West Seattle Blog... » Development http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:14:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 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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West Seattle development: See the newest renderings for next 3 projects going before Southwest Design Review Board http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-see-the-newest-renderings-for-next-3-projects-going-before-southwest-design-review-board/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-see-the-newest-renderings-for-next-3-projects-going-before-southwest-design-review-board/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 05:12:12 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278614 The “design packets” for all three of the Southwest Design Review Board‘s scheduled July reviews are all available online, if you’re interested in an early look at what will be presented at the meetings. All three of these are “early design guidance” (EDG) meetings.

First, this Thursday, July 10th, at 6:30 pm, it’s the first EDG for 7520 35th SW, Clearview Eye Clinic, planned on a site that currently includes Red Star Pizza. We first told you about the project two months ago; a three-story building is planned, with retail/commercial on the first floor, while the clinic would be on the second and third floors. Depending on the final design, it’s expected to have up to 41 parking spaces. See the design packet here.

Second meeting that night, 8 pm, is the third EDG meeting for 3824 California SW, 28 townhouse/live-work units on the site of the former Charlestown Café. We reported key changes to the project – including a new architect – here last week. The packet wasn’t available then, but it is now – see it here.

Finally: The design packet is also available for 2626 Alki Avenue SW, which goes back to the board for its second EDG meeting at 6:30 pm July 17th, the only project going before the board that night. This is a three-story, mixed-use building proposed for 13 apartments and commercial space at the corner of 59th/Alki, on a site holding three buildings with a variety of tenants, including several businesses. See the design packet here.

All these meetings are at the Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon); all include public-comment time, but if you won’t be able to go, you can e-mail comments via the projects’ respective planners, all listed here.

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West Seattle development: Demolition at 4745 40th SW; 3 new teardown/rebuild plans http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-demolition-at-4745-40th-sw-3-new-teardownrebuild-plans/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-demolition-at-4745-40th-sw-3-new-teardownrebuild-plans/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 22:01:24 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278042 Demolition-for-redevelopment notes today:

4745 40TH SW TEARDOWN UNDERWAY: Thanks to Maris for the heads-up on Monday that backhoes had taken up position at the 40th/Edmunds project site. They hadn’t started work by day’s end but this afternoon, they’re taking down the office building on site, former home to businesses including what might be West Seattle’s biggest tech firm, Tango Card. (You’ll recall our story last August about its search for a new WS location, which it found not far away, in Jefferson Square.) 4745 40th SW won final Design Review approval in December (WSB coverage here), and applied for the demolition permit in March. is slated for 150 units and 115 parking spaces, with some live-work units and a relatively small commercial space on the ground floor, adjacent to the future city-park site to its north. (That site in turn will soon be the temporary home of Fire Station 32 while that station is rebuilt on its site in The Triangle at 37th/38th/Alaska.)

THREE DEMOLITION-PERMIT NOTES: From the city files today, all in single-family-house projects:

*1 DOWN, 2 UP AT 4316 SW THISTLE: A demolition-permit application is in for the site of this 106-year-old Gatewood house across from the top of the fabled Thistle stairway, as well as early word of two houses to replace it, pending a lot-boundary adjustment which has a case number but no documents on file so far; county data for the 7,500-sf site does show two lot numbers.

*1 DOWN, 1 UP AT 3426 38TH SW: The permit has just been granted for demolition of this 106-year-old bungalow, with a new house slated to replace it.

1 DOWN, 1 UP AT 4707 14TH SW: A demolition permit is sought for this 85-year-old house on 15,000 sf of land, where records show one new house is planned.

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West Seattle development: New architect team and changes for 3824 California project, as next Design Review meeting approaches http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-new-architect-team-and-changes-for-3824-california-project-as-next-design-review-meeting-approaches/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-new-architect-team-and-changes-for-3824-california-project-as-next-design-review-meeting-approaches/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 19:57:11 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278031

(Click image to see full-size PDF)
After two Early Design Guidance meetings ended with the Southwest Design Review Board basically saying “try again,” the developer of the former Charlestown Café site at 3824 California SW has hired a new architect going into its third round of EDG (scheduled for 8 pm July 10th, as previously noted). A spokesperson for developer Intracorp tell WSB that Johnston Architects is the firm now on the project, replacing Caron Architecture: “Their designs are quintessentially Northwest with an organic nature and human scale that Intracorp is seeking to capture for the 3824 California Ave. community. Intracorp has also added a new landscape architect, Karen Kiest, to the team. This team brings an immense amount of experience and creativity to the process of creating great places.” The proposal is now for 28 townhouse and live/work units instead of 30, and the list ahead was provided as a summary of major changes:

1. Intracorp is staying with the alley-parked design as their preferred scheme but with significant changes made to the parking configuration based on DRB feedback.

a. Parking on both ends of the alley has been turned 90 degrees and the perimeter of these parking areas has been fully landscaped.
b. The number of parking stalls in the alley has been reduced by eliminating 4 stalls bringing the total from 30 down to 26.
c. Additional landscaping has been added between parking stalls and against the sides of the buildings facing the alley.

2. Units along both side streets are now slated as townhomes. However, this change from Live-Work units is subject to city approval. Both the DRB and the neighbors have sought this as a positive change creating a better transition from the commercial uses on California to the residential neighborhood to the east but it will be up to the City to approve the departure being requested by the applicant.

3. Units along both side streets are set back from the streets further, improving the transition to the single family neighborhood to the east.

4. By setting back the units on the side streets, some of the existing trees can now be saved.

5. To make room for these changes, the unit count was reduced from 30 to 28.

6. A significant amount of variation and modulation along the street façade has been added to the design.

7. A central Piazza near the middle of the site along California Ave. has been added to the design and is envisioned as an intimate gathering spot, with café tables and urban landscape features. The piazza will be flanked by two of the ground floor commercial spaces along California Ave. which will have large doors opening onto the piazza and awnings providing weather protection.

8. The size of trash enclosures has been reduced, the access has been rearranged to minimize the impact on the sidewalk, and an arbor is planned for the top of the trash collection areas.

We’ll link the official “design packet” when it appears on the city site – possibly by the end of today, so check back. Our reports on the previous EDG meetings for this project are here: April and January. It’s been 13 months since we first reported this proposal for the closed-since-2011 cafe site.

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‘West Seattle: Let’s Talk,’ suggested the city. Here’s what ensued. http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-lets-talk-suggested-the-city-heres-what-ensued/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-lets-talk-suggested-the-city-heres-what-ensued/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 13:37:42 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=277853

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Not growing is not an option, says the city. So, reps from three city departments asked at a first-of-its-kind meeting in West Seattle, what should that growth look like, and where should it happen?

Another question posed: How do we make room for the people moving to Seattle now and for those who will need housing in the future – such as current residents’ kids?

Questions like those were at the heart of the city-organized event in West Seattle this past Saturday, titled “Let’s Talk.” The documents you see throughout this story weren’t presented slide-deck-style, but instead were on easel-borne boards around the room. The meeting was formatted loosely, in hopes of conversation, and that, we can vouch, was under way from the start.

Then, about half an hour into the event on the upper floor of the Senior Center of West Seattle (with decorations lingering from Rainbow Bingo the night before), a few minutes of speeches were offered, but more in the explanatory vein than declaratory – and then the conversations resumed.

Two city department directors were among the city staff on hand, Diane Sugimura (above right) from the Department of Planning and Development, Bernie Matsuno from the Department of Neighborhoods. Not long after the brief speeches, they wound up in a conversation circle with more than two dozen attendees in the back of the room, near the bingo board.

Back in the rest of the room, one-on-one conversations continued, and dozens of other attendees continued perusing the boards. We asked for digital copies so we could share them with you here. (Most are self-explanatory; the ones atop this story show options for what it would take for the city to become carbon-neutral by 2050, with now-digitized red or green dots regarding whether attendees liked or disliked specific options.) Here are the main boards – the first one was displayed at the room’s entrance to set the stage, and then the next eight with lots of information about development and growth in West Seattle, zoning, how to give feedback on development, and questions too:

Noticing the conversation group setting up with Sugimura and Matsuno, we took notes. “We want to be able to participate in the decisionmaking,” said one attendee, and that was at the heart of almost everything else.

The questions, concerns, and suggestions were many (please note, the following are paraphrased bullet points, not exact quotes unless contained within quotation marks):

-West Seattle’s transportation infrastructure isn’t made for intensive growth.

-The city permit system is an expensive hassle.

-Why isn’t development focusing on streets that could handle it, say, 35th SW?

-People need to get involved in the Comprehensive Plan process (Seattle 2035).

-City reps should come back for an intensive three-to-four-hour summit to really talk in depth with and listen to West Seattleites.

-Neighborhood groups are small and don’t network and don’t know the “rules, codes, options” so they are outgunned when prolific developers come into the neighborhood with a project.

-The city needs to push out development information – perhaps an app – it’s not good enough to have it just there waiting to be discovered; an app should keep checking what’s happening in an area of interest you identify, and push out the information to you when something is planned in your area.

*West Seattle needs a hospital. Matsuno said the city can “encourage” it, but has no authority to force a health-care organization to build one. “Well, ARE you ‘encouraging’ it?” asked one attendee. Reply: “In conversations with any kind of businesses, we encourage them to go where they are needed.”

*West Seattle needs employers so fewer people will have to commute outbound. This generated a significant amount of discussion, with Matsuno saying you can offer incentives for employers, but you can’t force them to locate in a specific area. One participant said she was a commercial banker and “the way you do it is to give them money.”

*”Regular” people are being pushed out by “wealthy” people.

*Applications by prolific developers often show up with “sloppy paperwork,” leaving neighborhood advocates wondering “how did this get through?” and suggesting there should be a penalty for repeat offenders. Couldn’t a computerized review check for chronic offenders?

*The issue of projects with little or no parking came up. Sugimura noted that the mayor had asked for a review of that, and “we are in the middle of it.”

*Why doesn’t West Seattle have a transit center “like Burien”? Sugimura said she wasn’t familiar with the Burien Transit Center. The centralizing of bus routes at Westwood was mentioned. One attendee countered, “But it’s all on the perimeter and there’s no parking.” The city of Seattle doesn’t build parking garages, pointed out city reps, so “it always takes somebody (private) willing to put money into it.”

*Projects are reviewed on a standalone basis, without the “cumulative effects” of changes in a specific area being considered. One attendee said the parking study done for a 40-unit project didn’t take into effect other apartment projects within a block or two.

*Environmental reviews are not triggered if, for example, a single-family house is being replaced by a single-family house.

*What about a “cap and trade” type of program? one attendee suggested – requiring developers to “replace the affordable house they’re destroying” when a “$300,000 bungalow” is demolished and replaced with a $1 million house.

11:30 came, and the discussion circle was wrapped up. Two community-group reps volunteered themselves as liaisons for a followup meeting with the city to get and share information on what would be done with what DPD, DON, and SDOT heard at the meeting. So watch for that (we’ll be following up, and information will be circulated through community councils too). And, as was exhorted several times, get involved in the Comprehensive Plan process – there were boards for that too:

SIDE NOTE: During the brief “remarks” portion, attendees were asked to raise their hands in reply to questions such as how long you’ve lived here and whether you own or rent. A quick look around revealed mostly people who’ve been here more than a few years, and almost entirely homeowners. Some suggested maybe the Saturday morning meeting time was wrong – but it’s a frequent observation that evening meetings aren’t convenient either – so, if you’ve read this far but didn’t go, was it a matter of time? Or?

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Morgan Junction and Harbor Ave. rezones, citywide policy changes all part of Comprehensive Plan amendment proposal http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/morgan-junction-and-harbor-ave-rezones-citywide-policy-changes-all-part-of-comprehensive-plan-amendment-proposal/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/morgan-junction-and-harbor-ave-rezones-citywide-policy-changes-all-part-of-comprehensive-plan-amendment-proposal/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 17:03:17 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=277932 A public notice published today lists 11 potential changes to the city’s Comprehensive Plan, with at least four of interest to West Seattle. All 11 will be lumped together in one public hearing set for the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee on July 15th. The four are:

*Rezoning to allow a six-townhouse project on land owned by the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene south of its 42nd/Juneau sanctuary and parsonage in north Morgan Junction. (Here’s our most recent report on the project, from a meeting in which the Morgan Community Association endorsed it; see the proposed amendment here.)

*Rezoning to “remove an area waterward of Harbor Avenue Southwest and south of Southwest Bronson Way known as Pier One from the Duwamish Manufacturing/Industrial Center and change the designation of that area from industrial to commercial/mixed-use.” We first wrote about this proposal two years ago; see the proposed amendment here.

*An amendment to “limit live-work units along arterials.” See the text here.

*An amendment to “add policy language regarding the monitoring and reporting of growth and to require action when an area exceeds its growth targets.” This comes up often in development discussions regarding the West Seattle Junction area, already well past its current “growth target” and is in fact proposed by a West Seattleite, Cindi Barker. See the text here.

You can read the full text of all the proposed amendments by going here. The meeting on July 15th is at City Hall, 2 pm; if you can’t be there, the notice points out other ways to comment.

DEVELOPMENT P.S. We covered Saturday morning’s well-attended “West Seattle: Let’s Talk” meeting and expect to publish the report by tonight.

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West Seattle development: No Whittaker appeal; Alki demolition; Saturday meeting not just DPD; more… http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-development-no-whittaker-appeal-alki-demolition-saturday-meeting-not-just-dpd-more/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-development-no-whittaker-appeal-alki-demolition-saturday-meeting-not-just-dpd-more/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 21:13:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=277582 Another round of development notes, including demolitions current and future:

THE WHITTAKER UPDATE – DEMOLITION THIS SUMMER: Despite previous controversy over the 4755 Fauntleroy Way project, aka The Whittaker, no one had filed an appeal of its key land-use approval by the deadline yesterday, so the project is moving ahead. A spokesperson tells us they expect to start demolition by summer’s end, but don’t yet know which of the buildings on the site will be first to go. This is the project with a Whole Foods Market (we’re checking to see if any other retailers have been signed), ~389 apartments, ~594 parking spaces. If construction does start this year, it would be on target for completion in 2016.

3008 ALKI DEMOLITION: Nine months ago, we noted an application to build five “rowhouse” units in two buildings at 3008 Alki Avenue SW. This week, the existing structures on the site were torn down:

(Thanks to the person who texted the photo!) One building, with two units now described as townhouses, will carry the Alki Ave. address; the 3-unit building will be at 6502 SW Stevens. Documents filed with the city say the offstreet parking will total 10 spaces.

1 DOWN, 2 UP AT 5421 49TH SW: A demolition-permit application was filed this week for that 93-year-old house at 5421 49th SW.

City files say it will be replaced by two single-family houses; its lot is 15,000+ square feet.

UPDATE ON 2-REPLACING-1 AT 8437 41ST SW: We reported earlier this month on the plan for two single-family houses on the site of one to-be-demolished house in Upper Fauntleroy. The owner/developer is now seeking a lot-boundary adjustment, to split the site into 4,500- and 7,300-square-foot parcels.

DESIGN REVIEW REMINDER NOTICES: The dates have already been reported here, but in case you missed them, the formal Southwest Design Review Board meeting notices appeared in Thursday’s Land Use Information Bulletin for 3824 California SW (8 pm July 10th) and 2626 Alki SW (6:30 pm July 17th).

‘LET’S TALK’ WITH DPD, SDOT, DON IN WEST SEATTLE TOMORROW: One more nudge before our Saturday morning calendar highlights – tomorrow is the West Seattle “Let’s Talk” conversation with Department of Planning and Development reps including director Diane Sugimura, 9:30-11:30 am at the Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon in The Junction) – and we see on the DPD’s website that reps from SDOT and the Department of Neighborhoods will be there too. It’s listed there as “open-house-style” so we’re trying to find out more specifics about the format.

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West Seattle development: Ex-café site’s next Design Review date, 3 more notes, and a reminder http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-development-ex-cafe-sites-next-design-review-date-3-more-notes-and-a-reminder/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-development-ex-cafe-sites-next-design-review-date-3-more-notes-and-a-reminder/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 05:05:00 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=277311 Five development notes tonight:

ANOTHER DESIGN REVIEW MEETING SET: The Southwest Design Review Board hasn’t had a reason to meet since May 1st, but next month is getting busier. A second project has been added to the schedule for July 10th’s meeting, which already had the 7520 35th SW eye-clinic project on the docket for 6:30 pm. The 8 pm slot is now scheduled for the third Early Design Guidance review of 3824 California SW, the former Charlestown Café site. Two months have passed since the second EDG meeting for the townhouse/live-work-unit project (WSB coverage here). The July 10th reviews will be at the SWDRB’s usual meeting site, the Senior Center of West Seattle (WSB sponsor) at California/Oregon in The Junction.

ANOTHER CORNER ROWHOUSE ON FAUNTLEROY WAY: One block south of the south end of 4755 Fauntleroy Way (The Whittaker), a 65-year-old duplex on a LR-1-zoned corner at 5003 Fauntleroy is proposed to be demolished and replaced by a 7-unit rowhouse.

It’s a few blocks north of Fauntleroy/Findlay, where the 5-unit corner rowhouse mentioned here a few times is almost complete.

LAND USE APPROVAL FOR ARBOR HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY DEMOLITION: Days after the last school year for the old Arbor Heights Elementary ended, the city has published a notice of land-use approval for its demolition. The publication opens a 2-week appeal window, until July 7th.

APPEAL HEARING SET FOR 3078 SW AVALON: Permits for the 102-apartment building planned at 3078 SW Avalon Way are being appealed by the group Seattle Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development, founded in an adjacent neighborhood. They’re scheduled to go before the city Hearing Examiner on September 8th. The project received a key land-use approval last month.

REMINDER – ‘LET’S TALK’ WITH DPD ON SATURDAY: Interested in development/land use? Set aside 9:30-11:30 am Saturday morning to meet with DPD director Diane Sugimura and others from the city, specific to West Seattle issues and policy – here’s our most-recent preview.

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West Seattle biznote: Styling Studio closing to make way for 3210 California development http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-biznote-styling-studio-closing-to-make-way-for-3210-california-development/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-biznote-styling-studio-closing-to-make-way-for-3210-california-development/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 22:38:05 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=277044

That little building at 3230 California SW is about to end its 40+-year run as a West Seattle hair salon, according to the proprietor of the one there now, Styling Studio. It was built in 1945 and is on the South Admiral site where work will start this year on the 134-apartment 3210 California mixed-use project. Styling Studio proprietor Robert Lopez contacted WSB to let us know June 30th is its final day. He says, “I tried to find another space, but negotiations fell through, and I’ve joined the staff at Belli Capelli, at 3902 California Ave SW, another longtime West Seattle hair establishment.”

3210 California’s land-use approval came in a month ago, as reported here; this week, its developer, Intracorp, filed for the shoring/excavation permit. We have asked for an update on when they expect to start demolition and construction, and are checking with other businesses about their plans. (If yours is among them and you see this before we contact you, please e-mail editor@westseattleblog.com with info on where you are going, as Robert did – thank you.)

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West Seattle development: DPD director Diane Sugimura confirmed for ‘Let’s Talk’ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-development-dpd-director-diane-sugimura-confirmed-for-lets-talk/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-development-dpd-director-diane-sugimura-confirmed-for-lets-talk/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:06:15 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=277024 Another update on the Department of Planning and DevelopmentLet’s Talk” event in West Seattle one week from tomorrow: We’ve confirmed with DPD that its director Diane Sugimura will be there. So if you have a question or comment for the person in charge of the department that reviews and approves development, she’s the one, and this is your chance. Here’s the announcement we published last week; the event was first announced two weeks before that, during the West Seattle “conversation” with Councilmember Mike O’Brien (WSB coverage here), who chairs the committee that deals with development and planning. “West Seattle: Let’s Talk” is scheduled for 9:30-11:30 am Saturday, June 28th, at the Senior Center of West Seattle (WSB sponsor), California/Oregon in The Junction, all welcome.

SIDE NOTE: Sugimura was in West Seattle last June to talk with the Southwest District Council (WSB coverage here).

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West Seattle development updates, from Admiral to Westwood http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-development-updates-from-admiral-to-westwood/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-development-updates-from-admiral-to-westwood/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 19:15:03 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=274352 Big stack of development notes/updates, all involving teardowns large and small:

First, the city has officially given a key land-use approval to The Whittaker, the 7-story, 389-apartment, 594-parking-space, Whole Foods-including project at 4755 Fauntleroy SW. It’s received a Determination of Non-Significance, meaning a full environmental review will not be required. Here’s the notice; here’s the decision. This is appealable until June 26th (this explains how). A project spokesperson tells WSB that they hope to start work at the site (which still holds five buildings, all to be demolished) this summer.

Next: The second Southwest Design Review Board meeting for 2626 Alki SW is on the schedule for July 17th (6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle). This is a three-story commercial/residential building planned for the corner of Alki and 59th, replacing three buildings that currently include a rental company, a retail store, a café, and a dispensary. The date is technically still temporary, so it has not yet appeared on the Land Use Information Bulletin. Here’s our coverage of its first Early Design Guidance meeting in February, when the board told it to give EDG another try.

Nor is a new lot-boundary-adjustment application we noticed in city files. The line adjustments proposed for 8437 41st SW in Upper Fauntleroy would make way for what are shown on a filed “site plan” as two houses, replacing the existing brick house on an 11,000-plus-square-foot site that was sold to a developer last month.

A one-into-two subdivision is being sought at 3036 Alki SW, turning one into two (2,663 and 4,049 square feet), with four townhouses and one single-family home proposed to replace what’s on the site now.

And one was recently approved at 1310 California SW, adjacent to Hamilton Viewpoint Park, splitting an 11,000-square-foot lot into two almost-equal-size parcels also bordering Donald and Palm. This review carried some controversy, according to the full decision document, saying that a surveyor determined the site to be about 50 percent larger than it was believed to be, which paved the way for the split. Two new houses are proposed, replacing a 79-year-old house; the appeal period on the lot split is open for one more week.

OTHER DEMOLITION/NEW-CONSTRUCTION PLANS: In Admiral, a demolition permit has been granted for 2600 45th SW, a 108-year-old duplex (County Assessor’s photo above) to be replaced by a two-unit townhouse (following a recent lot-boundary adjustment). … In Gatewood, one has been sought for 7931 California SW, a 64-year-old house slated to be replaced by a new single-family house. … And in Westwood/Roxhill, there’s one pending for 9411 35th SW, where an 89-year-old house is proposed for replacement by a three-unit townhouse … On Pigeon Point, 3816 22nd SW is proposed for demolition and replacement by a single-family house and a two-unit townhouse; we note that a separate application for 3806 22nd SW (no teardown, though) proposes four single-family houses nearby.

Wondering if anything’s planned near your home/townhouse/apartment/business/etc.? Browse the map on the DPD home page – and if you see something, follow the link to find out more. Caveat – we’ve noticed this map shows some idle/canceled years-old proposals as well as new and recent plans, though.

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