(TOPLINE: After almost 3 hours, the Design Commission told 4755 Fauntleroy to tweak its proposed “public benefit” plan and come back a 4th time)
1:43 PM: We are downtown for the third review of the 4755 Fauntleroy Way (Whole Foods/apartments) megaproject before the Seattle Design Commission – and it’s another crowded room, more than 50 people this time, including golden-shirted members of UFCW Local 21, which has expressed consistent opposition to the project, and others including members of the project team, Parks and SDOT reps and, among community members, Steve Huling, former owner of most of the land on which the project will be built, and Nancy Woodland, from the board of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce. The commission’s role in this is to review its “urban design merit” and the “public benefit” the developers plan to offer in exchange for the city granting an alley vacation. Highlights as they happen.
Lance Sherwood of Weingarten, the retail developer on the project, starts with three big announcements:
*There is no longer a drugstore drive-through in the project
*The developers will pay to improve the Masonic Temple’s nearby parking lot
*The developers will contribute money ($25,000) toward public outreach regarding the design of the park that the city plans to create on land it’s purchased across 40th from the project’s west side.
The presentation then is taken over by Bill Fuller of Fuller Sears Architects. He explains that the Masons’ parking lot will be graded to be at a single level (it’s on two now), with one entrance. He also notes that part of 40th SW will become the first true “Seattle Green Street” under their plan. Removing drugstore drive-through traffic and Masons’ entry from the project’s “midblock connection” will resolve many of the persistent concerns about it, he says.
He also shows the “iconic corner” at Fauntleroy/Alaska (northeast corner), which now will have glass and lighting.
Next, landscape architect Andy Rasmussen, a West Seattleite who works for Weisman Design Group, is talking about the corners of the project as part of its public benefit. An artist named Troy is here and is involved with the project, Rasmussen says.
The art will involve corten/rusted metal and will be inspired by maritime West Seattle – he shows anchors and pilings as “inspiration.”
He says the connection on 40th to the future park has been “strengthened” in the latest design. Also – more street trees, fewer curb cuts (4 total – compared to 15 on the site now), and overhead weather protection for pedestrians all around the project, he says.
2:02 PM: The discussion of the art, in particular at the Fauntleroy/Alaska SW corner, continues. Some of the forms also will be evocative of the mountains, Rasmussen explains; others, of waves. They also are continuing to work with SDOT, as mentioned previously, on a crosswalk across Alaska at that corner (where Spruce – which just started construction – will be). He says the “water-like” elements will continue down 40th south from Alaska, into the raingarden area that’s streetside on the site there:
Back to the midblock connector that will cut between the project’s two buildings, from Fauntleroy to 40th, it will still have a raised crosswalk midway through. One area on the Fauntleroy edges will also have some extra public space, north of the connector. It’ll carry on the nautical theme with “oar-like forms.”
On the Fauntleroy/Edmunds corner, it will be a more “pier-like/dock-like space,” Rasmussen continues. The major residential entry is there, as is bike parking. Fuller picks up the presentation after that, summarizing the points they believe comprise the public benefit – what’s mentioned above, and more.
OUR AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE CONTINUES BELOW: Click to read the rest of As it happened: Design Commission tells 4755 Fauntleroy to come back for 4th review…
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
We learned a lot more about the “Lofts at the Junction” project last night during its first Southwest Design Review Board meeting, which ended with the board giving it clearance to move to the next phase of the process.
For one, while it does include about 40 apartments on a lot of less than 4,000 square feet at 4535 44th SW, it does not have all the attributes of so-called “microhousing” – each of its units will include a private kitchen and bath.
For two, the Nicholson Kovalchick Architects-designed project is now envisioned with an “industrial loft” type of look, and a brick facade, as shown in the “character sketches” (above is the 44th SW view) – completely different from what was shown in the design “packet” prepared for the meeting and shown here two weeks ago.
The Design Review process has drawn more consistent public interest lately, and this meeting brought another full house of about 40 in the upstairs meeting hall at the Senior Center of West Seattle.
Boyd Pickrell from NK Architects led the presentation, which was weighted toward context for the site and an overview of the project’s goals:
11:14 AM: West Seattle’s most notorious stalled-construction site, where ground was ceremonially broken almost five years ago for a project then called “Fauntleroy Place,” is now back in action. Multiple tipsters tell us crews are on site getting ready to work on what is now known as Spruce - the new name first reported here when we found the revised plans last July. The only commercial tenant planned for Spruce is an LA Fitness health club (the Whole Foods store it once was to hold is now destined for the future 4755 Fauntleroy project right across the street). We’re headed over for a look; more to come.
11:50 AM: Added two photos – the backhoe in the top image is visible at the site entrance off 39th SW, south of West Seattle Bowl; from the short alley off 40th SW, you can see a second one is onsite, too. Checking online files showing the site’s permits – many of which have long been approved and waiting, given the project’s history – the newest application is for onsite power, also a “getting started” sign.
After a long court fight that ensued when the project stalled after the site was excavated, Madison Development Group was the winning bidder for the site, $32 million, more than a year and a half ago. The only significant discussion of its plans since then – besides what we found in the files last summer – came at a Seattle Design Commission meeting last December (WSB coverage here), required before the project’s “alley vacation” could be finalized.
First one we’ve happened onto, anyway: An apartment project proposed for 5949 California SW (map), north of Morgan Junction, is described as a “boarding house,” one of the phrases used in city documentation for what’s becoming more widely known as “microhousing.” Its initial paperwork listed five levels (one basement, 4 above ground) and five residential units – but, as noted in City Council discussions recently, there has been a city loophole in which microhousing was allowed through the system despite equating the number of common kitchens to the number of units, instead of just declaring the total number of rentable units. That loophole is on its way out, and revised paperwork for this “five-unit” project shows it will include 38 “sleeping rooms.” Here’s the city webpage for the project; it hasn’t turned up on the Land Use Information Bulletin yet, so we’re not sure yet about the deadline for comments, but will check tomorrow.
Another new Junction-area development is set for its first hearing before the Southwest Design Review Board. A May 23rd meeting has just turned up on the SWDRB schedule for 4745 40th SW. The city’s online files say it is proposed for 150 apartments, 9 live-work units, and 100 parking spaces in a building of up to eight stories on a site north of SW Edmunds, south of a future city park, west (across 40th) from the Masonic Temple, and steps away from the southwest edge of the future Whole Foods (etc.) project (also across 40th). The May 23rd meeting is scheduled for 6:30 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle at California/Oregon.
(Before then, the board will meet this Thursday [May 9th], also at 6:30 at the Senior Center, for its first look at 4535 44th SW, a 4-story, 35-apartment, 4-live-work-unit project first mentioned here in March.)
Back in November 2009, the Southwest Design Review Board gave “early design guidance” thumbs up to 4435 35th SW (WSB coverage here), proposed at the time to be a development of about 100 condominiums over two floors of commercial. Three and a half years later, the project is tentatively scheduled to go back to EDG next month, essentially scrapping the first review, with a different plan: Six stories, 170 apartments, over 10,000+ square feet of commercial development, with 187 parking spaces. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 pm Thursday, June 13th, at the Senior Center of West Seattle.
Also penciled in for that same date, same place, at 8 pm: A third meeting for the 30-apartment, 30-parking-space proposal at 3829 California SW; the official city report details the concerns that led the board not to recommend final approval at its April 13th meeting.
After a daytime discussion last month, City Councilmembers have announced a nighttime meeting about “microhousing.” The trend is most prevalent on Capitol Hill and in the U-District, but as we’ve reported, several are under construction and on the drawing board here in West Seattle. One of the most commonly voiced concerns, as has been the case in WSB comments: The impact of developing such buildings without on-site parking. The meeting is set for 6 pm next Monday, May 6th, at Seattle First Baptist Church (1111 Harvard Avenue); the announcement describes its focus:
The purpose of the second meeting is to hear from neighborhood representatives who will give their views and recommendations on the micro-housing projects. Representatives of the developers who build micro-housing projects will be present to describe the projects and the market for this housing alternative and their response to concerns they are hearing from the community. …
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen stated: “A portion of the meeting will include an opportunity for the public to provide comments on what they have heard during the meeting and to provide recommendations on what, if any, regulations should be enacted for this unique type of housing.”
Many “microhousing” projects cluster multiple small living units around a common kitchen/laundry area, which the Department of Planning and Development has then counted as a single living unit, and the changes under discussion include ending that practice. In West Seattle, there is at least one such project, according to the citywide report on developments approved last year for the Multifamily Tax Exemption last year – “Avalon Studios,” with 56 studios (no address listed, so we haven’t yet found which of the Avalon Way “boarding house” projects it is).
Seattle city rules provide for hearings on certain types of developments – while other types only get internal reviews by planners. Then, there are situations in which hearings can be requested. That’s what’s happening with the Alki-area development site shown above, where four 3-story “rowhouses” containing 11 residential units are proposed for 2414 55th SW, a short distance inland from the beach, on a site that’s already gone through a “boundary adjustment.” Neighbor Marie McKinsey says that while she and other neighbors were doing research, they found out that the city MIGHT set a hearing if at least 50 people petition for it. So they’re collecting names right now – Alki residents interested in signing can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ahead, the concerns she shared with the city:
(“Character” rendering of 4535 44th SW proposal, by Nicholson Kovalchick Architects)>
With two weeks till the first Southwest Design Review Board meeting about 4535 44th SW, the project’s “design packet” is now online, for anyone who wants a preview (see the 27-page PDF here). When we first reported on the proposal in mid-March, the early online documentation referred to it as “micros” – a hot-button word citywide right now – and then a later version used the term “studios.” Now, the project bears the name Lofts at the Junction, with some other changes – the plan now calls for a 4-story building with around 27 studio apartments (depending on the final approved configuration) and six live-work units – three along the 44th SW facade, three along the Glenn Way facade. No on-site parking; none required under city code, because it’s near what’s considered rapid transit (on SW Alaska). The review is scheduled for 6:30 pm Thursday 5/9 at the Senior Center of West Seattle (here’s the official notice, which explains how to comment in advance, whether or not you plan to be at the meeting).
P.S. If you’re interested in the Design Review process in general, the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee plans a public hearing at City Hall next Monday, 5:30 pm, on new guidelines regarding how it works and what it’s about – here’s the agenda.
As-it-happened: Seattle Design Commission OKs ‘urban design merit’ of 4755 Fauntleroy Way on 2nd tryApril 18, 2013 at 1:43 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 15 Comments
(TOPLINE: After a 2 1/2-hour meeting, the citywide Design Commission gave the project the first of two approvals it must confer before its “alley vacation” can be approved)
1:43 PM: We’re at City Hall for the Seattle Design Commission‘s second review of the 4755 Fauntleroy Way megaproject – and there’s even a bigger crowd than there was for the 1st review in March. The Design Commission does not review the entire project – their scope is to decide if it has “urban design merit” and “public benefits” worthy of city approval for the “alley vacation” that is part of the project. The presentation is starting with architect Bill Fuller recapping some of the key points of the 372-apartment, 60,000-square-feet-of-retail, 70-foot-high project. Key commission concerns the first time included how the “mid-block connector” through the two-building project would be configured. Fuller also notes that the plan for the “iconic corner” at Fauntleroy/Alaska is “under construction” since there was so much feedback to incorporate from the Southwest Design Review Board.
1:55 PM: Fuller is showing the newest version of the mid-block connector, which will incorporate more of a “city sidewalk” design. The west side of it will be narrower, so there’s more room for planters. That side also will include bicycle parking. There’ll be a six-inch-high concrete curb along the sidewalk side of the mid-block connector for people walking between the west and east sides (Fauntleroy and 40th SW). Next to the Whole Foods loading dock, which is enclosed and behind doors, there’ll be a raised crosswalk that will be “one more speed bump” as Fuller put it. There remains a drive-through for the tenant-not-yet-announced drug store, and Fuller is explaining why that’s needed – using the example of a parent driving up with a screaming, sick child in the car, needing to pick up some medication, wanting a “more private” transaction with the pharmacy. The rendering includes the re-created mural from the existing site, on the side of the drugstore, on the lane leading up to the drive-through, as Fuller shows a more detailed look on how the drive-through’s traffic will work.
He says there’s no way that cars can or would drive fast at that spot.
*EDITOR’S NOTE, POST-MEETING – THE REST OF OUR AS-IT-HAPPENED NOTES FROM THE MEETING ARE AFTER THE JUMP*
(Photo by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)
The 166-apartment project proposed for 3210 California SW will be back for a second round of Early Design Guidance, as a result of its first try last night, before a crowd of around 50 people at the Senior Center of West Seattle. That means it will come before the Southwest Design Review Board at least two more times – once a project passes EDG, a more fleshed-out version must be brought back for final recommendations.
While first word of this project came just two months ago, you could say it’s been almost six years in the making, dating back to the 2007 emergence of a plan to upzone California between Hanford and Hinds for larger potential development – this is the first one to be proposed since then, and as noted during the meeting, it’s potentially a precedent-setting building in terms of its length:
(Proposed ‘preferred’ massing for the development; rendering courtesy Nicholson Kovalchick Architects)
Ahead, toplines from the meeting, covered for WSB by Christopher Boffoli:
(Proposed ‘preferred’ massing for the development; rendering courtesy Nicholson Kovalchick Architects)
Tomorrow (Thursday) night is the first Southwest Design Review Board meeting for 3210 California SW, the 166-apartment project that’s the first proposal for a block-long stretch of South Admiral upzoned two years ago, after an at-times-contentious process that started more than three years earlier. The meeting was set to happen last month – until neighbors pointed out that the notice had not gone to everyone affected, so the city postponed it at the last minute. Those neighbors live in the single-family neighborhood behind the proposed development plan; while they expect to be at the meeting, they also have drafted a 13-page letter they sent in advance in hopes the board members would have time to consider it. Here’s a copy they provided. It details their concerns, particularly regarding height, bulk, and scale of the new development. Looking at homes to the east along 42nd, you can see its potential top floors in blue to the west.
An excerpt from the letter:
1. The proposed project abuts a much less intensive SF zone of substantially different scale, along its long axis. 80-percent of the abutting single-family residences are one or two-story bungalows on 5000 sf lots. The absence of an alley for access and buffer is conducive to a project of smaller scale.
2. The proposed project is two full stories taller than the buildings on California Ave to its north and south. (See Section D in the project packet.)
3. The development site is of such exceptional length not only for its immediate context, but for Seattle overall. The proposed building is 200 feet longer than a downtown block, with a footprint equivalent to 6 NC parcel lengths and 9 SF parcel lengths. Even with one “break” in the building’s upper stories, the two masses are still each far longer than any other buildings.
4. The current proposal appears substantially greater in height and scale than in representations made in connection with a 2011 rezone.
The project packet can be seen here. This review is the second one on the board’s agenda for tomorrow night at the Senior Center of West Seattle (second floor of California/Oregon building) – at 6:30 pm, they take up the 39-apartment building proposed for 3829 California SW, and then 3210 California SW’s part of the meeting is scheduled to start at 8 pm. There’ll be a period for public comment on each project.
As discussed when the Whole Foods/370-apartment megaproject at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW came back to the Southwest Design Review Board two weeks ago (WSB coverage here), the proposal also is in the midst of a crucial review by another city-organized group: The Seattle Design Commission. They must sign off on the developer’s request for an “alley vacation,” a process that would make public land private, and they must decide whether its “urban design merit” and “public benefits” pass muster. At their first review March 7 (WSB coverage here) they sent the project back for revisions and so will be reviewing its “merit” again on April 18th, 1:30-3:30 pm. The public is welcome; the meeting will be in the Boards and Commissions Room on the L2 level of City Hall downtown.
(Looking west toward the project site, from the alley on the east side of 44th)
Followup to the “microapartments” project in The Junction that we told you about last month – its first Southwest Design Review Board meeting is now tentatively scheduled for May 9th (6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle). According to the project page on the city website, the 4-story building is now proposed for 34 “residential units” and 1 live-work unit; the page also has the notation, “No parking proposed.” A pre-Design Review draft document on the city’s website says that’s because of the site’s transit accessibility; that document also now refers to the project as “studios” rather than the term “micros” used on an earlier document in the online file.
Of the 4 sizable Junction apartment developments ready for construction, The Blake (5020 California SW) is the first to get off the ground. It’s been in the development-preparation process for almost six years, with the site’s former buildings cleared away a year and a half ago – and now, the heavy equipment has arrived (thanks to the WSB’ers who tipped us this afternoon, so we could get a photo before dark). This site has a relatively long history – it was once part of an ambitious West Seattle portfolio that was being amassed by BlueStar, the original developers of “The Hole” (which now, under different ownership and a different name, is one of the other 3 could-start-soon Junction developments). It became bank-owned, then sold to a Burien company, and then three months ago, its new name was announced – though the plan is essentially what was approved in 2008 via the Design Review process:
It’s now planned for six stories with 101 apartments. Right now, the next Junction development to start might be 4724 California SW, just a few blocks north, also on the east side of the street – as reported here last week, the DPD has issued a decision approving its Land Use Permit, and development-team spokesperson Rob O’Dea told WSB they hope to get the project under way at the start of June.
With the next Southwest Design Review Board meeting now less than a week away, the board has two new members, and the revised lineup is online. Departing after the March 28th meeting (three hours focused on the 4755 Fauntleroy Way project) were chair Robin Murphy and Norma Tompkins. New to the board: T. Frick McNamara and Todd Bronk. You might know McNamara as co-owner of the Bin 41 wine shop in The Junction; she has a background in landscape architecture, too. And that’s the specialty of Bronk, who is with the Berger Partnership. Their short bios are now on the SWDRB board along with second-term members Laird Bennion, Myer Harrell, and Daniel Skaggs. Next Thursday, April 11th, the board meets at the Senior Center of West Seattle for what’s likely to be a long night – at 6:30 pm they review 29-apartment 3829 California SW (as noted here on Thursday); at 8 pm, it’s the first review – aka Early Design Guidance – for the 166-apartment 3210 California SW. P.S. Not quite sure how Design Review works? Read this.
Two West Seattle development notes this morning:
4724 CALIFORNIA LAND-USE PERMIT DECISION: In March, the development team for 4724 California SW – a seven-story building with 73 apartments and 13 live-work units at the former Petco/Sound Ad Group storefront – told WSB they will likely start the project mid-May. We’re checking back to see if that’s still the plan, now that a key decision is in – for the Land Use Permit. The decision (read it here) announced today is subject to appeal, and the deadline for that is April 18th; the official notice has a link explaining how to do so.
About a mile north:
3829 CALIFORNIA PREVIEW, BEFORE DESIGN REVIEW NEXT WEEK: The “packet” for next Thursday’s Southwest Design Review Board meeting about 3829 California SW is now available online, so you can preview the newest design plans. It’s a three-story, 29-unit apartment building; that’s the rear and south-side view in the rendering above. The meeting is at 6:30 pm April 11th, Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon).
4755 Fauntleroy Way megaproject: Southwest District Council discussion tonight; Design Review detailsApril 3, 2013 at 8:29 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 18 Comments
(The much-scrutinized “connector” between buildings, this view looking from 40th toward Fauntleroy)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Tonight brings the next public discussion of West Seattle’s biggest mixed-use project ever: 4755 Fauntleroy Way, to be home to two buildings, 370 apartments, 600 parking spaces, a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market, and a TBA drugstore.
The Southwest District Council‘s monthly meeting (6:30 pm, Southwest Teen Life Center, 2801 SW Thistle) includes a panel discussion of sorts about the project, with representatives from the development team and a project opponent. (Afternoon update: The project team is no longer planning to attend.)
This is not a formal part of the approval process, but other meetings are in the works as part of that: The project is expected to return later this month to the Seattle Design Commission, whose role is to vet it before the city grants a request for an “alley vacation,” allowing public property – part of an alley on the site – to become private.
Last Thursday night, in a separate part of the approval process, the Southwest Design Review Board looked at the newest version of the project’s design, and – as reported here immediately afterward – said it wasn’t quite ready for final approval.
Ahead, how that public meeting unfolded, from the presentation, through highlights of the more than 20 people who offered comments, to the conclusion:
(4755 Fauntleroy Way SW’s proposed northeast corner; rendering by Fuller Sears Architects)
We’re at the Senior Center of West Seattle, where a long meeting about a huge project has just wrapped up. The topline for the Southwest Design Review Board‘s third discussion of the 370-apartment, 600-parking-space 4755 Fauntleroy Way project: There’ll be a fourth meeting. After a 3-hour meeting including extensive comments from almost two dozen members of the public, and an hour of board debate, members decided to require the project to come back with “refinements” – especially regarding the “iconic corner” at Fauntleroy/Alaska and the “midblock connector between the project’s two buildings.” More to come. Our coverage of the project’s previous public reviews by city-sanctioned bodies: The project’s Design Commission review earlier this month; its second Early Design Guidance meeting last November; and its first EDG meeting last September.
When demolition equipment dug into the century-old house at 4526 41st SW (map) on Thursday, it wasn’t the start, but more like the end to the process. To find out more about the forthcoming four-townhome project, previously mentioned here last September, WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli talked with owner/developer Zoran Brlecic (below left), who lives across the alley:
He said the house was built in 1907 and that they spent months dismantling and giving away whatever could be re-used, including the back deck, which was meticulously disassembled over the course of a week before being hauled away. Zoran says he thinks the house may have been one of the first on the block to convert from coal to burning gas. The house’s gas furnace from the 1950s was still in good working order before it was removed.
Zoran and his wife left their native Croatia just a couple of years before the war broke out in the ’90s. They immigrated to Canada, where they were able to get work visas and then later got refugee status. Ultimately they moved to Ohio and then to Seattle. Zoran says that if this goes well he plans to continue developing properties. He said this property is being built green with a number of features to control water run-off from the property. They hope to have the project completed in nine months.
It went through the “streamlined design review” process; the informational packet remains online. When it’s done, Brlecic told Christopher, he plans to move into one of the new units.
Just noticed this new commercial real-estate listing: The 16,000-square-foot South Delridge site approved for 45 apartments and live-work units at 20th and Barton is up for sale, listed at $850,000. The two vacant, graffiti-covered homes that had been on the site were demolished some weeks back, and the listing points out that the land-use permit has been granted, “building permit in process.” The project required three design-review meetings last year because the concept changed between the first and second meetings. But it drew no controversy along the way – as noted in our October report, your editor here was the only person at the last design review meeting besides board members, project team, and the city planner assigned to the project.
New date on the Southwest Design Review Board‘s schedule: Two projects, both along California SW south of Admiral, are now planned for reviews on April 11th. First up, at 6:30 that night, it’s the second meeting for 3829 California SW, a three-story, 29-apartment building that had its first review back in June of last year (here is the city’s official report). Second (starting around 8 pm), it’s the rescheduled meeting for 3210 California SW, the 166-apartment project proposed for part of the upzoned block between Hinds and Hanford; as reported here last week, this Early Design Guidance session was originally set for last Thursday, but neighbors discovered an error in the city notification, and it was postponed at the last minute. Formal word of these two meetings is likely to go out with Thursday’s Land Use Information Bulletin, but here’s where you can see them now. The two-project meeting will be at what’s become the SWDRB’s usual location, Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon).
Since Legacy Partners announced a year and a half ago that it was taking over an approved-but-dormant development site in North Delridge, the ~200-apartment project renamed Youngstown Flats has had art in the plan – ultimately, works by 14 local artists. What we believe to be the biggest piece was delivered today: A corten-steel sculpture titled Continuity II, by Whidbey Island artist Jan Hoy. It’s a centerpiece at the courtyard fronting 26th SW. The building itself is weeks from completion.
It’s public-comment time for another Avalon Way development proposal: The land-use permit application has just been filed for 3050 Avalon, which we’ve been tracking. It’s now described as a 14-unit, four-story “congregate residence” – previously a “boarding house,” with the same developer as a “boarding house” under construction further west on Avalon next to the 7-11. (We’re checking with the city regarding differences, if any, regarding the terminology.) No parking spaces included (optional since the building’s on the RapidRide line). The official notice is here, announced in today’s Land Use Information Bulletin, and it explains how to comment before the March 27th deadline. This is the third land-use-permit application in a week in that block of Avalon, after the much-larger apartment buildings noted here last Thursday.
(Proposed massing for the development; rendering courtesy Nicholson Kovalchick Architects)
Just got word from a spokesperson for the 166-apartment 3210 California SW development that its Early Design Guidance meeting, scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed because of an error – “when the notice was published, one of the property parcels was not included.” Area residents confirm to WSB that they had sent the Department of Planning and Development a letter this past Monday asking for the postponement because of the error:
The February 21, 2013 Bulletin shows the development terminating at the southern edge of 3234 California Ave SW. In contrast, the design packet shows that actual boundary of the development is the south edge of 3240 California Ave. SW. This is a difference of 95 feet and 9675 square feet. The drawing of the project site on the Bulletin is more than 20% smaller than what is actually proposed. According to the Bulletin, several parcels on 42nd near the south end of the proposed development do not appear to share a boundary with the new building. In reality, the proposed five-story building will directly abut their property lines.
The Seattle DPD must provide proper notice that accurately reflects the size and share of the proposed development. The existing notice misrepresents the size of the development by more than 20% and does not comply with code.
The meeting cancellation is confirmed on the city website, but the new date is not listed yet; the development team expects it to be March 28th – already scheduled for the next meeting on the 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW megaproject – but we’re waiting to hear confirmation from the city. The “packet,” they say, will remain the same. If you still want to show up tomorrow night, 6:30 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle, the development team plans an “informal briefing” but with the caveat that “the board is not required to attend, there is no public comment taken, nor does (city) staff provide any guidance.” We’ll update this story when we hear back from the city about the new date for the official meeting
(Photo from King County Assessor’s Office website)
On the west edge of The Junction, the site of that little brick office building at 4535 44th SW is proposed for a new apartment building, 4 stories and 31 units. Here’s the project page on the city website. West Seattle-founded Nicholson Kovalchick is the architecture firm on the project, according to a preliminary site plan filed with the city that uses the term “micros” to describe the project (here’s more on the “micro-apartments” trend). The information on file is very preliminary so there is no mention of parking plans; it appears from an online notation that the project will go through the design-review process, though no meeting date is on the schedule yet. (Hat tip to DJC for first word of this.)
As-it-happened coverage: Crowd at City Hall as Design Commission looks at 4755 Fauntleroy’s alley vacationMarch 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 35 Comments
1:39 PM: About 25 people are in the audience at the City Hall Boards and Commissions Room right now as the Seattle Design Commission takes a look at part of the 4755 Fauntleroy Way megaproject – the requested alley vacation. We’ve never seen a crowd this size in five years of covering West Seattle project reviews here, so we’re going to publish live updates. Some of those here are wearing T-shirts with the logo of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21; we recognize members of the project team and some local community leaders as well. This will start with a presentation by project team members – Bill Fuller from Fuller Sears Architects and Lance Sherwood of Weingarten Realty (developing the site with Lennar) will lead. Land-use lawyers and representatives of the developers are here too. (Added: As introductions went around the room, West Seattle Thriftway [WSB sponsor] owner Paul Kapioski was among them. The project, if you don’t know, includes a Whole Foods Market.)
1:44 PM: The presentation has begun. This is the first time it’s gone before the commission, so the briefing starts with basics including where in West Seattle it’s located. Fuller says the building will have “approximately 400 residential units” – that’s 30 more than has been mentioned previously. Fuller notes the project site was upzoned last year to 85′ height (though this project is not proposed to be that tall – 70′ for most of the site). He also refers to Spruce across the street (“The Hole”) as “about to start up”; last time we were here covering a Design Commission meeting, that was the project, with an update last year. Fuller says this project’s streetscape will “complement” the Junction, rather than “compete with” it. He also shows a grid of alleys in the Junction/Triangle area, and an overview referring to development goals for the area, which includes respecting its status as a “gateway” to the area. While 4755 Fauntleroy is not a “transit-oriented development” by the city’s definition, Fuller says, they believe it will function as one, with its proximity to the RapidRide C Line, etc. He’s explaining everything around the site so that the commissioners, who are appointed from around the city, will have context (though we believe at least one is a West Seattleite).
2 PM: Background over, presentation begins. Fuller says they plan to improve the section of the alley they are not seeking to have “vacated” – the section that runs north-south north of SW Edmunds, east of the Masonic Lodge (which is adjacent to the project on two sides but not part of it). Fronting Fauntleroy, he says, there will be small retail spaces on the north part of that frontage, but they are proposing to move the drugstore drive-up to be on a driveway parallel to that north-south alley, rather than the original proposal on the east-west “midblock connection” between 40th SW and Fauntleroy. The site height will be mostly 70′ except for the “tower” element at the Fauntleroy/Alaska corner (something new since the first two Design Review meetings). He mentions the site across 40th just purchased by the city as a new park and says they are hoping to find a way for pedestrians to get from Fauntleroy to the park. The current mid-block connector section across the project site also will be utilized by cars. Fuller now brings up the mural that’s on the current ex-Huling building to be demolished and says that while it’s not in good enough shape to save, they plan to take a digital image to recreate it on the project site.
2:13 PM: Fuller shows what the project would look like if the alley vacation isn’t granted – including going to its full allowable 85′ height.
Then he recaps what the project is offering – retail frontage on Fauntleroy, “safe circulation for all vehicle classes” from trucks to bicycles, supporting the “green street” plan for 40th on its west side, and more. The presentation ends, and Beverly Barnett of SDOT – who handles alley vacations – says she’s glad to see so many people here.
She says SDOT is not satisfied right now that the configuration of the interior east-west mid-block crossing (above) would provide safe usage for everything from deliveries to people trying to park: “Right now, there’s so much happening in there, where we see drive-through for a drugstore, delivery trucks … we’re not satisfied that the design as proposed is going to meet all the safety fundamentals plus go so far as to provide public benefits.” She thinks either design changes to the loading area or pedestrian accommodations elsewhere on the site might help; she also expresses criticism of the proposed drive-through drugstore. “Design changes, space enhancements, figuring out how some of the functions might happen differently, or just go away” will be their recommendation. She says “West Seattle loves midblock crossings … but it’s gotta be safe … not putting kids (in the path of) grocery trucks backing up.” (Editor’s note: This concern came up in early design review meetings, too.) Now a City Council staffer, Michael Jenkins, speaks. He says Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is also concerned – especially about the midblock connector and the corner of Fauntleroy/Alaska – and has asked him to follow the project through this process as well as Design Review (where its next meeting is in three weeks).
2:21 PM: Public comment, now.
Steve Marquardt of UFCW Local 21 (above right) says he’ll speak for the group here (the commission asked for some consolidation) and for their 10,000 members, 750 of whom he says live in West Seattle. He says the design contortions are to accommodate Whole Foods, which they oppose: “This neighborhood already has 7 major supermarkets within a radius of 2 miles. Construction of an 8th supermarket … is a threat to the viability of neighborhood jobs.” He also says they believe this plan undermines the walkability viability of the Triangle site, as well as traffic trouble at Fauntleroy/Alaska, and has massing issues – all of which they want to see “better addressed.” .. “Our members don’t see a public benefit here” and “don’t think this is in the public interest.” Now Chas Redmond speaks for the Southwest District Council and Morgan Community Association, saying they have four concerns – seeking a “more striking structure” at Fauntleroy/Alaska; concerns about whether the midblock crossing is safe for pedestrians; concerns about the pedestrian access to the Alaska side of the project – “although there are windows, Alaska has become a showcase of brutalist architecture and we hope it won’t continue that way”; and “knowing there are 3 other projects to be built now or in the future adjacent to this intersection, we are particularly concerned about transportation – deliveries, residents (etc.)” Then a local resident stands up to speak, saying she lives in High Point, used to live in Junction area, and she agrees the additional grocery store is unnecessary and placing burdens on the design of the project. She thinks the pedestrian environment, as others said, will be dangerous, and thinks the midblock connector should be a public right-of-way without the loading dock and other elements. After her, another resident says “what you see now is an eyesore and a danger right now … I think the project that’s coming in is awesome and is going to be beautiful … for me, I think it’s a great project … I think it’s a great idea, is going to bring a ton of jobs, is going to bring a lot of life to the area.” A resident standing next to her says she feels the same way. “I’m concerned about my health, I don’t want to eat at Safeway, I don’t want to have to go to (various stores) … basically Whole Foods is amazing and if I have to sell it, I’ll sell it. I like shopping at Whole Foods and I have to go all the way to Interbay. I want to shop where I live.”
2:32 PM: Commissioners are now asking questions – starting with the “midblock crossing.” Trucks would enter it off Fauntleroy, headed west, “two or three a day” then would go into Whole Foods to the north (behind a door). Residential access would be into the alley off Edmunds on the south side. Visitor parking would be entered from Edmunds too. That side of the alley also would include the aforementioned drugstore drive-through, possibly with a one-way flow. In response to another question, the architects say, people would be moving in/out off Fauntleroy and two spots along Edmunds, which also is where most of the residential traffic is supposed to be. Access to the drugstore drive-through would be from 40th or from Fauntleroy, then “out the alley to the south.” Discussion veers into the Triangle Plan itself and how it envisioned these corners – but then goes right back to the traffic-flow issue. One commissioner asks how much vehicle traffic has been measured in the area; while the architects look it up, she says, “A lot, qualitatively.” 1,500 PM peak-hour trips on Fauntleroy, they find. How many will this project add? “We are adding … about 250.” Among a subsequent discussion of parking, a commissioner asks about bicycle parking; Fuller says “it will be a bicycle-friendly project,” meeting the city’s bike-parking requirements, and he says they’re working on having a bike shop as part of the project. They also are undergrounding utilities along Fauntleroy to make room for a bike lane along the Fauntleroy frontage while preserving vehicle parking there too.
2:52 PM: This was only supposed to go until 3 pm – it’s definitely going overtime. A commissioner says that while there’s a “plaza” proposed at Fauntleroy/Alaska, for the public, it seems from the renderings to have a “private” nature. This is a topic more for discussion at a later meeting of this group, when they talk about “public benefit” – the topic here is “urban design” of the site – but it’s agreed that they can discuss it. There is a four-foot-high or so buffer structure at the corner meant to be more about safety and separation from traffic, not to close off the “plaza.” Parking comes up again, and Fuller says the parking along Fauntleroy will be the only “visible” parking on the site aside from a few visitors’ spaces (for the leasing office) along Edmunds. How does the site speak to the Masonic Temple and its parking? the architect is asked. A currently blocked section of alley will be improved, which should benefit them and their visitors too, is the reply.
3:03 PM: Commissioners’ questions continue. One asks about utilities. The overhead power goes north-south but does not run along the alley, which was added after the site was originally developed. Now it’s on to the commissioners’ discussion among themselves. First one: The midblock crossing does not appear as pedestrian-friendly as the Triangle Plan suggests one should be there. Another commissioner says he agrees the midblock connection is “tighter and more active” than the plan would suggest, but the plan, he says, is a guideline, and this could just be seen as “a departure” from the plan. The next commissioner says she believes this project meets the “urban design merit” on which they’re reviewing it – the cut-through, for example, is an improvement over what’s there. But she has concerns about traffic impacts. Another commissioner says she too will have concerns about the cut-through if not improved by the “public benefit” review, but for now, “urban design merit” for the project is OK. Then two commissioners say they’re wondering why the project came to the Design Commission since SDOT has concerns.
3:18 PM: The idea of digitizing the mural and putting that replica on the site is not a hit with one commissioner (perhaps the original artist should be contacted, it’s suggested), who also says the plaza at Fauntleroy/Alaska strikes her as a “private space.” Another brings up the Spruce project across the street (“The Hole”) and says that it’s just not “a great corner to hang out.” Now, the review of the commissioners’ observations/recommendations – noting that “urban design merit” is the first of two reviews from the Design Commission before SDOT can approve the alley vacation (and send it to the City Council, which gets the final say). The member reading the list of concerns reiterates what has been voiced over the preceding hour and a half.
3:25 PM: The vote – unanimously against approving the “urban design merit” at this stage. So this project will have to come before the Design Commission at least two more times, one for UDM and one for “public benefit.”
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