Junction development alley fight: City extends comment deadline


We first told you two weeks ago about some Junction businesses’ petition campaign against Conner Homes‘ request for the city to “vacate” that stretch of the alley between 42nd and California, south of Alaska, so that land under the alley can be included in the underground parking garage for its two-building development. (Read our original report here; read developer Charlie Conner‘s next-day “letter to the community” here.) Opponents including Elliott Bay Brewery and Liberty Bell Printing have continued to gather petition signatures, and the Junction Neighborhood Organization has posted the petition as well; now there’s word that the city’s deadline for comments on the request has now been extended to September 15. That of course means comments in support of it as well as against it; you can comment directly to Moira Gray at SDOT, which is reviewing the request, at moira.gray@seattle.gov. The project itself, meantime, is still in the design-review process. Here’s our coverage of the most recent meeting, in late May; the city has not yet posted a date for the next one.

11 Replies to "Junction development alley fight: City extends comment deadline"

  • Meghan August 15, 2008 (11:06 am)

    This petition is a PERFECT example of what continues to hold West Seattle back. Because a few people will be inconvenienced, they want to ‘tap into’ West Seattle’s vocal (some would say whiny) anti-development community and stop an entire project that will benefit the whole community.

    First, re-read the following from the developer:

    We do want to be clear that this is not a permanent alley vacation but only temporary to allow completion of the underground garage. Once this process is complete (in around 10-12 months) the alley will be restored to a much improved condition.

    Specifically, the overhead wires will be under grounded, the alley will be widened and pedestrian friendly amenities will be added. These mitigations, along with a pedestrian walkway between 42nd Street and California will make the alley a real asset to the community overall.

    Now take another look at the picture of the existing alley. Or better yet, go in person and take a good look at the alley and the buildings that now stand where this company wants to build new housing, new retail, and additional parking.

    Then go take a short stroll through Ballard’s business district (which has a much smaller population than W. Seattle’s, but where this type of development has been allowed and welcomed). Honestly, which is a more vibrant, relevant business district? Ballard has vibrant retail and restaurants, pedestrian alleys (i.e. vacated alleys), nice little parks and plazas, great street art, attractive new residential and commercial buildings (along with restored older ones), adequate parking, and VERY FEW surface parking lots. And guess what? No one died from not being able to park right in front of whatever businesses they were used to frequenting. They realize they are part of a major, growing city, and they adapted.

    I should forward this to Matt Groening. This situation ought to be satirized on The Simpsons!

  • JenV August 15, 2008 (11:30 am)

    adequate parking in Ballard? AHAHAHAHAHAHA! When was the last time you were out there?

  • ericak August 15, 2008 (11:41 am)

    I agree that all of the alley improvements will be an asset to the community, specifically the increased parking that will result in the garage. However, the concern I have with the alley vacation is that a 25% closure leaves an entry only into the alley, with no exit. That will make garbage collection, deliveries, and servicing to businesses extremely difficult, or not at all possible. A solution that is not currently on the table, but that needs to be considered is to have an entry to the alley off Edmonds, and an exit onto 42nd as a temporary measure during the 1 year it will take for construction of the below grade portion. The developer would need to make available a cut through between his property and the Mural project for trucks to get through.

    This would allow the businesses to continue operations and keep California pedestrian friendly throughout the process. I think a win-win can be found, however, the current alley vacation proposal does not consider options that would lessen the short term impact to the community.

    In addition, the alley vacation is coming in advance of an approved project design. The community and design review board had many concerns about the proposed project and more work needs to be done via the design review process.

  • B August 15, 2008 (11:46 am)

    I’ve always found a spot. You have 2 options: park free and walk or pay and get closer. I have a feeling free parking is going to become a thing of the past as the revenue is needed to support the growth. I’m still not completely clear though, does this mean that the business will in no way be able to accept deliveries? I heard that Elliott Bay wouldn’t be able to receive shipments for making beer. Their is something I could get behind…save the beer! :)

  • Rick August 15, 2008 (11:49 am)

    Yes, let’s all get on the gentrification bandwagon and make West Seattle just like everywhere else! Especially newbies. I saw,I liked,I bulldozed, I crammed every square inch, I leave. What’s to whine about?

  • Johnny Davies August 15, 2008 (12:08 pm)

    So, one day I happened into the little barbershop that is right at the junction next to Seattle Super Supplements. Never had I been in there for a haircut, although I thought about it many times. Well, this time I made it there as I knew time is short for doing so.
    The woman who cut my hair was great. Friendly and skilled. She told me that little barbershop was the oldest business in the junction – 1927 to be exact. She told me they didn’t know where they’d go, or what they’d do as their livelihood as they knew it was going away when the bulldozers arrive. She also had valid concerns about the businesses and how they would function with the alley closure: deliveries, garbage, employee parking,etc.
    She asked if I’d be interested in signing the petition. Hell yeah I did.
    It’s these little gems of Americana, little spots of family owned businesses that make our country great – and they’re being destroyed as we know it – in front of our eyes. I understand those of you who think the colossal structures are improvements over the existing buildings. But I say its these businesses and these people that are the real reason that places like the junction are great. Posting on blogs won’t save the things I call dear, but it certainly is an American right to voice an opinion.

  • GenHillOne August 15, 2008 (1:01 pm)

    ericak, the idea of a temporary exit is right on. I know everyone has become skeptical of developers, but in this letter
    (paragraph 7), Conner specifically notes coming up with a solution, at least a turnaround, for business deliveries/collections. I have to think that the garbage trucks have limits to how they can maneuver and whatever guidelines they have should also apply to anything other than double-trailered trucks. The loss of parking due to alley closure seems moot, as it’s alread gone (but more to come), so I’m not sure why it gets brought up in this context.

  • KSJ August 15, 2008 (3:40 pm)

    For those of you bemoaning the loss of small businesses in the junction, I agree. It’s sad that with new construction, rents will increase and small mom-and-pop shops will have a harder time finding spaces they can afford.

    The bottom line is that they don’t own the space they are renting. The property owner has a right to evict tenants and tear down that corner if they want. And face it, the buildings on that corner are not landmark buildings. I used to go to Urban Fitness, now Super Supplements, and having spent a considerable amount of time in that building I can verify that it’s a piece of poop, and truly ugly. A nicer, newer building will enhance the junction neighborhood.

    Hopefully our mom-and-pop shops will find a new place to rent in our neighborhood, and we can welcome a host of new successfully businesses to that corner when the project is done.

    Re: the alley problem, I signed the petition, hoping they can come to a solution that will service our currently successful neighborhood businesses like Elliott Bay, who depend on the alley for deliveries and garbage service. But I signed the petition purely for the alley issue, not as a broader anti-development swipe. Why are so many of our neighbors anti-change, when change (and growth, for Seattle), are inevitable? Isn’t it better to get involved in the process and help shape the change that is coming? (Instead of just blindly striking out against anything new?)

  • jiggers August 15, 2008 (5:53 pm)

    West Seattle is a joke now. Its not the same as when I moved their over 11 years ago. It seems that residents of WS seems more stressed out now with all the new concrete going up. For instance, my friend lives in Shoreline were it’s cheaper to live and has more trees and woods in the neighborhoods, not like WS now. I call WS concrete city. I don’t know why, but the farther North you go, people are more friendly for some reason. Ok….now you can tell me if you don’t like it beat it then.

  • WSB August 15, 2008 (6:03 pm)

    Some of the north and east side suburbs do have many more trees in the neighborhoods – we have them in the parks, but not so much among the houses. Probably just a side effect of the way everything was logged in the first half-century after the Denny Party arrived … we’re on the salt water … those areas aren’t.

  • Michael August 18, 2008 (1:58 pm)

    Meghan, you should check your facts! Stopping the alley vacation will not stop the project. The project can easily be built without it. The community is being vocal to save businesses that have been here for a long time, not to stop the development. As for the walk way promised between the alley and 42nd will adjoin one that will already be in place thanks to Harbor Properties’ Murals building. Basically, the one promised by Conner Homes will only widen the access that will already exist.

    In addition, all the residents that will be in The Murals building (now being built on the old Petco parking lot) will be using the alley for ingress and egress. That’s a lot of traffic and it will all be forced onto Edmunds Street, if they can even get out of their parking lot. Has Conner Homes considered the inconveience and inaccessiblity to these residents?

    The basic issue is that Conner Homes wants to vacate the alley and has little care for the consequences to other businesses and residents in the Junction. They applied for the vacation and never approached the business owners to talk about it or the impact. Now AFTER the petition drive, they are finally approaching the business owners. Why should it take a petition drive by the community to make Conner Homes talk to the people about the alley vacation effects?

    There is a lot of development happening now in the West Seattle Junction. Harbor Properties with the Murals building and Bluestar Development with the Whole Foods project. Both of these developers are working with the businesses and community around them to make sure that the impacts of these projects effects the surrounding areas as little as possible. As a business owner, I personally have worked with Emi at Harbor Properties and Nick at Excell Construction and both have gone out of their way to make as little impact on local businesses as possible. This effort started before the project had it’s final approvals. That is what being part of a small community is all about. Conner homes should take a lesson from these people!

    By the way, there will be a plaza built on the corner of 42nd and Alaska. A piece of property now owned by the parks department thanks to the efforts of the West Seattle Junction Associations (the merchants),the citizens of West Seattle and the City of Seattle.

Sorry, comment time is over.