West Seattle development: Last phase of Whittaker site teardown

October 22, 2014 at 11:39 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

Rain or shine, the demolition and construction work in the heart of West Seattle is proceeding – and today, at the future site of The Whittaker (4755 Fauntleroy Way SW), the last round of demolition has begun. Teardown of the 1952-built former auto-dealership buildings on the south side of the site started this morning. The view in the top photo reminds us of the same stage of demolition on another formerly Huling-owned site five years ago. *added* Here’s a photo from just before the beams were revealed:

Just in case you’re a new arrival: The project to be built here includes ~400 apartments, ~600 parking spaces, and retail (Whole Foods remains the only announced tenant so far). The Masonic Center at 40th/Edmunds is not part of the site and will remain, getting some parking-lot improvements as part of the “public benefits” promised by the developers next door.

P.S. Speaking of development – the West Seattle Land Use Committee‘s scheduled to hold its third meeting tonight, 6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle (Oregon/California).

Touring the Junction/Triangle ‘walkshed’: Proliferation of plans

October 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm | In Development, Transportation, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Seattle Comprehensive Plan

West Seattle Junction Hub Neighborhood Plan

West Seattle Triangle Streetscape Concept Plan ..

Seattle Transit Master Plan

Seattle Bicycle Master Plan

Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan

Seattle Right of Way Improvements Manual

Seattle Pedestrian Retail Areas plan

Fauntleroy Boulevard plan

One thing was clear during last Saturday’s “walkshed” tour of the Junction/Triangle area, with Seattle Planning Commission reps listening to local community reps: There’s no shortage of plans and documents covering the area, but there’s a shortage of understanding in how they interact, interface, intersect, and what they mean.

The tour itself was linked to the Planning Commission’s ongoing work on the city Comprehensive Plan update, dubbed Seattle 2035. The next big milestone for that is the environmental-impact statement, expected to be out early next year. And this is no bureaucratic bit of wonkiness to ignore: As was pointed out at the start of Saturday’s event, this type of discussion preceded the 1990s-generated plan for “urban villages” including The Junction/Triangle – much of which is only now coming to pass, as was underscored by the current, future, and recent development sites passed (and often discussed) along the way.

But the topic wasn’t just the dense heart of the Junction/Triangle, but also its single-family zones – like a stretch of 40th south of Edmunds and the major project sites bordering it on the north.

For backstory on the tour, see our coverage of last month’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting (which included a slide deck setting the stage). To see what happened during the tour – read on:

Click to read the rest of Touring the Junction/Triangle ‘walkshed’: Proliferation of plans…

West Seattle development updates: Demolition at 4101 SW Oregon & Fauntleroy/Alaska corner; plus, High Point ‘cover-up’

October 15, 2014 at 11:47 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

Three development-related updates:

4101 SW OREGON DEMOLITION: WSB’s Christopher Boffoli caught demolition starting this morning at this 87-year-old house making way for a 4-unit rowhouse. This project has been in the works for almost a year.

FAUNTLEROY/ALASKA CORNER DEMOLITION: Crews are continuing to bring down the buildings at the future site of The Whittaker, ~400 apartments, ~600 offstreet parking spaces, street-level retail including Whole Foods. Today, they’re working at the Fauntleroy/Alaska corner, demolishing the old Shell station and the former Howden-Kennedy (they moved) building.

The former auto-dealership buildings are expected to be torn down next week. A project spokesperson tells us the plan is still on to digitally re-create the mural that’s on the east side of one of those buildings; the image will be taken from a Southwest Seattle Historical Society photo that is clearer than the faded mural, which couldn’t be moved because it’s on cement block.

HIGH POINT ‘COVER-UP’: In our late September update on 35th/Graham, the photo showed a big sign for Polygon, saying NEW HOMES COMING 2015. Then, a commenter pointed out, the sign was suddenly covered over in green canvas/tarp/plastic, both sides (and we discovered the same thing on a sign a bit to the east).

Why the “cover-up”? We checked with the Seattle Housing Authority, which owns the site, and deputy executive director Anne Fiske Zuniga explained, “The Polygon signs went up prematurely and were covered up because the information was not accurate.” She added,
“Polygon and SHA are in conversation regarding the development of the site at 35th & Graham, the site is not under contract. Polygon is in the preliminary planning stages, so nothing is definite at this time.”

Charge a development fee to encourage ‘affordable housing’? Seattle City Council committee says yes

October 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

(Click the image to go to the full-size map on the city website)
Would a new type of development fee lead to more affordable housing in the city? The City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee has just voted in favor of a proposal for a so-called “linkage fee” intended to make that happen. If it became law, it would affect commercial and multifamily development in certain parts of the city, shown on the map above – including parts of West Seattle:

A City Council committee today recommended approval of a plan to create an affordable housing linkage fee to preserve and create affordable housing in Seattle. The resolution directs City departments to develop legislation whereby new construction in multi-family and commercial zones would mitigate the cost of increasing rents by funding housing affordable to those households making $45,000 – $65,000 per year, which is 60% – 80% of area median income (AMI).

“If we want Seattle to be an inclusive city for people of all incomes, then we need to see more housing produced that’s affordable to more people. Up until this point, the market has clearly not given us the housing we need,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee and the legislation’s sponsor.

Developers could either pay a per-square-foot fee, which is variable based on project’s location in the city, or avoid the fee by dedicating at least 3% – 5% of the units in their project to households making less than 80% AMI. The money generated from fees would be invested in workforce housing.

“Our expert economic consultants suggest that at this fee level, development would absorb the fees without constricting new supply or significantly raising rents,” Councilmember O’Brien added.

The (above) map illustrates where the linkage fee would be applied in multi-family and commercial development in the city.

Full Council is expected to vote on the resolution on Monday, October 20. Draft legislation for Council consideration is expected by June 1, 2015. The final legislation is anticipated to gradually phase-in over a three year period and would not affect existing projects or new projects with permit applications already submitted.

Additional information about O’Brien’s proposal for an Affordable Housing Linkage Fee in Seattle is available online.

This is separate from the city’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption program, which enables a partial tax exemption on projects that commit to below-market rents for part of their units. The city’s current list of projects in that program includes nine buildings in West Seattle.

West Seattle development: ‘Streamlined design review’ proposals for townhouses at 3811 California

October 14, 2014 at 9:16 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

The latest plan for 3811 California SW is advancing, with a plan now in city files for “streamlined design review” (SDR) – which means public comments will be accepted, but there’s no Design Review Board meeting. The site is currently home to Charlestown Court, the brick fourplex that has been rejected twice for landmark status. The proposal, as first reported here in January, is to replace it with four 2-unit townhouse buildings and eight offstreet-parking spaces on the alley. Here’s what architect S+H Works has filed with the city for the SDR process:

(If you can’t see the embedded document, try this link.) If you’re interested in commenting on the proposal, this page on the city website explains how.

What’s next for 3078 Avalon appeal: One more witness

October 12, 2014 at 12:40 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The appeal hearing challenging key city approvals for the ~100-apartment project planned at 3078 SW Avalon Way has one more session to go, next Friday.

The original schedule for testimony before city Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner spanned three days during the week before last, with a full day on Tuesday, Sept. 30 (WSB report here), another one on Wednesday, Oct. 1st (WSB report here), then a partial day on Thursday, Oct. 2nd. But what was brought up by the teams on both sides – appellant Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development (NERD) and the city Department of Planning and Development plus developer Northlake Group – led to the need for one more witness, next Friday, October 17th. Tanner said she did not expect to publish her ruling, due to various scheduling challenges, until mid-November.

This is one of at least four project sites on Avalon that is in some degree of limbo, or at least waiting.

Click to read the rest of What’s next for 3078 Avalon appeal: One more witness…

West Seattle demolition watch: Arbor Heights, Genesee Hill, Whittaker updates

October 10, 2014 at 12:45 pm | In Arbor Heights, Development, Genesee Hill, Triangle, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

Went out this morning to check on the three largest demolition sites working in West Seattle:

ARBOR HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY: At the Arbor Heights site, the buildings are now all gone. Teardown work here started the Friday before Labor Day, but didn’t really rev up for another week. Seattle Public Schools says work will stop down for much of the winter before the second phase, construction, begins. A decision is also pending on whether the new $42 million school will be built to 500 or 650 capacity. During the two-year construction period, AHES is sharing the Boren Building with K-5 STEM.

Now to the district’s other big WS project:

ON GENESEE HILL: The future home of the Schmitz Park Elementary program is now five weeks into the demolition phase. As shown in our photo, just a bit of the main building of the former Genesee Hill Elementary is still standing, toward the east side of the site. This school will be built for 650 students.

And on the private-development front:

‘THE WHITTAKER’ SITE UPDATE: Back on Wednesday, we reported on the start of abatement and demolition work at the site of West Seattle’s biggest current project, The Whittaker (4755 Fauntleroy Way SW). The work has focused so far on the middle section of the site, between 40th (above) and Fauntleroy – yesterday, that included the wooden building that was the original home of West Seattle Produce (which has long since moved across the street):

A project spokesperson tells us the major demolition work is likely still more than a week away. The site also holds a former auto dealership, former used-car lot, former gas station, and former funeral home. The mural on the side of the dealership is to be digitally re-created on a wall of the new development, which will have almost 400 apartments over street-level retail, plus almost 600 off-street parking spaces.

West Seattle development: Abatement/demolition begins for The Whittaker; six other teardown/rebuild notes

October 8, 2014 at 6:40 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

Seven West Seattle development notes:

ABATEMENT/DEMOLITION WORK BEGINS AT THE WHITTAKER: If you have driven past the site of The Whittaker (400 apartments plus retail including Whole Foods Market) at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, you might have noticed the heavy equipment beginning work. A project spokesperson confirms that they have “officially started abatement work,” adding that the “auto body shop on 40th is scheduled to be demolished sometime tomorrow.” Major demolition is about two weeks away, if all goes as planned, and construction is set to start next month.

Six smaller demolition/construction projects of note, with permits granted or applied for in the past week or so:

4101 SW OREGON: In The Junction, the demolition permit has just been granted for a project first mentioned here almost a year ago; an 87-year-old house will be demolished and replaced with a 4-unit rowhouse.

4316 SW THISTLE: The application is now in for a “lot boundary adjustment” at this corner parcel, on the books as two lots, as mentioned here in July, though holding one house for more than a century. That house is planned for teardown, and replacement with two single-family houses including “accessory dwelling units,” which means four residences in all. (For “accessory dwelling units” to be legal, the city rules say, the property owner has to live on site, either in the main house or ADU.)

6540 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: In Morgan Junction, this 98-year-old house is proposed for demolition and replacement with a new single-family house.

9007 45TH SW: In Fauntleroy, this 71-year-old house is planned for demolition and replacement.

6047 47TH SW: In Seaview, this 71-year-old house is planned for demolition and replacement.

6470 MARSHALL SW: Also in Seaview, this 95-year-old house is planned for demolition and replacement.

Seattle microhousing has rules, definition, and a name – SEDUs – after unanimous City Council vote

October 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

The city officially has rules for microhousing – or, if you prefer, SEDUs (small efficiency dwelling units). They’ve been in the works for months and, two weeks after the final committee discussion, won official, unanimous council approval this afternoon. Read the full bill here; here are the highlights from the city toplines featured our story about them last month:

*Creates a definition for small efficiency dwelling units (SEDU).

*Clarifies the definition of dwelling unit.

*Establishes required components of SEDUs, including a 150-square-foot minimum sleeping room area, a 220 square foot minimum total floor area, a food preparation area (sink, refrigerator, countertop, cooking appliance) and a bathroom (sink, toilet, shower or bathtub).

*Limits the issuance of Restricted Parking Zone permits to no more than one per SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.

*Requires Streamlined Design Review to be applied, in all zones, to congregate residences and residential uses that are more than 50 percent comprised of SEDUs if they contain between 5,000 and 11,999 square feet of gross floor area.

*Limits the construction of congregate residences that do not meet certain ownership or operational requirements to higher density zones that are located within Urban Centers and Urban Villages

*Increases the minimum required area of communal space in a congregate residence from 10 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms to 15 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms.

*Creates a new vehicle parking requirement of one parking space for every two SEDUs for areas of the City where vehicle parking is required for multifamily residential uses.

*Increases bicycle parking requirements for SEDUs and congregate residences to 0.75 bicycle spaces per SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.

*Requires the bicycle parking required for SEDUs and congregate residences to be covered for weather protection.

*Allows required, covered bicycle parking for SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms to be exempt from Floor Area Ratio limits if the required parking is located inside the building that contains the SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms.

*Calls on the Department of Planning and Development to complete an analysis of the City’s vehicle and bicycle parking requirements and present its recommendations for regulatory changes to the City Council by no later than March 31, 2015.

That last item, as we noted last month, goes beyond microhousing.

West Seattle has two microhousing buildings already open – Footprint Delridge and Footprint Avalon I – and three on the drawing board. As reported here two weeks ago, two of the not-yet-under-construction projects – at 3268 SW Avalon Way and 3050 SW Avalon Way – are on hold because of a court decision that would require them to go through Design Review, or undergo a significant redesign.

During this afternoon’s council meeting, discussion preceding the vote included a rebuke by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen for city departments not catching “loopholes” he said developers exploited when first opening these projects here. (You can watch the discussion and vote in the archived Seattle Channel video atop this story; the vote is 71 minutes into the video.)

Tour The Junction with Seattle Planning Commissioners who are also your neighbors, to discuss ‘successes … and opportunities’

October 5, 2014 at 10:30 am | In Development, How to help, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

“We want to see this through your eyes – we’re interested in a dialogue.”

With that, two Seattle Planning Commissioners, both West Seattleites, are inviting you to be part of the dialogue about the future of The Junction and vicinity with a walk-and-talk event next Saturday (October 11th), 10 am.

They came to September’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting to initiate the dialogue, and we since have received official confirmation and the invitation itself (see above, or click here for the PDF version) – RSVP for updates on where they’re planning to meet (we’ll also have that here, later in the week).

Commissioners Jeanne Krikawa and Luis Borrero said they realize many might not even have heard about the Seattle Planning Commission, an independent, but city-convened/funded, group of appointees. That’s why they and commission policy analyst Jesseca Brand visited JuNO, to talk about not just what they do but also about looking at The Junction’s “walkshed” – what “essential components of livability” it has, and doesn’t have. Those were described as parks, plazas, libraries, community centers, wayfinding, green streets, bike infrastructure, as laid out in the Seattle Transit Communities report a few years back.

If any of those elements don’t exist in a “transit community,” they should be only “a stop or two away.” Here’s the slide deck Borrero and Krikawa showed JuNO:

This all figures into the Seattle 2035 process to update the city’s Comprehensive Plan, a major project for the Planning Commission right now, and one that has already resulted in a variety of events.

Even if this all sounds a little too wonky for you, remember that a process more than 15 years ago set the stage for much is what’s happening now. That’s what designated The Junction and vicinity as a Hub Urban Village – one meant to encourage workplaces to locate in the area, not just residences and services, the commissioners told JuNO.

In turn, JuNO director René Commons and attendees told Krikawa and Borrero that the Junction “walkshed” is definitely missing some of what are supposed to be hub characteristics – no nearby community centers, libraries, public schools.

The commissioners in turn asked those in attendance how they feel about The Junction’s growth. We’d summarize the various answers as “trepidational,” as well as eager for more transit – but join next Saturday’s walking tour, and tell them yourselves.

The bottom line of all this is consideration of how The Junction and vicinity should be viewed in the decades ahead, as a prism through which to see growth and the choices to be made. It’s a rare chance for more of a big picture look than the piecemeal decision-making so many have decried in the past few years. If you’re interested in having a say – or at least listening – be part of the tour next Saturday, and the conversation to follow.

Tower crane coming down at Spruce after 16 months

October 2, 2014 at 11:52 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

By midmorning, the tower crane at Madison Development‘s Spruce project (3922 SW Alaska, once known as “The Hole”) was a shadow of its former self. Sixteen months after it went up, it’s coming down, as previewed here on Wednesday. This has been arguably the most-visible tower crane in West Seattle this year, not just because of the sharper angle at which its jib has been raised, but because the holiday lights installed last year have stayed up, a prominent feature on West Seattle’s nighttime skyline. Now, though, the apartments-and-health-club project is a few months from completion, and it’s time for the crane to go.

Thanks again to Steve for the tip about the alert notice distributed to nearby residents, which suggested this will be a two-day job. Once this is gone, West Seattle will have two working tower cranes for now – at California/Alaska/42nd and 40th/Edmunds – but the one for 4435 35th SW is likely not far away. (If you’re interested – here’s an explanation of how tower cranes work.)

ADDED THURSDAY EVENING: Thanks to David for sharing this photo taken as he passed the crane-removal operation late in the day:

Of height, parking, bus stops, and FAR: Day 2 of 3078 SW Avalon appeal hearing

October 2, 2014 at 8:50 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

(Aerial showing 3078 Avalon project site, from project materials distributed in fall 2013)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Hearings often yield information beyond their immediate subjects.

During day two of the Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development (NERD) appeal hearing regarding a planned ~100-apartment building at 3078 SW Avalon, we learned about a lawsuit involving the project site. We also learned about a lawsuit involving the site next door that once was slated for a “twin” building. Neither is directly related to this appeal, yet both are relevant, in looking at the big picture of development in that area.

And we heard a lot more about how the city’s Design Review process works, and doesn’t. We also heard Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner, who is presiding over the hearing and will rule on the appeal, say that her office hasn’t traditionally had “broad jurisdiction” over the process.

The Design Review approval of the project is one of two city decisions that NERD, based in the single-family-home neighborhood north of the west stretch of Avalon, is appealing. The other is the Department of Planning and Development‘s “determination of non-significance” (DNS) saying the project did not require a full environmental-impact report.

It’s an uphill fight, with the hearing examiner required to give the most weight to the city’s decision unless the appellant proves it was in error and should be overturned.

Today is the third and final day scheduled for the hearing, though some testimony already has been scheduled for a spillover date in two weeks. We have been at the hearing examiner’s Municipal Tower hearing room for both days so far and are expecting to be back again today. Here is our report from day 1; below, the toplines from Day 2:

Click to read the rest of Of height, parking, bus stops, and FAR: Day 2 of 3078 SW Avalon appeal hearing…

West Seattle development: Another crane coming down

October 1, 2014 at 9:28 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

Almost 16 months after it went up, the tower crane at Spruce (3922 SW Alaska) is about to come down. Neighbors have been notified (thanks to Steve for the tip!) that the removal is scheduled to start early tomorrow morning. Unless you’re a recent arrival, you might still know the site best as “The Hole,” so nicknamed because it was excavated in 2008 and then sat idle until a new owner started construction last year. Spruce will have more than 200 apartments and one commercial tenant, LA Fitness.

West Seattle development: 3078 SW Avalon appeal hearing begins

October 1, 2014 at 6:52 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Two years ago, a crowd of neighbors from the neighborhood just north of Avalon filled the room for the first Southwest Design Review Board meeting about 3078 Avalon, proposed for ~100 apartments and 60 parking spaces:

(WSB photo, September 2012)
A lot has happened south of their neighborhood since then – a twin proposal for 3062 Avalon has come and gone; a microhousing building has opened a block west, with two more in the works; two more apartment buildings have opened on the south side of Avalon, just east of 35th.

3078 Avalon has continued to work its way through the system, finishing Design Review in January, though its permits don’t have final approval yet. Forming a group called NERDNeighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development – some of the neighbors have followed it with concerns and critiques.

After the city finalized the Design Review recommendations and issued a Determination of Non-Significance saying the project would have no significant environmental impacts, they got a lawyer and filed an appeal in May. The hearing for that appeal is now under way before city Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner, at the Municipal Tower downtown. We were there for testimony all day Tuesday and expect to return as it continues today.

While the case is just about one development, the issues are much bigger.

Click to read the rest of West Seattle development: 3078 SW Avalon appeal hearing begins…

West Seattle development: New 35th/Graham proposal; comment time for 4849 21st SW

September 29, 2014 at 2:55 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

Two development notes this afternoon:

REVISED PROPOSAL FOR HIGH-PROFILE HIGH POINT CORNER: The placement of that sign might make you think the big stretch of vacant land at 35th/Graham is the future site of more Polygon-built single-family homes. Not according to the newest proposal, with a “preliminary assessment report” added to city files just a week ago. It is now described as:

Develop the Block 9 High Point site, including utilities and infrastructure, 52 townhomes and a 4 story mixed use building containing approximately 80 apartment units, 8,500 square feet of office space, and 1,500 square feet of retail space located on the ground floor.

The mixed-use building is similar to something a Seattle Housing Authority spokesperson mentioned last October, when we reported on the previous plan. At the time, a mix of houses and townhouses was in the works, with an expectation of a “commercial building” at the corner, SHA said. In this plan, that is now a mixed-use building running along the entire 35th SW frontage of the land, according to a preliminary “site plan” filed this month, with the townhouses to the east. The new plan is in the name of High Point III, LLC, which traces to Polygon Northwest‘s Bellevue address. We’ll be following up on next steps for this plan.

2 WEEKS TO COMMENT ON 4849 21ST SW SUBDIVISION: Last week, we reported on an application to split one big lot at 4849 21st SW (map) into nine parcels for single-family houses. Today, the official notice is in the city’s Monday/Thursday Land Use Information Bulletin, which means you have two weeks to comment. Here’s how.

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

September 25, 2014 at 10:39 am | In Development, West Seattle news | Comments Off

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

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

West Seattle development: 9-lot subdivision proposal

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

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

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

September 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 28 Comments

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

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

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

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

*Creates a definition for small efficiency dwelling units (SEDU).

*Clarifies the definition of dwelling unit.

*Establishes required components of SEDUs, including a 150-square-foot minimum sleeping room area, a 220 square foot minimum total floor area, a food preparation area (sink, refrigerator, countertop, cooking appliance) and a bathroom (sink, toilet, shower or bathtub).

*Limits the issuance of Restricted Parking Zone permits to no more than one per
SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.

*Requires Streamlined Design Review to be applied, in all zones, to congregate
residences and residential uses that are more than 50 percent comprised of SEDUs if they contain between 5,000 and 11,999 square feet of gross floor area.

*Limits the construction of congregate residences that do not meet certain ownership or operational requirements to higher density zones that are located within Urban Centers and Urban Villages

*Increases the minimum required area of communal space in a congregate residence
from 10 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms to 15 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms.

*Creates a new vehicle parking requirement of one parking space for every two
SEDUs for areas of the City where vehicle parking is required for multifamily residential uses.

*Increases bicycle parking requirements for SEDUs and congregate residences to 0.75 bicycle spaces per SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.

*Requires the bicycle parking required for SEDUs and congregate residences to be covered for weather protection.

*Allows required, covered bicycle parking for SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms to be exempt from Floor Area Ratio limits if the required parking is located inside the building that contains the SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms.

*Calls on the Department of Planning and Development to complete an analysis of the City’s vehicle and bicycle parking requirements and present its recommendations for regulatory changes to the City Council by no later than March 31, 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Seattle development: September 2014, month of the backhoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two updates on West Seattle demolition sites:

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

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

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

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