Tomorrow (Wednesday) night, the Fairmount Community Association (not to be confused with Fairmount Springs, which is more than a mile south, with Hansen View inbetween) meets at the facility that anchors its neighborhood – Providence Mount St. Vincent (at the top of the hill in the background of our first photo, looking up 37th SW).
Fairmount residents have been keeping a close eye on development prospects for the area known as the Triangle, and recently got word that the city is ready to move into a new phase of helping the community plan that district’s future. So, looking ahead to tomorrow’s meeting, Fairmount CA president Sharonn Meeks arranged for the city rep on the project, urban designer Robert Scully, to join her and other group reps on a walking tour Monday afternoon. We joined them and walked The Triangle’s perimeter from and to Fire Station 32 (38th/Alaska):
The barbed wire around a parking lot east of the fire station (believed to be a holdover from days as a storage lot) is just one of the signs of a neighborhood in transition. More scenes from the walking tour, and what happens next, ahead:
The Triangle is part industrial, part service, part residential, part retail (with shops old and new, like this shoe repair business on the west side of the building that includes Diva Espresso).
The planning process that is revving up again has its roots in efforts that started more than a year ago – we reported in November of last year about a meeting of city and community reps at Merrill Gardens (WSB sponsor) on the Triangle’s south edge. During that meeting (here’s our story), it was suggested an urban-design proposal for the area might be created this year. That hasn’t happened, but now the urgency is rekindled, with the area’s first mixed-use megaproject, Link, likely to start work soon on the site outlined in this sketch obtained last year from its developer Harbor Properties:
During the walking tour, Meeks, Nancy Driver, and Joan Jeffrey showed Scully not just that site of major interest, but also what it’s like to walk along wider-than-most-streets SW Alaska:
Among other things, they suggested, SW Alaska needs a marked crosswalk in the Triangle, and other streets need attention, like 37th, which Meeks notes is used as an alternative route up to The Mount for those who choose not to drive 35th, precarious for its residents – “We have 14 kids on the block,” she explained.
The tour wound past businesses large and small, including the food-processing business HQ at SK Center, just south of the sprawling West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor):
Along the northern boundary, past the massive Alki Lumber yard, sidewalk maintenance problems were noted.
Right now, the sidewalks don’t always teem with people, but the vision for the Triangle’s future is for a vibrant pedestrian-oriented district – so there is a lot of work ahead. What shape that work will take, city rep Scully admitted it wasn’t clear – he came out just to get a closer look at neighborhood concerns for starters. (P.S. This particular group is not one that just voices concerns – like so many other neighborhood groups, it pitches in for solutions; Fairmount leaders organized and participated in last year’s big Gateway cleanup, for example.)
As observed during the preliminary discussions last year, the area’s transitional status – with many large lots (not just Huling/Gee sites) remaining empty – pose a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to map a design vision before development intensifies. Scully promised community involvement would be key, and talked about assembling a “small advisory group” for feedback inbetween what he said would be “larger community meetings.”
Yet much remains unclear in addition to the future of many of the area’s parcels; the city will have a new mayor, and it continues to deal with budget challenges. For now, though, there’s determination on the community and city sides not to let that derail pursuit of a plan for the area; if you’re interested, be at the Fairmount Community Association meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) night, 6:30 pm, The Mount (map) – the agenda includes a Link update from Harbor, and crime-prevention information from Southwest Precinct reps.