Compare: Fauntleroy Way as it looks now, through The Triangle …
… and Fauntleroy Way as it might look, in a concept proposed as part of the ongoing West Seattle Triangle planning discussions:
Almost two years after a touchstone meeting that “started (the) conversation” about The Triangle’s future (2008 WSB coverage here), concepts like that one are progressing as part of an official city-involved process. It’s part of the presentation (see it here) given to the Seattle Design Commission last Thursday by architect David Hewitt, a consultant working with the city Department of Planning and Development and a citizens’ advisory group, as they try to envision how The Triangle could evolve with purpose as more development moves in among the existing businesses, large and small, in the next decade-plus. The Design Commission gave unanimous approval to this first round of concepts, which hasn’t yet been formally presented to the Advisory Group, whose next meeting has just been set for 5:30 pm October 27. Read on to see a few more concepts from the presentation, and how they were initially received:
First, here’s a cross-section of the area that’s been under review – what’s considered The Triangle, mostly between 35th, Fauntleroy, and Alaska, with some spillover beyond those arterial boundaries.
The planning process has been unique because, instead of designing a specific project to be built, it’s been about envisioning concepts that would be written into city policies/records, to be used as guidelines as the area changes – as new developments come in, as existing businesses remodel, etc. The project goals include “create an identifiable gateway to West Seattle by improving the appearance and function of rights-of-way,” and that’s what the concepts were mostly about – multiple potential treatments for each – here’s another look at Fauntleroy (the “boulevard” concept would NOT call for a slower speed limit, clarified Casey Hildreth from SDOT):
Several Triangle streets were given a multi-view treatment – the vision for each depended on its potential use, whether it was seen as more for walking/biking than for cars, or, for example, the width of its sidewalks. In this concept for extra-wide 36th SW near the West Seattle Family YMCA (WSB sponsor) – seen below in the now/(possible) then views – parking might be in the middle of the road, so to speak:
Again, you can see others by looking at the full presentation, which also includes pages with features that might be considered as new developments go in – many of them focused on sustainability, such as rainwater gardens in what’s now a “parking strip” area – or interspersing tree/grass areas with parking spaces IN the street, like along SW Snoqualmie, seen below in the now-and-then:
But it was stressed repeatedly – echoing a concern that has come up repeatedly in the Advisory Group meetings – that the plan needs to “embrace and extend” The Triangle’s “ongoing, solid businesses of unique character,” even while recognizing and assisting change. Some of that change is already on the way, like Metro’s RapidRide C Line bus route, which will go through The Triangle when it debuts in fall 2012.
After the presentation was made, the commission heard from some of the high-profile spectators who took time out in the early afternoon to be there. They included Denny Onslow and Emi McKittrick from Harbor Properties, which is building Link in The Triangle; they mentioned the child-care company that’ll take much of the commercial space in Link, “bringing in 160 kids in child care, from infant to ages six or seven.”
Representing the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, West 5 proprietor Dave Montoure talked about the “nightmare” that the Fauntleroy-Alaska “pedestrian experience” is now. From the Fairmount Community Association south of The Triangle, Sharonn Meeks talked about the importance of being able to cross 35th to get to the green spaces on its east side (Camp Long, for example), even with the future challenges posed by the arrival of RapidRide and a station at 35th/Avalon just down the hill.
In their approval motion, Design Commission members’ recommendations included “Consider extending the treatment of Fauntleroy, whatever you do to it, to the northeast” – all the way to The Bridge – “and possibly south of Alaska.” Regarding the Fauntleroy “gateway” concept, the advice was, “think about something not cliché – unique, not overdone.” They also advised “keep parking the same (amount), not (an) increase … create safe bicycle movement, especially at Fauntleroy/36th/Avalon … alleys create some of the unique character, so embrace that” and “think of ways for the city to acquire land (outside of the street/sidewalk right-of-ways) for other uses such as pocket parks.”
One notable comment from architect Hewitt: He didn’t think The Triangle should have to “go through a branding exercise – it is what it is.” Also telling, one commissioner saying, “It’s hard for me to understand how all this is adding up – I can see we are just not there yet.” But commission member Julie Bassuk, a West Seattleite, thought the challenge might be that the net isn’t cast wide enough: “I would advocate for the commission to advocate for the city to step back and say, how is this going to affect the whole area?”
The proposals will be brought before the commission at least once more, after the upcoming round of meetings, which is scheduled to end with a not-yet-set date in early December for a community open house; that’ll be followed by a formal, final city report next February, and eventually, this could go into the city’s “right-of-way manual,” with possibly land-use code (zoning) changes to be considered after that. But in the meantime, you are invited to the next Advisory Group meeting: 5:30 pm Wednesday, October 27th, at the Senior Center of West Seattle.