Tonight’s Fairmount Community Association meeting was the first neighborhood-council gathering at which BlueStar Management has publicly discussed its plan to acquire yet another piece of Junction/Triangle real estate: the Huling Chrysler site just east of the 76 station at Fauntleroy/Alaska. It’s immediately across Fauntleroy from one of the projects BlueStar already has on the drawing board, Gateway Center (the old Huling Buick site), which in turn is across 39th from BlueStar’s Fauntleroy Place (Whole Foods). Shown in the photo above, from tonight’s meeting in the Providence Mount St. Vincent chapel, is BlueStar’s Easton Craft; read on to see what he had to say about the new proposal and the seemingly endless questions about whether the Whole Foods project is really going forward, plus other notes from the meeting (including Harbor Properties‘ presentation):
Craft says the deal for the Huling Chrysler site is not yet closed; BlueStar’s been talking to the Hulings about the site for quite some time. According to Craft, the project envisioned for the site would likely be similar to what’s in the works for Gateway Center; no decision yet if those two projects would go forward simultaneously or separately. (BlueStar also is developing Spring Hill, a mixed-use building south of The Junction; September Design Review report here).
Now, as for Fauntleroy Place, aka “the Whole Foods project”: We get e-mail almost daily from people saying they’ve heard rumors it’s in trouble; each time, we’ve checked with BlueStar (and previously with Whole Foods as well), and each time, they reiterate the project is proceeding. We note that work continues at the site (we saw crews bustling there again today), which is well into excavation. Tonight, Craft explained why this Whole Foods project is proceeding even though others (including one in Interbay) are on the scrap heap: Its size, in the 45,000-square-foot vicinity, is the WF model “going forward,” while the ones that have been halted are larger.
Also at the meeting, Harbor Properties reps, to talk about their projects closest to the Fairmount neighborhood, Link @ 38th/Alaska and the motel property just east.
That’s Harbor’s Denny Onslow. He reviewed the Link plans (recent WSB coverage here) and talked about how the Triangle area has largely underutilized or abandoned buildings, so his company is working to bring some new life and energy into the space. The hotel property is not completely theirs yet, but they have a contract and they’re waiting on closing. Onslow says it likely will be similar to Link. Also, he believes the Triangle can have professional business space mingled with retail. As with previous presentations, he was asked about the possibility that a hotel might be part of the project on the current motel site, but ongoing discussions with hotel companies have not been productive.
As the meeting began, Fairmount Community Association president Sharonn Meeks began by talking about the neighborhood having a say over what’s going on in the Triangle area. She said that much of what was being shown was conceptual, and they’d called the meeting so people could get information and give input on important issues like mass transit and parking.
Big issues from attendees: Parking, and the park ‘n hide crowd. Several people said it’s hard to park in the Triangle, since people from outside the area come to park and then catch a bus downtown.
Two city councilmembers were at the meeting, as well: West Seattle resident Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the council’s Parks Committee, said that he was pleased the parks levy passed with the margin it did (echoing the statement we published here on Wednesday). He pointed out that the levy has $15 million available in an Opportunity Fund that can fund projects in the Fairmount area (among other places), and in the next 6 to 8 months that money will roll out, so he encouraged those gathered to look into it to improve the area.
Also on hand, Councilmember Sally Clark, who chairs the Neighborhoods Committee. She discussed the city’s budget shortfalls (as announced yesterday), which are not as deep as the county’s. She said the council is still dedicated to keeping the police untouched and finding ways to reduce costs in ways no one would notice. She also pointed out that no matter who you talk to, Seattle is still a city people want to move to – so she urges everyone to focus on stewardship of the area – not just thinking about what makes sense now, but looking 10, 20, even 40 years out.