Design Review doubleheader, project #1: 3824 California SW ordered back for a third round of Early Design GuidanceApril 17, 2014 at 9:23 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 7 Comments
(The “massing” options shown tonight for 3824 California SW, whose architects have to try again)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
3824 California has never had it easy before the Southwest Design Review Board.
Seven years ago, when a standalone Petco store was proposed on the site, the project died after its first two Early Design Guidance proposals were shot down, and the Charlestown Café stayed open three more years before closing in 2011.
Now, the first post-café development proposal for 3824 California SW – a ~30-townhome/live-work-unit project – has been ordered to come back for a third round of Early Design Guidance, meaning it will appear before the board at least four times before, if, it gains approval to move ahead..
Here’s how EDG round two unfolded tonight (here’s the design packet that was used for most of the review):
See revised design proposals for 3824 California SW, 4505 42nd SW before tomorrow’s Southwest Design Review Board meetingApril 16, 2014 at 2:28 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 7 Comments
REVISED DESIGN FOR EX-CHARLESTOWN CAFE SITE: At 6:30 pm, it’s the second Early Design Guidance meeting for 3824 California SW; board members asked the team for the 30-unit (townhouses and live-work units) project to give it another try (here’s our report on the first meeting in January). The rendering above is the “preferred” option proposed by the architects, Caron, the third of these three “massing” options:
You can see the full “design packet” by going here – again, remember, this is the “Early Design Guidance” stage, which means they are just proposing size and shape, and that’s why you don’t see other potential design details.
REVISED DESIGN FOR 4505 42ND SW: At 8 pm tomorrow, this Junction project also is returning for a second round of Early Design Guidance (our report on the first meeting in January is here). The changes in this one involve size as well as shape:
On a site zoned for up to 8 stories, what started as a 7-story proposal is now down to 6, and 45 apartments (five fewer than previously proposed), with 17 parking spaces, and 4,300 square feet of retail. See the full “design packet” by going here.
P.S. Both of these projects are among the dozens on our finally-updated map of West Seattle development projects under construction/on the drawing boards/recently completed. See it here.
If you’re concerned about development, it might be “the city department you love to hate” – the city Department of Planning and Development. Land use, zoning, permitting, reviewing – all under the DPD’s umbrella. You’re invited to tomorrow night’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting to hear from and talk with three DPD reps AND a community expert on grass-roots land-use research/activism. DNDC chair Mat McBride asked us to share the agenda :
DELRIDGE NEIGHBORHOODS DISTRICT COUNCIL
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2014 – 7:00 pm
7:10 p.m. Seattle 2035 – Patrice Carroll and Nicolas Welch, Department of Planning and Development
7:40 p.m. Pedestrian zones – Aly Pennucci, Department of Planning and Development
8:00 p.m. North Delridge Community Development Action Plan – David Goldberg, Department of Planning and Development
8:20 p.m. (What citizens should know, from a grass-roots perspective) – Cindi Barker
The DNDC includes reps from community councils and other orgs around eastern West Seattle, but you’re welcome no matter where in the area you’re from. If you are researching development in your own neighborhood, Cindi Barker’s information might be particularly helpful. Tomorrow’s meeting is at 7 pm in room 106 at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW).
Back on Friday, we reported on the official debut of the city’s proposed rules for (including a definition of) microhousing, when the legislation showed up on the City Council’s Introduction and Referral Calendar. Today, another online city publication, the Land Use Information Bulletin, brings news of the public hearing required before a vote can be held: 5:30 pm Monday, May 19th, in the City Council chambers at City Hall downtown. Here’s the hearing notice, including a summary of the proposed rules (which you can read in full here) and details on how to comment if you can’t make it to the hearing. The rules would not affect any of the projects already making their way through the city system. (WSB photo: First West Seattle microhousing project to open, Footprint Delridge)
The proposed city rules about microhousing are officially on their way to the City Council. From the council’s Introduction and Referral Calendar for next week, see the council bill here. Among other things, it sets the threshold for Design Review, by “dwelling unit” (which usually equals one floor with a common kitchen and multiple “sleeping rooms”) – four in a Neighborhood Commercial zone, eight in a Low Rise zone. It includes the definition of a “micro”:
“Micro” means a room or rooms located within a micro-housing unit that includes a sleeping room and has all of the following characteristics:
a. contains 285 square feet or less of net floor area, including abutting ancillary areas such as a private bathroom, closets or a sleeping loft;
b. contains a bathroom with a toilet, bathing facility, and sink;
c. does not contain a food preparation area or kitchen; and
d. no toilet, bathing facility or sink is located outside of the bathroom.
It also spells out “a microhousing unit is not a single-family dwelling unit and is not a permitted use in single-family zones.” Regarding parking, while one space would be required for every four sleeping rooms in some areas, the proposal does not change the current standard of no parking required if “frequent transit” is no more than a quarter-mile away. The proposed rules have been in the works for months; they will go first to the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee.
SIDE NOTE: West Seattle has one microhousing project that recently opened, another almost complete, and at least three others in the works, as shown on the development-tracking map we finished and published earlier this week.
(At left, California-facing front of project, from plan set filed with city; at right, front of Northeast Seattle project that developer says it’s based on)
A hearing has just been scheduled before the city Hearing Examiner for the neighbors appealing the land-use permit granted for the 6917 California SW project – three stories, 30 apartments, no offstreet parking. The group calling itself Morgan Neighbors filed an appeal after the approval was announced last month, and they are set to take it to the Hearing Examiner at 9 am Tuesday, May 6th. The grounds for appeal are summarized on a document in the appeal file as “inadequacy of review of project by the Department of Planning and Development.” In these types of hearings, city policy says, it’s up to the appellant to prove why the city’s decision was wrong; the public is welcome to attend the hearing, to be held in the examiner’s chambers on the 40th floor of the city Municipal Tower downtown. The developer owns three lots including and adjacent to the site; two have already been cleared for work to start on smaller units.
In 1994, Seattle’s first Comprehensive Plan was passed with the idea of creating Urban Villages. This strategy designated certain neighborhoods as Urban Centers or Urban Villages and encouraged new housing, jobs, and transit towards these centers. Our goal was to make neighborhoods where people could easily walk, bike, or ride transit to get to work, go out to eat, or buy groceries. By concentrating growth in this way we also were able to more efficiently provide services and proactively plan for the future.
The Seattle 2035 update will look at current growth projections and present different scenarios to the public on how we can adapt the Urban Villages strategy to leverage growth to the benefit of the city. We will be looking at things like where Seattleites live, where we work, how we get around the city, do we have enough public services, are there equal opportunities for every community, and how to protect our environment.
Be part of it. Stop by Youngstown before 8 pm. Here’s how else to have a say.
6:38 PM: At the meeting right now – it’s VERY casual.
Easels around the Youngstown theater, a table with some literature, a few city people to answer your questions, big pads to write your thoughts on. Transportation mobility/accessibility is a big topic. And of course this isn’t JUST for West Seattleites – as we’re reminded, noting that one piece of paper includes a comment about Ballard (“Density in Ballard is great, but worried about the ‘canyon’ on Market St.”).
P.S. Youngstown’s director David Bestock was at the meeting and suggested we check out the youth-music showcase next door.
It was the Totem Star program’s Spring Mixer + Open Mic. Sounded great! As for the meeting – still a trickle of turnout by the time we left; here are the three alternatives the city is mulling as it prepares an environmental-impact statement as the first outcome of this process. Consider letting them know what you think.
West Seattle development, mapped: 3,272 units planned, under construction, almost done, recently opened…April 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 43 Comments
View West Seattle Blog maps development projects of at least 15 units in a larger map
For those asking about “the big picture,” we’ve been promising for a LONG time to update the WSB map of planned (and recently completed) West Seattle development, and after a few weeks of on-and-off work have just finished it today, which happens to be the same day as the Seattle 2035 first West Seattle open house, an opportunity to start having a say in the city’s future planning – whatever you think about what’s happening (or not happening) right now, whatever you think about what should happen (or not) in the future.
What you see above are markers for every planned/under construction/almost done/recently opened (within the past year) development of 15 units or more that we know of – via the city Department of Planning and Development‘s maps and project pages, via our coverage of projects as they go through Design Review, via what’s under construction now, and so on. We count 3,272 units (of multiple types). If you find something wrong or missing, please let us know! We have a side story or two in the works. We recommend viewing the map full-page on the Google Maps site, which you can do by clicking the little blue link beneath it (or go here). The markers overlap in the Junction/Triangle/Avalon areas, so you have to zoom in if you want to see them all in the version above. As with any G-map, you can also grab it and pan around.
Meantime, if you missed it in our West Seattle Wednesday daily-highlights list, get the info here about tonight’s Seattle 2035 open house – 6-8 pm at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW.
Another side note: Two of our fellow online-neighborhood-news publications have published similar maps for their neighborhoods. Just in case you’re interested, we’re linking them here:
Tomorrow morning at 9:30 am, the City Council’s Transportation Committee revisits the “alley vacation” request for 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, the mixed-use project now named The Whittaker. Four weeks have passed since March 11, when the committee held the required-by-law public hearing but decided to postpone a vote until some questions could be answered (WSB as-it-happened coverage here). While tomorrow’s meeting is not an official public hearing, it will begin with a public-comment session. Meantime, six West Seattleites sent City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the committee, one more plea not to advance the alley vacation, and detailed concerns about the project and process. It is in essence their response to his response to those who sent him comments and concerns, as reported here on March 14th.
RE: ALLEY VACATION PETITION FOR THE 4755 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL
Dear Councilmember Rasmussen:
Thank you for the explanation of your analysis of the proposed development at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW in West Seattle. We appreciate the time you took to listen and respond to community inquiries about this proposal. We continue to be concerned about several aspects of this proposal presented during public testimony by the developer and others that appear to be in error. This letter is sent to ensure that the record is accurate and that our concerns are appropriately considered.
Triangle Plan – First, we want to make it clear, we are not opposed to redevelopment of this site within the applicable zoning code requirements. We also feel strongly about adherence to the Triangle Plan because this is a legacy decision that our community will live with for 50 to 75 years (at a minimum). The community, including residents, businesses owners, and other interested parties, dedicated significant time and effort to making the Triangle Plan the best guidance possible for the life of the planning area. Attached is an analysis of concerns we have with the proposed development’s compliance with the Triangle Plan in Exhibit A – Triangle Plan.
Public Benefit – We understand the alley vacation is not a “giving” of the public right-of-way to the property owner, but a market rate sale. We hold that public property is a limited resource that should not be sold or otherwise transferred out of public ownership without substantial public benefit being achieved. To that end, we sought, without success, a Community Benefit Agreement with the developer that would establish terms of the benefits accruing to the community from such transfer. We remain concerned that some of the benefits identified by the developer to justify the alley vacation are standard requirements under the Seattle Municipal Code and should not, therefore, be counted toward the benefit required for vacating public right-of-way. Please see the full discussion in Exhibit B – Public Benefit.
Community Outreach – Members of the community have been actively involved in the review of this project since first presented in 2012. We appreciate that the developer made presentations at meetings with the community. We are concerned that on Page 5 of the developers March 11, 2014 presentation to the Transportation Committee, many of the Community Outreach Meetings listed with a particular group actually involved only one or two members associated with that group. Further, the meetings were held in conjunction with members of other groups. The developer has by accident or design overstated their outreach to the West Seattle community. This is important because it may appear that a particular group or board has supported the project, when in reality that group or board never saw a presentation. Please see full discussion in Exhibit C – Community Outreach.
Traffic Impacts - We also are concerned about the lack of a more robust traffic analysis for the retail component. In May of 2013, we submitted to the Seattle Design Commission (SDC) the attached pictures and vehicle counts of actual delivery truck traffic patterns and conflicts associated with the Whole Foods located in Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood. We also provided the SDC with a copy of the USDOT/WSDOT-sponsored study of truck traffic at Puget Sound grocery stores, which showed that even at conventional grocery stores, freight deliveries are much more frequent than project proponents assume. We ask that you look carefully at these highly relevant comparisons because they do not comport with the traffic analysis relied on by the Seattle Department of Transportation in making its recommendations to the City Council on this development. There is also additional analysis available from work done by Ross Tilghman, P.E, who is now a member of the Seattle Design Commission. Please see Exhibit D – Traffic Impacts.
Review Process – Much has been made of the project reviews before the Southwest Design Review Board (SWDRB) and the Seattle Design Commission. We attended all of the public meetings and we believe that these reviews were much more tentative than characterized in public testimony. The SWDRB was not unanimous in its final approval. The SDC conditionally approved the vacation, and had scheduled an administrative review of a key design condition prior to the alley vacation hearing. But that review was cancelled purportedly because the developers were not ready to provide updated plans. This is consistent with what happened to the public as this proposal moved forward, i.e., the chance for public review continually shifted, and our comment opportunities diminished. Please see Exhibit E – Review Process.
Finally, we believe the inaccuracies and insufficiencies in the public record are enough to ask the City Council to pause in its deliberations. Pretty drawings and clever naming does not change a poor development into a good one. If this developer has the staying power to do a development that provides the legacy and cornerstone project the West Seattle community is looking for, there is no need to rush this forward. We believe there are sufficient reasons to hit the pause button and make sure the record is clear and correct before you proceed.
Thank you for your consideration.
West Seattle Residents:
Diane Rose Vincent
C: Seattle City Council
Mayor Ed Murray
Exhibits: Exhibit A – Triangle Plan
Exhibit B – Public Benefit
Exhibit C – Community Outreach
Exhibit D – Traffic Impacts
Exhibit E – Review Process
Big-picture planning, project-by-project review, historic survey: Southwest District Council talks land useApril 6, 2014 at 8:30 pm | In Development, Southwest District Council, West Seattle news | 6 Comments
Much of the major development happening now is the result of zoning decisions made more than a decade ago. Changes, Mayor Murray suggested in his recent WSB interview and again at the Westside Awards breakfast last Thursday, are most likely to be made as a result of the Seattle 2035 comprehensive-plan-review process that’s just begun. While the first official West Seattle open house/meeting is Wednesday night, the Southwest District Council got a preview this past week. The SWDC also took further steps toward forming a West Seattle-wide Land Use Committee to seek early, public looks at major development proposals, as happens in other Seattle neighborhoods. Details ahead:
“This has the potential to be a really, really good project,” Southwest Design Review Board chair Laird Bennion told the architects of 1307 Harbor SW, as the board approved its Early Design Guidance proposal on first look during the second part of last night’s SWDRB doubleheader at the Senior Center of West Seattle.
Keep in mind, Early Design Guidance is just for the project’s “massing” – size and shape – and that’s what’s reflected above. Meeting details ahead:
(South residential, street level)
The 134-unit, 152-parking-space, ~450-foot-long building at 3210 California SW was presented to the Southwest Design Review Board tonight for the fifth time – and this time, the board voted to recommend approval. Here’s how it unfolded:
PROJECT TEAM PRESENTATION: Boyd Pickrell from Nicholson Kovalchick Architects said he wanted to “laser in” on the points that were brought up at the fourth meeting, and the architects’ response. He showed off, first, the massing changes – height/bulk/scale. “The big move here is that we have eliminated the top floor of the north building,” he said. That “creates stairstepping of roof lines along California,” he added.
It’s been a busy morning so no “West Seattle Thursday” preview today (see the full calendar here), but here’s a reminder about tonight’s Southwest Design Review Board meeting at the Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon), involving two sizable projects:
(Rendering courtesy Nicholson-Kovalchick Architects)
6:30 PM – 3210 CALIFORNIA SW (map)
This is the fifth meeting for the block-long 134-unit, 152-parking-space, ~450-foot-long mixed-use project in the south Admiral area. Two weeks ago, we published an update with news of changes made in the project since the last meeting, including a one-story (and 10-apartment) reduction on the north end of the building plan. The full design packet is here; our report on the last Design Review meeting is here.
8 PM – 1307 HARBOR SW (map)
This is the first Design Review meeting for this mixed-use project on 7 parcels including the former site of the Alki Tavern. Here’s the design packet, as linked in our report one week ago when it, and new project details, became available online, including these listed “development objectives”:
- 100,000 square foot mixed-use structure containing approximately:
- 21 residential apartments, totaling about 25,400 square feet
- 11,800 square feet of commercial office space
- 7,500 square feet of light manufacturing
- 6,700 square feet of ground floor retail
- 4,200 square feet of restaurant
- 41 parking spaces below grade, totaling approximately 14,400 square feet
Both meetings will include time for public comment, as always.
P.S. A new member joins the board tonight – as mentioned in our coverage of the most-recent meeting last month, term limits (two 2-year terms maximum) forced Myer Harrell to leave the board; Matt Zinski should be on hand for his first meeting tonight.
West Seattle development: 3211 California proposal takes shape – 5 stories, 63 units; first meeting May 1stApril 2, 2014 at 12:52 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 22 Comments
(King County Assessor’s Office photo)
Right across the street from Admiral’s biggest current project – 3210 California SW, which heads back to Design Review this Thursday – we have new details about another proposed development right across the street, 3211 California SW. It now has an Early Design Guidance date with the SWDRB – one month from today, May 1st. And we know more about the proposal: 63 apartments, 4 live-work units, 63 parking spaces, about 2,500 square feet of commercial space, and five stories, though, like 3210, it’s in an NC2-40 zone, part of the 2010 upzoning of that block. The aforementioned toplines are all from the following early draft of the Design Review packet downloadable from the city website – one caveat, this can (and probably will) change before a final version is linked to the hearing announcement:
This proposal is a couple doors down from the 3239 California SW site where two businesses are making way for demolition and a smaller housing project. The official public notice of application isn’t in yet,
P.S. One more reminder – two big-picture development items are on the agenda tonight for the Southwest District Council, and the public’s welcome (6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle); one is a city briefing on the Seattle 2035 project, looking at future zoning and growth focus, the other is discussion of the Land Use Committee that the council is forming.
All those arguments about development? Here’s THE meeting to go to; plus, Q/A with mayor re: growth controlMarch 31, 2014 at 11:36 am | In Development, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 27 Comments
(Equity and Wolff projects in The Junction, photographed recently by Long B. Nguyen)
The discussion – sometimes contentious, sometimes thoughtful – goes on. How much development is too much development – or is there no such thing as “too much development”? Do “growth targets” set in the past mean anything – considering, for example, the greater West Seattle Junction area is reported to be already past a future target, with major projects in progress and more on the way? When we talked one-on-one recently with Mayor Murray, he said one way to revisit that will be through the Seattle 2035 process that’s just launched. A West Seattle meeting is scheduled, one week from Wednesday. But before we get to those details – here’s the mayor’s 1-minute response to our question of whether growth should be allowed to expand seemingly infinitely even if so-called targets are passed:
Now, details of the meeting, one of five open houses citywide:
April 9th, 6-8 pm, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW). From the city announcement:
DPD is hoping to reach out to different neighborhoods and gather comments on the Planning Alternatives that are currently under discussion. Comments can be submitted through April 21, 2014.
DPD is scoping an environmental impact statement (EIS) that will evaluate the City’s Comprehensive Plan update. The EIS will examine the possible impacts under three different growth scenarios.
Consistent with regional growth projections, all three scenarios assume the city will grow by 70,000 households and 115,000 jobs over the next 20 years. All the scenarios follow the Comprehensive Plan’s urban growth strategy that aims to concentrate most of the growth in the city’s designated urban centers and urban villages. The alternatives differ in how the projected growth would be distributed:
Alternative 1 would evaluate most of the growth in the six urban centers, in keeping with the regional plan of concentrating development in centers.
Alternative 2 would still project a lot of growth in the centers, but would shift some growth to the urban villages in order to strengthen those neighborhood business districts.
Alternative 3 would evaluate more growth in the urban villages that contain existing or planned light rail stations.
The Comprehensive Plan the City ultimately adopts could combine aspects of each of these alternatives.
DPD is taking comments on these alternatives and the topics to be covered in the EIS until April 21.
Even more information about the alternatives is here, as well as how to comment on them now (in addition to commenting in person at the April 9th meeting).
Followup: First meeting of ‘true grass-roots’ Residents of The Junction, opposing 40-apartment, 5-parking-space 4439 41st SWMarch 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 71 Comments
(From site plan filed with the city)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
A year and a half ago, two 4-unit townhouse buildings were on the drawing board for 4439 41st SW in The Junction, an 8,600-square-foot lot that currently holds one century-old house.
Four 6-year-old townhouses are to the north; a single-family house to the south; Hope Lutheran Church and School across the alley, to the west:
(Parcel-layout map, from city notice)
We first reported here in early March that the number of housing units proposed for the site had quintupled, to a 40-unit, 5-parking-space apartment building, after discovering the proposal during a routine browse of city records.
Turns out the change had been in the works about a month by then. The first public comment on file is from neighbor Abdy Farid – long active in Junction-area land-use issues – in mid-February. Last night, he was among those at Holy Rosary School‘s Hall, about two blocks away, for an organizational meeting of those opposed to/concerned about the plan (here’s the invitation we published Thursday).
Stressing that it needed to be a “true grass-roots effort,” another neighbor, Jim Schwartz, led Friday night’s meeting, which drew about 15 people. “When I saw the design sign go up, I was personally shocked and set back – I’ve always known there was a potential for the site to have some density development, but” … not this dense – a 3900 percent increase in density for the lot, as pointed out by a letter on file from Hope Lutheran leaders, also represented last night.
By the time an hour and a half of discussion had passed, those in attendance agreed their next step would be to gather signatures for a city-convened public meeting on the project, which is not slated for Design Review and therefore not scheduled for any public meetings otherwise. Several neighbor groups have requested and received such meetings in the past year (see list at the end of this story).
Here’s how the meeting unfolded:
West Seattle development: See the design packet for 1307 Harbor SW, ex-Alki Tavern site, before next week’s Design ReviewMarch 28, 2014 at 9:42 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 12 Comments
(From cover of Miller-Hull Partnership design packet for 1307 Harbor SW, showing project outline)
Both design packets are out now for next Thursday’s Southwest Design Review Board doubleheader. The first meeting (6:30 pm Thursday, April 3rd) is for 3210 California, and we reported eight days ago on its revised design. Now, the packet is out for the second project of the night (8 pm Thursday), 1307 Harbor SW, the site including the former Alki Tavern. We showed an early rendering here back on March 3rd; the official packet can be seen here. One feature that stands out: A potential hillclimb between California Way and Harbor Avenue. The packet also lists the toplines:
• 100,000 square foot mixed-use structure containing approximately:
- 21 residential apartments, totaling about 25,400 square feet
- 11,800 square feet of commercial office space
- 7,500 square feet of light manufacturing
- 6,700 square feet of ground floor retail
- 4,200 square feet of restaurant
- 41 parking spaces below grade, totaling approximately 14,400 square feet
Because of the varying grade on the site, it would rise 70 feet from ground level at Harbor Avenue, the packet says. Review for yourself, and if you have something to say about the design – this is the early stage, where height/size/shape are the focus – say it during the public-comment period at the meeting, Thursday, April 3rd, 8 pm, at the Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon).
West Seattle development: New Junction group forms to fight 40-apartment plan at 4439 41st SW, meeting on Friday nightMarch 27, 2014 at 4:18 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 54 Comments
A new group has just formed to oppose the 40-apartment, 5-parking-space building proposed for that site at 4439 41st SW in The Junction. We’ve written about it twice in the past four weeks – first, here, when we discovered March 4th that the original townhouse proposal for the site had morphed into an apartment building, and then last week, when the comment period was extended. The group invites you to a meeting at 7 pm tomorrow (Friday, March 28th) at Holy Rosary:
Led by a group of neighbors, the newly formed group, Residents of the Junction will have a meeting to discuss apodments being built in our neighborhoods.
Neighbors in the Junction area of West Seattle are meeting Friday night, March 28, at 7:00 pm at Holy Rosary School’s meeting hall, located at 4142 42nd Avenue SW to rally support in blocking the development of 4439 41st Avenue SW, currently a single-family home, into an apodment complex with 40 – 300 square feet each- units and five parking spaces. (Project #3015444).
All in our community who are interested and/or affected by this, and other, development in our community are welcome to join us at the meeting.
The objectives of the community meeting are as follows:
· summarize the shared concerns to create a group letter/petition to the city (planning, council, Mayor, etc.).
· identify a critical path for the group to pursue, once the comment period is over.
· identify areas of expertise and resources within the group and assess what additional resources are needed.
· identify other neighborhood groups who have expertise in organizing opposition to over development of our neighborhoods.
· identify research for various group members to conduct and report at an agreed upon next meeting time.
If there is adequate response, it would be great to grow the size of the group through active recruiting and get the appropriate professional expertise to make the apod style development in our community infeasible.
One note – while the neighbors’ announcement refers to this as “apodments,” that’s a trademarked term for one brand of microhousing, and while this project is proposed as small apartments, so far as we can tell from the online plan set, they are not technically microhousing – they have individual kitchens.
“I think we need to take a look at that.”
We heard that response a few times during our recent one-on-one interview with Mayor Ed Murray, including when we asked about a development-related issue that has roiled some neighborhoods around the city, including here in West Seattle: No offstreet parking required for housing built within a few blocks of “frequent transit.” That’s led to plans including the just-approved 6917 California SW 30-apartments, no-parking-spaces building whose land-use sign drew a frustrated scrawl last fall:
The no-parking (or handful-of-spaces) trend has been especially noticeable in the medium-sized projects lately, such as 40 units and 5 spaces at 4439 41st SW. But even as the city says “OK, there’s frequent transit, you can do it,” the transit agency – Metro – is warning of cuts. So, we asked the mayor, what does he think about the city allowing parking-free projects without being able to guarantee transit availability?
Previous installments in our Q/A with the mayor:
Brand-new in the city’s building-permit application file: A microhousing building proposed for 3268 SW Avalon Way, next to the one that is being finished at 3266 Avalon, with the 35th/Avalon 7-11 on its other side. There’s a four-plex on the site now (top photo); documents available online say it will be replaced with what is described as a “new 7-unit apartment building with 56 sleeping suites.” The “7-unit” description would refer to shared kitchens – 8 sleeping rooms for every kitchen. A site plan on file adds one more line of description – a five-story building atop a “pedestal story.” At least one of the people listed on the documents visible so far, Randall Spaan, has been involved with other microhousing developments – including the one next door.
Continuing coverage of on our one-on-one Q-and-A with Mayor Ed Murray, one topic at a time: Two weeks from today, the requested “alley vacation” for the 4755 Fauntleroy Way project – aka The Whittaker, and/or the Whole Foods project – goes back to the City Council Transportation Committee, which held a public hearing two weeks ago (WSB coverage here). Last summer, the mayor’s predecessor had told SDOT to recommend rejection of the request. After Mayor Murray took office, we asked for his comment on the situation, and his spokesperson had told us he wasn’t commenting. So we asked during our one-on-one interview Friday; here’s his reply:
The proposal to grant the project’s developers the opportunity to buy the alley land for not-yet-specified “fair market value” ultimately goes to the full City Council for a final vote, possibly as soon as April 14th, depending on what happens at the committee meeting April 8th.
Our next question for/answer from the mayor is also a development issue – his thoughts on the relatively new city rules allowing housing without off-street parking if it’s a certain distance from what’s considered frequent transit, though the city can’t guarantee the ongoing availability of said transit.
That image from Gatewood photographer/pilot Long B. Nguyen captures in-the-works and relatively-new apartment projects in The Triangle area – in the foreground, the former “Hole,” now Spruce, which you might have noticed has risen above street level; in the background, newer projects including Link, which opened in 2011, and at the top-center of the photo, Nova (WSB sponsor), which started leasing in 2012. Those represent just a fraction of the 3,000+ apartments (by our ongoing calculations) that are under construction/on the drawing boards/newly finished, and some wonder why so much – here’s one answer: The vacancy rate remains low. According to this new report from Dupre & Scott – who specialize in “apartment market research and advice” – forwarded to us by a WSB reader, the “gross vacancy rate” in West Seattle right now is 4.5 percent. That’s lower than the Puget Sound-wide rate Dupre & Scott found, 5 percent.
West Seattle development: Backhoe appears at 24th SW subdivision-proposal site; elsewhere, 6 teardown plansMarch 22, 2014 at 9:24 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 9 Comments
Neighbors say that backhoe was dropped off at the site this morning; we went over to take that photo shortly after hearing about it. There are no current permits for work on the site, as you can see on the city webpage for the address. The site includes land the city considers an Environmentally Critical Area, so if anything is started, neighbors vow to call police. The site’s owner is asking the city for approval to split two lots into eight, and has drawn up plans to follow that up with single-family houses. As city planners told those in attendance Thursday night, they are still waiting for the owner’s replies to “correction” notices they have issued (all readable here). We first reported on the subdivision proposal back in December and about neighbors’ concerns in January.
Tonight’s other West Seattle development notes start with another backhoe sighting, this one WITH a permit:
Demolition is expected any day at 4808 SW Alaska, the 88-year-old house that was once Fraker’s Grocery and is now making way for a single-family house. We last wrote about it in December, and commenters shared memories; we had also featured the site in a then-and-now report six years ago.
OTHER TEARDOWNS: Looking at the city Department of Planning and Development‘s online files, a few other demolition permits have been filed for in the past week or so – one big, others smaller. Teardown/redevelopment activity is definitely on the rise for sites of all sizes:
4745 40TH SW: The ’80s-era office building here will be torn down to make way for the 135-apartment, 115-parking-space development that finished going through Design Review in December. Here’s the demolition-permit application.
4522 DELRIDGE WAY SW: Four houses are planned at this teardown site.
RESEARCH TIP: If it’s not already in your bookmarks, this is the link to use to find out what if anything is proposed for any given address in Seattle.
West Seattle development: 6900 block California demolition; 4439 41st SW comment extension; church-project websiteMarch 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 4 Comments
Three development updates:
6900 BLOCK OF CALIFORNIA DEMOLITION: Three days ago, city published its land-use-permit-approval decision for the 30-apartments, no-parking project at 6917 California SW in south Morgan Junction. But the two houses torn down today (so far) are
not for that site, but rather mostly (due to a lot-boundary adjustment) for the 4 townhouses and two single-family homes shown in city files as planned immediately north.
On to The Junction:
4439 41ST SW COMMENT EXTENSION: The Hope Lutheran Church/School community has been voicing concern about the 40-apartments, 5-parking-spaces proposal on the site above, which is across the alley from their campus, and the latest community update notes that the city has granted a two-week extension in the official comment period. (That’s always an option if requested before the original comment period on any proposal expires.) If you have something to say about the project, Bruce Rips is the assigned city planner, firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE TOWNHOME-PROJECT UPDATE: The six townhouses proposed on the unofficial “park” site south of, and owned by, West Seattle Church of the Nazarene, now have an informational website, as announced by architect David Neiman, who says, “The website contains links to the plans and drawings that we showed at our neighborhood presentations, a project schedule, and a document outlining how the church intends to spend the proceeds from the development. We’ll be posting a draft of the proposed comp plan amendment by the end of the month, and we’ll post additional info as it develops.” The “comp(rehensive) plan amendment” refers to the zoning change required for the project to get approval; the “neighborhood presentations” include this one we video-recorded.
(WSB photo by Patrick Sand)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“We’ve organized this meeting because you requested it. … We’re here to listen and write down your comments.”
That’s how senior land-use planner Bruce Rips from the city Department of Planning and Development opened last night’s meeting at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center about the two-lots-into-eight subdivision proposal for the 42,000-square-foot greenbelt site at 6536 24th SW (map), describing himself as the “project facilitator.” Also on hand, DPD manager Jerry Suder, who has been in attendance at most of these types of meetings.
The two revealed that they’ve already asked the site owner/developer to respond to concerns that have come up during the city review, and are still awaiting answers. The big concerns about this site, as first reported here in January, involve what happens to the wildlife and wetland on the site, and how runoff will affect Longfellow Creek, steps away and already a flooding problem many years because of the area’s drainage woes, as shown in this photo by neighbor Cyndie Rokicki (the proposed-subdivision site is in the background, with the real-estate shingle):
(Renderings courtesy Nicholson-Kovalchick Architects)
Here’s your first look at the newest changes proposed for one of the most-scrutinized development proposals on the table right now in West Seattle. 3210 California SW is the 134-unit, 152-parking-space, ~450-foot-long mixed-use project proposed for most of the east side of a block-plus area upzoned in 2010. Intracorp‘s project has been before the Southwest Design Review Board four times, and board members are scheduled to consider it again on April 3rd, as reported here four weeks ago. Today, the project team has shared three new renderings and a summary of changes – including reduced height for part of the building, a key request by nearby neighbors, who have continued to challenge the city rules that wound up allowing a 5-story building in an area upzoned to a theoretical 4-story (40-foot) height limit:
Summary of Proposed Changes:
§ Reduced the north building by one floor. It’s now under the allowed height and zoning. This is also a reduction of 10 apartment units.
§ Reduced the quantity and the height of the stair and elevator penthouses.
§ Set back the top floor of the middle and south buildings by 4 feet from the three residential stories below.
§ Widened the gap between the three buildings to a minimum of 25 feet to allow for more natural light and reduce the massing. (formerly the minimum gap was at 19 feet)
§ Removed all the balconies facing the single family homes. Replaced them with Juliet balconies to allow the doors to open for natural ventilation. (Juliet balconies do not allow a person to step onto the balcony.)
§ Made the bridge more transparent to allow for natural light.
§ Varied the color of the window frames to further differentiate the three buildings, creating a tapestry rather than a uniformed look.
(North retail, street level)
§ Carried the brick material (in a different color) from the northern building to the middle building. This gives the middle building a finer, masonry look and resembles more of the California District character.
§ Added finer scale, smooth masonry face on the retail side of the south building and varied the storefront and other street level materials in order to compliment the character of California Avenue and the Admiral District.
(South residential, street level)
The project team will be submitting the full “design packet” for the April 3rd meeting (6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle, California/Oregon) before the week’s out.
2:16 PM UPDATE: The full packet is now linked from the city website – see it here.
West Seattle development: 30-apartment, no-off-street parking 6917 California SW gets land-use approvalMarch 17, 2014 at 7:49 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 63 Comments
This morning the decision is in from the city Department of Planning and Development – land-use approval for the 30-apartments, no-parking-spaces project at 6917 California SW (map), with DPD determining its “environmentally non-significance,” meaning the city will NOT require a full environmental-impact report. Read the decision here.
After we broke the news of the plan here last October, it drew citywide attention as another flashpoint of concern over increasing density adjacent to single-family neighborhoods – including commentary on its official sign:
Though the project was not planned for Design Review, three meetings were held in December – one with contextual information about the land-use process, one with developer Mark Knoll, a third with city planners, organized after they gathered enough signatures to ask DPD to call the meeting for comments. The decision document includes the results of planners’ review, including these paragraphs about the parking concern:
The proposed 30-unit apartment building proposes zero on-site vehicular parking spaces, and eight bicycle spaces in the basement of the structure. The subject site is within a multi-family zone, the Morgan Junction Residential Urban Village, and is within 1,320-feet of a street with “frequent transit service” (SMC 23.84A.038 “T”); therefore, there is no minimum requirement for on-site parking (SMC 23.54.015).
The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Parking Manual indicates that the residential use could generate peak demand for approximately 41 vehicle parking spaces (1.37 spaces per residential unit peak demand). However, these estimates are generated based on data collected from suburban sites, with typical market-sized residential units. The proposed development consists entirely of studio sized residential units that are approximately 220 square feet in size, located in a dense neighborhood with frequent transit and opportunity for walking and biking to nearby services. It is reasonable to expect that the actual peak parking demand from this project would be less than 41 spaces. As is typical with residential projects, the peak parking demand is expected to occur during late evening and overnight hours.
To better understand the impacts of this development, the applicant submitted a Parking Demand and Parking Utilization Study (William Popp Associates, January 22, 2014). This study estimates the parking demand for this use, and evaluates the existing availability of on-street parking in the area. What the study finds is that this apartment building will likely generate a parking demand of approximately 15 vehicles (0.5 per unit), and that these vehicles can be accommodated on the street as the study area has a late evening parking utilization rate of 55% (282 legal on-street spaces with 156 vehicles parked). The expected 15 project-related vehicles would increase the on-street utilization rate to 61%.
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