(view from the northeast – if you were looking down from a helicopter high over Admiral Starbucks – click for larger version)
Even before tonight’s community meeting, the folks at Safeway cautioned that what they are showing tonight is more their “vision” for the sight than what they will take to the Design Review Board next week — since there’s a set procedure for those meetings, reviewing three options for general size, shape, layout, etc. But nonetheless, it’s our first look at what they are hoping to build on their current store site that takes up the southern half-plus of the block fronting California and 42nd between Admiral and Lander: a bigger new store, plus more than 30 residential units, and a separate small retail building on the northwest corner of the lot. Just ahead, three more views (all four are courtesy Fuller/Sears Architects), plus Safeway’s description of its hopes and dreams (followed by our bullet points from tonight’s meeting:
Here’s Safeway’s explanation of the project (we will add our meeting notes shortly):
Our architects have worked to compliment and celebrate the uses and style of the surrounding community while producing a design concept that will meet Safeway’s objectives for a store to best serve its customers.
The preferred scheme will:
* Enhance and enliven the California Avenue street frontage with retail shops, outside seating and articulated Safeway entrances.
* Reflect the residential character and scale along 42nd Ave with residential units adjacent to the grocery store.
* Provide a landscape buffer facing the Hiawatha Playfield along the storefront looking into the grocery.
* Clearly define entrances and convenient access for pedestrians and cars.
* Provide more density while minimizing the impacts of parking and loading.
* Minimize surface parking by providing screened rooftop parking.
The design for this project is still preliminary and building materials and colors are yet to be selected.
All this was unveiled to a community meeting tonight, attended by a few dozen people at Hiawatha Community Center.
The Safeway reps said the store itself will be about 58,000 square feet, 50 percent bigger than the current one (38,000 sf). It’ll be what they call a “Safeway Elite” store because of that size. It will have 72 surface parking spaces and 150 on the roof of the store, about 30 of which will be reserved for apartment residents; the site’s surface lot currently has 178 parking spaces. (Here’s the project’s official city webpage.)
As you can see in the last rendering above, the midblock entry on California will be designed to have more of a pedestrian-friendly feel than the current site. To its north, the retail building (somewhat reminiscent of the Tully’s corner store by Thriftway in Morgan Junction, though larger) will be about 7,000 square feet (“too small for Trader Joe’s,” someone joked), possibly the right size for coffee shop/restaurant type uses. The tallest part of the proposed development would be 4 stories near its southeast corner, with 3 stories predominant on the rest of the site.
Not too much controversy, except for two points: One, the fact that the California/Lander (southwest) corner of the store will have an entrance dropping down about 10 feet – it will have accessibility accommodations, of course, but still drew some concern; two, a truck entrance on the east side. That side of the property currently includes a house, on land that would have to be rezoned for the project to go forward in its entirety. City approval also will be required for an alley “vacation.” Construction noise and traffic will be a concern for those in the surrounding neighborhoods, as always with a project of this size, particularly with an elementary school right across the street — Safeway reps say they haven’t talked to Lafayette yet but plan to.
Construction timetable: If everything went perfectly quickly, Safeway says, the earliest this could be done would be the first part of 2011. Whenever all the permits are in and everything is ready to start, they expect “teardown to grand opening” to take about 16 months.
What happens now: The Southwest Design Review Board will get its first look at the Admiral Safeway project next Thursday night, 6:30 pm at the Southwest Precinct meeting room; public comment is welcome, as long as it relates to the design aspects of the project. (Right afterward, at 8 pm Thursday, the board gets its next and possibly final look at Link, the Harbor Properties proposal for 38th/Alaska.)