Design Review report #1: Admiral Safeway, Transitional Resources

Just back from the two-part Southwest Design Review Board meeting at Youngstown Arts Center. The easy part is the report on the Transitional Resources residential expansion on Avalon: It was approved to move along out of the DR process, with just a few concerns, such as a suggestion that the upper floor plan from the alternative option – including a different alignment for the elevator tower – be incorporated into the recommended plan. Not much controversy, no public opposition, the meeting didn’t even take the full potential hour-and-a-half timeslot. The second part – the fourth Design Review meeting on the Admiral Safeway project – was more contentious and complicated. Bottom line, the project is not done with Design Review yet – it will have to come back for a fifth meeting – but just specifically for another look at the west side of the store along California SW – the biggest concern, board members want to see more entrances on that side; it originally had none between the store’s main entrance and a door at California/Lander, then one was added for the Starbucks stand midway down California, but board members say that’s not enough. Full details, including other concerns they want the final design to address, in our second report, later Friday.

11 Replies to "Design Review report #1: Admiral Safeway, Transitional Resources"

  • JamminJ December 17, 2009 (10:57 pm)

    call me ignorant, but just had no idea the reviews a company/developer goes through before a project is approved. I understand the need for input and reviews.. but seems as if at this point, if I was safeway, i would say fine, we don’t change anything and just keep the current store. Not sure what their earning projections are for that store after a remodel… but just seems as if this process creates such an anti business atmosphere.
    Driving down California, I see many storefronts that are just ‘junky’ to me… and the nitpicking that is going on with this project seems petty to me and targeted.
    Is the design process supposed to appease ALL interests?

  • JanS December 17, 2009 (11:24 pm)

    I’m amazed…what do they want? An entrance every 5 feet? Are they actually coming out and walking that block…I see three entrances, one on each corner, and one in the middle. I guess I just don’t get it. Hope this doesn’t kill the project. I would probably be throwing up my hands at this point. How come QFC wasn’t required to have a bunch of entrances on SW Alaska?

    • WSB December 18, 2009 (12:02 am)

      They actually were supposed to, and that is the big bone of contention that keeps coming up – the Design Review Board reportedly made recommendations for that project that did not wind up in the final plan – it was even mentioned tonight, though good things about the QFC were as well, such as the way the entrance at the 42nd/Alaska corner “spills out” with activity engaging people as they walk by. More to come somewhere in the next few hours!

  • mikey December 18, 2009 (5:16 am)

    I think 3 entrances on one side of the building is more then enough. its time to move on

  • Lorelee December 18, 2009 (7:02 am)

    Thanks to those community members sitting on the board. This is a lot of detail for me to keep track of, and this stuff IS important. I’m glad someone is watching out for the admiral community’s interest. Details count- especially in a walkable community!

  • Paul December 18, 2009 (8:21 am)

    The number of entrances equals the number of exits for shoplifters. Increasing egress from the store will necessitate the hiring of additional security, which will increase the cost of groceries.

  • west side sun lover December 18, 2009 (10:12 am)

    I have attended a number of the DRB meetings and this is simply getting ridiculous! Safeway has done an amazing job considering the communities comments in their design as well as listening to the DRB’s suggestions. It is time to move on and let them begin this project. Delaying over minutia is not an incentive for Safeway to continue on. Safeway has other projects they can invest their $20M in. As an Admiral district resident, I am greatly looking forward to this needed face-lift, I just hope the project won’t be killed.

  • Smitty December 18, 2009 (11:20 am)

    Safeway should just say “screw it” and leave (or leave the current ugly structure up).

    People whose homes and yards and cars look like crap have the gall to ask others for perfection.

    • WSB December 18, 2009 (11:35 am)

      Smitty, there are five people on the all-volunteer board (which has changed some positions since the review of this project first began) and there have been numerous members of the public along the way (just a few last night, long story still in the works) who have spoken about the project – their homes/yards/etc. don’t play into the official city process that they have been tasked with carrying out.

      The Design Review process, whether you love it or hate it, is unique to Seattle. I hadn’t even heard about it for my first decade here, despite having worked all that time in citywide media. The board members are specifically asked to evaluate projects on design guidelines both ordered by the city and spelled out in neighborhood plans.

      Admiral’s neighborhood plan, for example, has some different guidelines than The Junction.

      You may have been at last night’s meeting. If not, I highly recommend going to the next one and having a say, even if it is “Get on with it already.” You also can send comments to the city planner on the project, Michael Dorcy –

  • Jim Del Ciello, Vice Chair City Neighborhood Council December 18, 2009 (3:03 pm)

    As an Admiral resident, it is fantastic to read all the comments regarding this high profile project! Thanks to the WSB for educating those whom have commented about this process and I concur by encouraging others to attend.

    To wit, Safeway should be commended on this project. It is largely commensurate with the Admiral Neighborhood Plan. So all of us in this community will be beneficiaries of the good work Safeway and its contractors are seeking to create.

    Having said that, Safeway has NOT implemented what the Design Review Board (DRB) has requested and that is why they MUST return for another review :( Simply the DRB is seeking to engage more pedestrian traffic along California Ave SW. So which is better along the west-side of California Ave SW, a blank and opaque brick & mortor wall or a storefront that enhances the vitality of our neighborhood? Is it costly? Maybe in the short term, but in the long term Safeway will encourage greater customer loyalty and expand its customer base….

  • JanS December 18, 2009 (6:14 pm)

    Jim…from the design that I saw on here, there was an entrance mid-store between the entrance at Lander and Calif. Ave., and the entrance at the NW corner of the store. And the rest of the “wall” is glass, from what I can see. It’s not blank…one can look in, it looks like to me (please correct me if I’m wrong). I am unable to attend meetings at Youngstown Art Center because it’s difficult to take a bus from where I am to there, and I am without a vehicle…so I can only rely on the pictures I see. I am extremely interested in what exactly is being looked for…more entrances? more windows? It seemed to me that the entrance in the middle was large, but I was just looking at a picture. Do they want something that is big enough to accommodate an outdoor area with tables, etc? With produce like the entrance to QFC at the corner of 42nd And Alaska?

    What are the specifics that are wanted on that west side? It seems to me that people walking to the store from the south will enter at the SW corner entrance, people walking from the north will enter in the other corner entrance. There isn’t a whole lot of parking in front of the store on the west side. What pedestrians are they wanting to be more “pedestrian friendly” to? And are they making themselves absolutely clear as to their wants , with specifics?

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