West Seattle Blog... » Development http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:30:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 As-it-happened coverage: West Seattle Land Use Committee’s launch meeting http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/happening-now-west-seattle-land-use-committees-launch-meeting/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/happening-now-west-seattle-land-use-committees-launch-meeting/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 01:46:09 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=283826

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).

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West Seattle development: Tower crane going up at 4745 40th SW http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/west-seattle-development-tower-crane-going-up-at-4745-40th-sw/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/west-seattle-development-tower-crane-going-up-at-4745-40th-sw/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 18:47:43 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=283793

(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.

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Land swap proposed near Puget Park, next to homebuilding site? City wants to hear from you http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/land-swap-proposed-near-puget-park-next-to-homebuilding-site-city-wants-to-hear-from-you/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/land-swap-proposed-near-puget-park-next-to-homebuilding-site-city-wants-to-hear-from-you/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 17:47:35 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=283128

(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.

*Proposed council bill
*Fiscal-impact statement
*Detailed map
*Aerial view with map overlay

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West Seattle Land Use Committee launches one week from tonight http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/west-seattle-land-use-committee-launches-one-week-from-tonight/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/west-seattle-land-use-committee-launches-one-week-from-tonight/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 18:17:00 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=283026 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):

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.

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Happening now: Tower-crane takedown day for 4730 California http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/happening-now-tower-crane-takedown-day-for-4730-california/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/happening-now-tower-crane-takedown-day-for-4730-california/#comments Sat, 16 Aug 2014 18:46:50 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=282738

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:

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.

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Second Design Review Board meeting set for 7520 35th SW clinic http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/second-design-review-board-meeting-set-for-7520-35th-sw-clinic/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/second-design-review-board-meeting-set-for-7520-35th-sw-clinic/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 16:51:27 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=281840 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.

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Charlestown Court not worthy of landmark status, says Landmarks Preservation Board, again http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/charlestown-court-not-worthy-of-landmark-status-says-landmarks-preservation-board-again/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/charlestown-court-not-worthy-of-landmark-status-says-landmarks-preservation-board-again/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 00:53:52 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=281785

(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.

One “yes” voter was a West Seattleite on the board, Deb Barker, who said “the footprint of this building is so distinctive … not a typical one for West Seattle … and that amazing strong roof line has not changed … a strongly identifiable visual feature from California Avenue SW.” She mentioned a nearby subdivision of “small Tudor buildings” to which this seems to have a relationship. “In my 29 years of driving past this building, it’s always been well-maintained” and eye-catching, Barker added.

Another “yes” voter said that “while it’s not necessarily the most impressive example of the architect’s work, it’s not the most humble or basic, either … I think it holds its own among its peers in the city.” And yet another one said basically that while it might not stand out in a big way now, we’ll miss it if it goes, because this type of building is disappearing around the city.

No one spoke during the public-comment period. Before today’s vote, West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen had sent the board a letter supporting designation as a landmark – read it here (PDF) – we received a copy just as the hearing began. It was not mentioned at the hearing, though.

The board did hear from a representative of Gamut 360, the prospective townhouse developer, who read from the minutes of the April 2008 board meeting at which the building was previously rejected for landmark status.

The townhouse project still has to go through the city permit process, including approval of a demolition permit, before construction can begin.

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West Seattle Wednesday: From libraries to landmarks, dancing to discs, and more http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/west-seattle-wednesday-from-libraries-to-landmarks-dancing-to-discs-and-more/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/west-seattle-wednesday-from-libraries-to-landmarks-dancing-to-discs-and-more/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 16:35:57 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=281749

(Photo by Loren Beringer, shared via the WSB Flickr group)
From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:

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)

TODDLER STORY TIME: Songs, rhymes, fun for toddlers, 11:30 am, Southwest Branch Library; details in our calendar listing. Free. (35th/Henderson)

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)

DANCE TIME WITH LAUREN PETRIE: 6-8 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle; details in our calendar listing. (Oregon/California)

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!

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West Seattle development notes: Junction crane coming down; Morgan building going up; Charlestown Court vote tomorrow http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/west-seattle-development-notes-junction-crane-coming-down-morgan-building-going-up-charlestown-court-vote-tomorrow/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/west-seattle-development-notes-junction-crane-coming-down-morgan-building-going-up-charlestown-court-vote-tomorrow/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 20:03:21 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=281582 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.

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West Seattle development: Three more teardown plans http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-three-more-teardown-plans/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-three-more-teardown-plans/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 22:00:30 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280498 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.

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West Seattle development: Key approvals for 4400 SW Alaska http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-key-approvals-for-4400-sw-alaska/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-key-approvals-for-4400-sw-alaska/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:30:22 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280129

(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.

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Southwest Design Review Board votes to advance 2626 Alki to second phase, after second meeting http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/southwest-design-review-board-votes-to-advance-2626-alki-to-second-phase-after-second-meeting/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/southwest-design-review-board-votes-to-advance-2626-alki-to-second-phase-after-second-meeting/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 04:18:07 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=279696

(“Concept drawing” by Roger Newell AIA Architects)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Five months after sending mixed-use 2626 Alki Avenue SW back for a second round of Early Design Guidance (WSB coverage here), the Southwest Design Review Board got that second look at it tonight.

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.

For inspiration, he cited ’50s/’60s Northwest post/beam architecture such as the Magnolia Library, as well as natural elements of the nearby beach, such as sandstone. In a change from the first EDG, he mentioned fewer bays lining the building’s Alki Avenue frontage. The vehicle entry would be on 59th, near the corner. Thompson said the location is dictated by the fact that city rules don’t allow entrance on a building’s commercial side, if it might be vehicles for the commercial businesses, as in this case.

They’ve designed the building with a setback on the top (third) floor to “reduce the impact on Alki,” as well as a setback on the east side to reduce the impact on the neighboring residential street. They’ve added residential units to the ground floor in hopes of “increasing eyes on the street” and “enhancing the street-level experience.”

Kayak and bicycle storage is planned to “respond to the active lifestyle that happens on Alki.” Its street-facing wall will be glass so that passersby can see what’s inside. There will also be a “social area” along the street and a covered bus-stop area, near a set-back corner area that might, Thompson said, be suitable for a restaurant. Four street trees are planned along the Alki side, and a mix of trees and “small shrubs” along the 59th side. Rooftop landscaping is planned as well.

Board questions: T. Frick McNamara sought clarification about the canopy along Alki – it’s six feet wide and beneath the second-floor units’ decking, Thompson replied. She also wondered if the architects had looked at the second-floor residential space above the building that currently houses Alki businesses including Starbucks.

In response to Matt Zinski‘s question about height, Thompson explained that the first floor would be able to get to 13′ high because of a change in the shoreline zoning that’s expected to take effect later this year, before construction begins, making for a total building height of 34′, four feet higher than would have been allowed otherwise. Todd Bronk wondered if the architects weren’t trying to jam too much into the ground floor and asked if they considered reducing the number of residential units so they wouldn’t need as many parking spaces (Alki is governed by city rules dictating how many offstreet spaces must be included).

Daniel Skaggs expressed concern about a “blank wall,” which Thompson had said earlier would be concrete on which some texturing could be used. Board chair Laird Bennion had Thompson confirm that the building’s stair tower would be primarily glass.

Design Review meetings always have a public-comment period, and three people spoke tonight: Nearby resident Craig said the project will affect him in terms of view and light, and wondered about the building considering putting some of its parking underground so it wouldn’t be so high and in order to “maintain the character of the neighborhood.” (Planner Lindsay King said there is a “code (zoning) reason” why this building can’t have underground parking; Craig said that there are relatively new structures in the area that do have underground parking.) He also suggested the combination of pedestrians and turning cars with the entrance at 59th and Alki could further worsen the “regular … (summertime) game of chicken” played by vehicles and people on foot. He also wondered where the delivery trucks serving the businesses would be parking, saying his street – Marine Avenue- already is affected by commercial vehicles illegally parking. He asked about light studies for the project, suggesting that less light will mean more cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

A 40-year area resident spoke next, also talking about Marine Avenue, noting how narrow it is and how some of its residents have to park on the street because their homes don’t have offstreet parking at all. She also said the 2001 earthquake “destroyed (her) home” because of the proximity of the Seattle Fault.

The third and final speaker was Deb Barker, former board member/chair who comments at many project reviews. She said she was glad to see residential uses on the ground floor along 59th but hoped they would be more than entrances for second-floor use. She said she still feels the way she did when speaking at the first review, that the project “feels overbuilt.” She noted that at least three alleys in the area run north/south with entrance/exit right onto Alki and wondered why this building couldn’t have that kind of entrance/exit instead. And she said that the office portion of the building still feels “monolithic” and not responsive to the beach atmosphere; the glassed-in bike/kayak area sounded to her like a waste of sidewalk-level space and potential view. “For me, it feels as if this project has gone backward,” she finished.

During board deliberations, Skaggs carried on with that sentiment: “I’m disappointed in what we’re seeing this time.” Matt Zinski said he felt he was seeing something “suburban … completely out of character with this neighborhood … a big step backward with the concept of what the massing could be.” McNamara said that she didn’t feel the request to break the project into two buildings to break up the “monolithic feel” had been truly responded to. Zinski agreed with that. The proposal “just doesn’t fit,” declared Bronk. The kayak/bicycle room “could almost be another unit,” space-wise, observed Bennion. The efficiency of the project as one building appealed to him. McNamara said the massing on the west side didn’t fit the neighborhood; other board members pointed out, though, that Alki is something of a hodgepodge. Bronk expressed regret that the most appealing aspects of the original design seemed to have been lost: “There’s got to be another solution here.” He also suggested the upper floors were “robbing from the public right-of-way” where he felt they should be stepping back. McNamara also expressed concern about the decks’ intrusion onto the right of way.

On the other hand, Bennion said, if the building uses “really great materials,” it wouldn’t be a negative for it to “come right up to the right-of-way.”

He and McNamara sparred a bit on the building’s potential interaction with the neighborhood, with Bennion noting that the neighborhood didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be yet, and McNamara said this is the time and the sort of process in which to start creating spaces that will enhance the neighborhood.

Bronk worried about how the building would age over the next decade or so, fearing it would be “really bad,” and wondering about its leasability. Bennion said the location alone will make them leasable no matter what. McNamara, meantime, wondered about some vertical landscaping to create more of a buffer for the existing residential properties south of the building.

The parking area shouldn’t just be a blank stretch of asphalt, but should have more characteristics of a “parking court,” they said. Maybe even pavers that are a lighter color, Bronk suggested. Would permeable pavement be possible? they wondered.

And facing Alki, they are looking for an “open facade.” But there was some debate over how lively the east side would have to be, given that the building next door likely would be demolished for redevelopment eventually; in general, more glass was requested.

They indicated they would approve zoning exceptions that were requested for the project.

Also, the board recommended swapping the elevator and stair towers. And though materials are not always a subject at the Early Design Guidance stage, they requested that architects go back to some of the timber use that was envisioned in early drawings for the first round of EDG.

Something to say about this project before its next Design Review meeting? City planner King is the person to whom you should send your comment(s) – lindsay.king@seattle.gov.

SIDE NOTE: This was the last meeting for chair Bennion, who is moving out of Seattle to attend a graduate program at MIT (after which, he said, he hopes to return to the city). That creates a vacancy on the board; we’ll be checking with DPD to see if they are taking applications or planning to fill it another way.

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West Seattle development: Former Admiralty House Antiques building ‘unveiled’ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-former-admiralty-house-antiques-building-unveiled/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-former-admiralty-house-antiques-building-unveiled/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 16:22:29 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=279215

(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.

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Southwest Design Review Board, report #2: 3824 California passes Early Design Guidance on 3rd try http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/southwest-design-review-board-report-2-3824-california-passes-early-design-guidance-on-3rd-try/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/southwest-design-review-board-report-2-3824-california-passes-early-design-guidance-on-3rd-try/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 05:16:55 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278918

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.

As mentioned here in a recent preview, they are now proposing 28 units and 26 parking spaces for the site, which has a 34-foot height limit by zoning and requires one parking space per residential unit. She said they hope to create “a contextually appropriate node of small businesses.” The live-works would be residential on the top two floors of each unit, with the retail at ground level, and a separate residential area on the back side.

Briefly showing what the previous architect had presented, McKay said the six points they’re addressing include:

*Using existing trees to inform massing
*Respect tradition to single-family zone
*More variation and variability (the townhouses will be a few feet shorter than live-work units)
*Emphasize corners
*Reduce visual impact of parking and trash (a five-foot landscape buffer between the alley and the parking is enabled by turning some of the parking parallel to the alley)
*Promote interaction at open space (a “large central gathering space in the middle” – dubbed the “piazza” – will facilitate this, McKay said, and will be faced by the living rooms of the townhouses east of that space)

They offered three options – “Corner Open Space” (A), “Woonerf” (B), and “Courtyard” (C, preferred by the project team) – see them all in the design packet, here.

The preferred option, C, would be broken up in two places along California SW; at the Charlestown/California corner, there would be a “heavily glazed” (window-enhanced) commercial area. The alley would be improved.

The new landscape architect, Karen Kiest, talked about the preferred design facilitating preservation of the street trees – it’s a “big site,” as she put it, so there are a lot of them. Landscaping would be key in “breaking up the block,” as would the breaks in the massing along California. And the parking area now will feel like it’s “broken into five different lots,” with landscaping buffers, giving “a lot more character to the space,” she said. (Trees will be larger near the parking area, while further into the site, some of the new trees will be more like “treelets,” as Kiest described them.)

The central “piazza” with two live-work units fronting onto it also would be an enhancement. It would start as a public space off California and then transition into a more private zone for the residents, the further east into the site you go. In board questions, that was elaborated on – it will face west, which means dinnertime sunshine during parts of the year, and that would also be the case for rooftop decks on the townhomes.

Responding to another board question – trash would be picked up at the Charlestown and Bradford ends of the alley. The “steepness” will likely be reduced there, noted architect Johnston.

He was also asked about materials, though those don’t usually come into play until the next phase of the Design Review process; he said they are looking for places where brick “might be appropriate.” Johnston also said they use cedar when it works, but promised they wouldn’t be turning to “hardie planks.” “Good answer,” said multiple board members.

Board chair Laird Bennion said the retail elements are vital, since the zoning is NC-1 (neighborhood commercial). They don’t want to see the “live-work” units become “live-live.” Johnston said that’s why they are working to have residential entries at the back of those units and commercial in front – that solves one of the problems that can lead to a conflict between the units’ two uses.

The architects pointed out the proposals all are technically “underdevelopment” – half the floor-area ratio they could have on the site. But Johnston said there was an argument for little spots of character here and there rather than making everything “as big as you can within the context of the zoning. … I think (this) is the right thing for this site.”

Public comments:

Deb Barker, a former SWDRB member, was first to speak. She said she remains “very very dubious about the live-work situation,” though she’s glad to see the sketch of California/Charlestown suggesting a restaurant/café – and yet she’s not sure how that would be accomplished in a live-work setup. She called attention to what she called a “terrible example of live-work” at 3442 California SW, with the windows “completely covered,” and the Caffé Fiore space in the 2200 block of California SW, which has a two-story commercial space and a residential floor above, “strong” in her view. And she had landscaping concerns – “are the lindens/large trees in good-enough shape to build this whole project off of?” She considered the “five parking lots” a good idea and thought the garbage/recycling setup seemed to work.

Second, Deb Iveans, a neighbor, said she “really appreciated” all the work that the developer has done with those living nearby. She also voiced support for the “preferred option,” especially the reconfiguration of the parking. Since the new buildings will block light to many homes, pushing them further away would be a plus. While it would be a zoning exception to allow townhomes to front on part of the Bradford side, she said that would seem to work, especially because there’s no side-street retail in the area and it likely wouldn’t work there anyway. The landscaped inside courtyard also appealed to her rather than parking areas in the center of the space.

Third, another neighbor, Scott Kratz, said he’s concerned that “while three options were presented,” two of them were “throwaway” meant to emphasize the preferred option – though he said he liked the latter too. He also worries that the corner of California/Charlestown doesn’t have “much weight.”

Fourth, Steve Engles, another neighbor, read a letter from other neighbors who couldn’t be at the meeting. They expressed opposition to option A, which “would result in structures towering over our backyard with no setback at all.” They reiterated the neighbors’ preference for parking facing the alley, even though that had met with some opposition from the board last time around. The letter voiced support for components of Option C including the interior courtyard. Engels said he echoed what they and other neighbors had said, hoping the board would “hear our collective voices for the third meeting in a row.”

Five, Brooke Engles, who said that she wanted to be here even though she had just gotten out of the hospital. “I can’t express enough that the third option seems to meet the … feedback given by neighbors” and others. She said that this new option was almost “exciting,” especially the idea of something they might participate in, with corner retail, bringing “an anchor to the space” if that kind of business can be found.

Six, Connie Wicklund, who lives on the alley east of the project site. “I really feel like our concerns and questions have been heard” with the development of Option C. The neighbors have met repeatedly, she said, and “Project C says to me, we’ve been heard, and I appreciate that.” As a lifelong West Seattleite, she said, it’s difficult to see the changes, but if it’s inevitable, at least this had some promise.

The man who spoke seventh (forgive us for not getting his name!) said he also appreciated the possibility of some sort of food business, since it’s been missing since the café’s closure three years ago.

Eighth was Diane Vincent, who said she lives just a few blocks away. She said “it’s ironic that a few years ago we couldn’t get live-work and now we’ve been inundated with it. … We need the retail to create the activity to have people walking and gathering on the streets.” She said the evolution in the project is “like Design Review 101 .. of what you can get when the developer hires a really, really awesome architect … award-winning, fabulous, people who really get it and give us what we wanted.” She also gave kudos to the neighbors for their persistence and to the board for having the fortitude to push for a third Early Design Guidance meeting.

As the board deliberated, chair Bennion said he was pleased to see some of the changes, including separate entrances for the live and work aspects of live-work units.

Todd Bronk offered kudos to the project team for dropping two units, resulting in a major difference in what could be done with the site.

They talked about the conundrum of having aspirations for the retail space but, since it will be owned space, not being able to dictate what it will be. (The kitty-corner Charlestown Center building – where there was hope of a ground-floor café that never materialized – came up again.) And they also reiterated what community members had said – that the California/Charlestown corner needed to be even stronger. They also talked about entrances onto the piazza for more of the units bordering it.

While the parking configuration proved popular, board members said it’ll be important for there to be sightlines, so those areas toward the back of the site don’t turn into optimal car-prowl zones. They also noted that access to the parking area – including ADA-compliant access – will be important.

With the general configuration and intent not at issue, they closed out discussing fine points including how the signage might work. They also indicated they’re leaning toward approving the zoning exception allowing some townhomes to face onto Bradford.

What’s next: The project will have at least one more meeting. In the meantime, you can send comments to planner Beth Hartwick, who is assigned to the project, and who was at the meeting – beth.hartwick@seattle.gov.

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Southwest Design Review Board report #1: Eye-clinic project @ 7520 35th SW sent back for second round of early-design guidance http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/southwest-design-review-board-report-1-eye-clinic-project-7520-35th-sw-sent-back-for-second-round-of-early-design-guidance/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/southwest-design-review-board-report-1-eye-clinic-project-7520-35th-sw-sent-back-for-second-round-of-early-design-guidance/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 03:17:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278901 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:

“This is not a speculative project – this is going to be an owner-occupied project.” (PB also designed Youngstown Flats [WSB sponsor], Bocek pointed out, also noting he’s a West Seattle resident.)

The applicant is buying the entire site – on the east side of 35th between SW Webster and the Hillcrest Apartments – it was explained, but they’re only proposing to build on the south half of the site (replacing structures including the current home of Red Star Pizzathe “design packet” lays out exactly which part of the site they are proposing to build on; John’s Corner Deli, for example, is staying, they said). “It’s a very long block,” pointed out Bocek, saying the challenge and opportunity is to create a building that “enhances” it, and that leaves development potential for “someone” to use the north half in the future.

Part of the ground-floor retail at this planned building will be the clinic’s eye-wear center, while the clinic itself and a surgery center will be on the second and third floors. The practice sees about 100 patients a day, according to the architects.

The architects brought four alternatives for massing – size and shape. All would position the building toward the south side of the site, with some parking within the building (for use by both staff and patients), and open surface parking immediately north of it; they’re hoping to have about 40 spaces. (And board chair Laird Bennion agreed later that they would need every space they could get.)

The project team’s preferred option, #4, would be “just what the clients need – no more, no less,” Bocek explained. Among other points, it would be set back 5 feet on the alley, across from a single-family neighborhood; it would be a few feet higher than the apartment building south of it. The alley behind the site is currently unimproved, which would change with development, the architects note. The preferred entry would be off 35th, but it would have an entry from the alley as well; as Garrett noted late in the discussion, the city prefers alley access, so getting 35th access would require a “departure” (rule exception). The board said it would support one access from each side, rather than the current potential for two off 35th.

Only a few people came to the meeting, and no in-person public comments were offered; chair Bennion said that neighbors sent written comments to the board, while saying they were unable to attend the meeting. One of the concerns from those neighbors that he conveyed during the “board questions” section was regarding the aforementioned alley, and Bocek said “our intent is to improve it from Webster to our south property line.”

Board member Todd Bronk wondered why, with the long block, the building was proposed to be pushed right up to the sidewalk, as if it were “engaging the parking lot instead of the sidewalk,” especially considering the fact that the apartment building to its south is set back. He also wondered about having the parking behind the building rather than having any of it right alongside 35th. Bocek noted that having the building line more of 35th would not be preferable from an architectural standpoint because, as an eye clinic, it will “have a lot of windowless space.” (Much of that would be It will have two lobbies, one for the clinic and one for the surgery center, since a separate entry is required by law, Bocek said, and both will be along 35th.

Board member Matt Zinski expressed a concern about the site having very little landscaping/open space, citing research that the latter is good for health and healing.

In board deliberations, “height/bulk/scale” were identified as the biggest issues, right off the top. Its status as a “midblock site on a very busy street” also was called out.

Board member Daniel Skaggs said that option 2 seemed to both be a bridge to the future and respect the single-family homes behind. Bennion countered by saying that he preferred Option 4 because future car-use patterns would likely change. Board members wondered how the recommendations they make now will affect future development possibilities, without taking sections of the streetfront out of commission.

They also looked ahead to the “evolution” of the neighborhood and cited the failure of the project to address pedestrians’ needs – “You can’t walk up to this project,” Bronk observed. Board members referred repeatedly to the fact, also, that this is a business that will be closed in the evenings, leaving a “big empty zone,” though that’s not necessarily something the design process can address in a major way. Bronk thought it would be helpful to see projects with a similar layout. Skaggs thought the proposed layout was generally “like a mall.” The board members weren’t inclined to grant permission for “three [two-way] entrances with dead-head parking.” They wondered if underground parking might be considered. In the end, they were leaning toward a version of design option #2, rather than the project team’s preferred #4, although the architects said they would like to riff off both of those, so the board agreed with that. Re: #4′s layout, Bronk suggested some elements of the South Delridge Walgreens – which has parking fronting a busy street (Roxbury) and yet screened.

What’s next: Another meeting will be scheduled for a second round of Early Design Guidance. In the meantime, you can comment on the project by e-mailing planner Garrett – her e-mail address is tami.garrett@seattle.gov.

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