With six weeks having gone by since our last progress report on the West Seattle Trader Joe’s, we weren’t surprised to see questions come up in the comment thread on this past Monday’s Triangle open house. Then, just as we got ready to start on an update, two people e-mailed to say the Burien Trader Joe’s staff — long a source of West Seattle rumors, it seems – had told West Seattle shoppers that the project was allegedly having permit problems. Keep in mind, the formal permit application was made just two months ago, and these things seldom move swiftly through the city pipeline. But to get a better idea of where it’s at, we did two things: 1. Went downtown to the Department of Planning and Development to look into the application file. 2. Talked to John Wunder, who represents properties (including this one at 4545 Fauntleroy Way) owned by Steve Huling and family (the site was the longtime Huling Brothers Buick showroom). Here’s what we found out:
THE FILE: The documents we reviewed at DPD HQ at noontime yesterday appear relatively routine. The newest one-sheet, from the land-use review, was dated February 1st. Most of the back-and-forth has to do with parking for the store, some of which will be on the building’s rooftop parking area, some of which will be on the ground-level lot. According to the documents, some of the parking was in conflict with a strip that’s on the record as an alley, so the city asked that parking proposed for that “alley” area be removed. The city asked for a traffic study and more information on where the “loading berth” will be. A few data points of interest are also in the application – it’s expected the project will generate 1,365 daily vehicle trips. The exterior modifications (architect rendering at right) will bring the height to 39’9″ in at least one spot, a few feet higher than it is now. It appears that only one comment was received during the recent open-comment period for the project’s environmental review; a North Seattle woman wrote that she felt the project would have an environmental impact, and hoped that trees would be included. (The proposal does call for adding “landscaping islands” that are projected to reduce the amount of “impervious” surface on the site.)
THE PROPERTY REP: John Wunder says he’s checked with key players on the project, and there’s really nothing to say other than, it’s proceeding. They hope to finish the permit process this spring.
The documents on file with the city project a 175-day construction schedule – that’s just under six months – so you could certainly conclude the store is not likely to be open before late summer/early fall. (The original TJ’s announcement last June promised only “2011.”) According to the documents, Trader Joe’s would seek to “commence construction immediately” once the permits are granted. The file also notes that “50 to 75 employees” are expected to work at the store.