First the letter, then the tour: A visit to “The Hole”

As first reported here April 8, the Southwest District Council voted to send a letter to the owners of The Hole – the excavated-then-stalled Fauntleroy Place/Whole Foods site at 39th/Alaska/Fauntleroy – voicing concerns about safety and aesthetics issues. (Here’s our April 13 report with the final text of the letter.) Then at last week’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting (WSB coverage here), president Erica Karlovits announced a date was set for a representative for the company that wants to take over the site, Madison Development, to come out for a walking tour and firsthand look at the concerns.

Last night, that tour happened. In the top photo, that’s Madison spokesperson Natalie Quick with Karlovits, her fellow SWDC co-chair Chas Redmond, and West Seattle Junction Association executive director Susan Melrose, who originally proposed the letter. In this clip shot and edited for WSB by Christopher Boffoli, they explain the tour:

As for whether Madison Development is currently liable for The Hole, Quick is checking on that – in a complicated series of transactions tied up with the legal action involving the site, an entity called 3922 SW Alaska LLC holds the note and has filed for judicial foreclosure.

Read on for our notes from the tour, and more photos:

While the site’s eyesore status is certainly a valid topic, the “tour guides” kept stressing that safety is the first concern. Here Karlovits points to a spot along the site’s west edge, where she says the barricades aren’t properly secured:

Redmond noted that as well, adding that the barriers around the site are not continuous and consistent, particularly on the Alaska side. Sidewalk access for those with disabilities is a concern too; Melrose explained to Quick that those issues are often addressed by the city, and she gets notification if there’s a problem within the Junction business district’s boundaries. She also reiterated that the community had been excited about the original project, but now it’s time for some resolution. Karlovits wondered how long the site could continue getting exposed to the elements without further deterioration, given that it’s now gone through two winters.

While grocery needs aren’t going unmet, given the new QFC and old Safeway nearby, plus the possibility of Trader Joe’s across the street from The Hole, Melrose pointed out there’s been plenty of clamor to get Hancock Fabrics back – it was supposed to be part of the project, after the demolition took out its old store. Something else that’s been out of commission since the work began, then stalled – access to the small triangular park at the 39th/Alaska corner, now overgrown, fenced off and heavily littered; Redmond asked if public access to the spot could be restored.

As the tour wrapped up, Madison Development spokesperson Quick told Karlovits, Redmond and Melrose that she would be their central point of contact on this, and that she understood the primary concern is safety. She also reiterated that the site’s caught up in a legal tangle including the judicial foreclosure, none of which, she affirmed, is expected to be resolved any time soon.

We just checked the case files (as we do, often) – the consolidated case involving what originally were multiple lawsuits is currently set for trial this October, but various hearings have been held along the way on a variety of motions, including at least one that has affirmed who is in line to get paid first in any kind of judgment. Yet another hearing on a “motion for summary judgment” is set for later this week, challenging earlier decisions on which liens take precedence.)

23 Replies to "First the letter, then the tour: A visit to "The Hole""

  • foy boy May 18, 2010 (11:20 am)

    After drivbing back over the westseattle bridge this mornig heading west you could see a perfect oppertunity for a park and ride. The traffic was the pits. If not in the hole then use one of the other empty lots in the area. How about the old hertz lot or the one next to it. This is where or local state senators and seattle city concial are out of touch with the traffic problem in westseattle. To me it is a nobrainer for the city that wants so much to go green to develop a park and ride in west seattle. Simply talk to who ever owens the land, lease it paint some lines charge a small fee for security have a couple of express buses tadah. Or claim eminent domain and build a nice park and ride. With all these empty lots in the middle of town it seems to me that this would be a nobrainer. Lets not let this chance pass us by. Please call or write your mayor, city concil, Or any of prsent or future state senators on this issue.

  • CF May 18, 2010 (12:02 pm)

    I don’t think that the City of Seattle likes park and rides. They killed the one in West Seattle on Olson Meyer Hill by majorly reducing the amount of parking there and built all sorts of SHAG housing. And they refuesed to build any on the light rail line that would have encouraged commuters to park and then use the light rail to get to downtown.

  • Jacob May 18, 2010 (12:06 pm)

    Weren’t they planning to respond to the letter that was sent out? When is that going to happen?

  • CurlyQ May 18, 2010 (12:21 pm)

    Foy boy, I’m with you. If it were aesthetically nice, the Hole would be a perfect place for a park and ride–and a boon to Junction businesses. Especially with all of the current and future road construction impacting West Seattle (1st Ave exits, Alaskan Way viaduct/tunnel), this really does seem like a no-brainer. Someone ought to contact Dow Constantine, since he’s a long-time West Seattle resident, and probably has a global perspective on the viability of such an idea.

  • AnotherIdiotInWS May 18, 2010 (12:22 pm)

    Anyone seen the hole on Stone Way where the old Safeway used to be? It’s been what, 5 years or more, right? Well, it’s still a hole.

  • Gini Johnson May 18, 2010 (12:25 pm)

    Something needs to be done before an accident happens and someone drives into the hole. I can’t believe that the city hasn’t put jersey barriers around it. It is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  • Amanda May 18, 2010 (12:26 pm)

    I’m with Boy and CurlyQ. With all the nasty traffic this morning, a park and ride makes a lot of sense.

    Also, speaking of stalled projects, what’s up with the Avalon and 35th Condo project? Does anyone know?

    • WSB May 18, 2010 (12:53 pm)

      Tied up in all the Mastro legal trouble. They weatherproofed it before winter got too far along. Otherwise, idlesville. I check on its legal status from time to time.

  • MayorMcCheese May 18, 2010 (12:30 pm)

    Turn it into a temporary homeless campsite. It’s better than just doing nothing.

  • Barb Jo May 18, 2010 (12:38 pm)

    I wish it was a Monorail landing for the monorail we were thinking that was coming to West Seattle a few years ago :-\

  • MJ May 18, 2010 (12:57 pm)

    Thanks Natalie, Chas,and Susan for doing this walk through and acting as the voice for our community on this issue…I really, really hope this makes a difference.

  • T-Rex May 18, 2010 (12:58 pm)

    Has anyone ever heard of Google Earth?

    Did people really have to make a site visit to a flipping hole in the ground??

  • dd May 18, 2010 (1:12 pm)

    Looks like this did a semblance of good. Chin Construction, who currently ‘manages’ the hole are replacing the graffiti covered fence fabric that faces Alaska St. Let’s see what else happens.

    Good job so far on being proactive, any answer to Jacob’s question above? Will someone actually answer the letter that was written?

  • @SW May 18, 2010 (1:41 pm)

    T-Rex, did you actually read the article or even look the site up on Google earth?
    Google earth still shows the old buildings in place, no hole. Even if it did show current shot(s) of the site, the resolution isn’t high enough to see things like car barriers, problems with the chain link fence, graffiti, etc,etc

  • foy-boy May 18, 2010 (2:18 pm)

    The way the seattle city concil handles city issuses it is easy to see why we need to change the way they get elected. In most cities the concil members live in disricts of the city. Then maybe if we had a city concil member from and for the betterment of westseattle we might get things done as in a park and ride. But for now when you call your city concil members your not sure which one to talk to. If we had our own member the hole in the ground would get solved sooner. We have past and present city and county leaders from west seattle but it seems once elected they forget where thier from. It seems when average joe comes up with a good idea that they did not think of first it is out of the question.

  • flynlo May 18, 2010 (3:42 pm)

    Re: Park & Ride in Seattle

    Search the City of Seattle’s web site for the phrase “park & ride”! You’ll get 1 hit from the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs!! Kinda shows you what the City thinks of Park & Ride. (King Co. web site responds with ~ 1040 hits. Exactly who in the City government is so opposed to park & ride? Time for a change?

  • Chris May 18, 2010 (4:07 pm)

    Natalie Quick works for the Fearey Group, which is a public relations/affairs firm.

  • Leroy May 18, 2010 (4:14 pm)

    And to top it all off – I just don’t get how a private business can indefinitely fence off a small public park – paid for with PUBLIC money!

  • Andy May 18, 2010 (5:13 pm)

    Let’s just call Leslie Knope and put a park in there.

  • Alki Area May 18, 2010 (8:48 pm)

    Keep in mind there was a giant hole on 2nd Ave downtown behind the Bon Marche garage. The project there (hotel/condo) was canceled, and recently they just filled it in knowing that the project wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. NO reason that can’t be done here too.

  • yeah right May 18, 2010 (9:14 pm)

    instead of pointing at it, just fix it then. these holes around town are not going to fill themselves. and with the last couple of projects done in west seattle. half completed with illegal immigrants. no wonder were in this predicament.

  • dawsonct May 19, 2010 (4:27 pm)

    PLEASE do not encourage them to refill any major excavations, even if they aren’t currently being used for their intended purpose. Those of us who live in this neighborhood put up with the noise, dust, and exhaust from digging it in the first place, the thought of all those dump trucks and earth-moving equipment clogging the neighborhood and our air TWICE MORE in the same spot is seriously unappealing.
    I’m certain it offends your sense of aesthetics, Alki Area and the rest of you who merely drive past the hole on the way home, but your concerns about an eyesore are puny next to our concerns about unnecessary construction traffic and the pollution it brings.

  • curious May 19, 2010 (5:08 pm)

    Dawsonct: You may not have a choice but to fill it. I would believe that the soil nailing that they used to support the walls has a limited life. Filling the hole would be a better alternative than having half of the adjacent block slide into the hole taking streets, buildings, and people with it.

    Along those lines, the original company should have had to put up a bond to the city before starting construction. Where is it, how much is it for, and has the city considered calling the bond? Please tell me that our folks at city hall didn’t waive the requirement in order to be “developer friendly.” This has screwed other municipalities recently.

Sorry, comment time is over.