West Seattle development: Comment time for Upton Flats

November 19, 2015 at 10:39 am | In Development, High Point, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

After other proposals surfaced and stalled in recent years, the mixed-use project making its way through the city system for 35th and Graham in High Point has just hit another milestone: Official application for a land-use permit, as announced in today’s edition of the city’s Land Use Information Bulletin. This means a two-week public-comment period has opened.

(From the second Early Design Guidance meeting’s information packet)
After two Southwest Design Review Board meetings – find the reports here – the project at 6058 35th SW is now proposed as two 4-story buildings, with a total of 102 apartments, 10,000 square feet of commercial space, and an underground garage with 109 parking spaces. The notice is here; you can use this form to send in a comment – December 2nd is the deadline. Meantime, this project, currently named “Upton Flats,” still has to go back to the Design Review Board at least one more time; no date yet.

P.S. This development only covers a fraction of the sprawling vacant space at 35th/Graham, specifically the 35th SW frontage and part of the corner; the rest of the site is still planned for an 11-building, 52-unit townhouse development, under the address 3420 SW Graham, shown in the image above, to the east of the 6058 35th SW buildings.

FOLLOWUP: Disputed tree cut down at site of proposed 4532 42nd SW development

November 15, 2015 at 12:49 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 28 Comments

While chainsaws are certainly busy around the city during this break between tree-toppling storms, some tree-cutting in West Seattle this morning had nothing to do with the weather. We learned about it via this video tweet:

Twitter user @n7gon noticed the tree-cutting on the site of the proposed mixed-use project at 4532 42nd SW and asked us about it. You might recall our report about the latest Southwest Design Review Board meeting related to that site – at which board members told the development team to design the project around one particular tree, though the owner-developers had received an opinion that the tree fell short of being what the city considered “exceptional.” They said keeping the tree would present challenges including fewer units and fewer offstreet-parking spaces. They also said that the tree would likely die when the site north of theirs is redeveloped, a site under different ownership, currently holding a single-family house but zoned, as is most of that area, for something much bigger.

Now the tree’s gone (along with others on the site). Nothing in the project’s online files indicated tree-cutting was imminent, so after hearing about it, we went over to see if anyone was still there.

We didn’t find anyone on site, so we e-mailed the property’s owner/developer, West Seattleite Mark Braseth, to ask for comment. He replied with this:

To whom it may concern,

The City of Seattle only regulates exceptional trees on private property over 30 inches in diameter, and limits tree removal on commercially-zoned, privately-owned sites to no more than three trees larger than six inches in diameter within a single year. The City determined that all trees on site were non-exceptional (under 30 inches in diameter), and therefore the three trees taken were allowed to be removed without a permit. The City requires that any new development replace the previously-existing tree canopy with the same or equal amount of tree canopy cover, upon the new trees’ maturity.

As a family development company with long-term roots in the West Seattle community, we are excited to develop this property into something that we can own and be proud of for a long time. We understand that trees are important to the community, and they are important to our project design. We are working with our architects and landscape architect to design a building that includes mature landscaping and large trees that the public can enjoy for the long term future.

Mark Braseth

The city’s tree policy is here.

Back in 2009, under different ownership, the site was approved for a different development that stalled. Braseth bought it earlier this year and brought forth a different proposal which as of last week’s meeting was penciled in as 6-stories, ~75 apartments, 3,813 sq.ft. of commercial space, and offstreet parking for ~63 vehicles (though the site is in a “frequent transit” zone with no requirement for any offstreet parking). One structure on the site was demolished in 2008; the one that remains will be torn down for this project.

Missed tonight’s Seattle 2035 meeting? 8 more days to comment

November 12, 2015 at 10:44 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

Over the course of tonight’s West Seattle open house for the city’s Comprehensive Plan update process – aka “Seattle 2035” – about sixty people stopped by, according to city reps. That leaves about 99,940 West Seattleites who didn’t. Maybe you’ve already commented on how you think the city should shape growth over the next 20 years. If you haven’t, you still have time – until November 20th, one week from tomorrow. Here’s what you’ll want to look at first:

*Open-house presentation slide deck
*Online illustrated doc explaining the process
*Overview document including the four options the city is suggesting for how growth could happen – scroll all the way to the end to review “Alternative 1: Continue Current Trends,” “Alternative 2: Guide growth to Urban Centers” (The Junction is our area’s Urban Center), “Alternative 3: Guide growth to Urban Villages near Light Rail,” and “Alternative 4: Guide growth to Urban Villages near Transit.”
*The full 394-page document is here

Last but not least, here’s how to comment.

Design Review report: 4532 42nd SW advances to next stage, tree in tow

November 8, 2015 at 11:56 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 17 Comments

A tree played a big role in the Southwest Design Review Board‘s latest look at mixed-use Junction project 4532 42nd SW.

(From the project “packet,” a rendering of building massing if the tree were kept)
The meeting was a second round of Early Design Guidance for the newest proposal for the site right behind Capco Plaza – 6-stories, ~75 apartments, 3,813 sq.ft. of commercial space, offstreet parking for ~63 vehicles (though this is in an area where projects can be built without any parking because of the proximity of “frequent transit”).

This location was approved for a different project under different ownership back in 2009.

Click to read the rest of Design Review report: 4532 42nd SW advances to next stage, tree in tow…

West Seattle development: Mixed-use 4106 Delridge Way SW goes back to Design Review Board next month

October 29, 2015 at 9:00 am | In Development, West Seattle news | Comments Off

From today’s edition of the city’s twice-weekly Land Use Information Bulletin:

The mixed-use building proposed for 4106 Delridge Way SW has its next date with the Southwest Design Review Board, 6:30 pm Thursday, November 19th, at the Senior Center of West Seattle. This project was revived after seven years on hold – it went through Early Design Guidance in 2008, but didn’t go on to the second stage until this past February (the official city report on that meeting is here). It’s currently proposed for 36 residential units over 3,700 square feet of commercial space, with 36 parking spaces “within the structure,” envisioned as five stories high, on a sloped lot on the east side of Delridge Way. The “packet” for the November 19th meeting isn’t available yet, but you can see the one from February here.

To see the other projects we’ve covered lately – scroll through the WSB Development coverage archive.

West Seattle development: New Avalon Way apartment proposal, on the other side of the street

October 27, 2015 at 10:51 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 28 Comments

For the first time in a few years, a new apartment building is proposed for the south/east side of the heart of SW Avalon Way: An early-stage application has just appeared in city files for 3039 SW Avalon Way (map), to replace the duplex in the photo above. The north/west side of the street has seen far more action in recent years, with three projects in various pre-construction stages (30, a fourth under construction, and a fifth complete, but on the south/east side, nothing’s been proposed since the completion of Vue at 3261.

The documents on file so far for the new proposal say “approximately 60″ units are envisioned for 3039 Avalon, with 20 underground parking spaces. Prolific multifamily-specialist firm NK Architects is attached to the project, which will, according to notations, go through Design Review. The site is zoned MR (midrise) like most of this stretch of Avalon. Since this is in the early stages, no formal application is in yet, so there’s no official comment period, but if you have an early comment, you can e-mail PRC@seattle.gov and refer to project #3022717.

To see what other new projects and updates we’ve reported on lately, scroll through the WSB development-coverage archive here.

West Seattle development: New proposal for once-controversial Junction site – 4 units instead of 40

October 23, 2015 at 3:54 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

Checking what’s new in the city’s online permit files, we happened onto a new proposal for a familiar address: 4439 41st SW in The Junction.

Last year, a proposal to replace its single-family house with a 40-unit, 5-offstreet-parking-space apartment building drew neighborhood concern, which led to a special city meeting for comments on the project in May 2014. DPD records indicate that reviews for the apartment-building project continued into the early part of this year – and then the activity stopped.

Now there are two new early-stage land-use applications shown for the address, one for a “lot boundary adjustment” – the site currently consists of three lots zoned Lowrise 2 – and another for a four-unit rowhouse building facing 41st, with four offstreet parking spaces off the alley to the west.

This is the third proposal in three years for the site; the 40-apartment plan had been preceded by one proposing eight townhouses.

West Seattle development: Comment time for microhousing at 4122 36th SW

October 22, 2015 at 9:24 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 40 Comments

9:24 AM: The major West Seattle item in today’s city Land Use Information Bulletin is the start of a comment period for Early Design Guidance on the four-story, 20-unit, no-offstreet-parking microhousing (Small Efficiency Dwelling Units) building proposed to replace the 95-year-old triplex (above) at 4122 36th SW. We first reported on this project when it turned up in the online files in July. This is going through Streamlined Design Review, so NO public meeting, but the public does have the chance to offer comments on the design via e-mail. Just one thing missing: The design packet is nowhere to be found online. The official notice from today’s bulletin warns that this is your only chance – deadline November 4th – to comment on the project, and explains how to do that, but we’ve checked various spots in the city’s online files (such as the project’s page on the Design Review website) and can’t find the design packet you’re supposed to be able to comment on. We’ve sent the project’s assigned city planner a note asking for it to be made available in hopes of adding it to this story.

9:38 AM: Planner Holly Godard has responded to our e-mail and says it “should be there shortly.”

9:44 AM: And indeed it has just appeared in the places where it should be (here’s the direct link). In some cases, you’ll find a Design Review packet online before the notice – note that the cover page for this one is dated September 30th.

10:13 AM: Added image from packet, by architects Alloy Design Group. Note that the Early Design Guidance stage does not show the final planned look – its focus is on the building’s shape and size, aka “massing.”

FOLLOWUP: Appeal dismissed in West Seattle ’104 rooms = 14 units’ case

October 18, 2015 at 11:39 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 20 Comments

A decision is in, and the hearing is off.

Checking the city files, we discovered that Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner has dismissed the most-recent 3050 Avalon Way project appeal filed by neighborhood group NERD (Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development):

As we reported three weeks ago, this all started when the group requested an interpretation of whether the city was properly treating the microhousing project as 14 “dwelling units” instead of 104 apartments. The latter number is how many “sleeping rooms” the project calls for, but they are clustered with 14 shared kitchens, and under the city rules that were in effect at the time of the application, each cluster with a kitchen constituted one “dwelling unit.” (The rules have since changed.) The number of units makes a big difference in how a development is reviewed – whether it will require Design Review, and what kind of environmental review. One year ago, the project had been under orders to either go through Design Review or make changes, as explained here; the developer opted for the latter.

After the interpretation arrived in August, affirming the “it’s 14 dwelling units, not 104 apartments” decision, NERD filed an appeal (read it here), contending among other things that the project shouldn’t have been considered as “vested” under the old rules. The case was to be argued in the Hearing Examiner’s chambers on November 5th.

Then after a pre-hearing conference in mid-September, both the city and the developer moved to dismiss the appeal. This past Wednesday, Tanner granted those motions (as detailed in the document embedded atop this report), ending the case and cancelling the November hearing. The ruling largely dwells on a technicality – saying that an appeal wasn’t filed against the Determination of (Environmental) Non-Significance for the project, and that because it wasn’t, the examiner did not have jurisdiction to consider an appeal of the interpretation.

A Hearing Examiner ruling is the city’s last word in a case like this, meaning that for a decision to be challenged any further, it would have to be taken to court. We have a message out asking NERD if they’re considering that. Otherwise, the project has its land-use permit, but appears to still be awaiting its construction permit.

Design Review doubleheader, final report: 9021 17th SW project sent back because ‘it feels like a mini-fortress’

October 16, 2015 at 9:49 pm | In Delridge, Development, West Seattle news | Comments Off

In the second part of Thursday night’s Southwest Design Review Board doubleheader, a 31-apartment, 31-offstreet-parking-space building proposed for 9021 17th SW was told to give Early Design Guidance a second try – though board members agreed the design had promise from the start, they were most concerned about how the building would relate to its setting.

Four SWDRB members were on hand – chair Todd Bronk and Matt Zinski, who are West Seattleites; Donald Caffrey from Beacon Hill; Alexandra Moravec from the Central District.

With them, Tami Garrett (at right in photo above), the DPD planner assigned to the project.


Bob Guyt with Bremerton-based Blue Architecture and Design said it’s a 4-story building over underground parking “optimiz(ing) the zoning for the site,” which is LR3, and noted that all three of their massing (height and shape) alternatives are “code-compliant” – no zoning exceptions. “The scale of the neighborhood per zoning is beginning to change and become more dense.” The single-family house that used to be on this site has been torn down, he said. The architects pointed out the transitions in the area – some single-family housing, some apartments, some commercial zoning. “This is kind of a middle ground.” They tried to respond to a couple of large trees on the south side of the site, regarding solar shading.

Option #1, the project team’s “preferred option,” has some pitched-roof elements, and a larger residential-amenity area “on the sunny side of the area.” 20 spaces would be under the building, 11 on the north side of the building, all accessed off the alley (and later noted, on the lower point of the site). A raingarden is planned on the site to divert rainwater.

Option #2 “would take advantage of the entire zoning envelope,” including 4 feet of additional height and a flat roof. No overhangs at the top, so the building would be closer to the south property line, with less shading of the properties on the north side.

Option #3 “brought back the shed roof elements,” with a raingarden space, but the parking “flipped over to the south side,” with the building pulling back a bit from those two big trees on a neighboring property.

BOARD QUESTIONS: Bronk said he wasn’t really seeing much difference in the massing – at the Early Design Guidance stage, there are supposed to be distinct options. He also wondered why they hadn’t gone for entirely underground parking. It had to do with circulation, the architects said, while promising the surface-parked cars would be in carport-type enclosures to “minimize the impact.” The cars wouldn’t be parked directly at units’ window level, they said.

Zinski asked for elaboration on the amenity area. Guyt said it would be a place for residents to “barbecue, hang out,” and noted that they are required to have a certain amount of square footage devoted to that. Moravec asked about the private patios and whether they’d be basically equal to the shared spaces. The architects are still working that out.


Three people spoke. The first did not identify himself. He said the building looks a lot like many other buildings in West Seattle. “What distinguishes this building from a lot of the other buildings” in the area? “Is this a building they can be proud of, want to go and spend their life there?” He also wondered if the roof for the outdoor parking could be a green roof. And he wondered about the need for outdoor barbecuing space. Finally, he said rectangles and squares seem to be the “operative word in architecture,” but maybe there’s some other way to go about it. “I don’t see this as being that welcoming to passers-by.” He wondered “what’s the personality of this building? If I seem rather critical … that’s the general environment we’re facing in the community now … I would like to see more character, quite frankly. This building’s going to be here for quite a while, and people are going to be living with it in their neighborhood.”

The second was Deb Barker, former Design Review Board member, who pointed out that the architects had erred in declaring that this was White Center. She pointed out it was the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village. She voiced concern that too much would be crammed into the site – that drew applause from the dozen or so attendees 0 and also noted that the three options didn’t have much differentiation in massing. She also felt the applicant had jumped to far ahead by setting up the unit counts before seeing what the site could accommodate. She also pointed out that the “underground” parking is NOT underground, that the site’s not being dug into, that it’s really “at grade,” and if it was being dug into, the building’s units would’t be separated from the street. “To set your whole facade in a seating wall, you’re really separating your pedestrians from the residents.” She also said she’s a fan of roof overhangs as seen in Option 1. She urged the project to come back with other massing options, maybe a U shape with internal courtyard.

The third person to speak didn’t identify himself. He said he likes the U shaped idea and he expects at least half the units to have kids so there should be a courtyard for them to play in. He said he was nervous about fencing because graffiti vandalism is a problem in the areae and landlords usually aren’t very responsive about painting it over. He also said he “really really really appreciate you guys putting parking spaces in.”


Starting with concerns: Moravec said she didn’t think it was a bad design but would have liked to see more options. She also voiced concern about at least three units in the shade and looking at parked cars. Caffrey’s concerns included the interaction with the site – retaining walls, fences, etc. Bronk said he doesn’t see the project doing anything to be of value to the neighborhood. He doesn’t “feel great about approving a project that gets a bonus for having only half of its parking underground.” Taking a single family lot and putting 15 cars on there just feels “not in concert with being a good neighbor.” He also is “not in love withthe big ramp that’s going to be necessary at the entrance.” He also voiced concern about the “self-constrained program of 31 units.”

Issues of concern for the board include topography. They gave props to the project team for trying to save plants/habitat, and expressed appreciation for the raingarden that’s proposed; some “significant” but not “exceptional” trees are proposed for removal, and that requires replacement, Garrett noted. One of the architects pointed out that this building is not required to have parking but “street parking there is a mess” and so they have opted to provide some.

Adding 31 people to the block without a real “meet your neighbor” aspect to it is a problem, said Bronk, looking at the public life/open space guidelines for the area. They asked to see a “window study” to see how nearby residents will be affected. They asked the team to consider where people would park bikes and how bikes would be brought into the building, as that wasn’t shown in the presentation. Zinski said he didn’t think the building had to be a “jumble” of facade treatments. Bronk voiced concern about the size of the outdoor amenity space, and whether it would be accessible to more than the people next to it.

Ultimately they wanted to see another Early Design Guidance round because they weren’t seeing three distinct options. Though this isn’t a bad design, a majority of board members said, they would like to see a U-shaped option among others. Bronk said he doesn’t think the building’s design is in the best interest of the neighborhood. He’d like to see another massing option “with the building on the ground.” Moravec agreed that she’d “love to see another option.” Zinski said he saw a “lot of unresolved (issues) … all of the unresolved pieces of this are really going to drive the massing.” Bronk said that when issues are left unaddressed in Early Design Guidance, the building might wind up having the next phase of the Design Review process stretched out. “It feels like a mini-fortress,” is how Bronk summarized the concerns about the current massing. But while saying the changes might just be “little tweaks overall,” cumulatively they are “big enough that we need to see it again.” That means at least two more meetings; in the meantime, if you have comments on the project, contact planner Garrett, tami.garrett@seattle.gov.

Design Review doubleheader, report #2: Asking ‘Perch,’ 100 apartments at 1250 Alki SW, to ‘connect the dots’

October 16, 2015 at 8:11 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

As reported here last night, both projects brought to the Southwest Design Review Board for Early Design Guidance in a doubleheader meeting were told to try again. Here are the toplines from the first meeting, about SolTerra‘s proposed Perch 100-unit apartment building at 1250 Alki SW, first reported here in May.

This meeting was attended by dozens of the almost 400 neighbors who have organized as the Action Alki Alliance. They’re not objecting to the idea of apartments on Alki, they say, but to a proposal they say is out of scale for the neighborhood. Here are their talking points:

And a longer document of concerns sent to the city, provided to us by spokesperson Sandee Spears:

Factors such as traffic and noise are not in Design Review’s purview; they’re in the environmental review that the assigned SDOT planner – BreAnne McConkie for this project – will lead.

SWDRB chair Todd Bronk observed that the proposal as shown last night doesn’t seem to “connect the dots.” Overall questions include how the massing – which is a major concern at the EDG stage – would work in relation to the street, allow enough sunlight for the planned courtyard, and how the front facade would work with the neighborhood.

In addition to options that had been in the design “packet” for weeks (as shown here back in xx), SolTerra also brought a version with a few changes responding to concerns voiced by neighbors – including the reduction to 100 units, from the original 125, as described post-meeting by SolTerra spokesperson Melissa Milburn:

We angled out the break between the masses by a small amount; otherwise it’s identical in every way. The project is now 100 units (not 125), 20% less, specifically to address community concerns. No option impedes the steep slope buffer. We are not seeking extra height, any setback relief, bonus square footage, uses not permitted in the zoning, or anything else = other than the two departures we’re asking for on the building overall width and depth to help with sightline for neighbors. Everything we propose is allowed in the zone and we are not getting any concessions from the city.

Other public-comment concerns included the building’s placement on the property and the plan for the hillside behind it, which has seen slides over the years. Neighbors want to make sure some views of the greenbelt remain. Some concerns also were voiced about how the building would be accessed by services such as solid-waste pickup; the access will be addressed next time around.

The board liked aspects of Option 2 best, not the development team’s preferred Option 3, but overall, the instruction to the project team is to take the feedback back again and return. (The official city version of the meeting notes should be on the DPD website within a few weeks.) Because of the requirement for at least one more Early Design Guidance meeting, that means this project will have at least two more meetings – dates TBA. You can send comments about the project, in the meantime, to planner McConkie at breanne.mcconkie@seattle.gov.

Design Review doubleheader, report #1: Both projects told, try again

October 15, 2015 at 10:20 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | Comments Off

In the doubleheader meeting just concluded, the Southwest Design Review Board delivered the same verdict to both projects they considered: Come back for a second round of Early Design Guidance. Though the projects differ in size and location – 1250 Alki SW proposes 125 apartments, 9021 17th SW proposes 31 apartments – board concerns leading to the “try again” verdicts came down mostly to wanting the projects to work better in and with their surroundings. This means each project will have at least two more review meetings. We’ll publish detailed writeups of both of tonight’s sessions in the morning on Friday.

West Seattle development: Design Review tonight for apartments at 1250 Alki SW and 9021 17th SW, plus 6 other project notes

October 15, 2015 at 11:11 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

Various development notes from the city files – first, a reminder of tonight’s doubleheader Southwest Design Review Board meeting:

‘PERCH’ DEBUTS AT DESIGN REVIEW: 6:30 pm tonight at the Sisson Building (home of the Senior Center of West Seattle, California SW & SW Oregon), the 1250 Alki SW (site photo above) project first reported here in May – SolTerra’s Perch apartment building, 5 stories, 125 units, 188 offstreet parking spaces – gets an Early Design Guidance review. See the “packet” as a PDF on the city website.

ALSO AT DESIGN REVIEW TONIGHT – 9021 17TH SW: Four months after we published early word of this project, it too has an Early Design Guidance review before the SWDRB tonight, 8 pm (right after the Perch review). It’s four stories, 31 apartments, 31 offstreet parking spaces. Here’s the “packet.”

From today’s Land Use Information Bulletin, the second Early Design Guidance meeting is set for a Junction project:

4532 42ND SW RETURNS TO DESIGN REVIEW NEXT MONTH: In July, the SWDRB ordered a second EDG review for this new proposal for this Junction site, where a different project stalled after approval six years ago. It’s now proposed for 85 apartments, 70 offstreet parking spaces, and almost 4,000 sf of commercial space. You can preview the design “packet” here, well in advance of the next review, formally announced today for 6:30 pm November 5th at the Sisson Building.

Also from today’s LUIB, comment time is open for a project on the southeast edge of The Junction:

4801 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: This is the proposal for what’s currently the parking lot holding construction-office trailers for The Whittaker (to the north). We first reported on this back in April. It’s now proposed for four stories, 53 apartments, one live-work unit, and 2,575 sf of ground-floor retail. The notice is here; here’s how to comment. Deadline is October 28th.

Two more notable projects are in comment phases right now:

COMMENT TIME FOR AEGIS LIVING/WEST SEATTLE: Comment time continues on the land-use application for this three-story, 81-unit senior-living center at 4700 SW Admiral Way. Here’s the most recent design concept shared by Aegis:

Unless someone has requested an extension, the deadline for comments is Sunday (October 18th). Here’s the notice; here’s how to comment.

COMMENT TIME FOR 35TH/GRAHAM PROJECT The land-use application has been accepted for 3420 SW Graham, which means an official comment period is continuing, also through Sunday. This part of the project is now described as eleven 3-story townhouse buildings with 52 units and 59 surface offstreet parking spaces. Here’s the official notice; here’s how to comment.

An early-stage proposal of note has turned up in city online files:

PROJECT AT EX-BRICKYARD IN ADMIRAL: 2310 California SW – which had a development proposal approved, then stalled, seven years ago – has a new one. This one is for a four-story building listed as containing four residential units, 3,950 square feet of commercial space, parking in back. Documents in the file say the ground floor is expected to house child care and a gym, no further details.

And finally, a name note:

ANOTHER PROJECT NAMED: You have to squint really hard at the banner if you’re just driving by, since it’s not in a particularly bold typeface, but in case you haven’t noticed it yet, the six-story Trinsic project just south of KFC at 4435 35th SW has a name: “Aura.” (Data point – that puts “Aura” barely a block east of “Nova.”) Aura is in the files for 151 apartments, 152 off-street parking spaces, plus ground-floor commercial, and a hillside stairway.

PROGRESS REPORT: New Junction mural, day 2

October 9, 2015 at 7:37 pm | In Development, West Seattle news, WS culture/arts | 2 Comments

Last night, we reported on the first day of work by artist Jesse Link on the mural long planned for the south-facing wall of the Lofts At The Junction apartment building (4535 44th SW). We went by late this afternoon to see how it’s going. The artist was gone for the day, but it’s clear that, as he had told us in a brief shouted exchange yesterday, it’s a heron and a boat – with the words WORK IN PROGRESS painted across the space for now, lest anyone think otherwise.

What might West Seattle look like in 2035? Grab the steering wheel @ upcoming meeting – or speak up by e-mail, social media, postal mail …

September 29, 2015 at 4:44 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

(Above, 1962 view looking west over Luna Park and beyond, from the Seattle Municipal Archives. Below, April 2013 aerial view looking south from Duwamish Head, by Long Bach Nguyen)

The seeds of our current growth and zoning, whether you like the way things are going or not, were sown many years ago – going back in the 1990s, during a big civic process. Maybe you weren’t here to get involved. Maybe you never heard about it. Here’s your chance to change that for the next 20 years. Right now – somewhat drowned out by a lot of other noise – another big process has been under way for a while, aimed at coming up with a road map to last through 2035. Even if you’ve missed earlier discussions, here comes another chance. West Seattle will be the site of one of five meetings coming up to talk about the next revision of the Comprehensive Plan. The announcement, just out of our inbox:

The Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) will hold five community meetings this fall to solicit public comment on the Draft City of Seattle Comprehensive Plan. Titled ‘Seattle 2035,’ the Draft Plan was released for public comment on July 8, 2015. The updated Comprehensive Plan will be our roadmap for Seattle’s next 20 years.

The meetings will include open house displays and a presentation to provide a broad overview of the Draft Plan, highlight major changes and get feedback on proposed village expansion areas, especially areas near meeting locations. Since some of Seattle 2035’s policies about affordable housing will be implemented as part of the City’s proposed Housing and Affordability and Livability Agenda, there will be information and opportunity for feedback at the meetings.

The Draft Plan is informed by the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that was released in May 2015. The Draft Plan includes goals and policies to help achieve our vision for Seattle’s future. Seattle is expected to grow by 120,000 residents and 115,000 jobs in the coming 20 years. The Draft Plan also includes a new Future Land Use Map, showing a pattern of growth that supports the City’s vision.

The City of Seattle is seeking public feedback on the Draft Plan as we continue to evaluate goals and policies to build a safe, livable, vibrant, and affordable city for all. City staff has already received hundreds of public comments on the DEIS and on the overall direction of the Draft Plan document.

DPD is extending the public comment period through Friday, November 20th. The Online Community Conversation will remain live through this period. Here’s how to join the conversation about Seattle’s future and provide comments:

1. Attend a community meeting in October or November

2. Read the Draft Plan Summary and check out the Draft Plan.

3. Join the Seattle 2035 Online Community Conversation and discuss the potential pros and cons of proposed policies with other Seattleites

4. Follow Seattle 2035 on Facebook and Twitter

5. Send comments by November 20, 2015:

a. Email comments to 2035@seattle.gov

b. Mail comments to the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development, Attn: Seattle 2035, 700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000, PO Box 34019, Seattle WA 98124-4019.

Feedback received on the Draft Comprehensive Plan will help inform the Mayor’s Recommended Plan, which will be released in early 2016.

(Five open houses are listed in the full announcement – following is the only one in West Seattle)

November 12, 6 pm to 8 pm (presentation at 6:30 pm)
Senior Center of West Seattle
4217 SW Oregon St.

West Seattle development: City, builder seek to dismiss challenge to ’14 units, not 104′ microhousing building at 3050 Avalon Way

September 28, 2015 at 9:55 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

(WSB photo from August)
New developments in a neighborhood group’s challenge to what would be West Seattle’s biggest microhousing building, 104 “bedrooms” at 3050 SW Avalon Way: The city and developer Columbia Builders are both asking the Hearing Examiner to dismiss the latest appeal filed by Seattle Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development (NERD), which was founded in the neighborhood just north of Avalon. The group’s fight, now in its third year, continues to center on the city’s definition of microhousing and the reviews that are required, or not required, because of it. In this case, while the 3050 Avalon project will include 104 “bedrooms,” each a unit with a private bathroom, they’re clustered around shared kitchens, allowing the city to consider it 14 “dwelling units.” That means it falls beneath thresholds for environmental and design review, because in both categories, that threshold is 20 “dwelling units” in the midrise zone where the property is located.

This latest appeal relates to an announcement in early August, as reported here – an “interpretation” which Seattle NERD had requested, regarding whether the development really could be viewed as “14 dwelling units” and therefore exempt from those reviews. The city said yes:

The question raised for interpretation was whether the 104 bedrooms in the proposed building should be regulated as separate dwelling units. Each of the bedrooms has a private bathroom. Early versions of the plans showed counters with sinks in each bedroom, outside the bathroom, but those features were eliminated before the plans were approved. The interpretation concludes that the individual bedrooms are not designed and arranged as separate dwelling units, and that the proposed building is appropriately regulated as a 14-unit apartment building based on the plans as modified.

On the environmental front, the site does include what the city considers a “steep slope,” which triggered a limited environmental review, but otherwise, the city issued a “determination of (environmental) non-significance.” A full environmental review would include issues such as traffic effects; this building, like most microhousing buildings, was designed with no offstreet parking.

The appeal currently is set for a November 5th hearing before the examiner, if the dismissal motions aren’t granted. The points on which they are argued are complicated but basically contend that the examiner doesn’t have jurisdiction, and that SeattleNERD made a procedural error by not appealing the “underlying decision” on the issue. You can read all the documents in the case here.

The project has now been in the pipeline for almost three years; we first noticed and mentioned it in November 2012. It’s been almost exactly a year since the city told its developers – among others – that, as the result of a court ruling, they would have to undergo Design Review if they didn’t change their plans. This project, and the microhousing building under construction at 3268 Avalon, did that, and continued on through the system.

West Seattle development: Plans for old garage site on Fauntleroy Way; update on night work at The Whittaker

September 23, 2015 at 4:30 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 23 Comments

Two West Seattle development notes this afternoon:

(King County Assessor’s Office photo)

PLANS FOR OLD GARAGE SITE: A long-vacant, fenced-off old commercial garage-style building on Fauntleroy Way SW northeast of Morgan Junction now has a development plan. The 67-year-old building is on a 7,140-square-foot lot zoned Lowrise 2; the plan proposes a 6-unit rowhouse building (see the preliminary site plan here).

NIGHT WORK AT THE WHITTAKER: Over the past few nights, several people have asked us about nighttime work at 40th SW and SW Alaska. We’ve confirmed with The Whittaker‘s project team that they’re doing nighttime work that’ll continue over the next two weeks. It’s related to sidewalk and utility work along SW Alaska; it started in daytime hours but that caused too much of a traffic crunch, so the project team and the city came up with a night-work plan, allowing the outside eastbound lane to be closed 6 pm to 6 am. The so-called heavy work – the noisiest part of it – is only allowed through 10 pm; that includes tree removal, stump grinding, concrete demolition, and jackhammering. It’s expected to run through October 7th; later in construction, similar work will be done along SW Edmunds on the south side of the project. (If you’re new, The Whittaker is the largest project ever in West Seattle – approximately 400 apartments, 600 underground parking spaces, and retail including Whole Foods.)

West Seattle development notes: South Delridge, Admiral, Morgan

September 17, 2015 at 5:48 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

Three notes, two of which are updates on projects we’ve mentioned before:

(Rendering: S + H Works Architecture & Design)

DESIGN REVIEW FOR APARTMENT BUILDING AT 9021 17TH SW: Back in June, we reported on a plan for a 31-unit, 31-parking-space apartment building at 9021 17th SW in South Delridge. The project is now on the Southwest Design Review Board‘s schedule, as the second review of the night on Thursday, October 15th, 8 pm at the Sisson Building (home of the Senior Center) in The Junction.

THREE TOWNHOUSES BEHIND 2336 44TH SW: New project just popped up in the system – a plan to demolish a building described as a “garage/carriage unit” (see the bottom photo here) behind this address, on the alley between 44th and California SW, and replace it with three townhouses.

THREE HOUSES REPLACING 1 AT 6715 CALIFORNIA SW: Back in January, we mentioned this south Morgan Junction plan. This week, work has begun, with the 97-year=old house on the site torn down, and the rest of the site-clearing work under way.

West Seattle (and beyond) development: City changes ahead

September 17, 2015 at 9:04 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

In the middle of a building boom, the city is making/considering changes in some of its processes and programs – including the only one that guarantees public meetings about some development projects. Two notes this morning about how you can get involved:

BREAKING UP DPD: As first announced in June, the city plans to separate the current Department of Planning and Development functions into two new divisions. This morning’s Land Use Information Bulletin includes the official notice of an October 20th public hearing at City Hall about the proposed change:

(This would) reorganize the Department of Planning and Development into two separate departments: (1) the Office of Planning and Community Development; (2) and the Department of Construction and Inspections. This Bill clarifies responsibilities for planning, permitting and enforcement activities between the two departments.

Part of the news in that is the name “Department of Construction and Inspections,” which was still TBA when the breakup announcement was made in June. The October 20th hearing is at 5:30 pm, with speaker signups an hour earlier.

DESIGN REVIEW CHANGES: For an even-longer time, the city’s been reviewing the Design Review program, which has for years been the only means by which public community-based meetings have been required for some development projects. The next step before potential changes is a set of open houses, one for the north part of the city and one for the south. The latter is the closest to West Seattle, set for September 29, 6–7:30 pm at Columbia City Library, 4721 Rainier Ave. South. (Thanks to Deb Barker, a former Southwest Design Review Board member, for calling our attention to that so we could make sure you knew.)

West Seattle development: 5-home site on Highland Park Way; plus, ‘what’s in a name?’ x 3

September 11, 2015 at 6:39 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

Haven’t had much time this week to report on development/housing, but four quick notes:

FIVE NEW HOMES REPLACING ONE ON HIGHLAND PARK WAY: Brand-new early-stage proposal just turned up for 7717 Highland Park Way (between Holden and Portland), including the vacant parcel to its west, 8,500 sf total, demolishing the 72-year-old house shown above and replacing it with what’s described as “five small 3-story single-family homes with rooftop decks.” Here’s the configuration on the preliminary site plan filed with the city. Watch for a notice at project #3022246.

Now, three projects in varying stages of completion/construction, all of which now have names:

FAUNTLEROY LOFTS: This is the name for the just-complete-and-now-renting microhousing (Small Efficiency Dwelling Units) project to open in West Seattle, 5949 California SW. Thanks to Diane for pointing out to this Craigslist listing announcing the opening, declaring the building on a “quiet street,” and listing rents from $950 (for a 200-sf unit) to $1500. That’s furnished and includes all utilities plus wi-fi, we should note. No off-street parking in the building; the ad declares, “Bike parking is available and street parking is easy to find in the surrounding neighborhood.”

SPEAKING OF PARKING … remember the kerfuffle over the 30-unit, no-offstreet-parking apartment building at 6917 California SW? Neighbors challenged it and eventually settled with the builder. Now, it’s almost done and has a name, according to the sign that went up this week: Viridian.

This is NOT microhousing – it’s self-contained studios, about 300 sf, developer Mark Knoll told neighbors in late 2013. No rental listing yet that we can see (in ’13, Knoll guessed units might go for about $700). Meantime, if you look up the word, it seems to mean either a “bluish-green pigment” – not unlike the building’s color – or a slang definition that could be paraphrased as “good-looking, cold-hearted guy.”

RALLY ROUND: We also noticed earlier this week that the townhouse/live-work development under construction since June on the site of the former Charlestown Café now has a name: Rally. The 27 units will be available for sale this winter, according to the Rally website.

58-unit microhousing at 4528 44th SW OK’d by Southwest Design Review Board

September 4, 2015 at 3:04 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 26 Comments

(From the “design packet” by Alloy Design Group)

The 6-story, 58-unit microhousing project planned to replace an 8-unit apartment building at 4528 44th SW in The Junction is the first West Seattle project in a while to make it through Design Review in the minimum amount of meetings. The Southwest Design Review Board has approved it after one Early Design Guidance-phase meeting (in March) plus, last night, one Recommendation-phase meeting. One member of the public offered comments. Patrick Sand was at the meeting for WSB; toplines ahead:

Click to read the rest of 58-unit microhousing at 4528 44th SW OK’d by Southwest Design Review Board…

FOLLOWUP: Extra comment time for 14-house proposal

September 3, 2015 at 5:36 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 11 Comments

Three weeks after we wrote about that 14-house development proposal at 3601 Fauntleroy Way SW – on an East Admiral slope – the public-comment period has been extended. Thanks to Diane and MJ for the tips on that. September 10th is the new deadline for comments on the project, which was first proposed eight years ago; you can read the comments already sent to the city by going here and entering project #3007882. That’s the same number to use to send your own comments in via PRC@seattle.gov.

TOMORROW: Junction microhousing project 4528 44th SW goes back to Southwest Design Review Board

September 2, 2015 at 3:10 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 18 Comments

The first microhousing (in official city terminology, Small Efficiency Dwelling Units) project in The Junction goes back before the Southwest Design Review Board tomorrow night (Thursday, September 3rd) at 6:30 pm. Embedded above is Alloy Design Group‘s “packet” for the meeting (or see it here as a PDF). Toward the start, it explains the 4528 44th SW project:

The owner proposes the construction of a new 6-story apartment building with approximately 58 small efficiency dwelling units, or SEDU’s. An existing apartment building on site will be demolished. The objective for these apartments in to provide upscale, yet affordable, housing to the West Seattle Junction neighborhood. The demographic that will benefit most from this housing will be wage earners in the neighborhood that can’t afford the $1,000 plus rents of nearby properties – millennials desiring to move out of their parents houses, people opting for minimal consumption as a lifestyle, and people that commute to downtown businesses that will utilize the Rapid Ride bus service steps from the project. In short, the project endeavors to promote urban density and support the thriving pedestrian-oriented businesses and activities in the neighborhood.

Public comments on the proposed design will be taken during Thursday night’s meeting (upstairs at the Senior Center of West Seattle, southeast corner of California SW and SW Oregon). You can review the official city report on the previous SWDRB review by going here.

SIDE NOTE – THE LAWSUIT: You might recall, the developer sued the city and the current tenants of the 2-story, 8-unit building that this will replace, challenging the city’s notice saying they needed to apply for a “tenant relocation” license under the city law requiring compensation for demolition-displaced tenants. The city filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit – as we reported in July – and that was scheduled to be argued in court this morning; we’re checking on whether a ruling resulted or is pending.

West Seattle development: Next phase of public-comment process for proposed CVS store

August 31, 2015 at 10:13 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 25 Comments

(July ‘cover page’ image from project file on city website. Architect: Schemata Workshop)

After passing the first stage of Design Review on the second try earlier this summer, the project team for the proposed CVS drugstore at 4722 Fauntleroy Way SW has applied for a land-use permit – and with the announcement in today’s Land Use Information Bulletin, that opens the next phase of the public-comment process.

As reported previously, the store is proposed as a one-story building on the site that now holds West Seattle Produce and Suite Arrangements; it would have 50 offstreet parking spaces (including 32 on an adjacent parcel) and a drive-through window. Here’s the official notice; here’s how to comment. At least one more Design Review meeting will be required, but there’s no date set yet, and this phase of the comment process is open to more than its design – you can offer opinions on environmental issues such as traffic and noise. The comment deadline is September 13th.

The store has been in the works for two years now; we first found an early version of the proposal in city files in July 2013.

West Seattle development: 1st Design Review meeting set for 1250 Alki SW ‘Perch’ project

August 28, 2015 at 2:25 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | Comments Off

An Early Design Guidance packet is on file and a date is set for the Southwest Design Review Board’s first look at “Perch,” the mixed-use project proposed for 1250 Alki SW: 6:30 pm October 15th. (Remember as you look at the “packet” above that Early Design Guidance is for size and shape – once those are determined, the details follow.)

We first reported on the proposal three months ago; it’s the first new 100+-residential-unit project proposed in West Seattle in a few years – all the others in the pipeline are under construction or complete. The developer is SODO-based SolTerra, which began as a company focused on sustainability-focused systems such as solar power, and has branched out into housing. Their designs are aimed for LEED Platinum and Perch, SolTerra says, will be designed to that standard “at minimum.”

From the packet, key points of the project:


+/- 125 residential units
Five stories of residential floors over a ground floor of lobby space, support, service and public parking
188 Parking Stalls for residents and visitors, in a below-grade garage
Dedicated space for car-sharing programs
Ample bike storage for residents and exterior bike parking for guests


Extensive vegetated green roof with a variety of seating areas and scenic viewpoints
Solar panel array on the rooftop
Rainwater collection cistern
Potential native marine bird habitat on the rooftop
Public green space along Alki Ave. with multi-purpose programmed uses for the neighborhood
Rear courtyard space at the foot of the hillside with a water feature and lush plantings

Five 2-story residential structures – described in the packet as three multiplexes and two single-family homes – would be demolished to make way for this development. A SolTerra spokesperson tells us that in addition to the Design Review process, they also will be seeking feedback from community members including the Alki Community Council.

Renew the Multi-Family Tax Exemption? City Council committee briefing this morning

August 20, 2015 at 9:09 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 25 Comments

It’s a tax-break offer that many developers have long accepted from the city: If your project’s being built in certain areas, and you allot a certain percentage of units to a certain number of tenants at a certain income level, you can get the residential portion of your building (not the land) exempted from property taxes for 12 years. It’s called the Multi-Family Tax Exemption, and the council soon will have to decide whether to renew it for the fourth time since its inception in 1998. That discussion officially starts with a briefing during the end of this morning’s 9:30 am meeting of the council’s Housing Affordability, Human Services, and Economic Resiliency Committee. It’s a lead-up to a meeting next month at which the committee will consider legislation renewing the program.

Here’s what the committee will be shown and told this morning – first, the slide deck with stats on the program, which it says involves almost 2,000 rental units now, with almost 2,000 more “in the pipeline”:

Here’s the council-staff memo:

Wondering which West Seattle projects got the MFTE? From the newest list on the city website, dated August 14th:

*Element 42
*Footprint Avalon
*Footprint Delridge (microhousing)
*Oregon 42
*Youngstown Flats
(WSB sponsor)

The list does NOT include under-construction projects that will be getting the MFTE – the program’s annual report included an expanded list that does, but only as of last December, so some might be missing. The additional projects on that list are:

*Spruce (open now so we’re not sure why it’s not on the first list)
*Admiral East Apartments (on the list as 3210 California)
*3050 Avalon (microhousing)
*Footprint’s Morgan Junction project (microhousing)
*4730 California
*Junction 47
*Trinsic West Seattle
*Lofts at The Junction
*The Whittaker
*Broadstone Sky
*6917 California
*Junction Flats

Right now, September 20th is the date for the committee to look at renewal legislation. If you’re interested in watching this morning’s discussion, the meeting will be live on Seattle Channel, cable channel 21 or online stream; it’s the last item on the agenda.

West Seattle development: 10 houses, one duplex for Pigeon Point site

August 19, 2015 at 1:14 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 11 Comments

New from the city files today: An early-stage proposal for 10 houses and one duplex at 3710-3722 21st SW on Pigeon Point (map). The north side of the site faces a Seattle Parks-owned slope over the West Seattle bridge; the south side, SW Charlestown. The 12 new homes would replace two single-family houses, one more than a century old, the other, 58 years old. Documents in the online files suggest the site’s been under consideration for development for at least two years. Brad Khouri is the architect.

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