When we published this WSB story yesterday afternoon about some Junction businesspeople circulating petitions opposing the alley “vacation” proposed by Conner Homes for its California/Alaska/42nd buildings, we promised to share any response from Conner Homes as soon as we received it. So here’s the entirety of a letter e-mailed to WSB a short time ago:
August 1, 2008
We are aware that some of you are concerned about our proposed development at the junction of Alaska and California Streets.
Please be assured that it has always been our intention to build a project that enhances the Junction. We have tried to keep the community aware of our plans and, to this end, have already had a number of group and individual meetings to update residents and merchants as they have progressed. We will continue to do so.
However, if any of you feel that we have been remiss on this score, we will be happy to meet with you either in a group or separately, so please feel to contact me or Project Manager, James Miller directly and we will set something up.
I understand that many of you are concerned about the impact of the development on overall parking in the area as well as the effects of our proposed alley vacation.
In terms of parking, we want to make it clear that our development will INCREASE the number of parking spaces available to the public. The number of surface spaces will remain roughly the same and there will be a considerable amount of new parking for retail created in our proposed underground garage. As a result the current parking congestion will be lessened.
We have also heard that there are worries that our development will somehow lead to the development of the public parking lots owned by the West Seattle Trustees Parking Association. We do not know how this rumor got started but it is completely false. Our development will have absolutely no effect on these lots and as a member of the Association we are not aware of any plans to develop these lots.
As far as the alley vacation we are confident that this will be a real plus for the abutting owners representing the majority of the properties along the alley have supported it. Still we appreciate the concerns of some merchants about possible disruption to their business and we want to assure them that we will work directly with them to come up with a solution (turnarounds etc.) to mitigate those impacts.
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.
As an additional mitigation we have also agreed to commit substantial funds to getting the proposed public park across the street from our property off the ground to the benefit of all residents and merchants in the area.
It should be noted that the two large developments underway in the area will be completed before we begin construction so that overall disruption to the community will not increase.
Finally, we firmly believe that a quality development in this location will improve the Junction, both in terms of housing and new retail opportunities for all West Seattle residents, as well as provide increased business activity for existing merchants.
As long term owners of the property we are fully committed to improving the Junction and welcome any opportunity to work with you to achieve this end.
Thank you for your attention and we look forward to working with you to make this a project we can all be proud of.