West Seattle, Washington
On Tuesday, we showed you the first photo mural to go up on the north side of Aura on 35th SW south of Avalon. The management told us another one would be up today, so we just went over to look, and it is:
As noted in yesterday’s story and in a comment today by the SODO firm that treated the historic photos for installation, Grand Image, these 4-story-high installations are based on historic photos – the ferry West Seattle from 1907, and the trolley from 1930 – obtained via the Log House Museum.
Thanks to Eddie for the tip and the photo:
The first of two photo murals went up today on the north side of Aura, the new mixed-use building on 35th south of Avalon. This one is on the northwest side of the building, and the other one is scheduled for installation on the northeast side tomorrow, according to building management, with whom we inquired after receiving Eddie’s photo:
The images are historic photos which we received from the Log House Museum in West Seattle. Both depict historic transportation methods to and from West Seattle, which we felt was important for our location, directly adjacent to the RapidRide stop. The first image is the historic W. Seattle Ferry (photo circa 1907), and the second is the historic Spokane Street (trolley) (photo circa 1930). The digital artist who gave the images a modern twist with the “pixelation” at the corners was a group in SODO called Grand Image.
The aforementioned RapidRide stop was restored just last week.
For those who have been asking when the RapidRide stop on southbound 35th just south of Avalon would move back to its permanent site … it’s back. Don’t know if it’s been back for hours or days, but Eddie tipped us this afternoon, so we drove by for a photo. We had most recently checked with Metro in July, and – as we wrote here – they expected it to return in August, so it was a little behind schedule, but it’s there now. During the construction of mixed-use Aura, the stop had moved about a block south.
As expansion/renovation work continues at the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) headquarters in The Triangle, staffers are getting ready today for a celebration tomorrow – the grand opening of the new Kids Zone, 4-8 pm Friday. We got a sneak peek with the Y’s Joleen Post on Wednesday afternoon. Above, the big indoor play structure is in the “Adventure Zone” for 3- to 5-year-olds; the “Tween Zone” for ages 9 to 13 includes a ping-pong table:
Lots of work going on when we stopped by, but tomorrow, it’ll all be done in time for the celebration. There are also specific programs for babies, toddlers, and 4- to 9-year-olds, with three separate indoor areas – adjacent to the Y’s gym – including new restrooms and a new outdoor play structure that’s being installed soon. These are all drop-in child-care areas included in Y family memberships. But you don’t have to be a member to enjoy tomorrow’s celebration – come in, look around, try things out. (If you decide to join, the Y has a “no joining fee” special through mid-October. And if you’ve never been there – the temporary entrance is along SW Snoqualmie, between 36th SW and 37th SW.)
8:36 AM: Thanks for the tips. En route to check this out – a big Seattle Fire response to a report of a natural-gas leak in the 4500 block of 37th SW in The Triangle.
8:41 AM: The West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) tells us via e-mail, “Contractors working on the Y street improvements on SW Oregon hit a gas line about 8 am today. Gas company and fire department were contacted and we evacuated members from the building as a precaution.” Per scanner, 36th SW has been closed to traffic in the area, and according to the Y, SFD is “evacuating businesses on north side of Oregon (Tom’s, West Seattle Brake, City Dog).”
8:51 AM: Per the Y, “the leak is secured and off – waiting to hear if we are letting members back in yet.”
8:56 AM: Alaska is blocked too but this should be winding down soon, our crew has learned at the scene. The Y says it’s been given clearance to reopen. SFD tells us an engine will remain in the area for a while.
9:08 AM: Here’s the spot where the crew hit the line:
The nearby businesses are all open again too. No injuries.
10:35 AM: Added two more photos above. And just received this one from one of the briefly evacuated businesses nearby, Dog City:
They report that they “felt super safe during (the situation) with our local fire department! Needless to say the firefighter had a grin from ear to ear with all the attention. This is why we also donate to our local fire department because these guys rock!”
And Joleen Post, ace tipster from the Y, sent this photo of “Tish‘s dance class” temporarily switching locations during the evacuation:
Again, everything is OK in the area now, and SFD has long since cleared out.
When the 159-unit mixed-use building at 4435 35th SW now known as Aura went through Design Review three years ago, its most-acclaimed feature wasn’t actually part of the building – it was the “hillclimb” stairway proposed for the south side of the property. That side is actually city right-of-way, technically part of SW Oregon Street, but previously undeveloped. Now, the stairway is open; the photo is courtesy of Josh Sutton from the nearby West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor). This is envisioned as an easier way to walk between The Junction, The Triangle, and Seattle Parks facilities to the east (West Seattle Stadium, Golf Course, Camp Long, Rotary Viewpoint Park), and the growing number of residences and businesses in the area.
Story, video, and photos by Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
The last speaker at Thursday’s West Seattle YMCA expansion groundbreaking celebration, member Michelle Silver, used that term for her enthusiastic view of the Y, whose director Josh Sutton picked it up and ran with it.
It was perfect for the energy and enthusiasm that marked the event outside the Triangle headquarters of the Y (a longtime WSB sponsor).
Though members of the Y board posed for the top photo, this wasn’t really a groundbreaking about, well, breaking ground – the shovels were mostly for fun:
Major work on the Y’s long-in-the-works expansion had started last week with demolition of the old Youth Programs building. The event was more a chance to honor those who made the project possible, and to celebrate a side benefit, the new “festival street” designation for SW Snoqualmie in front of the Y, recently finalized and used for the first time for this party, which included a bouncy house, free barbecue, and even the West Seattle High School Band:
And it was a chance to recap what the expansion will bring – Sutton hit the highlights: “When this project is done, we’ll have a whole new Y from the outside and new tools to help the community.” They include a meeting room, kitchen, expanded fitness space, new family room with “active play for all ages,” a new cycling room. (More details here.)
With its perch in the West Seattle Triangle, part of the “urban village” at the heart of the peninsula, and within walking distance of thousands of new apartments, the Y also has to have its eye on the future. That was noted by Mark Tabbutt, who spoke after Sutton’s introduction, a West Seattleite representing the Greater Seattle Y’s board.
“There’s a ton of new people coming in – this organization, this Y, is going to be a big part of drawing those people in.”
Without money to pay for the expansion, it wouldn’t be happening, and about $800,000 came from the state, so the program included an area legislator, 34th District State Senator Sharon Nelson.
“Why should the state support this?” she asked rhetorically. “Because it’s about youth and families.”
From the WS Y board, Scott Hitchcock hailed the “hard work” by so many, over the decade it took for this to become reality:
Those gathered in the new “festival street” also heard from Dino Vasquez and Steve Sundquist, co-chairs of the capital campaign. Sundquist, a former Seattle School Board member, voiced appreciation for the Y’s work at local schools.
A donor whose family made the first gift to the campaign, Sue Chamberlain, recalled her membership dating back 30 years, when she said she walked into the Y with her then-1-year-old son. The Y goes back almost a century here, she said, so those enabling its expansion are “continuing a great legacy.”
Gratitude was threaded through all the speeches, not just for those who gave money, but for those who gave time.
But the show was stolen by final speaker Michelle Silver, from the moment Sutton introduced her while making note that Silver was wearing a Cleveland Cavaliers T-shirt and obviously had to get home in time for the game. First, here’s some of what she described, memorably, as Y-Tastic:
The speeches wrapped up, and the party continued for guests of all ages.
Here’s what happens next, according to a timeline Sutton shared: The main building stays open throughout the project, Later this month, the entrance will move to the festival-street side. More changes will be ahead in August, when the first Y-hosted West Seattle Outdoor Movies screening will happen (last one of this year’s season, before the entire series moves next year). Then a new entrance is expected in October, and more of the new building will be open around Thanksgiving, with the project largely wrapped up by year’s end, meaning that 2017, in Sutton’s words, will bring a “new Y for a new year.”
In case you haven’t yet seen them in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar, two Memorial Day notes:
(2015 WSB photo)
JUNCTION FLAG HELP: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2713 welcomes community assistance in putting up and taking down the West Seattle Junction’s U.S. flags on Monday. Meet at California/Alaska, in front of Cupcake Royale, at 8:50 am for flag placement, 4:50 pm for flag removal.
FOREST LAWN CEREMONY: At 2 pm on Monday, American Legion Post 160 and community partners will present the traditional annual Memorial Day ceremony at Forest Lawn (WSB sponsor) in High Point (map); all welcome.
(2014 WSB photo)
Right afterward, you’re invited to a 3:30 pm reception at Post 160 HQ in The Triangle (3618 SW Alaska).
10:45 AM: A little more than one week before the groundbreaking celebration for the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) expansion, early work related to the project is under way: It’s demolition day for the old Youth Programs building. The Y will stay open throughout the project; construction updates are being posted here, including more about today’s teardown and the building’s history as well as construction-related recycling. The groundbreaking celebration, meantime, is set for 4:30 pm Thursday, June 2nd.
ADDED 3:32 PM: Thanks to the Y for this photo from later in the day:
Just in from Keith Hughes, commander of American Legion Post 160 in The Triangle:
The West Seattle Veterans Service Center, an outreach of the American Legion Post 160, at 3618 SW Alaska Street, will reopen on Monday May 16. The Service Center will have two Veteran Service Officers on duty from 9 AM until 5 PM Monday through Friday, to offer information and assistance to all Veterans and their families, regardless of branch or time of service.
We still have some remodeling going on, and the exterior needs paint, but we just couldn’t wait any longer to get back in the business of Vets Helping Vets whenever and however we can.
Please feel free to stop by and say Hi to Bob and Mike, get a cup of coffee, and let us know what we can do to help. If it is something we can’t do directly, we have a very large network of Service Groups, and we will help you get to the right place and the right people, whatever the need is.
Healthy Kids Day is on, until 1 pm at the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) in The Triangle (4515 36th SW). Our photo above shows the inflatable obstacle course out front – you’ll also find a climbing wall, dunk tank (photo below), face-painting, arts and crafts, bubbles, family races, photo booth, scavenger hunt, and a long list of other ongoing activities.
Some of the time-specific events coming up:
11 am, east gym: Chief Sealth IHS Latin Dance Team
11:30 am, east gym: Family Zumba class
Noon, east gym: YMCA Karate class
1-3 pm, open swim @ pool
So get to the Y before 1 pm – you don’t have to be a member, but you can find out more about membership, as well as about Y programs such as preschool. Also, find out about other local organizations/businesses:
That’s Phil from the School of Rock. Also at HKD – find out about a time-saving way to feed your family via Dream Dinners (WSB sponsor), try smoothies from nearby Chaco Canyon Organic Café … the list goes on. This event is also a chance to find out about the Y’s upcoming expansion project, with work starting in early May and official groundbreaking June 2nd.
The official groundbreaking celebration has just been announced for June 2nd, but some work for the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) expansion will start in The Triangle in early May. Here’s the official announcement:
The Board and Staff of your West Seattle & Fauntleroy YMCA invite you to attend a groundbreaking ceremony and celebration on Thursday, June 2, kicking off construction of an expanded West Seattle facility.
Your expanded and renovated West Seattle YMCA will include:
• A dedicated Family Wing with age-appropriate spaces where infants to young teens, can play, connect with peers, explore new activities and develop skills on their way to reaching their full potential.
• More than 9,500 square feet for fitness classes, strength/weight training and cardio equipment – nearly doubling the current space for Y members to be active and stay healthy.
• A new Community Meeting Room where youth, neighbors, service organizations and other groups can gather together to work on local issues, learn new skills and explore shared interests.
• A Healthy Eating Kitchen in the Community Meeting Room, supportingY members and participants, especially youth, to develop healthier eating habits through nutrition and cooking classes and free monthly cooking demonstrations.
• Five new Family Changing Rooms that will allow families of all configurations to privately help each other dress for swim and fitness programs.
• A welcoming new entrance on SW Snoqualmie Street, soon to be designated as a Festival Street that can be closed to cars for special community and Y events.
Funds for the project come from an $8 million capital campaign, with at least $4 million to be raised in the West Seattle community and the remaining funds provided by the YMCA of Greater Seattle. To date, volunteers from the West Seattle & Fauntleroy YMCA Board have raised $3.7 million locally.
“I’m inspired by the hundreds of generous people who have donated to expand and renovate our Y facility. They believe that the YMCA makes a huge difference in people’s lives, and that as the West Seattle community grows, the Y needs to be there to respond. Thanks to these donors we’ve already exceeded 92% of our local fundraising goal and are ready to go!” said Josh Sutton, Regional Executive Director. The Y expects to serve 3,500 more people with the expanded facility, growing our reach in West Seattle to more than 23,000 individuals each year.
The West Seattle YMCA building will largely remain open during construction, with improvements happening in phases and completion expected by the end of the year. The first phase will launch the week of May 9 when the old Youth Programs Building on the Y property will be torn down. Throughout the project, you’ll find the latest updates, images, construction progress and schedule changes on OurNewY.org.
The groundbreaking ceremony and celebration will take place from 4:30 to 6:00 pm on the Snoqualmie Street side of the West Seattle YMCA facility. Activities will include a bounce house, a photo booth where you can turn a gold shovel of dirt and wear a hard hat, games, donor recognition and a brief program at 5:00 pm.
12:13 PM: Demolition of the former Fire Station 32 is finally under way, six months after we reported that the project to rebuild FS32 is nine years behind the schedule in the original plan for the voter-approved 2003 Fire Levy. The new station, to be built at the same 38th SW/SW Alaska site, will look like this:
(From Fire Station 32 “schematic design” packet dated August 2013, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson)
Until the new station is ready, temporary Station 32 remains on the site of a future city park on 40th SW between Alaska and Edmunds. Among the equipment based there is Ladder 11, which we spotted driving by its former home while we stopped for our photos this morning:
The project is budgeted at $18.6 million. Construction is supposed to last about a year.
3:14 PM: We went back to check on the progress, and the crew was having a tough time knocking down the tower, even using a piece of debris as something of a battering ram.
As of 3 pm, it appeared they were stopping down for the day, but we’re going back to doublecheck.
12:35 PM FRIDAY: We went by the site three times this morning. No activity spotted during visits one and two – then, when we went back an hour after #2, the tower was down.
FRIDAY EVENING: Some of the building is still standing; the photo above this line was taken looking over the fence on SW Alaska, after the crew finished for the day.
(From Fire Station 32 “schematic design” packet dated August 2013, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson)
Last October, we reported on the latest twist in the years-delayed construction of a new Fire Station 32 in The Triangle – the city was sending it out to bid again, despite having been so close to construction that it had moved the crews into a temporary location half a year earlier.
Tonight, the city has announced that construction is finally about to begin, with the “notice to proceed” issued today, and demolition of the old station planned within a few weeks:
The new contractor Howard S. Wright – which, as noted in our December followup, built the Space Needle – will start staging this week, according to the notification letter (thanks to Anand for sharing a copy), and major work is expected to start by mid-March, projected to last about 14 months. The project is funded under the 2003 Fire Levy and was originally supposed to be complete in 2007 – instead, if everything stays on schedule now, it’ll be 2017.
A variety of factors played into the 10-year schedule slide; most recently, as the city’s Finance and Administrative Services Department explained for our story last year, the city and its original contractor had a “general contractor/construction manager” contract but couldn’t agree on “a negotiated cost that fit within the city budget,” so the city was cancelling the pre-construction contract and seeking a new contractor via a more traditional process.
12:49 PM: Thanks for the tips – a natural-gas leak in The Triangle is reported to have led to the evacuation of the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) – early word is that it’s not believed to be at the Y itself, but Seattle Fire is at the scene and making sure everybody’s safe. We’re en route and will have an update.
12:58 PM: Fire and police vehicles are blocking eastbound Avalon just west of 35th, so avoid the area.
1:11 PM: Seattle Fire is leaving. They tell us they’ve done some safety checks, and Puget Sound Energy is on the scene, and it’s been determined it’s safe for those evacuated to go back in. Per comments, Alki Lumber was among those evacuated, and firefighters tell us the Luna construction site was too – we saw hard-hat workers standing on the north side of Avalon. Josh Sutton from the Y says it’s reopening at 1:30 pm.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 10:42 PM: An unpleasant Christmas Eve surprise for a Highland Park household – a driver crashed through their fence in the 8600 block of 20th SW and partway down the embankment into their yard. Our photo shows the car and the driver of the tow truck that pulled it up the embankment shortly after we arrived. No injuries reported; the car’s driver was being evaluated for possible DUI.
ANOTHER CRASH, 10:55 PM: Now another crash, with traffic effects: Southbound Fauntleroy Way is blocked at Oregon because of a multi-car crash. Injuries are reported.
11:53 PM: That crash cleared shortly after we arrived in the area. No major injuries. SFD crews at the scene did have to deal with a person reported to be “in crisis” – per the scanner, a “nude man” approached firefighters, who quickly found a blanket for him. It’s not clear whether he had anything to do with the crash.
(From Fire Station 32 “schematic design” packet dated August 2013, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson)
When the Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy went to Seattle voters in 2003, it included a full rebuild of West Seattle’s Fire Station 32 – projected at the time to be complete by the end of 2007. As we first reported back in October, after numerous schedule revisions and then a decision to rebid the project, construction hasn’t even started yet, though the units and crews were moved out of the original station more than 10 months ago. But there;s new hope the work will get going in a few months, now that it’s received two bids as of this past Tuesday’s deadline. Howard S. Wright bid $11.6 million and MJ Takisaki bid $12.7 million. City documents say the project is budgeted at $18.6 million, with $3 million of that spent so far. Now that bids are in, we asked Julie Moore from the city’s Finance and Administrative Services Department what happens next:
The next step is for City Purchasing and Contracting Services (CPCS) to ask the apparent low bidder to submit a Supplemental Bidder Responsibility Criteria (SBRC) form. Capital Development and Construction Management (CDCM) will review the completed form. If CDCM finds the contractor meets all required criteria, it will then ask CPCS to award the contract to the bidder, starting the contract-execution process in which insurance and bonding information and all other requirements will be reviewed by CPCS before the contract can be executed. If there are no surprises during this process, we anticipate final execution of the contract could take place before the end of February.
The city already has a building permit for the new station, which will be built on the same footprint as the current one at 37th/Alaska, with work expected to take about a year. Until it’s ready, temporary FS 32 remains on the future city park site on 40th SW between SW Alaska and SW Edmunds.
P.S. Looking at the two bidders – Howard S. Wright built the Space Needle, and more recently, for SFD, Fire Station 39 in Lake City. MJ Takisaki worked on the recent upgrade of Fire Station 26 in South Park.
(WSB photo by Patrick Sand)
Julie Mierzwiak is thrilled to be at the helm of her own coffee shop, serving her own community, after almost a decade working as a barista for others. Six months after she announced plans for Realfine Coffee at 4480 Fauntleroy Way SW, next to Rudy’s Barbershop, the shop is open (thanks to Dan for the tip!). Julie told us she’s been planning her own shop for years – she just didn’t know where it would be, until she found this space. The remodeled space, once home to Maestro Motors (now a short distance west on Fauntleroy), is full of West Seattle connections, Julie says – West Seattle workers did the remodeling and plumbing; even the espresso machine, by Synesso, was handmade by a West Seattleite (in Georgetown). Meantime, her coffee is Herkimer, from a small-batch roaster in North Seattle; her baked goods are from Standard Bakery; there’s a case for Molly’s sandwiches/wraps on the counter; and beer is available – local, of course (including Schooner Exact, which got its start in WS). There’s also seating – two large shareable booth-type spaces on the street side, and barstools at a counter on the other side. Realfine is open 6 am-7 pm weekdays, 7 am-6 pm weekends.
Just a quick reminder in case you missed the first announcement and/or won’t see Sunday’s daily preview: Tomorrow night, veterans, active-duty, reserve, and National Guard members are all invited – with their families – to American Legion Post 160 and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 160‘s annual Veterans Day Italian Dinner at the Legion Hall in The Triangle. Free, no RSVPs needed – just go to 3618 SW Alaska between 5 and 7 pm tomorrow.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One day after people started asking us about the disappearance of the Beloved Mexico food truck – a five-year fixture along Fauntleroy just south of Alaska, next to West Seattle Produce – we’ve found out what’s going on: It’s closed forever.
That’s what co-proprietor Christian Guerrero just told us when we reached him by phone at home in West Seattle: “We decided to shut down the doors, just yesterday. We’re really sad to shut down, but we just weren’t making enough.”
Unprompted, he cited competition, in particular, Chipotle Mexican Grill, which opened in The Junction less than two months ago (and is currently closed along with the company’s 42 other Washington and Oregon stores because of E. coli illnesses). “We don’t have the buying power of multi-million dollar companies.”
Another factor, Guerrero said: They would eventually lose their spot, since a CVS drugstore is slated to be built there, and a permanent spot for a food truck is hard to find in West Seattle.
He says they’re sad about closing and they appreciate the following they had, but financially, they had no choice. They had hoped it would someday lead to expansion into a permanent restaurant location, but that didn’t happen, and they’re not expecting to be able to open one. He and his co-proprietor brother have always had “day jobs” and that’s what they’ll be focusing on now. It’s been five years since Beloved Mexico opened – originally on the other side of Fauntleroy, as was WS Produce, on the site where The Whittaker is now being built; both moved across the street a year later.
Toward the end of our conversation, Guerrero told us he hopes West Seattleites will step up their support for the remaining small independent businesses – “to keep the flavor of West Seattle alive.”
(WSB photo from 2014 dinner)
One more look ahead to Veterans Day: Once again this year, West Seattle’s American Legion Post 160 and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 160 invite “all active duty, reserve, national guard, military veterans and their families” to the annual Veterans Day Italian Dinner at the Legion Hall in The Triangle, 3618 SW Alaska. Free, no RSVPs needed – just stop by between 5 and 7 pm on Sunday, November 8th.
(WSB file photo)
When will the mountains get snow? Don’t know. When will West Seattleites gather for the annual Community Ski and Snowboard Swap, presented by Mountain to Sound Outfitters? That, we DO know: Next weekend. To be specific, gear dropoff 10 am-6 pm Friday (October 23rd), swap 10 am-6 pm Saturday (October 24th) and 10 am-4 pm Sunday (October 25th):
This community ski swap is a great way to buy or sell your used equipment and get amazing deals on new gear. There will be a great selection of skis, snowboards, boots, clothing, camping gear, accessories, and more!
As usual, it’s happening at the VFW Hall across the street from M2SO, 3601 SW Alaska in The Triangle.
(From Fire Station 32 “schematic design” packet dated August 2013, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The rebuild of West Seattle’s Fire Station 32 is now running nine years behind the schedule that was originally projected when voters passed the levy to fund it and a tall stack of other projects.
We’ve learned that its construction is now not expected to start until early next year – which will be about a year after its crews were moved to interim locations.
When the station’s Engine 32 and Ladder 11 moved to a temporary site early this year, demolition of the original station was supposedly imminent. But more than half a year has passed, with no sign of work. After a reader e-mailed to ask what was going on, so we started looking into it.
What we’ve learned is that it’s going out to bid again – and now it appears that Station 32’s crews will have been out of the old location a full year by the time the teardown begins, meaning they’ll be in temporary quarters for about two years. (E-32 and L-11 are now in temporary structures on city-owned land that’s set for a future park, along 40th SW between Alaska and Edmunds, while Medic 32 is currently based at Station 37 in Sunrise Heights.)
The Station 32 rebuild was part of the $167 million Fire Levy approved by voters in 2003. It was a nine-year levy, so property owners aren’t paying it any more. But the presentation given to the City Council that year promised the city would “implement the program over the shortest possible time period to minimize the risks of inflation.” Page 19, the program schedule, shows the Station 32 project as expected to be complete by the end of 2007:
And now, as the end of 2015 approaches, this project hasn’t even started construction yet.
Design started three years ago, as noted on the periodic status/schedule reports posted on the Fire Levy website. (The most recent status/schedule report, however, posted less than a month ago, shows the site as under construction, which it is not.)
Fire Levy projects are now managed by the city’s Finance and Administrative Services department. When we checked with FAS last winter, a spokesperson told us (as reported here) demolition and construction was expected to start by late February – of this year.
Responding to our latest inquiry, FAS spokesperson Cyndi Wilder tells us the project has to go out to bid again:
Initially, this project was bid out through an alternative contract method called general contractor/construction manager (GC/CM), which allowed the general contractor to assist in the design process through a pre-construction services contract. The GC/CM process, following design, allows the City the option to negotiate with a selected construction firm to determine an appropriate construction cost.
The City and the contractor were unable to agree upon a negotiated cost that fits within the City budget. This week, the City is in the process of cancelling the pre-construction contract and will quickly move to a traditional bidding process for construction, where the entire construction contract will be awarded to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. We anticipate beginning demolition on the old Fire Station 32 facility in the first quarter of 2016.
We don’t know what if anything the schedule changes have cost the city. The project is budgeted at $18.6 million, according to the latest online financial report; the actual construction cost was cited at $10.6 million in various places including this solicitation for subcontractors, under the BN Builders contract. The new FS 32 was designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ), whose designs were shown to the community at this 2014 open house.
The Fire Levy has an Oversight Committee that still meets periodically, with its next meeting scheduled for December 15th. Its meeting minutes are online, but recent editions have few details other than who was in attendance and the number of projects in progress. Earlier, more detailed sets of minutes shine some light on the overall delay, first indicating that some early challenges included big project-cost inflation in the first few years after the levy’s passage, with some of the cost increases attributed to factors such as China buying much of the world’s steel and estimates having been based on “suburban” fire stations rather than “urban.” The earliest mention we found of FS 32 in meeting minutes was November 2007, when its architect was about to be announced; BCJ was described as being in “pre-design” as of the July 2008 meeting minutes. At the November 2008 meeting, several postponements were announced, and at that time, the committee was told that Station 32 would be done in 2011. The next year, the project was listed as “being deferred” due to the shortfall in Real Estate Excise Tax received by the city. Later in 2009, meeting minutes said the project would start in 2010; toward the end of that year, a new delay – a request to search for a different site. The next mention of a new schedule came in 2011 – when it was declared to be starting in 2012. Then suddenly the February 2012 minutes say FS 32 would be complete “after 2015.” Every set of minutes from that year says the same thing, and then the specific mentions cease.
P.S. West Seattle’s Station 37, mentioned above as interim home to one of FS 32’s units, was a levy project too – shown on that original 2003 schedule as expected to be finished by the end of 2007, opened three years after that. Other local levy projects include upgrades at Station 36 (North Delridge), Station 11 (Highland Park), and Station 29 (Admiral); the first two are complete, the third still under way (and, like FS 32, listed on that City Council pre-levy presentation as projected for completion by 2008).