West Seattle development: Design Commission revisits The Whittaker; see the art, landscaping planned around its site

December 22, 2014 at 11:40 am | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

The Whittaker update @ Seattle Design Commission


When the Seattle Design Commission gave its qualified approval last year to The Whittaker, West Seattle’s biggest development project ever (4755 Fauntleroy Way SW), they told the project team they’d have to come back when certain aspects of the project finished taking shape.

That return visit happened on Thursday, and revealed more details of the art and landscaping that will surround the building. We’ve since obtained the full slide deck shown at the meeting (see above), which resulted in some suggestions by the commission, whose role in the project is related to the fact it required an alley vacation (subsequently approved by the City Council this past April).

Click to read the rest of West Seattle development: Design Commission revisits The Whittaker; see the art, landscaping planned around its site…

West Seattle development followup: CVS drugstore project still in progress, but ‘not currently scheduled for 2015′

December 17, 2014 at 12:54 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

It’s going on a year and a half since our first report that the CVS drugstore chain‘s first push into this state included a proposed West Seattle store at 4722 Fauntleroy Way SW (map) – a site zoned for up to four stories, though the drugstore is proposed for one. So much time has gone by that CVS’s other projects in the area are far down the line, including two stores that recently opened – one in Renton, and this one in the Five Corners area of Burien:

There are new signs the West Seattle project is moving ahead. First, we made contact with CVS spokesperson Mike DeAngelis, who told us, “We are still in the very early planning stages for a new store on Fauntleroy and it is very premature to announce any timetables. I can tell you that this project is not currently scheduled for 2015.”

Since our exchange with him a few days ago, new documents have shown up in the project’s online files, for the first time since the ones that tipped us to the proposal in July 2013. The documents show a few more details about the “early planning stages.” The site plan that’s now in the files shows its parking lot (with 76 spaces) on the north side of the lot, abutting the Les Schwab Tires parking lot and building, with the store itself on the southwest side of the lot. A drive-through window is still planned. The project will go through Design Review, but there are no renderings yet, nor a meeting date. The newest documents list the architect as Schemata Workshop, whose website shows renderings for the Wallingford CVS, one of at least two other stores the company plans to open in Seattle, along with lower Queen Anne. Schemata and CVS’s development firm have met privately with members of the Junction Neighborhood Organization, according to its director René Commons, who told the group’s mailing list that “they are having dialogue around ways to make the project something more creative than an ordinary box pharmacy with a drive through for our neighborhood. We have asked for space for food trucks and a community center meeting room on their development site.” You can watch the city’s status page for the project here.

What do you think about growth? How can Seattle encourage affordable housing? These and other questions …

December 16, 2014 at 2:32 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news, West Seattle online | 31 Comments

The city’s been running online surveys in abundance lately. This one, though, speaks to topics that we cover often here on WSB, and after going through its questions and open-comment spaces, we thought you might be interested, given its questions about everything from housing costs to your opinions of growth. It’s being presented as part of the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. It’s not the usual basic online-survey format; be forewarned, you’ll find some spots requiring scrolling, and some questions where you can check as many circles as you want, others where you have to settle on one. Start the survey here (and note the open-comment thread at the bottom of the start page, if you just want to say something without taking the survey at all).

Update: Lane closures on 35th SW for tower-crane installation

December 13, 2014 at 6:31 am | In Development, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | No Comments

(SCROLL DOWN for updated info/photos)

(WSB photo, taken Thursday)
6:31 AM: That’s the construction site at 4435 35th SW, the mixed-use project where tower-crane installation is set for this weekend, with a permit to close 35th between Avalon and Alaska both days for that work. In case you missed our earlier mentions of this, here again is the message from the contractor:

We are approved by the City of Seattle to close all 4 lanes on 35th AVE SW adjacent our jobsite (4435 35th Ave) to erect our tower crane. The plan is to roll on site at 5:30 am Saturday with our mobile crane so we can start work by 8:00 am. Weather permitting, we’ll have the crane put together on Saturday and come back Sunday to remove our mobile crane. Though we are permitted to work until 10 PM with the lane closures, we are confident (weather permitting) we will be out of there by noon. Again, we apologize in advance for any inconveniences this may cause to your weekend commutes.

The published reroute for Metro’s RapidRide C Line and Routes 21 and 50 in that area says only southbound is affected; we’ll be checking later in the morning to see if that’s true.

9:31 AM UPDATE: One northbound lane is currently open, so the bus reroute IS just for southbound.

ADDED 11:56 AM: We’ve added photos from this morning, above and below.

This will be the third crane currently at work in West Seattle, following Junction 47 at California/Alaska/42nd and the Alliance project at 40th/Edmunds.

ADDED 3:10 PM: Thanks to Eddie for this view:

P.S. We went back just before sunset; crane-building wasn’t done yet:

We’ll check its status on Sunday morning.

West Seattle development: 4106 Delridge Way mixed-use project returning to Design Review, 6 years after first meeting

December 12, 2014 at 12:01 pm | In Delridge, Development, West Seattle news | No Comments

(Rendering by SMR Architects, looking at project from the southwest)
New on the Southwest Design Review Board calendar: 4106 Delridge Way SW, a project that went on hold after its first SWDRB review six years ago. It’s set to go before the board on January 15th, still described as:

… a five-story structure containing 4,000 sq. ft. of retail at ground level and 36 residential units above in an environmentally critical area. Parking for 39 vehicles to be located within the structure.

The site is vacant land at Delridge/Dakota, zoned NC1-40. We covered its October 2008 design review in the second half of this report. It’s changed architects in the interim; SMR Architects is the firm that put together the packet for the upcoming meeting, and it’s already online:

The January 15th meeting is scheduled for 6:30 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle (Oregon/California).

The Whittaker on Seattle Design Commission agenda next week

December 11, 2014 at 1:56 pm | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news | No Comments

For the first time in a while, the Seattle Design Commission has a West Seattle project on its agenda. At 9 am next Thursday – December 18th – the commission will be checking in on the “public benefit” program promised by The Whittaker (under construction at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW) as required for its alley vacation (explained here). The SDC reviewed the project four times last year before giving its blessing; here’s our coverage of the final meeting, including links to the three before it. Next Thursday’s meeting is open to the public, in the Boards/Commissions Room at City Hall downtown.

City’s ‘no parking necessary if built near frequent transit’ rule proposed for a rewrite

December 11, 2014 at 9:30 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 43 Comments

ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:30 AM: What’s officially on the city Department of Planning and Development books as “Director’s Rule 11-2012 Parking Reductions Based on Frequent Transit Service” is getting a rewrite. This city policy is the reason some development projects in recent years – here and elsewhere in the city – have been approved to be built with few or no offstreet-parking spaces. If you’ve never read it, see it here or below:

A notice in today’s city Land Use Information Bulletin says that because of a “recent” decision by the city Hearing Examiner, DPD proposes to rescind (cancel) this rule “and write a new one in 2015.” Which decision? The notice doesn’t say; we’re inquiring with DPD. But we wouldn’t be surprised to hear it’s the one we reported on December 1st, involving the Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development (NERD) appeal of 3078 SW Avalon Way – since parking figured into the challenge and the decision. We’ll add anything more we find out from DPD.

5:35 PM: DPD spokesperson Bryan Stevens has replied to our questions:

Yes, the notice which proposes to rescind Director’s Rule 11-2012 is related to the recent Hearing Examiner decision on the proposal at 3078 SW Avalon Way. It may have been a little premature though, as the Hearing Examiner’s decision isn’t final until the appeal period on that decision has lapsed, which is December 22. However, our proposal to rescind would not occur until sometime after December 26, after taking public comments.

The Hearing Examiner took issue with the averaging technique allowed in Director’s Rule 11-2012, a method sometimes used by applicants to demonstrate whether their site was located close to frequent transit service, thus not requiring parking if located within an urban village. The Hearing Examiner felt the averaging technique within the rule allowed too much leeway in how to determine if a site was located near frequent transit service compared to what the actual code required. Projects under review still have the ability to apply the Director’s Rule while it’s in effect. However, those few projects that may currently be applying the averaging technique shown in the rule will be advised of the recent Hearing Examiner’s decision and could be at risk of a similar appeal.

However, the frequent transit service parking reduction will continue to remain in effect within the Land Use Code. To qualify under the existing code definition, an area must have transit service headways in at least one direction of 15 minutes or less for at least 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, and transit service headways of 30 minutes or less for at least 18 hours every day. Most projects within an urban village apply this method, which may be the only method for demonstrating frequent transit service if the Director’s Rule is rescinded.

Weekend transit/traffic alert: Tower-crane arrival at 4435 35th SW

December 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm | In Development, Triangle, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

(WSB photo, added Thursday)
2:04 PM: If you ride Metro, you might have seen this just-sent advisory, warning that southbound C Line, 21, and 50 buses will be routed off 35th SW between Avalon and Alaska this weekend between 5:30 am Saturday (December 13th) and noon Sunday (December 14th). We just confirmed that southbound 35th will be blocked in the area because of the tower-crane installation for Trinsic Residential‘s 159-apartment mixed-use development at 4435 35th SW (south of KFC). Northbound traffic on 35th will NOT be affected, according to the alert, but whether you bus, drive, bike, or walk, you’ll want to avoid southbound 35th in The Triangle until the installation is over. (We’ll check on it as the weekend goes.)

3:25 PM UPDATE: Metro has updated its advisory to say this will affect BOTH directions. And Trinsic says its expected hours of work will actually be 7 am-5 pm *both* days.

West Seattle development: Why the Southwest Design Review Board wants to see 4505 42nd SW for the fourth time

December 8, 2014 at 11:43 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

(EDITOR’S NOTE: For the first time in a long time, the Southwest Design Review Board had a two-project meeting last Thursday night. Our report on the first project, 4515 41st SW, is here. This morning, on the other side of the holiday season’s busiest weekend, here’s our report on the night’s second project.)

(NK Architects’ rendering: South side of 4505 42nd SW)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The Southwest Design Review Board wants to see 4505 42nd SW at least one more time.

The city’s Design Review process requires at least two meetings for a project – one for Early Design Guidance, at which size/shape are the primary focuses, and one for Recommendations, at which final design touches are discussed. The board needed two meetings to sign off on EDG, and determined last Thursday night that it wants a second one on the final phase. A major sticking point was what the building should look like on its south side, considering that side is expected to eventually be hidden from view by future development.

Click to read the rest of West Seattle development: Why the Southwest Design Review Board wants to see 4505 42nd SW for the fourth time…

Southwest Design Review Board doubleheader, project #1: 4515 41st SW sent back for second round of Early Design Guidance

December 4, 2014 at 10:04 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

(The project team’s “preferred” configuration, which didn’t meet the board’s favor)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The first half of tonight’s two-project Southwest Design Review Board meeting ended with board members telling the proposed memory-care facility at 4515 41st SW in The Junction to come back for a second Early Design Guidance review.

It’s on a site surrounded by ongoing redevelopment of other one-time single-family sites, such as the new Oregon 42 mixed-use building to the west, and among other criticisms, the early proposal was deemed too “suburban” to fit into the shape other projects are taking.

Here’s the design packet as published to the city website.

PROJECT TEAM’S PRESENTATION: Denis Bryant, president of Living Care Lifestyles, spoke first, saying they own 8 properties in 5 states, and are building a 9th one; Lynnwood is their only property in Washington so far. “We call this a residence, it’s not a facility; it’s meant to be residential in fit and finish,” Bryant began, “… to remove the guilt that families often feel” about placing loved ones in this kind of center. He said it would be “low impact .. our residents don’t drive; our staff will be provided ORCA cards and other mass-transit opportunities.” The building will have three 22-bed floors.

Click to read the rest of Southwest Design Review Board doubleheader, project #1: 4515 41st SW sent back for second round of Early Design Guidance…

West Seattle Thursday: Design Review for 4505 42nd SW and 4515 41st SW; ‘Judy’s Scary Little Christmas’ opens; McLaren @ Lafayette

December 4, 2014 at 10:14 am | In Development, West Seattle news, WS miscellaneous | 10 Comments

In the spotlight topping today’s list of calendar highlights, a Southwest Design Review Board doubleheader looking at two Junction projects:

DESIGN REVIEW X 2: First up, 6:30 pm in the big upstairs room at Senior Center of West Seattle, it’s the first meeting for 4515 41st SW, a proposed 48-unit memory-care facility (here’s our June report). Here’s the “packet” with project details and renderings:

At 8 pm, the board is scheduled to move on to the third review for 4505 42nd SW, now proposed for 50 apartments, 9 units of “lodging,” and 3,600 sf commercial space. Here’s its info/images “packet”:

Here’s our report on the previous review for that project. Both meetings will have time for public comment. (Oregon/California)

Now, here’s what else is on our calendar and/or in the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide:

INTERNATIONAL HOLIDAY POTLUCK AND SWIM … at Southwest Pool, noon-1:30 pm swim, 1:30 pm potluck, details in our calendar listing. (2801 SW Thistle)

HOMETOWN HOLIDAYS’ SHOP LATE THURSDAY! First of three December Thursdays during which you’ll find many Junction shops open late, until 9 pm, so you can enjoy more local holiday shopping. (Full HH schedule here)

BEER TASTING: Winter Is Coming Fest from 11 am opening time on, “five tastes of winter favorites” at Elliott Bay Brewing Co. in The Junction. (4720 California SW)

COOKBOOK LAUNCH: During Shop Late Thursday, Click! Design That Fits (WSB sponsor) is hosting a launch party for Michelle Babb‘s new anti-inflammatory cookbook – details in our calendar listing. 6-9 pm. (4540 Californai SW)

HELPING JASMIN: 6:30 tonight at Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsor), it’s the start of a fun night, silent auction included, to help Jasmin Egan, a West Seattle native and mom of 3 who is battling leukemia. Music and more – see our preview here, including dream auction items for that golfer in your life – or you! (6451 California SW)

SCHOOL BOARD REP @ LAFAYETTE: As previewed here on Wednesday, the Lafayette Elementary PTA invites you to its first community forum with local representatives. **6:30 pm** tonight in the school cafeteria, West Seattle’s school-board rep Marty McLaren is the first guest. (California/Lander)

MEET & GREET & TALK FISHING: 7-9 pm tonight, also during Shop Late Thursday, it’s a “women’s meet-and-greet” at Emerald Water Anglers (WSB sponsor) with wine, cheese, and info about local fisheries – details in our calendar listing. (42nd/Oregon)

JUDY’S SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS: The holiday production at ArtsWest (WSB sponsor) opens tonight, 7:30 pm – get tickets here. (4711 California SW)

Reader report: 1766 Alki SW demolished, former home of longtime ‘neighborhood watch guard’

December 3, 2014 at 8:09 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

That 96-year-old beach house at 1766 Alki SW (map) was demolished today. It was a home with history, according to beach resident Roger Hayes (who shared the photos as well as the info):

The backstory of this house is, it belonged to Mary Starks, who was a longtime fixture in this little stretch of Alki Beach. She and her husband William “Bill” Starks, who passed away in the mid-’70s, originally bought this house in the mid-’50s. Mary was the neighborhood watch guard, avid gardener, raccoon caretaker, and beloved “grandmother” figure of our little Alki beach house community. She lived in the house up until early 2013 when her health was such that she could no longer live there alone, and was relocated to live with or near a niece in the Salt Lake City Utah area.

Sad to see the disappearance of another beach house that gave Alki Beach its original charm. However, totally understand the area and land is too valuable to not make way for progress of the modern day McMansions and multi-unit palaces that are becoming commonplace to the Alki Beach area.

Permits for this to be replaced by a larger single-family home were granted last summer. The site is zoned Lowrise-2, which would have allowed multi-family construction.

‘We won!’ exults Seattle NERD after Hearing Examiner’s decision on 3078 Avalon appeal

December 1, 2014 at 3:28 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 57 Comments

(Photo by Long Bach Nguyen – densifying Avalon Way SW is at center)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Appeals of city development decisions aren’t uncommon.

Rulings in favor of the appellants are.

(Keep in mind, the Hearing Examiner has to give more weight to the city’s original decisions, meaning challengers have steep hills to climb.)

Today, the West Seattle-based group Seattle NERD (Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development) is celebrating one of those rare rulings – reversing the city’s Design Review and Determination of (environmental) Non-Significance (DNS) decisions regarding a ~100-apartment building proposed for 3078 SW Avalon Way.

As Paul Haury exulted via e-mail, “We won! 2+ years and tens of thousands later. We won! A neighborhood that pulled together prevailed.”

We covered the three major days of testimony and presentation in the appeal hearing earlier this fall (here, here, and here).

A key point of contention regarding the DNS was one of West Seattle’s most-contentious current issues, parking impacts; this building is proposed with about 60 spaces, and is within a block of one built and two planned “microhousing” projects totaling about 200 living units with no planned offstreet parking.

You can see Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner‘s full ruling here as a PDF, or below:

We are still reading it and will add more to this story shortly.

ADDED 4:36 PM: First, note that this is not a ruling against development on the site. It is a ruling in favor of the challenges to specific decisions made during the process, and sending them back for reconsideration. We have asked DPD for comment on the decision and information on what happens next.

Reading the entirety of the 16-page ruling, key points from the Hearing Examiner’s conclusions, which start on page 11:

Click to read the rest of ‘We won!’ exults Seattle NERD after Hearing Examiner’s decision on 3078 Avalon appeal…

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

November 26, 2014 at 8:47 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 9 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 | 67 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…

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