West Seattle development: Another crane coming down

October 1, 2014 at 9:28 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 2 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 | No 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 | 3 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.

What to do and how to do it? West Seattle Land Use Committee continues coalescing at meeting #2

September 25, 2014 at 10:39 am | In Development, West Seattle news | No Comments

After two meetings, the West Seattle Land Use Committee is still taking shape – talking about how best to organize, and how best to review neighborhood issues. It’s not truly a formal “committee” so far, no officers, no formal action/agenda items. Nonetheless, those interested in being part of it did meet last night at the Senior Center of West Seattle, and we were there for the toplines:

Click to read the rest of What to do and how to do it? West Seattle Land Use Committee continues coalescing at meeting #2…

West Seattle development: 9-lot subdivision proposal

September 25, 2014 at 1:00 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

An acre and a third of land in eastern West Seattle is proposed to be split into nine single-family-house lots, according to documents accompanying a land-use application filed with the city this week. Its official address is 4849 21st SW (map), but you can barely glimpse the site from 21st – as shown in our photo, it looks like greenbelt behind a fence, but the site stretches westward to 23rd SW. Two lots would front on 21st, three on 23rd, and the other four inbetween; documents in the online file say a private drive would be built for access to the latter seven. An arborist’s report says the site has 99 “significant” trees, 20 of them “exceptional,” but assesses 35 of the trees as unhealthy and in need of removal. If the subdivision is approved, the lots would be mostly 5,000-7,000 square feet, in keeping with the site’s single-family 5,000 zoning, but one of the lots on 21st would be double-sized, at 10,000 square feet. A two-week comment period will open as soon as the proposal officially appears on the city’s Land Use Information Bulletin.

City tells 2 in-the-works West Seattle microhousing projects that they need Design Review because of court decision

September 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 27 Comments

(WSB photo: Planned site of 3268 Avalon microhousing, next to recently opened Footprint Avalon I micros)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 5:30 PM: Two of West Seattle’s three in-the-works microhousing projects face major revisions/reviews because of a recent court decision involving a project on Capitol Hill. PubliCola broke the news that the city sent a letter this week to more than 20 developers of in-the-works projects, explaining that they will now have to go through additional levels of review, including Design Review, if they want to proceed. We found the letter in the online files for two planned West Seattle projects, 3050 SW Avalon Way (here) and 3268 SW Avalon Way (here). Follow either of those links, or read on for the text:
Click to read the rest of City tells 2 in-the-works West Seattle microhousing projects that they need Design Review because of court decision…

Out: ‘Microhousing.’ In: ‘SEDU.’ And it’s your turn to comment

September 22, 2014 at 8:59 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 28 Comments

The word “microhousing” does not appear anywhere in the brand-new official city notice announcing that it’s your turn to comment on the revised proposed city rules for it. That notice, published today, and includes the toplines of the latest changes in the rules the City Council is considering, including the new official name “SEDU”:

*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 point, as mentioned in our coverage last week, goes beyond microhousing.

So if you have something to say about any of this, say it now – in e-mail or postal mail to Councilmember Mike O’Brien, mike.obrien@seattle.gov (the postal address is in today’s notice seeking comment), before October 6th. Again, what’s above is an excerpt from today’s notice, highlighting recent changes in the proposed microhousing (SEDU) rules. You can see the entire Council Bill by going here.

SIDE NOTE: In case you’ve lost track – two microhousing projects have opened in West Seattle, at 4546 Delridge Way SW (file photo above) and 3266 SW Avalon Way, with at least three more planned – 3268 SW Avalon Way, 5949 California SW, and 3050 SW Avalon Way.

West Seattle demolition watch: Next ‘microhousing’; school rebuilds

September 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 9 Comments

Three updates from West Seattle’s current demolition/redevelopment/rebuilding boom:

PERMIT APPLICATION FOR NEXT ‘MICROHOUSING’ SITE: On Friday, the demolition-permit application turned up in the city’s online files for 3268 Avalon Way, the microhousing building set to go up between the 35th/Avalon 7-11 and its sibling Footprint Avalon I building. A temporary-power pole has already been up in front of the site for a while. The new microhousing rules, including clarity on number of units, won’t be affecting this project or others already in the pipeline; note the last line of the screengrab from the city webpage:

Each “unit” in current city code stands for up to eight individually rented sleeping rooms.

GENESEE HILL SCHOOL DEMOLITION: Now in even higher gear. Here’s what we were to see from SW Genesee after the end of Friday’s workday:

The current Schmitz Park Elementary program is scheduled to move into a new 650-student campus (not much more capacity than the current SPES enrollment) here in 2016.

ARBOR HEIGHTS SCHOOL DEMOLITION: This is now moving quickly too. Thanks to Mike R. for the end-of-week view:

The new Arbor Heights Elementary‘s capacity won’t be determined by the school board until next year.

West Seattle development: Key approvals for 18-house subdivision proposed at 2646 SW Holden

September 18, 2014 at 9:43 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

(WSB photo from January 2014)
From today’s city Land Use Information Bulletin: Key approvals are in for the 18-house subdivision proposed for that 73,000-square-foot site at 2646 SW Holden (map), which stretches to a smaller amount of frontage on SW Webster, all just west of the Navos mental-health facility.

We reported on the proposal at the end of last year, when it was reactivated in the city site after being dormant for some time, following “streamlined design review” approval. Today, the land-use-permit decision has been published (read it here). The decision details why the city believes the development would not substantially disturb the “steep slope” area on the site, though it acknowledges the development will result in “increased surface water runoff due to greater site coverage by impervious surfaces” and “loss of plant and animal habitat.” . Each three-story house would have a two-car garage; part of the site is zoned single-family, part is zoned low rise. While the site was up for sale when we last reported on this proposal, county property records show it hasn’t changed hands since becoming the property of Madrona Glen LLC two years ago. More than 30 of the trees on the site would be removed under the 18-house plan, 10 of them classified by the city as “exceptional.” Today’s publication of the approval opens a two-week period for potential appeals (that process is explained here).

West Seattle development: September 2014, month of the backhoe

September 17, 2014 at 7:20 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

Signs of upcoming demolition at another future West Seattle construction site: Thanks to Eddie for the tip that the telltale fence is up around 4400 SW Alaska, an 8-unit apartment building scheduled to make way for a building with 5 stories, 36 apartments, 2 live/work-units, and 5 offstreet-parking spaces. It received key city approvals back in July, after passing Design Review in February. It’s about a block south of a similar-size building for which construction is starting, with site demolition just last week, 4535 44th SW.

Video: Seattle City Council committee OK’s rules for ‘microhousing’ apartments

September 16, 2014 at 4:21 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 34 Comments

(Added Wednesday morning: Seattle Channel video of this meeting in its entirety)
New city rules for “microhousing” apartments (backstory here) have just passed the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee. We came in on the meeting broadcast late, but in time to hear the passage of two amendments – one requiring two sinks per unit (food-prep and bathroom areas), one that goes beyond microhousing, requiring a city study of residential-area parking policies, with recommendations to be presented next spring. Seven amendments in all were proposed – they’re all linked from the agenda for the meeting that just concluded. The full council will vote on October 6th. If the new rules pass, they won’t affect projects already in the pipeline, including at least two on the drawing board here in West Seattle, where two “microhousing” buildings are now open – both under the Footprint brand – one on Delridge, one on Avalon.

West Seattle development: Beach Drive house to make way for 9 apartments

September 15, 2014 at 1:44 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 23 Comments

We noticed that new land-use sign while walking just south of Weather Watch Park over the weekend. It announces that the century-old house behind it, at 4134 Beach Drive, is to be demolished, making way for a 3-story, 9-unit, 9-underground-parking-space apartment building. So far, this hasn’t appeared in the city’s Land Use Information Bulletin, so the official comment period does not appear to have a deadline yet. But it’s the first new multi-family building we’ve seen proposed on Beach Drive for a while; the house already is sandwiched between multi-family buildings, and is on a 5,000-square-foot site zoned Lowrise-2.

Video & as-it-happened coverage: ‘Impact fees’ for development? City Councilmembers discuss possibly doing what 80 other WA cities already do

September 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm | In Development, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 19 Comments

(UPDATED WEDNESDAY NIGHT with archived Seattle Channel video of meeting added below, document links added inline, new Rasmussen quote at end)

POST-MEETING TOPLINES:
-Council told that 80 other WA cities have impact fees
-State law doesn’t allow them to be imposed for transit service, though
-Councilmember Rasmussen suggests creating a ‘working group’ to look at it
-Most public commenters say ‘long overdue’

ADDED WEDNESDAY NIGHT:
-Above, full video of meeting
-Meeting documents, provided by Rasmussen’s office *adding*
-Added quote at end of story – we asked him “what next?” post-meeting

AHEAD: Our as-it-happened chronicling of what was said during the meeting:

Click to read the rest of Video & as-it-happened coverage: ‘Impact fees’ for development? City Councilmembers discuss possibly doing what 80 other WA cities already do…

Ex-restaurant site at 35th/Fauntleroy fenced off after neighbors point out unauthorized parking blamed on nearby microhousing

September 9, 2014 at 5:31 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 84 Comments

(WSB photo)
The new fence around the eight-months-vacant ex-Beni Hoshi Teriyaki site at 35th/Fauntleroy is NOT a sign of imminent change, according to the property owner, Seattle City Light. We noticed the fence last night, checked city development files but found nothing, then inquired with SCL today. Spokesperson Scott Thomsen tells WSB:

The land where the teriyaki restaurant had been located is a former substation site that we still own, but are not using. In addition to recent trouble with graffiti, a neighborhood group contacted the city with concerns about people who were parking on the site. The fencing was put up to deter additional graffiti and respond to the neighbors’ complaints about the parking.

(WSB photo)
We do not have any plans for the property at this time. It is one of the properties that is now considered surplus. As you are aware, we have been reviewing those properties a few at a time for possible sale.

(It’s not included in the current round of surplus properties under review, just to be clear.) Thomsen didn’t name the neighborhood group but unauthorized parking there was mentioned in a recent note to the city by SeattleNERD (Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development), which is based in the neighborhood north of upper Avalon Way. We were among the CC’s on a note from SeattleNERD’s Paul Haury that included a photo of vehicles parking in the ex-Beni Hoshi lot and attributed it to residents of nearby apartment buildings such as the recently opened no-offstreet-parking microhousing building at 3266 Avalon. The note focused on concerns about another microhousing building planned next door, 56 units at 3268 Avalon as reported here in March (a temporary power pole is at the site, suggesting work might start soon, though no other permits have been issued).

ADDED 9:44 PM: In a comment, SeattleNERD has published its full letter to the city and elaborates further on the resulting exchange. As noted above, the parking wasn’t the main topic of the group’s note to the city about the second microhousing project in the works nearby.

Side note about microhousing: New rules continue working their way through the City Council (next step is a possible committee vote on September 16th). They would not affect the 3268 Avalon Way project, though, because it’s already in the system.

West Seattle demolition watch: Genesee Hill school; 4535 44th SW apartment site

September 9, 2014 at 2:37 pm | In Development, Genesee Hill, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | Comments Off

Two updates on West Seattle demolition sites:

GENESEE HILL SCHOOL: After a tip last Friday, we noted that some deconstruction was under way at the former Genesee Hill Elementary campus, where the current Schmitz Park Elementary program will move in 2016. Today, building teardown is under way in a big way, starting with the classrooms north/northeast of the main structure. That’s about one day behind the start of a similar phase at Arbor Heights Elementary, where Seattle Public Schools is also tearing down an old school to build a new one.

4535 44TH SW: While in The Junction a short time ago, we noticed the backhoe has arrived at 4535 44th SW, future home of a four-story, 36+-unit, no-offstreet-parking apartment building; we’d noted last week that its demolition permit was granted.

While it was described as “microapartments” when we first reported on the plan early last year, this is NOT microhousing – the units will be full-fledged studios with kitchens. (We’ll check back in a bit to see if the backhoe has started work yet.)

Impact fees for Seattle developments? City Hall discussion tomorrow – public comment, too

September 9, 2014 at 11:52 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

The topic comes up at meetings … in online discussions (including here) … mayors past and present have been asked about them: Should/could Seattle charge “impact fees” in connection with development projects? Tomorrow, the City Council Transportation Committee plans a lunchtime discussion:

Impact Fees 101 — An opportunity for discussion related to impact fees in the City of Seattle. An examination of the different types of impact fees that exist, the history of impact fees in Washington State, how they are utilized by other cities in the region, their limitations, and other relevant information relating to impact fees.

It’s scheduled as an hourlong briefing starting at noon Wednesday (September 10th), followed by ~20 minutes of public comment, in the council chambers at City Hall downtown. At least one advocacy group says it’s hoping for a big turnout (while noting it hadn’t heard about this till the other day; we didn’t get an announcement until this morning).

Tale of two corners: Updates from California/Charlestown

September 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 28 Comments

Two notes from California/Charlestown – the northeast and southeast corners, to be specific:

EX-DENTAL BUILDING FOR LEASE: On the northeast corner, the former Implant Dentistry of Washington building is for lease. Dr. R. Michael Keenan has retired “after 37 years in West Seattle,” according to a note on the door. (Thanks to Debbie for the tip!)

APPLICATION IN FOR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT AT EX-CAFE SITE: On the southeast corner, Intracorp has officially applied for its master-use permit for 3824 California SW, according to today’s Land Use Information Bulletin. The company plans to build 28 residential and live-work units on the site of the former Charlestown Café, which closed three years ago.

(Rendering from Design Review meeting in July)
It passed the first phase of Design Review on its third try two months ago but still has at least one more meeting to go; the city has not yet set a date. The official notice of the permit application includes a link you can use for comments.

West Seattle development: New commercial building on Delridge

September 6, 2014 at 7:25 pm | In Delridge, Development, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

Our daily check of city Department of Planning and Development records turns up a new project in a high-profile place: The lot at 5448 Delridge Way SW, between DESC’s Cottage Grove Commons and the Martin’s Way storefront. The site has long held a ramshackle 1927-built cottage. On Friday, its new owner applied to the city for permission to tear down the house and build a commercial building. Documents in the file carry the name of Dreamscapes, a local landscaping company whose owner bought the Delridge site a year ago, according to county records. The online file says the permit is for a 1-story “office” building with a pre-fab steel frame and four on-site parking spaces (the site is zoned for “neighborhood commercial” up to 40 feet high).

West Seattle development: Permit issued for The Whittaker

September 5, 2014 at 6:56 pm | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

The city has issued the master-use permit for The Whittaker, the mixed-use megaproject at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW. The project team told us they got the news from the city this week, and the online files say the permit is officially dated today. According to correspondence in the same files, the project team has told the city it is eager to move forward so the deteriorating, vandalized old buildings on the site can be torn down, but has had to wait for that permit to be finalized, which has taken longer than they expected. The demolition permit is separate and is not shown as finalized yet, so you’re not going to see backhoes show up immediately, but the project team hopes some site work can start soon. The project will line Fauntleroy from Alaska to Edmunds, and Alaska from Fauntleroy to 40th, with two buildings holding about 370 apartments, a Whole Foods Market, and other retailers yet to be signed/announced. The project gained regional attention when former Mayor Mike McGinn told SDOT to reject developers’ request to buy a city-owned alley that’s on the site; the ultimate decision was up to the City Council, which approved the alley deal last April. Construction is expected to last about two years.

West Seattle development: 2nd Design Review preview for 7520 35th SW clinic; five demolition sites

August 29, 2014 at 2:32 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

West Seattle development notes to share this afternoon:

(Rendering by PB Architects)
‘PACKET’ FOR NEXT DESIGN REVIEW MEETING: Hasn’t been much for the Southwest Design Review Board to consider these past few months, but they do have a one-project meeting coming up next week, and the “packet” is available – see it here. The project is a medical/commercial building, the Clearview Eye Clinic at 7520 35th SW, and the meeting at 6:30 pm Thursday, September 4th, at the Senior Center of West Seattle, is its second “early design guidance” meeting. (Here’s our coverage of the first one back in July.)

RECENT DEMOLITION-PERMIT APPLICATIONS: Here’s what’s appeared on the city website in the past two weeks. (We haven’t gone by these sites yet, so some might already have been torn down – sometimes the permit filings appear same-day or close to it.)

*3024 61st SW (map) – House/shed to be demolished, replaced by 3 houses

*8150 32nd SW (map) – House to be demolished, replaced by one new house

*4757 Delridge Way SW (map) – House to be demolished, replaced by 3 new houses

*4535 44th SW (map) – This one is for a bigger project, the four-story, ~36-unit building that got key land-use approvals back in May.

*2749 57th SW (map) – House to be demolished, replaced by one new house

As-it-happened coverage: West Seattle Land Use Committee’s launch meeting

August 27, 2014 at 6:46 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

6:46 PM: The inaugural meeting of the West Seattle Land Use Committee is off to a late start – the go-to place for public meetings in WS these days, the Senior Center in The Junction, was locked. An alternative meeting place was just about to be secured when someone got the door open, and now the meeting’s beginning. About two dozen people are here. We’ll be reporting live as it goes along. Southwest District Council co-chair Vlad Oustimovitch is giving opening remarks – “the whole idea (of this) is not to react to a single project … it’s really to talk about how we can improve land-use decisions made by the city, in working with the committee .. it’s actually a very difficult subject …this is an open discussion on how to (make) this happen over a long period of time.” After Oustimovitch’s remarks, everyone around the table is introducing her/himself.

7 PM: Introductions over – the official total, barring late arrivals, is 25 people – “We have 26 people here, representing ‘the peninsula,’ not just ‘my neighborhood because something’s happening there,’” said Sharonn Meeks, SW District Council co-chair. Most are already active in other community groups all over the peninsula, from Delridge to Alki, High Point, to Admiral. As Mat McBride, chair of the Delridge District Council, said, “It’s tremendously exciting to see people from both districts here.” (The city considers West Seattle to be two “districts,” Southwest and Delridge.) That done, now the question is – what will they talk about? One attendee says he hopes issues will be discussed with facts, not feelings. Another: “Let’s be honest, many of us here because we’re not happy” with the way things are going regarding development.

Another attendee brings up Terminal 5 and its uncertain future (as reported here last month, it’s currently closed, while the Port begins a “modernization plan” whose funding has yet to be secured. Oustimovitch suggests that’s a good idea – start talking about hot spots around the peninsula, T-5 being one. Others? Junction, Triangle are mentioned. The plan to survey historical resources along California Avenue soon is also mentioned briefly. What about open space? “How are people going to play and be healthy outdoors?” asks one attendee.

Oustimovitch says he’s worried West Seattle will soon feel like an “anonymous” place. Another attendee says it might not be too late to save some buildings that have character. “But it’s also the streetscape, and the light, it’s not just about having a little museum piece of a building (preserved),” interjects someone.

Westwood is suggested as another hot spot meriting attention – as “an unplanned outdoor bus terminal.” Another nomination: Avalon Way, with its ongoing densification, before it becomes “a chokepoint.” What about the Admiral Theater and its uncertain future? asks someone else, leading to some discussion about its plight, and it too goes onto the list. That segues to a mention of the relatively few remaining Alki cottages, and whether there might be a reason for a photographic study of them, before they’re all gone. That in turn segues to a mention of the current trends in new-home architecture – modern – replacing old Craftsman-style homes.

7:21 PM: This continues to be a free-flowing discussion around the table, bouncing from topic to topic. Participation in meetings off-peninsula with big effects on-peninsula (City Council meetings, Landmarks Board meetings, etc.) is low, it’s mentioned. A suggestion in response: Maybe this committee can help encourage and nurture that kind of participation. Then back to a hot spot/topic: The Fauntleroy Boulevard project is brought up. Then, the city’s Pedestrian Zone Mapping project. And yet another hot topic that comes up at community meetings now and then: Some “urban village” areas already past growth targets set for years in the future. “Why can’t a ‘time out’ be called for them?” wonders the person who brings that up, who goes on into the issue of buildings being allowed without much, if any, parking.

7:33 PM: A mention of business climate in eastern West Seattle bounces over to one attendee’s mention of a study about the “food desert” concept and whether it’s valid or not. Shortly afterward, Oustimovitch reiterates the list of locations mentioned so far as possible deserving attention, pausing on Delridge and the east-west connection deficiency that has long been an issue. Overall he says he heard three things of importance, transcending the list of specific locations in the spotlight:

1. “Density, relating to infrastructure” – or the lack of it
2. Historic preservation
3. Land-use code – people research property next to them, think they know what might happen in the future, “and then something completely different is on the table, and part of the problem is that the code is so convoluted … for the layman, and even for me as an architect,” as Oustimovitch put it.

The difficulty of understanding the city rules and codes, and tracking changes, is noted by another attendee. (And, as also pointed out, there are many changes in the works.) Speaking of change – one person opines that the change from at-large to by-district City Council election (starting next year) might “change the dominant paradigm.” Then back to the potential changes – the impending rulemaking for microhousing was mentioned, with the City Council potentially voting soon, so if you have something to say, pro or con, this is the time to have a say. What’s the problem with microhousing? asks one attendee. One reply: The problem is when it’s next to single-family neighborhoods, as opposed to areas already planned for and moving toward density.

7:51 PM: And that springboards to a question about affordable housing, and what constitutes “affordable.” Plus – what about more commercial development, creating jobs here, so that West Seattle can become less of a bedroom community? That would make more sense, says one person, than just putting residential development here and sending everyone somewhere else to work. What if a five- to seven-story commercial/office building went up in The Triangle? That concept draws support, including a suggestion that the city be recruited to help make that happen. What about a shared workspace where big employers based elsewhere, which have employees living here, each bought a floor, or so?

8 PM: And now the meeting’s wrapping – mindful of, as Oustimovitch said, the fact this is a subject that won’t lose its vitality any time soon – “it’ll go on for months and years.” Some optimism is found in the fact that more than two dozen people turned up despite the fact it’s late August, possibly the worst time to try to get people together for a meeting. So far, it looks like the fourth Wednesday will be the meeting times, going forward. And now organizational logistics are being discussed – whether city resources will be available for future meetings; district coordinator Yun Pitre from the Department of Neighborhoods is here, but that was made possible by the fact that she and her colleagues had fewer regular meetings to staff this month, with district councils taking August off.

Next meeting – Wednesday, September 24th, 6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon).

West Seattle development: Tower crane going up at 4745 40th SW

August 27, 2014 at 11:47 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

(WSB photo by Katie Meyer)
A week and a half after one tower crane was taken down in The Junction, another one is going up just a few blocks away. Thanks to Maris for the tip that the crane’s going up right now for 4745 40th SW, the mixed-use project at 40th and Edmunds, across from the Masonic Center parking lot. We showed its base back on Sunday when an advertising-photo shoot was happening on the site.

P.S. One more nudge – if you’re interested in development/land use-zoning issues in West Seattle, don’t miss tonight’s launch meeting of the WS Land Use Committee. This is *not* a government-convened or -linked committee, nor is it related to any one area of the peninsula, or any particular project. 6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle.

ADDED: Full installation, Instagrammed at nightfall:

Land swap proposed near Puget Park, next to homebuilding site? City wants to hear from you

August 21, 2014 at 10:47 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

(If you can’t see the embedded document above, go here for the PDF version)
That announcement arrived this morning from Seattle Parks, asking for public comment on a proposed “land swap” near Puget Park – before and during a public meeting about it, set for September 9th, one week before the proposal will start making its way through the City Council approval process. Since these types of notices are rare, before publishing it, we contacted the Parks point person listed on the notice, MaryLou Whiteford, for more context/background, and also checked our archives. Here’s what we have found out so far:

4707 14th SW (map), the house mentioned in the notice as “served by” the driveway crossing Parks property, is proposed for demolition and replacement, as mentioned in this WSB report last month. In the same area, there’s been a permit on file for four years related to a proposal for more than 30 new single-family homes; we reported early last year that the site was for sale, and county records show a sale completed in the fall. City records show the 14th SW homebuilding project in the throes of the permit process, and some of the 15th SW sites are scheduled to be used for staging related to that project (as shown on this plan filed with the city), though otherwise, the status of the multi-home construction proposal isn’t clear.

Whiteford says the parcels proposed for involvement in the swap are all owned by the same owner as the 14th SW house site. While property records show different entity names, most of the parcels in the area are owned by “West Seattle Acquisition,” a “foreign limited liability company” registered in New York, while the listed owner for the 4707 14th SW Site, “206 West Seattle Realty Holdings,” is also registered to that same NY address with the same description

Whiteford says the parcels in this area have been held by the city since the county transferred them more than 50 years ago. On the map, it appears to be an even swap in terms of land area, 13 parcels for 13 parcels, and Whiteford says it would “preserve more of the greenbelt.” We’ve asked for the proposed City Council legislation that would finalize the swap if approved in that part of the process starting next month. Meantime, the public meeting announced in the notice above is scheduled for 6:30 pm Tuesday, September 9th, at Delridge Community Center (4501 Delridge Way SW).

ADDED 11:29 AM: In addition to the proposed Council bill, we have four accompanying documents now, received from Parks, related to it. No additional information, mostly confirmation that the city says this swap would have no fiscal impact.

*Mayor’s letter introducing the bill, including this:

The existing driveway was constructed prior to the City-owned land being placed under the jurisdiction of Seattle Parks and Recreation. The private property accessed by the driveway is now being redeveloped, and the owners seek to obtain ownership and control over the land the driveway crosses. Allowing the existing driveway to continue to serve the private property avoids the need to improve unopened rights-of-way in this Environmentally Critical Area, thereby preserving more of the desirable characteristics of the greenbelt including tree canopy, bird habitat, and wildlife corridor.

*Proposed council bill
*Fiscal-impact statement
*Detailed map
*Aerial view with map overlay

West Seattle Land Use Committee launches one week from tonight

August 20, 2014 at 11:17 am | In Development, Neighborhoods, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

After months of discussion, the West Seattle Land Use Committee is about to become reality. The seed was planted as local community-group leaders discussed the fact that there is no West Seattle-wide group looking at development and zoning/land-use issues – they only come up in response to/conjunction with particular projects. Other neighborhoods have land-use committees that get involved early on, so why not West Seattle, with so much growth and change? So here’s the agenda for the first meeting, set for next Wednesday (one week from tonight):

WEST SEATTLE LAND USE COMMITTEE
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27 – 6:30 – 8:00

West Seattle Senior Center – Nelson Room – 4217 Southwest Oregon
__________________________________________________________

6:30 – Welcome and Introductions of Land Use Committee Members
*Introductions of attendees from the public

6:45 – Recap of the joint meeting of the Southwest District Council and the Delridge District Council – Sharonn, Vlad and Matt

7:00 – Additional issues to be added to the summary document – All

7:30 – Additional possible solutions to be added to the summary document – All

7:50 – Additional topics to be discussed at our next Land Use Committee meeting

8:00 – Adjourn

All are welcome. Helpful homework if you’re planning to be there – the official notes from last June’s joint meeting of the Southwest and Delridge District Councils with City Councilmember Mike O’Brien to talk land use:

We covered the meeting; our as-it-happened coverage is here.

Happening now: Tower-crane takedown day for 4730 California

August 16, 2014 at 11:46 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

Yes, even the Christmas lights have to come off the tower cranes once they’re taken down. After eleven months on the job, the tower crane for 4730 California is being dismantled today. We arrived in The Junction just in time to see its jib brought down – from California/Edmunds, you could see it had been harnessed:


Then it was lowered to the street:

Looking south down California, that made for an interesting pattern:

And the entire operation, as was the case when it went up last September, held a fascination for onlookers, especially some of the smaller ones:

4730 California is expected to open by year’s end, with three retail spaces, 88 apartments and 71 offstreet-parking spaces, according to its commercial-leasing flyer. We haven’t heard of any tenant signings yet.

SIDE NOTE: This will leave The Junction with “only” two cranes for now, at the Equity Residential two-building California/Alaska/42nd project and Spruce (formerly “The Hole”) at 39th/Alaska/Fauntleroy, but two more will arrive before long, with demolition over and site prep under way at 40th/Edmunds and 35th/Avalon.

Second Design Review Board meeting set for 7520 35th SW clinic

August 7, 2014 at 9:51 am | In Development, West Seattle news | Comments Off

No meetings scheduled this month for the Southwest Design Review Board – if there’s no project ready to review, they don’t meet – but one is now on the city docket for next month: 6:30 pm Thursday, September 4th, has just been penciled in as the second “Early Design Guidance” session for the proposed eye-care clinic at 7520 35th SW. The first one last month (WSB coverage here) raised so many questions about configuration of the site and the clinic building – which will be entirely medical/commercial, no residential component – that the project team was sent back to the drawing board.

Charlestown Court not worthy of landmark status, says Landmarks Preservation Board, again

August 6, 2014 at 5:53 pm | In Development, West Seattle history, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

(County archives photo of the building now known as Charlestown Court)
We’re at the Municipal Tower downtown, where the city Landmarks Preservation Board voted this afternoon to reject landmark status for Charlestown Court. The building is proposed for demolition to make way for an 8-unit townhouse project.

This was the second time the Tudor-style 1920s-era brick fourplex at 3811 California SW had been nominated; the last time, in a process that played out 2007-2008, the board said “no,” but development proposals then stalled until the current one, and the city said too much time had elapsed for them simply to refer to that previous vote, so the process needed to start again.

Before today’s presentation about the building, Paul Cesmat said he has owned it since 2007 and declared it has structural issues – “the brick’s not structurally sound, the chimney has issues, this has been pointed out to us … and we have insurability issues … I feel that this building does not meet historical criteria … and it’s not structurally worth saving.” It is wood-framed without concrete backing the brick, he explained in response to a question later.

The presentation focused on changes made to the building, including its windows, contending the changes made over the years affected the fourplex’s “physical integrity.” The photo you see at the top of the story was shown, with the comment “It’s a shame that’s not there any more.” (The nomination document from the June meeting, including photos and history, can be seen as a PDF here.)

In pre-vote discussion, board members said basically that while you could consider it “handsome” or “charming,” it just didn’t “rise” to landmark status.

Click to read the rest of Charlestown Court not worthy of landmark status, says Landmarks Preservation Board, again…

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