Future of the Triangle: Fairmount Community Association tour

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.

8 Replies to "Future of the Triangle: Fairmount Community Association tour"

  • transplantella October 20, 2009 (9:49 pm)

    The ‘Triangle’ is a dead zone. Will probably remains so for decades to come.

    If it takes what, 3 years? to complete a parking study in the junction, redevelopment of the center of west Seattle will not come in our lifetimes. Impossible in the current atmosphere of anti-development, lack of capital, and neighbors who feel they have the right to approve the texture, quality, color, and sustainability of every brick used in a building.

    I have no hope. None. Vacant and desolate it will remain.

  • WSB October 20, 2009 (9:57 pm)

    I think it may still suit your point but FWIW the parking study will be more like 2 years when it’s done.
    Very first announcement in Feb. ’08. Proposed changes circulating now, I’d think they’d be finalized by Feb. ’10 at the latest. Still longer than the city had said – it was originally supposed to be ONE year. And did include some of the Triangle (including a few stretches where 1-hour limits will be changed to 2-hour limits) – TR

  • Mark October 20, 2009 (10:13 pm)

    A naive viewpoint to be sure, transplantella. We should welcome and encourage changes to that area. When people voice their concerns about development encroaching on single family homes and established neighborhoods, they should realize the potential that exists in areas like the triangle.
    This area has a huge advantage – it sits at a low point in the area and won’t block many views, it is adjacent to a great golf course and green space, there’s a school nearby (now closed, but methinks it will reopen in the next few years or so), a great YMCA, and it has excellent access to transit.
    Understanding this, major private development will happen in the triangle quickly, albeit not in the immediate future due to the tight lending climate. Harbor Properties wants to start their project asap, as evidenced by the construction trailers on-site.

  • hilltop October 20, 2009 (10:27 pm)


    Do you consider a new 6 story condo/apt with retail beneath part of the dead zone…seems like a pretty major project going into your supposed dead zoen? It will take time but I am actually optimistic that this area will, albeit slow, start to be defined and be a welcome buzz to the triangle.

  • Louie October 20, 2009 (11:03 pm)

    Happy to hear of the discussion about 37th. There are a lot of kids on that street and cars zip along much too quickly. It’d be great if the city would put in some speed bumps. Who can we contact about that?

  • Mike D. October 21, 2009 (7:20 am)

    Louie – For info on traffic calming attend this meeting on November 10th at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center on Delridge Way:


    NOVEMBER 10: Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program: Traffic Safety Meetings. Neighborhood Traffic Operations (NTO), a workgroup within Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is holding neighborhood traffic safety meetings in the community. These meetings are geared toward residents who are interested in working with NTO concerning speeding on their residential street. The meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. and will conclude at 7:30 p.m. The meetings will include a power point presentation, with a brief overview of different traffic calming options, what steps a neighborhood must take to be considered for traffic calming, criteria staff use to prioritize projects, and possible funding sources. Residents will also be trained in the proper use of radar speed guns. 6:30 pm, Youngstown Arts Center (4408 Delridge)

  • ltfd October 21, 2009 (8:57 am)

    “… but the vision for the Triangle’s future is for a vibrant pedestrian-oriented district – so there is a lot of work ahead”.

    Pedestrian oriented? It contains several large commercial/production businesses. It is has two main roadways on its boundaries (one contiguous, one two blocks east) that funnel commuter traffic from most of West Seattle to SR-99 and I-5. It is a great location for some types of businesses, not so much for pedestrians.

    As more multi-residential developments fill-in the “Urban Village” areas of West Seattle, there will be even more commuters on the roadways (they won’t all ride METRO) funneling to the intersection of Fauntleroy Way/35th Ave/West Seattle ‘Bridge’ (everyone knows it’s a freeway). If King County does close the 16th Ave S Bridge next year, that will push even more traffic north to this area.

    I am a strong advocate for good urban planning, uplifting design through architecture/landscape architecture, and community activism. However, I have a difficult time envisioning the Triangle as a future pedestrian oriented area.

  • WSB October 21, 2009 (9:00 am)

    Lt, “Pedestrian friendly” might be the more appropriate phrase than “pedestrian oriented” – but there is no question that with the likelihood that Link won’t be the only large residential development, eventually there will be a lot of people walking around – some of the exploratory discussions even included finding a way to enter Camp Long from someplace closer to the end of Alaska – TR

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