Design Review Board on 2 projects: 1 OK, 1 needs work

2 sizable projects in the south half of West Seattle got a second look from the Southwest Design Review Board tonight. One will be the new home of Swedish Auto Repair, at 7901 35th, currently home to the ex-Adventist church building and a Mars Hill bus pen; concerns from board members and neighbors have sent it back to the drawing board for one more round of revisions, particularly regarding the need for its 30-plus-foot-high L-shaped building fronting 35th and Kenyon to be more streetfront-friendly. However, city planner Holly Godard did laud the project for its voluntary “green” features such as solar panels and rainwater-collecting barrels. So that one will be back for one more SWDRB meeting. This next project, though, got the green light:


That’s what you’re going to see in a year or two at California/Graham, kitty corner from the almost-condos of Strata, north of the ex-Chuck and Sally’s. We knew this would be “live/work units” as well as townhouses, but now we have even more details:

The official project material distributed before last night’s meeting says this “will help serve as a transition in the neighborhood from the commercial areas to the south at Morgan Junction Hub and along California Avenue SW, to the more residential areas to the north and west.”

The complex designed by Junction-based Nicholson Kovalchick Architects now consists of three buildings — a 3-story, 6-unit “live-work” building with their commercial space (averaging about 450 sf per unit) fronting on California; a 3-story, 5-unit townhouse building fronting on Graham; and a 3-story, 4-unit townhouse building behind them. A public/private courtyard is planned for the center of the complex, and the units are intended to have rooftop decks in addition to “palletized green roofs.”

Before deciding to let the project proceed to the next stage of review, board members set conditions to address some concerns voiced at the meeting; among them, Cindi Barker of the Morgan Community Association pointed out that “the monolithic approach to the facades is not characteristic of Morgan Junction” — the architect and developer are being asked to address that in ways including extending an awning across the corner that the two main buildings share.

The board also addressed two neighbors’ concerns about a parking area right off the alley behind the buildings, and listened to their other concerns about suspected crime in the area; board member Jeff McCord suggested that this complex and its future residents’ “pride of ownership” is likely to lead to a lessening of any such problems.

Board member David Foster voiced enthusiasm for the complex’s aesthetics, saying, “I find it refreshing we’re not seeing … a Belltown approach … it is something new and I find it kind of exciting.”

One side note of interest: One of the neighbors who came to find out more and voice concerns wished aloud for more public information on how the process worked. As he was told, there’s some info on the city website — but in the same vein of the “Applicant’s Toolbox” you’ll find in those links, a “Citizen’s Guide” might be of value too.

9 Replies to "Design Review Board on 2 projects: 1 OK, 1 needs work"

  • grr December 21, 2007 (2:54 am)

    not bad at all. Could be taller tho :)

  • k December 21, 2007 (7:32 am)

    i live around the corner and am thrilled to see that block will not be an eyesore. looks like some thought has gone into this one, not like the nightmare down the street, west water (i know call them “waterworld” like the horrible kevin costner film). i would love if the corner where chuck and sally’s is would become a great restaurant!

  • pam December 21, 2007 (9:01 am)

    What? No street level businesses at the Morgan Junction project? What?

  • WSB December 21, 2007 (9:13 am)

    The “commercial spaces” in the live-work units fronting California will be businesses. The Graham side is seen as residential now but could feature some business in the future because of the zoning.

  • roddy December 21, 2007 (9:22 am)

    has anyone heard anything more about what will become of chuck and sally’s (or what will replace it)?

  • WSB December 21, 2007 (9:25 am)

    We watch the land-use files and real-estate listings waiting for something regarding that property to appear. We had trouble reaching the property owner last time we tried to ask him directly, may be time for another try.

  • pam December 21, 2007 (3:31 pm)

    Ah, good, thx WSB! Glad to hear that there’s business space going in too!

  • Jay Emmet December 26, 2007 (2:32 pm)

    Please let me just show you something about “monolithic”…

  • sean June 9, 2008 (6:51 pm)

    i actually like the west water condo. it is beautiful addition to the neighborhood.

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