leasing it all.

Our archive of coverage on this project is here, newest to oldest.

SIDE NOTE: The last ceremonial groundbreaking for a major development was in 2008, across the street at 3922 SW Alaska, then known as “Fauntleroy Place,” to be anchored by Whole Foods. After excavation, the project was stopped by legal and other problems, no fault of WF, which was just a planned tenant; terms of its lease, for store space to be available, never were fulfilled, which left the chain free to mull other WS possibilities – finally landing with this one. Meantime, after a foreclosure sale leading to an ownership change and name change to “Spruce,” that development re-started a year and a half ago and is close to completion, now with its entire commercial space to be taken up by an LA Fitness gym.

West Seattle development: Whittaker, post-teardown; Avalon microhousing followup; assisted living to Design Review; more…

November 5, 2014 at 11:07 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 35 Comments

(Photo by Long Bach Nguyen)
CONSTRUCTION NEXT FOR THE WHITTAKER: As teardown concludes on the site of West Seattle’s biggest development (4755 Fauntleroy SW), the project team says official construction is a few weeks away. First, they’ll be hauling off the demolition debris, and they have started work on promised improvements for the parking lot next door at the Masonic Center. While that work is under way, the center has parking space on the east side of Fauntleroy Way, north of Edmunds. Newest estimate of project completion for The Whittaker (~400 apartments, ground-floor retail, ~600 underground parking spaces) is end of 2016.

P.S. In case you missed it – over the weekend, we published a last look at the last and biggest building to be demolished.

MICROHOUSING FOLLOWUP: Vigorous discussion ensued when we published this Sunday night update on three West Seattle microhousing projects – particularly the two that are moving ahead after responding to a city memo issued in September, based on a court decision. One of those projects, 3050 SW Avalon Way, responded by saying it would remove “sinks, refrigeration equipment, built-in cabinet and counters outside the bathrooms” from the rooms so that the future building would still qualify to count up to 8 “sleeping rooms” as a single dwelling unit. The file for the other project, 3268 SW Avalon Way – where demolition happened last week – didn’t show a similar response, but DPD spokesperson Bryan Stevens tells WSB its developers made the same decision:

For this proposal, the applicant elected to redesign the floor plans so that these rooms are clearly sleeping rooms and not individual apartments. The bedrooms were modified so that they no longer have separate sinks, counters or food preparation areas. Each bedroom now only has a separate bathroom with a shower, toilet, and sink. The permit is for 7 units total, each with 8 bedrooms, a large kitchen and lounge area. This change was in response to the Superior Court ruling on the Harvard proposal and is not related to the recently adopted legislation regarding SEDUs.

(That’s “small efficiency dwelling units,” the city’s official name for microhousing.)

DESIGN REVIEW FOR ASSISTED-LIVING FACILITY: We’ve reported before about the assisted-living facility proposed for 4515 41st SW. Just added to the Southwest Design Review Board‘s schedule, for 6:30 pm December 4th (at the Senior Center of West Seattle), is the first meeting to look at the plan, now described as:

4-story assisted-living facility containing 48 sleeping rooms (66 beds total). Parking for 11 vehicles to be provided below grade. Existing structures to be demolished.

Here’s the project page on the city website.

Finally, not far from there …

REDEVELOPMENT AT 40TH/OREGON: Thanks to Jeannette for the tip – an 84-year-old house at 40th/Oregon is scheduled for teardown and replacement.

The project has just evolved in city files, she points out, from a rowhouse to a combination of two single-family homes and a 2-unit townhouse building. County records show the house and its 4,600-square-foot lot were sold two weeks ago for $500,000.

West Seattle development: Next Design Review meeting set for 3824 California townhouses/live-work-unit project

November 3, 2014 at 8:41 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(Rendering from Design Review meeting in July – new ‘packet’ isn’t available yet)
For only the second time in two and a half months, the Southwest Design Review Board will be convened to consider a project. On November 20th at 6:30 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle, it will be the fourth SWDRB meeting about 3824 California SW, the ~27-townhouse/live-work project on the site of the long-closed Charlestown Café. The project needed three Early Design Guidance reviews to make it out of that first stage of the two-stage Design Review process; the third one was in July (WSB coverage here). The board hasn’t met since September 4th; it has two regular meeting nights most months of the year, but the meetings are canceled if there are no projects ready to be considered.

West Seattle development: Microhousing on the move

November 2, 2014 at 9:04 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 72 Comments

Updates tonight on three in-the-works West Seattle microhousing projects:

5949 CALIFORNIA: WORK EXPECTED TO BEGIN – The smallest of the three, at 5949 California SW in north Morgan Junction, has had its permits for a while, and now, Morgan Community Association president Deb Barker says she’s learned that construction is about to begin. The house in our photo above is to be replaced with a five-story micro-apartment building with ~38 “sleeping rooms” and no offstreet-parking spaces; we first reported on the project in May 2013.

The next two projects were considered to be more or less on hold because of a city letter sent in September, as reported here. That letter sent to these and other projects around the city referenced a court decision, saying that their current plans meant each room would have to be counted as a separate dwelling unit, so either those plans would have to change or the projects would need to go through Design Review.. But we’ve discovered new developments on both projects:

3268 SW AVALON WAY: Just before the city memo in late September, the start of work on this 50+-unit project (next door to an already-complete microhousing building) was considered to be imminent – a temporary power tower had gone up. But nothing happened until Friday, when we noticed toward day’s end that the old multiplex on the site next to the 35th/Avalon 7-11 had been torn down. The file shows that the construction and demolition permits were issued three weeks ago. But we haven’t yet found anything online indicating what might have changed, if anything, in relation to the city memo.

Different story down the street …

3050 SW AVALON WAY: This 100+-unit, no-offstreet-parking-spaces project also appears to be proceeding. After seeing the demolition work up the street, we checked the file for this project and found a memo from architect Jay Janette, dated Friday, responding directly to the September letter from the city, by saying:

So rooms are not counted as separate dwelling units, per the City of Seattle DPD letter dated September 22, 2014, all sinks, refrigeration equipment, built-in cabinet and counters outside the bathrooms have been removed from each room.

That’s followed by, “If there are any remaining issues that we need to resolve, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly to resolve over the phone or email in lieu of another review cycle.”

Future microhousing projects will be reviewed under the city’s new rules passed a month ago.

WSB extra: Last look at what’s now a ghost of a building

November 1, 2014 at 6:30 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

(This photo and the next 8 by Mark Cohan)
What could be spookier than a big empty, long-vacant building? One of the biggest ones in West Seattle, the former Huling Chevrolet showroom, is no more on this extended Halloween weekend, as teardown concludes. Mark Cohan, who lives near Fauntleroy/Edmunds, “compiled a sort of photo essay of the old building just a few weeks before it was razed” – and shared the images, including the one above, as one last look. See more ahead (plus a few extra late-in-the-demolition photos of ours):

Click to read the rest of WSB extra: Last look at what’s now a ghost of a building…

West Seattle development: Equity Residential announces art-commission program, other details for Junction 47 project

October 28, 2014 at 3:33 pm | In Development, West Seattle news, WS culture/arts | 22 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The two-building Equity Residential project in the heart of The Junction, at California/Alaska/42nd, is “on schedule,” according to an ER executive, and expecting its first tenants to move in next summer.

Today, ER has just announced a plan to commission local artists for work inside and outside the project. This, though the company’s first vice president of development, Bradley Karvasek, says the original mandate for an art project no longer exists – the project has “abandoned” the underground alley vacation that was approved for the original development after a community agreement contingent on public benefits including art.

Karvasek talked with WSB today for the first official update on the project in almost two years; it’s now been under construction for one year, since demolition began in October 2013.

Click to read the rest of West Seattle development: Equity Residential announces art-commission program, other details for Junction 47 project…

West Seattle development: Views of the old and the new

October 23, 2014 at 6:33 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 18 Comments

Two scenes from the Junction/Triangle area:

FAUNTLEROY/EDMUNDS: Most of the future site of the mixed-use Whittaker is now cleared; just the last section on the southeast corner, the old Chevrolet showroom and service area to the west, remains (our photo was taken from Fauntleroy, looking southwest). A few blocks west:

4730 CALIFORNIA: Michael shared that photo showing that the facade of the midblock mixed-use project on California between Alaska and Edmunds is finally in view. Work on this project began with demolition in June of last year.

West Seattle development: Last phase of Whittaker site teardown

October 22, 2014 at 11:39 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

Rain or shine, the demolition and construction work in the heart of West Seattle is proceeding – and today, at the future site of The Whittaker (4755 Fauntleroy Way SW), the last round of demolition has begun. Teardown of the 1952-built former auto-dealership buildings on the south side of the site started this morning. The view in the top photo reminds us of the same stage of demolition on another formerly Huling-owned site five years ago. *added* Here’s a photo from just before the beams were revealed:

Just in case you’re a new arrival: The project to be built here includes ~400 apartments, ~600 parking spaces, and retail (Whole Foods remains the only announced tenant so far). The Masonic Center at 40th/Edmunds is not part of the site and will remain, getting some parking-lot improvements as part of the “public benefits” promised by the developers next door.

P.S. Speaking of development – the West Seattle Land Use Committee‘s scheduled to hold its third meeting tonight, 6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle (Oregon/California).

Touring the Junction/Triangle ‘walkshed’: Proliferation of plans

October 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm | In Development, Transportation, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Seattle Comprehensive Plan

West Seattle Junction Hub Neighborhood Plan

West Seattle Triangle Streetscape Concept Plan ..

Seattle Transit Master Plan

Seattle Bicycle Master Plan

Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan

Seattle Right of Way Improvements Manual

Seattle Pedestrian Retail Areas plan

Fauntleroy Boulevard plan

One thing was clear during last Saturday’s “walkshed” tour of the Junction/Triangle area, with Seattle Planning Commission reps listening to local community reps: There’s no shortage of plans and documents covering the area, but there’s a shortage of understanding in how they interact, interface, intersect, and what they mean.

The tour itself was linked to the Planning Commission’s ongoing work on the city Comprehensive Plan update, dubbed Seattle 2035. The next big milestone for that is the environmental-impact statement, expected to be out early next year. And this is no bureaucratic bit of wonkiness to ignore: As was pointed out at the start of Saturday’s event, this type of discussion preceded the 1990s-generated plan for “urban villages” including The Junction/Triangle – much of which is only now coming to pass, as was underscored by the current, future, and recent development sites passed (and often discussed) along the way.

But the topic wasn’t just the dense heart of the Junction/Triangle, but also its single-family zones – like a stretch of 40th south of Edmunds and the major project sites bordering it on the north.

For backstory on the tour, see our coverage of last month’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting (which included a slide deck setting the stage). To see what happened during the tour – read on:

Click to read the rest of Touring the Junction/Triangle ‘walkshed’: Proliferation of plans…

West Seattle development updates: Demolition at 4101 SW Oregon & Fauntleroy/Alaska corner; plus, High Point ‘cover-up’

October 15, 2014 at 11:47 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

Three development-related updates:

4101 SW OREGON DEMOLITION: WSB’s Christopher Boffoli caught demolition starting this morning at this 87-year-old house making way for a 4-unit rowhouse. This project has been in the works for almost a year.

FAUNTLEROY/ALASKA CORNER DEMOLITION: Crews are continuing to bring down the buildings at the future site of The Whittaker, ~400 apartments, ~600 offstreet parking spaces, street-level retail including Whole Foods. Today, they’re working at the Fauntleroy/Alaska corner, demolishing the old Shell station and the former Howden-Kennedy (they moved) building.

The former auto-dealership buildings are expected to be torn down next week. A project spokesperson tells us the plan is still on to digitally re-create the mural that’s on the east side of one of those buildings; the image will be taken from a Southwest Seattle Historical Society photo that is clearer than the faded mural, which couldn’t be moved because it’s on cement block.

HIGH POINT ‘COVER-UP’: In our late September update on 35th/Graham, the photo showed a big sign for Polygon, saying NEW HOMES COMING 2015. Then, a commenter pointed out, the sign was suddenly covered over in green canvas/tarp/plastic, both sides (and we discovered the same thing on a sign a bit to the east).

Why the “cover-up”? We checked with the Seattle Housing Authority, which owns the site, and deputy executive director Anne Fiske Zuniga explained, “The Polygon signs went up prematurely and were covered up because the information was not accurate.” She added,
“Polygon and SHA are in conversation regarding the development of the site at 35th & Graham, the site is not under contract. Polygon is in the preliminary planning stages, so nothing is definite at this time.”

Charge a development fee to encourage ‘affordable housing’? Seattle City Council committee says yes

October 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

(Click the image to go to the full-size map on the city website)
Would a new type of development fee lead to more affordable housing in the city? The City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee has just voted in favor of a proposal for a so-called “linkage fee” intended to make that happen. If it became law, it would affect commercial and multifamily development in certain parts of the city, shown on the map above – including parts of West Seattle:

A City Council committee today recommended approval of a plan to create an affordable housing linkage fee to preserve and create affordable housing in Seattle. The resolution directs City departments to develop legislation whereby new construction in multi-family and commercial zones would mitigate the cost of increasing rents by funding housing affordable to those households making $45,000 – $65,000 per year, which is 60% – 80% of area median income (AMI).

“If we want Seattle to be an inclusive city for people of all incomes, then we need to see more housing produced that’s affordable to more people. Up until this point, the market has clearly not given us the housing we need,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee and the legislation’s sponsor.

Developers could either pay a per-square-foot fee, which is variable based on project’s location in the city, or avoid the fee by dedicating at least 3% – 5% of the units in their project to households making less than 80% AMI. The money generated from fees would be invested in workforce housing.

“Our expert economic consultants suggest that at this fee level, development would absorb the fees without constricting new supply or significantly raising rents,” Councilmember O’Brien added.

The (above) map illustrates where the linkage fee would be applied in multi-family and commercial development in the city.

Full Council is expected to vote on the resolution on Monday, October 20. Draft legislation for Council consideration is expected by June 1, 2015. The final legislation is anticipated to gradually phase-in over a three year period and would not affect existing projects or new projects with permit applications already submitted.

Additional information about O’Brien’s proposal for an Affordable Housing Linkage Fee in Seattle is available online.

This is separate from the city’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption program, which enables a partial tax exemption on projects that commit to below-market rents for part of their units. The city’s current list of projects in that program includes nine buildings in West Seattle.

West Seattle development: ‘Streamlined design review’ proposals for townhouses at 3811 California

October 14, 2014 at 9:16 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

The latest plan for 3811 California SW is advancing, with a plan now in city files for “streamlined design review” (SDR) – which means public comments will be accepted, but there’s no Design Review Board meeting. The site is currently home to Charlestown Court, the brick fourplex that has been rejected twice for landmark status. The proposal, as first reported here in January, is to replace it with four 2-unit townhouse buildings and eight offstreet-parking spaces on the alley. Here’s what architect S+H Works has filed with the city for the SDR process:

(If you can’t see the embedded document, try this link.) If you’re interested in commenting on the proposal, this page on the city website explains how.

What’s next for 3078 Avalon appeal: One more witness

October 12, 2014 at 12:40 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The appeal hearing challenging key city approvals for the ~100-apartment project planned at 3078 SW Avalon Way has one more session to go, next Friday.

The original schedule for testimony before city Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner spanned three days during the week before last, with a full day on Tuesday, Sept. 30 (WSB report here), another one on Wednesday, Oct. 1st (WSB report here), then a partial day on Thursday, Oct. 2nd. But what was brought up by the teams on both sides – appellant Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development (NERD) and the city Department of Planning and Development plus developer Northlake Group – led to the need for one more witness, next Friday, October 17th. Tanner said she did not expect to publish her ruling, due to various scheduling challenges, until mid-November.

This is one of at least four project sites on Avalon that is in some degree of limbo, or at least waiting.

Click to read the rest of What’s next for 3078 Avalon appeal: One more witness…

West Seattle demolition watch: Arbor Heights, Genesee Hill, Whittaker updates

October 10, 2014 at 12:45 pm | In Arbor Heights, Development, Genesee Hill, Triangle, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

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.

West Seattle development: Abatement/demolition begins for The Whittaker; six other teardown/rebuild notes

October 8, 2014 at 6:40 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

Seven West Seattle development notes:

ABATEMENT/DEMOLITION WORK BEGINS AT THE WHITTAKER: If you have driven past the site of The Whittaker (400 apartments plus retail including Whole Foods Market) at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, you might have noticed the heavy equipment beginning work. A project spokesperson confirms that they have “officially started abatement work,” adding that the “auto body shop on 40th is scheduled to be demolished sometime tomorrow.” Major demolition is about two weeks away, if all goes as planned, and construction is set to start next month.

Six smaller demolition/construction projects of note, with permits granted or applied for in the past week or so:

4101 SW OREGON: In The Junction, the demolition permit has just been granted for a project first mentioned here almost a year ago; an 87-year-old house will be demolished and replaced with a 4-unit rowhouse.

4316 SW THISTLE: The application is now in for a “lot boundary adjustment” at this corner parcel, on the books as two lots, as mentioned here in July, though holding one house for more than a century. That house is planned for teardown, and replacement with two single-family houses including “accessory dwelling units,” which means four residences in all. (For “accessory dwelling units” to be legal, the city rules say, the property owner has to live on site, either in the main house or ADU.)

6540 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: In Morgan Junction, this 98-year-old house is proposed for demolition and replacement with a new single-family house.

9007 45TH SW: In Fauntleroy, this 71-year-old house is planned for demolition and replacement.

6047 47TH SW: In Seaview, this 71-year-old house is planned for demolition and replacement.

6470 MARSHALL SW: Also in Seaview, this 95-year-old house is planned for demolition and replacement.

Seattle microhousing has rules, definition, and a name – SEDUs – after unanimous City Council vote

October 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

The city officially has rules for microhousing – or, if you prefer, SEDUs (small efficiency dwelling units). They’ve been in the works for months and, two weeks after the final committee discussion, won official, unanimous council approval this afternoon. Read the full bill here; here are the highlights from the city toplines featured our story about them last month:

*Creates a definition for small efficiency dwelling units (SEDU).

*Clarifies the definition of dwelling unit.

*Establishes required components of SEDUs, including a 150-square-foot minimum sleeping room area, a 220 square foot minimum total floor area, a food preparation area (sink, refrigerator, countertop, cooking appliance) and a bathroom (sink, toilet, shower or bathtub).

*Limits the issuance of Restricted Parking Zone permits to no more than one per SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.

*Requires Streamlined Design Review to be applied, in all zones, to congregate residences and residential uses that are more than 50 percent comprised of SEDUs if they contain between 5,000 and 11,999 square feet of gross floor area.

*Limits the construction of congregate residences that do not meet certain ownership or operational requirements to higher density zones that are located within Urban Centers and Urban Villages

*Increases the minimum required area of communal space in a congregate residence from 10 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms to 15 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms.

*Creates a new vehicle parking requirement of one parking space for every two SEDUs for areas of the City where vehicle parking is required for multifamily residential uses.

*Increases bicycle parking requirements for SEDUs and congregate residences to 0.75 bicycle spaces per SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.

*Requires the bicycle parking required for SEDUs and congregate residences to be covered for weather protection.

*Allows required, covered bicycle parking for SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms to be exempt from Floor Area Ratio limits if the required parking is located inside the building that contains the SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms.

*Calls on the Department of Planning and Development to complete an analysis of the City’s vehicle and bicycle parking requirements and present its recommendations for regulatory changes to the City Council by no later than March 31, 2015.

That last item, as we noted last month, goes beyond microhousing.

West Seattle has two microhousing buildings already open – Footprint Delridge and Footprint Avalon I – and three on the drawing board. As reported here two weeks ago, two of the not-yet-under-construction projects – at 3268 SW Avalon Way and 3050 SW Avalon Way – are on hold because of a court decision that would require them to go through Design Review, or undergo a significant redesign.

During this afternoon’s council meeting, discussion preceding the vote included a rebuke by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen for city departments not catching “loopholes” he said developers exploited when first opening these projects here. (You can watch the discussion and vote in the archived Seattle Channel video atop this story; the vote is 71 minutes into the video.)

Tour The Junction with Seattle Planning Commissioners who are also your neighbors, to discuss ‘successes … and opportunities’

October 5, 2014 at 10:30 am | In Development, How to help, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

“We want to see this through your eyes – we’re interested in a dialogue.”

With that, two Seattle Planning Commissioners, both West Seattleites, are inviting you to be part of the dialogue about the future of The Junction and vicinity with a walk-and-talk event next Saturday (October 11th), 10 am.

They came to September’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting to initiate the dialogue, and we since have received official confirmation and the invitation itself (see above, or click here for the PDF version) – RSVP for updates on where they’re planning to meet (we’ll also have that here, later in the week).

Commissioners Jeanne Krikawa and Luis Borrero said they realize many might not even have heard about the Seattle Planning Commission, an independent, but city-convened/funded, group of appointees. That’s why they and commission policy analyst Jesseca Brand visited JuNO, to talk about not just what they do but also about looking at The Junction’s “walkshed” – what “essential components of livability” it has, and doesn’t have. Those were described as parks, plazas, libraries, community centers, wayfinding, green streets, bike infrastructure, as laid out in the Seattle Transit Communities report a few years back.

If any of those elements don’t exist in a “transit community,” they should be only “a stop or two away.” Here’s the slide deck Borrero and Krikawa showed JuNO:

This all figures into the Seattle 2035 process to update the city’s Comprehensive Plan, a major project for the Planning Commission right now, and one that has already resulted in a variety of events.

Even if this all sounds a little too wonky for you, remember that a process more than 15 years ago set the stage for much is what’s happening now. That’s what designated The Junction and vicinity as a Hub Urban Village – one meant to encourage workplaces to locate in the area, not just residences and services, the commissioners told JuNO.

In turn, JuNO director René Commons and attendees told Krikawa and Borrero that the Junction “walkshed” is definitely missing some of what are supposed to be hub characteristics – no nearby community centers, libraries, public schools.

The commissioners in turn asked those in attendance how they feel about The Junction’s growth. We’d summarize the various answers as “trepidational,” as well as eager for more transit – but join next Saturday’s walking tour, and tell them yourselves.

The bottom line of all this is consideration of how The Junction and vicinity should be viewed in the decades ahead, as a prism through which to see growth and the choices to be made. It’s a rare chance for more of a big picture look than the piecemeal decision-making so many have decried in the past few years. If you’re interested in having a say – or at least listening – be part of the tour next Saturday, and the conversation to follow.

Tower crane coming down at Spruce after 16 months

October 2, 2014 at 11:52 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

By midmorning, the tower crane at Madison Development‘s Spruce project (3922 SW Alaska, once known as “The Hole”) was a shadow of its former self. Sixteen months after it went up, it’s coming down, as previewed here on Wednesday. This has been arguably the most-visible tower crane in West Seattle this year, not just because of the sharper angle at which its jib has been raised, but because the holiday lights installed last year have stayed up, a prominent feature on West Seattle’s nighttime skyline. Now, though, the apartments-and-health-club project is a few months from completion, and it’s time for the crane to go.

Thanks again to Steve for the tip about the alert notice distributed to nearby residents, which suggested this will be a two-day job. Once this is gone, West Seattle will have two working tower cranes for now – at California/Alaska/42nd and 40th/Edmunds – but the one for 4435 35th SW is likely not far away. (If you’re interested – here’s an explanation of how tower cranes work.)

ADDED THURSDAY EVENING: Thanks to David for sharing this photo taken as he passed the crane-removal operation late in the day:

Of height, parking, bus stops, and FAR: Day 2 of 3078 SW Avalon appeal hearing

October 2, 2014 at 8:50 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

(Aerial showing 3078 Avalon project site, from project materials distributed in fall 2013)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Hearings often yield information beyond their immediate subjects.

During day two of the Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development (NERD) appeal hearing regarding a planned ~100-apartment building at 3078 SW Avalon, we learned about a lawsuit involving the project site. We also learned about a lawsuit involving the site next door that once was slated for a “twin” building. Neither is directly related to this appeal, yet both are relevant, in looking at the big picture of development in that area.

And we heard a lot more about how the city’s Design Review process works, and doesn’t. We also heard Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner, who is presiding over the hearing and will rule on the appeal, say that her office hasn’t traditionally had “broad jurisdiction” over the process.

The Design Review approval of the project is one of two city decisions that NERD, based in the single-family-home neighborhood north of the west stretch of Avalon, is appealing. The other is the Department of Planning and Development‘s “determination of non-significance” (DNS) saying the project did not require a full environmental-impact report.

It’s an uphill fight, with the hearing examiner required to give the most weight to the city’s decision unless the appellant proves it was in error and should be overturned.

Today is the third and final day scheduled for the hearing, though some testimony already has been scheduled for a spillover date in two weeks. We have been at the hearing examiner’s Municipal Tower hearing room for both days so far and are expecting to be back again today. Here is our report from day 1; below, the toplines from Day 2:

Click to read the rest of Of height, parking, bus stops, and FAR: Day 2 of 3078 SW Avalon appeal hearing…

West Seattle development: Another crane coming down

October 1, 2014 at 9:28 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

Almost 16 months after it went up, the tower crane at Spruce (3922 SW Alaska) is about to come down. Neighbors have been notified (thanks to Steve for the tip!) that the removal is scheduled to start early tomorrow morning. Unless you’re a recent arrival, you might still know the site best as “The Hole,” so nicknamed because it was excavated in 2008 and then sat idle until a new owner started construction last year. Spruce will have more than 200 apartments and one commercial tenant, LA Fitness.

West Seattle development: 3078 SW Avalon appeal hearing begins

October 1, 2014 at 6:52 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Two years ago, a crowd of neighbors from the neighborhood just north of Avalon filled the room for the first Southwest Design Review Board meeting about 3078 Avalon, proposed for ~100 apartments and 60 parking spaces:

(WSB photo, September 2012)
A lot has happened south of their neighborhood since then – a twin proposal for 3062 Avalon has come and gone; a microhousing building has opened a block west, with two more in the works; two more apartment buildings have opened on the south side of Avalon, just east of 35th.

3078 Avalon has continued to work its way through the system, finishing Design Review in January, though its permits don’t have final approval yet. Forming a group called NERDNeighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development – some of the neighbors have followed it with concerns and critiques.

After the city finalized the Design Review recommendations and issued a Determination of Non-Significance saying the project would have no significant environmental impacts, they got a lawyer and filed an appeal in May. The hearing for that appeal is now under way before city Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner, at the Municipal Tower downtown. We were there for testimony all day Tuesday and expect to return as it continues today.

While the case is just about one development, the issues are much bigger.

Click to read the rest of West Seattle development: 3078 SW Avalon appeal hearing begins…

West Seattle development: New 35th/Graham proposal; comment time for 4849 21st SW

September 29, 2014 at 2:55 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

Two development notes this afternoon:

REVISED PROPOSAL FOR HIGH-PROFILE HIGH POINT CORNER: The placement of that sign might make you think the big stretch of vacant land at 35th/Graham is the future site of more Polygon-built single-family homes. Not according to the newest proposal, with a “preliminary assessment report” added to city files just a week ago. It is now described as:

Develop the Block 9 High Point site, including utilities and infrastructure, 52 townhomes and a 4 story mixed use building containing approximately 80 apartment units, 8,500 square feet of office space, and 1,500 square feet of retail space located on the ground floor.

The mixed-use building is similar to something a Seattle Housing Authority spokesperson mentioned last October, when we reported on the previous plan. At the time, a mix of houses and townhouses was in the works, with an expectation of a “commercial building” at the corner, SHA said. In this plan, that is now a mixed-use building running along the entire 35th SW frontage of the land, according to a preliminary “site plan” filed this month, with the townhouses to the east. The new plan is in the name of High Point III, LLC, which traces to Polygon Northwest‘s Bellevue address. We’ll be following up on next steps for this plan.

2 WEEKS TO COMMENT ON 4849 21ST SW SUBDIVISION: Last week, we reported on an application to split one big lot at 4849 21st SW (map) into nine parcels for single-family houses. Today, the official notice is in the city’s Monday/Thursday Land Use Information Bulletin, which means you have two weeks to comment. Here’s how.

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