West Seattle development notes to share this afternoon:
(Rendering by PB Architects)
‘PACKET’ FOR NEXT DESIGN REVIEW MEETING: Hasn’t been much for the Southwest Design Review Board to consider these past few months, but they do have a one-project meeting coming up next week, and the “packet” is available – see it here. The project is a medical/commercial building, the Clearview Eye Clinic at 7520 35th SW, and the meeting at 6:30 pm Thursday, September 4th, at the Senior Center of West Seattle, is its second “early design guidance” meeting. (Here’s our coverage of the first one back in July.)
RECENT DEMOLITION-PERMIT APPLICATIONS: Here’s what’s appeared on the city website in the past two weeks. (We haven’t gone by these sites yet, so some might already have been torn down – sometimes the permit filings appear same-day or close to it.)
6:46 PM: The inaugural meeting of the West Seattle Land Use Committee is off to a late start – the go-to place for public meetings in WS these days, the Senior Center in The Junction, was locked. An alternative meeting place was just about to be secured when someone got the door open, and now the meeting’s beginning. About two dozen people are here. We’ll be reporting live as it goes along. Southwest District Council co-chair Vlad Oustimovitch is giving opening remarks – “the whole idea (of this) is not to react to a single project … it’s really to talk about how we can improve land-use decisions made by the city, in working with the committee .. it’s actually a very difficult subject …this is an open discussion on how to (make) this happen over a long period of time.” After Oustimovitch’s remarks, everyone around the table is introducing her/himself.
7 PM: Introductions over – the official total, barring late arrivals, is 25 people – “We have 26 people here, representing ‘the peninsula,’ not just ‘my neighborhood because something’s happening there,’” said Sharonn Meeks, SW District Council co-chair. Most are already active in other community groups all over the peninsula, from Delridge to Alki, High Point, to Admiral. As Mat McBride, chair of the Delridge District Council, said, “It’s tremendously exciting to see people from both districts here.” (The city considers West Seattle to be two “districts,” Southwest and Delridge.) That done, now the question is – what will they talk about? One attendee says he hopes issues will be discussed with facts, not feelings. Another: “Let’s be honest, many of us here because we’re not happy” with the way things are going regarding development.
Another attendee brings up Terminal 5 and its uncertain future (as reported here last month, it’s currently closed, while the Port begins a “modernization plan” whose funding has yet to be secured. Oustimovitch suggests that’s a good idea – start talking about hot spots around the peninsula, T-5 being one. Others? Junction, Triangle are mentioned. The plan to survey historical resources along California Avenue soon is also mentioned briefly. What about open space? “How are people going to play and be healthy outdoors?” asks one attendee.
Oustimovitch says he’s worried West Seattle will soon feel like an “anonymous” place. Another attendee says it might not be too late to save some buildings that have character. “But it’s also the streetscape, and the light, it’s not just about having a little museum piece of a building (preserved),” interjects someone.
Westwood is suggested as another hot spot meriting attention – as “an unplanned outdoor bus terminal.” Another nomination: Avalon Way, with its ongoing densification, before it becomes “a chokepoint.” What about the Admiral Theater and its uncertain future? asks someone else, leading to some discussion about its plight, and it too goes onto the list. That segues to a mention of the relatively few remaining Alki cottages, and whether there might be a reason for a photographic study of them, before they’re all gone. That in turn segues to a mention of the current trends in new-home architecture – modern – replacing old Craftsman-style homes.
7:21 PM: This continues to be a free-flowing discussion around the table, bouncing from topic to topic. Participation in meetings off-peninsula with big effects on-peninsula (City Council meetings, Landmarks Board meetings, etc.) is low, it’s mentioned. A suggestion in response: Maybe this committee can help encourage and nurture that kind of participation. Then back to a hot spot/topic: The Fauntleroy Boulevard project is brought up. Then, the city’s Pedestrian Zone Mapping project. And yet another hot topic that comes up at community meetings now and then: Some “urban village” areas already past growth targets set for years in the future. “Why can’t a ‘time out’ be called for them?” wonders the person who brings that up, who goes on into the issue of buildings being allowed without much, if any, parking.
7:33 PM: A mention of business climate in eastern West Seattle bounces over to one attendee’s mention of a study about the “food desert” concept and whether it’s valid or not. Shortly afterward, Oustimovitch reiterates the list of locations mentioned so far as possible deserving attention, pausing on Delridge and the east-west connection deficiency that has long been an issue. Overall he says he heard three things of importance, transcending the list of specific locations in the spotlight:
1. “Density, relating to infrastructure” – or the lack of it
2. Historic preservation
3. Land-use code – people research property next to them, think they know what might happen in the future, “and then something completely different is on the table, and part of the problem is that the code is so convoluted … for the layman, and even for me as an architect,” as Oustimovitch put it.
The difficulty of understanding the city rules and codes, and tracking changes, is noted by another attendee. (And, as also pointed out, there are many changes in the works.) Speaking of change – one person opines that the change from at-large to by-district City Council election (starting next year) might “change the dominant paradigm.” Then back to the potential changes – the impending rulemaking for microhousing was mentioned, with the City Council potentially voting soon, so if you have something to say, pro or con, this is the time to have a say. What’s the problem with microhousing? asks one attendee. One reply: The problem is when it’s next to single-family neighborhoods, as opposed to areas already planned for and moving toward density.
7:51 PM: And that springboards to a question about affordable housing, and what constitutes “affordable.” Plus – what about more commercial development, creating jobs here, so that West Seattle can become less of a bedroom community? That would make more sense, says one person, than just putting residential development here and sending everyone somewhere else to work. What if a five- to seven-story commercial/office building went up in The Triangle? That concept draws support, including a suggestion that the city be recruited to help make that happen. What about a shared workspace where big employers based elsewhere, which have employees living here, each bought a floor, or so?
8 PM: And now the meeting’s wrapping – mindful of, as Oustimovitch said, the fact this is a subject that won’t lose its vitality any time soon – “it’ll go on for months and years.” Some optimism is found in the fact that more than two dozen people turned up despite the fact it’s late August, possibly the worst time to try to get people together for a meeting. So far, it looks like the fourth Wednesday will be the meeting times, going forward. And now organizational logistics are being discussed – whether city resources will be available for future meetings; district coordinator Yun Pitre from the Department of Neighborhoods is here, but that was made possible by the fact that she and her colleagues had fewer regular meetings to staff this month, with district councils taking August off.
Next meeting – Wednesday, September 24th, 6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon).
(WSB photo by Katie Meyer)
A week and a half after one tower crane was taken down in The Junction, another one is going up just a few blocks away. Thanks to Maris for the tip that the crane’s going up right now for 4745 40th SW, the mixed-use project at 40th and Edmunds, across from the Masonic Center parking lot. We showed its base back on Sunday when an advertising-photo shoot was happening on the site.
P.S. One more nudge – if you’re interested in development/land use-zoning issues in West Seattle, don’t miss tonight’s launch meeting of the WS Land Use Committee. This is *not* a government-convened or -linked committee, nor is it related to any one area of the peninsula, or any particular project. 6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle.
ADDED: Full installation, Instagrammed at nightfall:
(If you can’t see the embedded document above, go here for the PDF version)
That announcement arrived this morning from Seattle Parks, asking for public comment on a proposed “land swap” near Puget Park – before and during a public meeting about it, set for September 9th, one week before the proposal will start making its way through the City Council approval process. Since these types of notices are rare, before publishing it, we contacted the Parks point person listed on the notice, MaryLou Whiteford, for more context/background, and also checked our archives. Here’s what we have found out so far:
4707 14th SW (map), the house mentioned in the notice as “served by” the driveway crossing Parks property, is proposed for demolition and replacement, as mentioned in this WSB report last month. In the same area, there’s been a permit on file for four years related to a proposal for more than 30 new single-family homes; we reported early last year that the site was for sale, and county records show a sale completed in the fall. City records show the 14th SW homebuilding project in the throes of the permit process, and some of the 15th SW sites are scheduled to be used for staging related to that project (as shown on this plan filed with the city), though otherwise, the status of the multi-home construction proposal isn’t clear.
Whiteford says the parcels proposed for involvement in the swap are all owned by the same owner as the 14th SW house site. While property records show different entity names, most of the parcels in the area are owned by “West Seattle Acquisition,” a “foreign limited liability company” registered in New York, while the listed owner for the 4707 14th SW Site, “206 West Seattle Realty Holdings,” is also registered to that same NY address with the same description
Whiteford says the parcels in this area have been held by the city since the county transferred them more than 50 years ago. On the map, it appears to be an even swap in terms of land area, 13 parcels for 13 parcels, and Whiteford says it would “preserve more of the greenbelt.” We’ve asked for the proposed City Council legislation that would finalize the swap if approved in that part of the process starting next month. Meantime, the public meeting announced in the notice above is scheduled for 6:30 pm Tuesday, September 9th, at Delridge Community Center (4501 Delridge Way SW).
ADDED 11:29 AM: In addition to the proposed Council bill, we have four accompanying documents now, received from Parks, related to it. No additional information, mostly confirmation that the city says this swap would have no fiscal impact.
*Mayor’s letter introducing the bill, including this:
The existing driveway was constructed prior to the City-owned land being placed under the jurisdiction of Seattle Parks and Recreation. The private property accessed by the driveway is now being redeveloped, and the owners seek to obtain ownership and control over the land the driveway crosses. Allowing the existing driveway to continue to serve the private property avoids the need to improve unopened rights-of-way in this Environmentally Critical Area, thereby preserving more of the desirable characteristics of the greenbelt including tree canopy, bird habitat, and wildlife corridor.
After months of discussion, the West Seattle Land Use Committee is about to become reality. The seed was planted as local community-group leaders discussed the fact that there is no West Seattle-wide group looking at development and zoning/land-use issues – they only come up in response to/conjunction with particular projects. Other neighborhoods have land-use committees that get involved early on, so why not West Seattle, with so much growth and change? So here’s the agenda for the first meeting, set for next Wednesday (one week from tonight):
WEST SEATTLE LAND USE COMMITTEE
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27 – 6:30 – 8:00
West Seattle Senior Center – Nelson Room – 4217 Southwest Oregon
6:30 – Welcome and Introductions of Land Use Committee Members
*Introductions of attendees from the public
6:45 – Recap of the joint meeting of the Southwest District Council and the Delridge District Council – Sharonn, Vlad and Matt
7:00 – Additional issues to be added to the summary document – All
7:30 – Additional possible solutions to be added to the summary document – All
7:50 – Additional topics to be discussed at our next Land Use Committee meeting
8:00 – Adjourn
All are welcome. Helpful homework if you’re planning to be there – the official notes from last June’s joint meeting of the Southwest and Delridge District Councils with City Councilmember Mike O’Brien to talk land use:
We covered the meeting; our as-it-happened coverage is here.
Yes, even the Christmas lights have to come off the tower cranes once they’re taken down. After eleven months on the job, the tower crane for 4730 California is being dismantled today. We arrived in The Junction just in time to see its jib brought down – from California/Edmunds, you could see it had been harnessed:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) August 16, 2014
Then it was lowered to the street:
Looking south down California, that made for an interesting pattern:
And the entire operation, as was the case when it went up last September, held a fascination for onlookers, especially some of the smaller ones:
4730 California is expected to open by year’s end, with three retail spaces, 88 apartments and 71 offstreet-parking spaces, according to its commercial-leasing flyer. We haven’t heard of any tenant signings yet.
SIDE NOTE: This will leave The Junction with “only” two cranes for now, at the Equity Residential two-building California/Alaska/42nd project and Spruce (formerly “The Hole”) at 39th/Alaska/Fauntleroy, but two more will arrive before long, with demolition over and site prep under way at 40th/Edmunds and 35th/Avalon.
No meetings scheduled this month for the Southwest Design Review Board – if there’s no project ready to review, they don’t meet – but one is now on the city docket for next month: 6:30 pm Thursday, September 4th, has just been penciled in as the second “Early Design Guidance” session for the proposed eye-care clinic at 7520 35th SW. The first one last month (WSB coverage here) raised so many questions about configuration of the site and the clinic building – which will be entirely medical/commercial, no residential component – that the project team was sent back to the drawing board.
(County archives photo of the building now known as Charlestown Court)
We’re at the Municipal Tower downtown, where the city Landmarks Preservation Board voted this afternoon to reject landmark status for Charlestown Court. The building is proposed for demolition to make way for an 8-unit townhouse project.
This was the second time the Tudor-style 1920s-era brick fourplex at 3811 California SW had been nominated; the last time, in a process that played out 2007-2008, the board said “no,” but development proposals then stalled until the current one, and the city said too much time had elapsed for them simply to refer to that previous vote, so the process needed to start again.
Before today’s presentation about the building, Paul Cesmat said he has owned it since 2007 and declared it has structural issues – “the brick’s not structurally sound, the chimney has issues, this has been pointed out to us … and we have insurability issues … I feel that this building does not meet historical criteria … and it’s not structurally worth saving.” It is wood-framed without concrete backing the brick, he explained in response to a question later.
The presentation focused on changes made to the building, including its windows, contending the changes made over the years affected the fourplex’s “physical integrity.” The photo you see at the top of the story was shown, with the comment “It’s a shame that’s not there any more.” (The nomination document from the June meeting, including photos and history, can be seen as a PDF here.)
In pre-vote discussion, board members said basically that while you could consider it “handsome” or “charming,” it just didn’t “rise” to landmark status.
TECH IN NATURE: Burke Museum reps are at the High Point Branch Library 11:30 am-12:30 pm to explore with kids ages 4-8 how nature inspirestechnology – details in our calendar listing. Free. (35th/Raymond)
CHARLESTOWN COURT LANDMARK VOTE: The city Landmarks Preservation Board is scheduled to vote this afternoon on whether to confer landmark status on the Charlestown Court fourplex (file photo at right) at 3811 California SW, rejected for that status six years ago but being reviewed again with a new teardown-to-townhouses proposal on the drawing board. Here’s the agenda for the board’s 3:30 pm meeting on the 40th floor of the city Municipal Tower downtown; there’ll be a time for public comment if anyone wants to speak for/against. (700 5th Avenue)
HIGH POINT MARKET GARDEN: Fifth of 12 Wednesdays this summer/fall when you can visit the High Point Market Garden Farm Stand 4-7 pm to buy organic produce grown there by local gardeners. (32nd/Juneau)
ULTIMATE FAMILY FRISBEE: It’s now twice a week, including 6 pm Wednesdays at Fairmount Playfield. (Fauntleroy/Brandon)
MUSIC AND OTHER NIGHTLIFE … see the individual venues’ listings on our calendar!
West Seattle development notes: Junction crane coming down; Morgan building going up; Charlestown Court vote tomorrowAugust 5, 2014 at 1:03 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 14 Comments
From the West Seattle development files:
(September 2013 WSB photo by Patrick Sand)
4730 CALIFORNIA CRANE COMING DOWN: Developers of 4730 California, the midblock project between Alaska and Edmunds, have announced the date their crane will come down – August 16th, one week from Saturday. That’ll be 11 months after it went up, drawing a crowd. Here’s the official notice:
Compass will be removing our tower crane on August 16th. Setup will start at 6:00 AM. The work will start at 7:00 AM and continue for about 8 hours. During this time the sidewalk in front of the jobsite will be closed and the parking restricted on both sides of the street. Uniformed police officers will be on site to direct traffic and pedestrians. When our crane was erected last September we drew a large crowd on the west side of California Ave SW. We invite you all to watch from the safety of the sidewalk when we take it down.
4730 California has 88 apartments and 71 parking spaces, plus retail space that is currently listed for lease.
Now to Morgan Junction:
“30 APARTMENTS, NO PARKING” PROJECT UNDER CONSTRUCTION: At 6917 California SW, construction has begun for the apartment project that drew regional attention because of neighbors protesting its lack of parking; its developer met neighbors at one point to answer questions. Site work began with demolition of the last old house on the site. Neighbors were appealing the project’s “determination of nonsignificance” but the hearing set for May was canceled after they negotiated an agreement instead; we found that document in the Hearing Examiner‘s archived files, and you can read it here. The apartment building is going into the empty space you see in our photo above; the under-construction structures to the right are townhouses and single-family homes, as mentioned here when we broke the news last fall about development plans for the site.
North to Charlestown/California:
(WSB photo from Landmark Preservation Board meeting in June)
LANDMARK OR NOT? VOTE TOMORROW: Almost two months after the city Landmarks Preservation Board agreed to consider city-landmark designation for Charlestown Court, which is again proposed for demolition and redevelopment (as first reported here in January), the board is scheduled to vote at its meeting tomorrow afternoon. The board said “no” to the designation first time it came up six years ago, when a different development proposal was pending. Then another proposal emerged that would have preserved its facade; that stalled with the recession, and an eight-townhouse plan is now in the works. The board’s meeting is open to the public, 3:30 pm Wednesday, 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown.
No new big development proposals have popped up lately. No new Design Review Board meetings on the schedule. But some smaller projects are of note, including these three which if nothing else will be noticeable with demolition activity on arterials:
3923 CALIFORNIA SW: The first demolition-permit application for the multiplexes on the northwest corner of California/Andover (map) is in. The city’s online files say a four-unit rowhouse is proposed (with the address 3925 California) for this side of the site, while the SW Andover side of the site is proposed for three single-family houses and a two-townhouse unit. (We first reported on this site two months ago, when a lot-boundary adjustment was sought.)
4151 CALIFORNIA SW: The same developer (Block II LLC) has been granted a demolition permit for two houses behind the California-fronting Pica Border Grill restaurant (map) on the north end of The Junction. The restaurant building is NOT involved in the project; the two houses behind it are slated to be replaced by a building with one townhouse and one live-work unit.
3036/3038 ALKI SW: Two “residential structures” here (map) are the subject of another demolition-permit application. As noted here last month, a proposal is on file for four townhouses and one single-family home, with a subdivision application to make it possible.
(February rendering from NK Architects)
From today’s city Land Use Information Bulletin: Key approvals for the 5-story building with 36 apartments, 2 live/work units, 5 offstreet parking spaces planned by Isola Homes at 44th and Alaska – kitty-corner from the West Seattle Farmers’ Market site. Here’s the official notice; here’s the full text of the decision. The image above is from the project’s final Design Review meeting in February (WSB coverage here), and some changes were recommended. Today’s decision opens a two-week appeal period – how to do that is explained here.
(“Concept drawing” by Roger Newell AIA Architects)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Neither board members nor neighbors were thrilled with what they saw – but, with extensive comments and recommendations, board members agreed unanimously to allow the project to move on to the next phase anyway, with a stack of suggestions for tweaks and changes to be made, after extensive discussion.
(Architect Thompson at left, board at the table in right side of photo)
Architect Neal Thompson presented on behalf of Roger H. Newell AIA Architects (see the “design packet” here). As he noted, the project would replace eight residential units and commercial properties including a pet shop, medical-marijuana dispensary, and restaurant. It will offer two retail/restaurant spaces as well as 13 apartments and 23 surface parking spaces – it can’t offer an underground garage because of soil conditions (a peat-settlemenet zone) at the site, the architect reminded the board.
Referring to feedback from the first Early Design Guidance meeting, Thompson showed a two-building proposal.
(WSB photo taken Sunday morning)
Thanks to Martin for the tip that the construction cover finally came off 2141 California SW this weekend. The 1920s-era former home of Admiralty House Antiques – closed when its owner, the late Fred Dau, retired a year ago, and sold a few months later – has been undergoing renovations for about six months. It’s been under a white canvas/tarp for most of that time; according to the city’s online files, most of the renovations have involved window replacement/repair. Workers had also said early on that the space was being divided; no public word yet on tenants – city files mention “office” as the expected use. Plans to build townhouse/live-work units behind it, fronting SW Walker, are still going through the city permit process.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
A change in architects meant a big change in fortune for 3824 California SW, the townhome/live-work project proposed on the three-years-vacant ex-Charlestown Café site. On the third try – first one since the changes – the proposal passed Early Design Guidance and moved on to the second and final phase of Design Review.
In contrast with the evening’s first meeting, which was sparsely attended, dozens of neighbors and community members turned out for this one – they have long been working hard to make sure their voices would be heard in plans for the ex-cafe site, and this time, according to those who commented, they were, even though its basic composition hasn’t changed – a mix of townhomes and live-work units.
Johnston Architects is the firm now leading the project; Ray Johnston briefly described the site, saying that they hope to bring a “diverse mix” of uses into the property, with its status between the Admiral and Alaska Junctions.
Johnston’s Megan McKay led the presentation.
Southwest Design Review Board report #1: Eye-clinic project @ 7520 35th SW sent back for second round of early-design guidanceJuly 10, 2014 at 8:17 pm | In Development, Health, Sunrise Heights, West Seattle news | Comments Off
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Making its debut before the Southwest Design Review Board, the proposed Clearview Eye Clinic project at 7520 35th SW was sent back for a second round of Early Design Guidance.
Concerns included how the building would interact with the evolving streetscape – busy as 35th SW is, and can be – and whether it was too close to the street, and should be set back as are other buildings. A paucity of landscape was identified as a concern, too, as was the fact that the proposal includes a parking area fronting 35th SW, and how the site’s vehicle entries should work.
This project will be a medical/commercial building – no residential component – and the architect described an intent for its look to be “crisp, clean, and clear.” (We first reported the project plan two months ago.)
Four of the SWDRB’s five members (with T. Frick McNamara absent) were present, with planner Tami Garrett from the Department of Planning and Development.
Architect Peter Bocek from PB Architects explained that the clinic doctors are building a permanent home for their practice, with a staff of about 20, because their lease at Westwood Village is expiring:
West Seattle development: See the newest renderings for next 3 projects going before Southwest Design Review BoardJuly 7, 2014 at 10:12 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | Comments Off
The “design packets” for all three of the Southwest Design Review Board‘s scheduled July reviews are all available online, if you’re interested in an early look at what will be presented at the meetings. All three of these are “early design guidance” (EDG) meetings.
First, this Thursday, July 10th, at 6:30 pm, it’s the first EDG for 7520 35th SW, Clearview Eye Clinic, planned on a site that currently includes Red Star Pizza. We first told you about the project two months ago; a three-story building is planned, with retail/commercial on the first floor, while the clinic would be on the second and third floors. Depending on the final design, it’s expected to have up to 41 parking spaces. See the design packet here.
Second meeting that night, 8 pm, is the third EDG meeting for 3824 California SW, 28 townhouse/live-work units on the site of the former Charlestown Café. We reported key changes to the project – including a new architect – here last week. The packet wasn’t available then, but it is now – see it here.
Finally: The design packet is also available for 2626 Alki Avenue SW, which goes back to the board for its second EDG meeting at 6:30 pm July 17th, the only project going before the board that night. This is a three-story, mixed-use building proposed for 13 apartments and commercial space at the corner of 59th/Alki, on a site holding three buildings with a variety of tenants, including several businesses. See the design packet here.
All these meetings are at the Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon); all include public-comment time, but if you won’t be able to go, you can e-mail comments via the projects’ respective planners, all listed here.
Demolition-for-redevelopment notes today:
4745 40TH SW TEARDOWN UNDERWAY: Thanks to Maris for the heads-up on Monday that backhoes had taken up position at the 40th/Edmunds project site. They hadn’t started work by day’s end but this afternoon, they’re taking down the office building on site, former home to businesses including what might be West Seattle’s biggest tech firm, Tango Card. (You’ll recall our story last August about its search for a new WS location, which it found not far away, in Jefferson Square.) 4745 40th SW won final Design Review approval in December (WSB coverage here), and applied for the demolition permit in March. is slated for 150 units and 115 parking spaces, with some live-work units and a relatively small commercial space on the ground floor, adjacent to the future city-park site to its north. (That site in turn will soon be the temporary home of Fire Station 32 while that station is rebuilt on its site in The Triangle at 37th/38th/Alaska.)
THREE DEMOLITION-PERMIT NOTES: From the city files today, all in single-family-house projects:
*1 DOWN, 2 UP AT 4316 SW THISTLE: A demolition-permit application is in for the site of this 106-year-old Gatewood house across from the top of the fabled Thistle stairway, as well as early word of two houses to replace it, pending a lot-boundary adjustment which has a case number but no documents on file so far; county data for the 7,500-sf site does show two lot numbers.
*1 DOWN, 1 UP AT 3426 38TH SW: The permit has just been granted for demolition of this 106-year-old bungalow, with a new house slated to replace it.
1 DOWN, 1 UP AT 4707 14TH SW: A demolition permit is sought for this 85-year-old house on 15,000 sf of land, where records show one new house is planned.
West Seattle development: New architect team and changes for 3824 California project, as next Design Review meeting approachesJuly 1, 2014 at 12:57 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 8 Comments
(Click image to see full-size PDF)
After two Early Design Guidance meetings ended with the Southwest Design Review Board basically saying “try again,” the developer of the former Charlestown Café site at 3824 California SW has hired a new architect going into its third round of EDG (scheduled for 8 pm July 10th, as previously noted). A spokesperson for developer Intracorp tell WSB that Johnston Architects is the firm now on the project, replacing Caron Architecture: “Their designs are quintessentially Northwest with an organic nature and human scale that Intracorp is seeking to capture for the 3824 California Ave. community. Intracorp has also added a new landscape architect, Karen Kiest, to the team. This team brings an immense amount of experience and creativity to the process of creating great places.” The proposal is now for 28 townhouse and live/work units instead of 30, and the list ahead was provided as a summary of major changes:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Not growing is not an option, says the city. So, reps from three city departments asked at a first-of-its-kind meeting in West Seattle, what should that growth look like, and where should it happen?
Another question posed: How do we make room for the people moving to Seattle now and for those who will need housing in the future – such as current residents’ kids?
Questions like those were at the heart of the city-organized event in West Seattle this past Saturday, titled “Let’s Talk.” The documents you see throughout this story weren’t presented slide-deck-style, but instead were on easel-borne boards around the room. The meeting was formatted loosely, in hopes of conversation, and that, we can vouch, was under way from the start.
Then, about half an hour into the event on the upper floor of the Senior Center of West Seattle (with decorations lingering from Rainbow Bingo the night before), a few minutes of speeches were offered, but more in the explanatory vein than declaratory – and then the conversations resumed.
Two city department directors were among the city staff on hand, Diane Sugimura (above right) from the Department of Planning and Development, Bernie Matsuno from the Department of Neighborhoods. Not long after the brief speeches, they wound up in a conversation circle with more than two dozen attendees in the back of the room, near the bingo board.
Back in the rest of the room, one-on-one conversations continued, and dozens of other attendees continued perusing the boards. We asked for digital copies so we could share them with you here. (Most are self-explanatory; the ones atop this story show options for what it would take for the city to become carbon-neutral by 2050, with now-digitized red or green dots regarding whether attendees liked or disliked specific options.) Here are the main boards – the first one was displayed at the room’s entrance to set the stage, and then the next eight with lots of information about development and growth in West Seattle, zoning, how to give feedback on development, and questions too:
Noticing the conversation group setting up with Sugimura and Matsuno, we took notes. “We want to be able to participate in the decisionmaking,” said one attendee, and that was at the heart of almost everything else.
The questions, concerns, and suggestions were many (please note, the following are paraphrased bullet points, not exact quotes unless contained within quotation marks):
-West Seattle’s transportation infrastructure isn’t made for intensive growth.
-The city permit system is an expensive hassle.
-Why isn’t development focusing on streets that could handle it, say, 35th SW?
-People need to get involved in the Comprehensive Plan process (Seattle 2035).
-City reps should come back for an intensive three-to-four-hour summit to really talk in depth with and listen to West Seattleites.
-Neighborhood groups are small and don’t network and don’t know the “rules, codes, options” so they are outgunned when prolific developers come into the neighborhood with a project.
-The city needs to push out development information – perhaps an app – it’s not good enough to have it just there waiting to be discovered; an app should keep checking what’s happening in an area of interest you identify, and push out the information to you when something is planned in your area.
*West Seattle needs a hospital. Matsuno said the city can “encourage” it, but has no authority to force a health-care organization to build one. “Well, ARE you ‘encouraging’ it?” asked one attendee. Reply: “In conversations with any kind of businesses, we encourage them to go where they are needed.”
*West Seattle needs employers so fewer people will have to commute outbound. This generated a significant amount of discussion, with Matsuno saying you can offer incentives for employers, but you can’t force them to locate in a specific area. One participant said she was a commercial banker and “the way you do it is to give them money.”
*”Regular” people are being pushed out by “wealthy” people.
*Applications by prolific developers often show up with “sloppy paperwork,” leaving neighborhood advocates wondering “how did this get through?” and suggesting there should be a penalty for repeat offenders. Couldn’t a computerized review check for chronic offenders?
*The issue of projects with little or no parking came up. Sugimura noted that the mayor had asked for a review of that, and “we are in the middle of it.”
*Why doesn’t West Seattle have a transit center “like Burien”? Sugimura said she wasn’t familiar with the Burien Transit Center. The centralizing of bus routes at Westwood was mentioned. One attendee countered, “But it’s all on the perimeter and there’s no parking.” The city of Seattle doesn’t build parking garages, pointed out city reps, so “it always takes somebody (private) willing to put money into it.”
*Projects are reviewed on a standalone basis, without the “cumulative effects” of changes in a specific area being considered. One attendee said the parking study done for a 40-unit project didn’t take into effect other apartment projects within a block or two.
*Environmental reviews are not triggered if, for example, a single-family house is being replaced by a single-family house.
*What about a “cap and trade” type of program? one attendee suggested – requiring developers to “replace the affordable house they’re destroying” when a “$300,000 bungalow” is demolished and replaced with a $1 million house.
11:30 came, and the discussion circle was wrapped up. Two community-group reps volunteered themselves as liaisons for a followup meeting with the city to get and share information on what would be done with what DPD, DON, and SDOT heard at the meeting. So watch for that (we’ll be following up, and information will be circulated through community councils too). And, as was exhorted several times, get involved in the Comprehensive Plan process – there were boards for that too:
SIDE NOTE: During the brief “remarks” portion, attendees were asked to raise their hands in reply to questions such as how long you’ve lived here and whether you own or rent. A quick look around revealed mostly people who’ve been here more than a few years, and almost entirely homeowners. Some suggested maybe the Saturday morning meeting time was wrong – but it’s a frequent observation that evening meetings aren’t convenient either – so, if you’ve read this far but didn’t go, was it a matter of time? Or?
Morgan Junction and Harbor Ave. rezones, citywide policy changes all part of Comprehensive Plan amendment proposalJune 30, 2014 at 10:03 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 3 Comments
A public notice published today lists 11 potential changes to the city’s Comprehensive Plan, with at least four of interest to West Seattle. All 11 will be lumped together in one public hearing set for the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee on July 15th. The four are:
*Rezoning to allow a six-townhouse project on land owned by the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene south of its 42nd/Juneau sanctuary and parsonage in north Morgan Junction. (Here’s our most recent report on the project, from a meeting in which the Morgan Community Association endorsed it; see the proposed amendment here.)
*Rezoning to “remove an area waterward of Harbor Avenue Southwest and south of Southwest Bronson Way known as Pier One from the Duwamish Manufacturing/Industrial Center and change the designation of that area from industrial to commercial/mixed-use.” We first wrote about this proposal two years ago; see the proposed amendment here.
*An amendment to “limit live-work units along arterials.” See the text here.
*An amendment to “add policy language regarding the monitoring and reporting of growth and to require action when an area exceeds its growth targets.” This comes up often in development discussions regarding the West Seattle Junction area, already well past its current “growth target” and is in fact proposed by a West Seattleite, Cindi Barker. See the text here.
DEVELOPMENT P.S. We covered Saturday morning’s well-attended “West Seattle: Let’s Talk” meeting and expect to publish the report by tonight.
West Seattle development: No Whittaker appeal; Alki demolition; Saturday meeting not just DPD; more…June 27, 2014 at 2:13 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 5 Comments
Another round of development notes, including demolitions current and future:
THE WHITTAKER UPDATE – DEMOLITION THIS SUMMER: Despite previous controversy over the 4755 Fauntleroy Way project, aka The Whittaker, no one had filed an appeal of its key land-use approval by the deadline yesterday, so the project is moving ahead. A spokesperson tells us they expect to start demolition by summer’s end, but don’t yet know which of the buildings on the site will be first to go. This is the project with a Whole Foods Market (we’re checking to see if any other retailers have been signed), ~389 apartments, ~594 parking spaces. If construction does start this year, it would be on target for completion in 2016.
3008 ALKI DEMOLITION: Nine months ago, we noted an application to build five “rowhouse” units in two buildings at 3008 Alki Avenue SW. This week, the existing structures on the site were torn down:
(Thanks to the person who texted the photo!) One building, with two units now described as townhouses, will carry the Alki Ave. address; the 3-unit building will be at 6502 SW Stevens. Documents filed with the city say the offstreet parking will total 10 spaces.
1 DOWN, 2 UP AT 5421 49TH SW: A demolition-permit application was filed this week for that 93-year-old house at 5421 49th SW.
City files say it will be replaced by two single-family houses; its lot is 15,000+ square feet.
UPDATE ON 2-REPLACING-1 AT 8437 41ST SW: We reported earlier this month on the plan for two single-family houses on the site of one to-be-demolished house in Upper Fauntleroy. The owner/developer is now seeking a lot-boundary adjustment, to split the site into 4,500- and 7,300-square-foot parcels.
DESIGN REVIEW REMINDER NOTICES: The dates have already been reported here, but in case you missed them, the formal Southwest Design Review Board meeting notices appeared in Thursday’s Land Use Information Bulletin for 3824 California SW (8 pm July 10th) and 2626 Alki SW (6:30 pm July 17th).
‘LET’S TALK’ WITH DPD, SDOT, DON IN WEST SEATTLE TOMORROW: One more nudge before our Saturday morning calendar highlights – tomorrow is the West Seattle “Let’s Talk” conversation with Department of Planning and Development reps including director Diane Sugimura, 9:30-11:30 am at the Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon in The Junction) – and we see on the DPD’s website that reps from SDOT and the Department of Neighborhoods will be there too. It’s listed there as “open-house-style” so we’re trying to find out more specifics about the format.
Five development notes tonight:
ANOTHER DESIGN REVIEW MEETING SET: The Southwest Design Review Board hasn’t had a reason to meet since May 1st, but next month is getting busier. A second project has been added to the schedule for July 10th’s meeting, which already had the 7520 35th SW eye-clinic project on the docket for 6:30 pm. The 8 pm slot is now scheduled for the third Early Design Guidance review of 3824 California SW, the former Charlestown Café site. Two months have passed since the second EDG meeting for the townhouse/live-work-unit project (WSB coverage here). The July 10th reviews will be at the SWDRB’s usual meeting site, the Senior Center of West Seattle (WSB sponsor) at California/Oregon in The Junction.
ANOTHER CORNER ROWHOUSE ON FAUNTLEROY WAY: One block south of the south end of 4755 Fauntleroy Way (The Whittaker), a 65-year-old duplex on a LR-1-zoned corner at 5003 Fauntleroy is proposed to be demolished and replaced by a 7-unit rowhouse.
It’s a few blocks north of Fauntleroy/Findlay, where the 5-unit corner rowhouse mentioned here a few times is almost complete.
LAND USE APPROVAL FOR ARBOR HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY DEMOLITION: Days after the last school year for the old Arbor Heights Elementary ended, the city has published a notice of land-use approval for its demolition. The publication opens a 2-week appeal window, until July 7th.
APPEAL HEARING SET FOR 3078 SW AVALON: Permits for the 102-apartment building planned at 3078 SW Avalon Way are being appealed by the group Seattle Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development, founded in an adjacent neighborhood. They’re scheduled to go before the city Hearing Examiner on September 8th. The project received a key land-use approval last month.
REMINDER – ‘LET’S TALK’ WITH DPD ON SATURDAY: Interested in development/land use? Set aside 9:30-11:30 am Saturday morning to meet with DPD director Diane Sugimura and others from the city, specific to West Seattle issues and policy – here’s our most-recent preview.
That little building at 3230 California SW is about to end its 40+-year run as a West Seattle hair salon, according to the proprietor of the one there now, Styling Studio. It was built in 1945 and is on the South Admiral site where work will start this year on the 134-apartment 3210 California mixed-use project. Styling Studio proprietor Robert Lopez contacted WSB to let us know June 30th is its final day. He says, “I tried to find another space, but negotiations fell through, and I’ve joined the staff at Belli Capelli, at 3902 California Ave SW, another longtime West Seattle hair establishment.”
3210 California’s land-use approval came in a month ago, as reported here; this week, its developer, Intracorp, filed for the shoring/excavation permit. We have asked for an update on when they expect to start demolition and construction, and are checking with other businesses about their plans. (If yours is among them and you see this before we contact you, please e-mail email@example.com with info on where you are going, as Robert did – thank you.)
Another update on the Department of Planning and Development “Let’s Talk” event in West Seattle one week from tomorrow: We’ve confirmed with DPD that its director Diane Sugimura will be there. So if you have a question or comment for the person in charge of the department that reviews and approves development, she’s the one, and this is your chance. Here’s the announcement we published last week; the event was first announced two weeks before that, during the West Seattle “conversation” with Councilmember Mike O’Brien (WSB coverage here), who chairs the committee that deals with development and planning. “West Seattle: Let’s Talk” is scheduled for 9:30-11:30 am Saturday, June 28th, at the Senior Center of West Seattle (WSB sponsor), California/Oregon in The Junction, all welcome.
SIDE NOTE: Sugimura was in West Seattle last June to talk with the Southwest District Council (WSB coverage here).
Big stack of development notes/updates, all involving teardowns large and small:
First, the city has officially given a key land-use approval to The Whittaker, the 7-story, 389-apartment, 594-parking-space, Whole Foods-including project at 4755 Fauntleroy SW. It’s received a Determination of Non-Significance, meaning a full environmental review will not be required. Here’s the notice; here’s the decision. This is appealable until June 26th (this explains how). A project spokesperson tells WSB that they hope to start work at the site (which still holds five buildings, all to be demolished) this summer.
Next: The second Southwest Design Review Board meeting for 2626 Alki SW is on the schedule for July 17th (6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle). This is a three-story commercial/residential building planned for the corner of Alki and 59th, replacing three buildings that currently include a rental company, a retail store, a café, and a dispensary. The date is technically still temporary, so it has not yet appeared on the Land Use Information Bulletin. Here’s our coverage of its first Early Design Guidance meeting in February, when the board told it to give EDG another try.
Nor is a new lot-boundary-adjustment application we noticed in city files. The line adjustments proposed for 8437 41st SW in Upper Fauntleroy would make way for what are shown on a filed “site plan” as two houses, replacing the existing brick house on an 11,000-plus-square-foot site that was sold to a developer last month.
A one-into-two subdivision is being sought at 3036 Alki SW, turning one into two (2,663 and 4,049 square feet), with four townhouses and one single-family home proposed to replace what’s on the site now.
And one was recently approved at 1310 California SW, adjacent to Hamilton Viewpoint Park, splitting an 11,000-square-foot lot into two almost-equal-size parcels also bordering Donald and Palm. This review carried some controversy, according to the full decision document, saying that a surveyor determined the site to be about 50 percent larger than it was believed to be, which paved the way for the split. Two new houses are proposed, replacing a 79-year-old house; the appeal period on the lot split is open for one more week.
OTHER DEMOLITION/NEW-CONSTRUCTION PLANS: In Admiral, a demolition permit has been granted for 2600 45th SW, a 108-year-old duplex (County Assessor’s photo above) to be replaced by a two-unit townhouse (following a recent lot-boundary adjustment). … In Gatewood, one has been sought for 7931 California SW, a 64-year-old house slated to be replaced by a new single-family house. … And in Westwood/Roxhill, there’s one pending for 9411 35th SW, where an 89-year-old house is proposed for replacement by a three-unit townhouse … On Pigeon Point, 3816 22nd SW is proposed for demolition and replacement by a single-family house and a two-unit townhouse; we note that a separate application for 3806 22nd SW (no teardown, though) proposes four single-family houses nearby.
Wondering if anything’s planned near your home/townhouse/apartment/business/etc.? Browse the map on the DPD home page – and if you see something, follow the link to find out more. Caveat – we’ve noticed this map shows some idle/canceled years-old proposals as well as new and recent plans, though.
When City Councilmember Mike O’Brien came to West Seattle to talk about development and land use last week (WSB coverage here), the meeting included early word of another conversation, one for which Department of Planning and Development officials would come to West Seattle later this month. Details weren’t quite set that night but now they are. Just in from DPD:
West Seattle: let’s talk! Encouraging civic engagement around development issues
The City of Seattle will host an event to provide information about development in West Seattle, and to provide opportunities for discussion. The event titled “West Seattle: Let’s Talk” will take place on Saturday, June 28 from 9:30-11:30 at the West Seattle Senior Center (4217 SW Oregon Street).
Usually, DPD reps just come here for meetings on specific projects – this time, you can ask about policies and other big-picture issues.
P.S. Speaking of development, we’re working right now on a roundup with news of several West Seattle projects, new and not-so-new, big and not-so-big. That’s coming up later this afternoon.
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Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
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