West Seattle, Washington
(West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network founders speak to the new WRAH council)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The second meeting of the new Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council drew more than 20 people, from a retired police officer voicing concerns about city politics, to educators from local schools, to representatives of community groups including the West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network and West Seattle Crime Prevention Council.
Crime prevention was the spotlight topic during the Wednesday night meeting at Southwest Library, with the Seattle Police crime-prevention coordinator for the Southwest and South Precincts, Mark Solomon, first up, after around-the-room introductions and words of greeting from facilitator Mat McBride, chair of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council.
If you try going to Pan Africa Grill at 5905 California SW tonight – that’s what you’ll find. We’d heard rumors they were closing, but no confirmation until the sign went up. It had only been open a year and a half, taking over the space that was home to Ho-Win Chinese Restaurant for 12 years. At the time Pan Africa opened here, it had an original location at Pike Place Market, but the owners closed that last April.
So what will happen to the West Seattle space, you ask? We do have the answer. It will be a Chinese restaurant again – called Chopstix. No, the former owners aren’t coming back; this is a brand-new venture, says proprietor Mark Lam, whose family has been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years in South King County. “West Seattle has a little bit more population density, it’s more diversified, a great place for any kind of business,” he told WSB’s Katie Meyer in a phone conversation this afternoon. He says Chopstix won’t be exclusively Chinese – it’ll veer toward Pan-Asian with “a little bit of Vietnamese, some teriyaki as well, some Japanese tempura.” No grand-opening date just yet – he just got the keys to the restaurant this week and expects to know more next week, after some cleanup, changes, and menu development. We’ll follow up, of course.
Back in January, we told you the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center‘s first-ever fundraising bicycle-ride series dubbed Obliteride was expected to run through our area. The routes have just been revealed, and West Seattle/White Center is indeed on the 180-mile, two-day route – see the map here, or in the short video above, and read the official update ahead:Read More
There’s a scam born every minute. Every second, probably. Our coverage of the West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network meeting last week mentioned some, in relation to mail fraud. Now, the state Attorney General’s Office has just issued this warning about the latest trend in e-mail “spoofing” – read on:Read More
1:39 PM: About 25 people are in the audience at the City Hall Boards and Commissions Room right now as the Seattle Design Commission takes a look at part of the 4755 Fauntleroy Way megaproject – the requested alley vacation. We’ve never seen a crowd this size in five years of covering West Seattle project reviews here, so we’re going to publish live updates. Some of those here are wearing T-shirts with the logo of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21; we recognize members of the project team and some local community leaders as well. This will start with a presentation by project team members – Bill Fuller from Fuller Sears Architects and Lance Sherwood of Weingarten Realty (developing the site with Lennar) will lead. Land-use lawyers and representatives of the developers are here too. (Added: As introductions went around the room, West Seattle Thriftway [WSB sponsor] owner Paul Kapioski was among them. The project, if you don’t know, includes a Whole Foods Market.)
1:44 PM: The presentation has begun. This is the first time it’s gone before the commission, so the briefing starts with basics including where in West Seattle it’s located. Fuller says the building will have “approximately 400 residential units” – that’s 30 more than has been mentioned previously. Fuller notes the project site was upzoned last year to 85′ height (though this project is not proposed to be that tall – 70′ for most of the site). He also refers to Spruce across the street (“The Hole”) as “about to start up”; last time we were here covering a Design Commission meeting, that was the project, with an update last year. Fuller says this project’s streetscape will “complement” the Junction, rather than “compete with” it. He also shows a grid of alleys in the Junction/Triangle area, and an overview referring to development goals for the area, which includes respecting its status as a “gateway” to the area. While 4755 Fauntleroy is not a “transit-oriented development” by the city’s definition, Fuller says, they believe it will function as one, with its proximity to the RapidRide C Line, etc. He’s explaining everything around the site so that the commissioners, who are appointed from around the city, will have context (though we believe at least one is a West Seattleite).
2 PM: Background over, presentation begins. Fuller says they plan to improve the section of the alley they are not seeking to have “vacated” – the section that runs north-south north of SW Edmunds, east of the Masonic Lodge (which is adjacent to the project on two sides but not part of it). Fronting Fauntleroy, he says, there will be small retail spaces on the north part of that frontage, but they are proposing to move the drugstore drive-up to be on a driveway parallel to that north-south alley, rather than the original proposal on the east-west “midblock connection” between 40th SW and Fauntleroy. The site height will be mostly 70′ except for the “tower” element at the Fauntleroy/Alaska corner (something new since the first two Design Review meetings). He mentions the site across 40th just purchased by the city as a new park and says they are hoping to find a way for pedestrians to get from Fauntleroy to the park. The current mid-block connector section across the project site also will be utilized by cars. Fuller now brings up the mural that’s on the current ex-Huling building to be demolished and says that while it’s not in good enough shape to save, they plan to take a digital image to recreate it on the project site.
2:13 PM: Fuller shows what the project would look like if the alley vacation isn’t granted – including going to its full allowable 85′ height.
Then he recaps what the project is offering – retail frontage on Fauntleroy, “safe circulation for all vehicle classes” from trucks to bicycles, supporting the “green street” plan for 40th on its west side, and more. The presentation ends, and Beverly Barnett of SDOT – who handles alley vacations – says she’s glad to see so many people here.
She says SDOT is not satisfied right now that the configuration of the interior east-west mid-block crossing (above) would provide safe usage for everything from deliveries to people trying to park: “Right now, there’s so much happening in there, where we see drive-through for a drugstore, delivery trucks … we’re not satisfied that the design as proposed is going to meet all the safety fundamentals plus go so far as to provide public benefits.” She thinks either design changes to the loading area or pedestrian accommodations elsewhere on the site might help; she also expresses criticism of the proposed drive-through drugstore. “Design changes, space enhancements, figuring out how some of the functions might happen differently, or just go away” will be their recommendation. She says “West Seattle loves midblock crossings … but it’s gotta be safe … not putting kids (in the path of) grocery trucks backing up.” (Editor’s note: This concern came up in early design review meetings, too.) Now a City Council staffer, Michael Jenkins, speaks. He says Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is also concerned – especially about the midblock connector and the corner of Fauntleroy/Alaska – and has asked him to follow the project through this process as well as Design Review (where its next meeting is in three weeks).
2:21 PM: Public comment, now.
Steve Marquardt of UFCW Local 21 (above right) says he’ll speak for the group here (the commission asked for some consolidation) and for their 10,000 members, 750 of whom he says live in West Seattle. He says the design contortions are to accommodate Whole Foods, which they oppose: “This neighborhood already has 7 major supermarkets within a radius of 2 miles. Construction of an 8th supermarket … is a threat to the viability of neighborhood jobs.” He also says they believe this plan undermines the walkability viability of the Triangle site, as well as traffic trouble at Fauntleroy/Alaska, and has massing issues – all of which they want to see “better addressed.” .. “Our members don’t see a public benefit here” and “don’t think this is in the public interest.” Now Chas Redmond speaks for the Southwest District Council and Morgan Community Association, saying they have four concerns – seeking a “more striking structure” at Fauntleroy/Alaska; concerns about whether the midblock crossing is safe for pedestrians; concerns about the pedestrian access to the Alaska side of the project – “although there are windows, Alaska has become a showcase of brutalist architecture and we hope it won’t continue that way”; and “knowing there are 3 other projects to be built now or in the future adjacent to this intersection, we are particularly concerned about transportation – deliveries, residents (etc.)” Then a local resident stands up to speak, saying she lives in High Point, used to live in Junction area, and she agrees the additional grocery store is unnecessary and placing burdens on the design of the project. She thinks the pedestrian environment, as others said, will be dangerous, and thinks the midblock connector should be a public right-of-way without the loading dock and other elements. After her, another resident says “what you see now is an eyesore and a danger right now … I think the project that’s coming in is awesome and is going to be beautiful … for me, I think it’s a great project … I think it’s a great idea, is going to bring a ton of jobs, is going to bring a lot of life to the area.” A resident standing next to her says she feels the same way. “I’m concerned about my health, I don’t want to eat at Safeway, I don’t want to have to go to (various stores) … basically Whole Foods is amazing and if I have to sell it, I’ll sell it. I like shopping at Whole Foods and I have to go all the way to Interbay. I want to shop where I live.”
2:32 PM: Commissioners are now asking questions – starting with the “midblock crossing.” Trucks would enter it off Fauntleroy, headed west, “two or three a day” then would go into Whole Foods to the north (behind a door). Residential access would be into the alley off Edmunds on the south side. Visitor parking would be entered from Edmunds too. That side of the alley also would include the aforementioned drugstore drive-through, possibly with a one-way flow. In response to another question, the architects say, people would be moving in/out off Fauntleroy and two spots along Edmunds, which also is where most of the residential traffic is supposed to be. Access to the drugstore drive-through would be from 40th or from Fauntleroy, then “out the alley to the south.” Discussion veers into the Triangle Plan itself and how it envisioned these corners – but then goes right back to the traffic-flow issue. One commissioner asks how much vehicle traffic has been measured in the area; while the architects look it up, she says, “A lot, qualitatively.” 1,500 PM peak-hour trips on Fauntleroy, they find. How many will this project add? “We are adding … about 250.” Among a subsequent discussion of parking, a commissioner asks about bicycle parking; Fuller says “it will be a bicycle-friendly project,” meeting the city’s bike-parking requirements, and he says they’re working on having a bike shop as part of the project. They also are undergrounding utilities along Fauntleroy to make room for a bike lane along the Fauntleroy frontage while preserving vehicle parking there too.
2:52 PM: This was only supposed to go until 3 pm – it’s definitely going overtime. A commissioner says that while there’s a “plaza” proposed at Fauntleroy/Alaska, for the public, it seems from the renderings to have a “private” nature. This is a topic more for discussion at a later meeting of this group, when they talk about “public benefit” – the topic here is “urban design” of the site – but it’s agreed that they can discuss it. There is a four-foot-high or so buffer structure at the corner meant to be more about safety and separation from traffic, not to close off the “plaza.” Parking comes up again, and Fuller says the parking along Fauntleroy will be the only “visible” parking on the site aside from a few visitors’ spaces (for the leasing office) along Edmunds. How does the site speak to the Masonic Temple and its parking? the architect is asked. A currently blocked section of alley will be improved, which should benefit them and their visitors too, is the reply.
3:03 PM: Commissioners’ questions continue. One asks about utilities. The overhead power goes north-south but does not run along the alley, which was added after the site was originally developed. Now it’s on to the commissioners’ discussion among themselves. First one: The midblock crossing does not appear as pedestrian-friendly as the Triangle Plan suggests one should be there. Another commissioner says he agrees the midblock connection is “tighter and more active” than the plan would suggest, but the plan, he says, is a guideline, and this could just be seen as “a departure” from the plan. The next commissioner says she believes this project meets the “urban design merit” on which they’re reviewing it – the cut-through, for example, is an improvement over what’s there. But she has concerns about traffic impacts. Another commissioner says she too will have concerns about the cut-through if not improved by the “public benefit” review, but for now, “urban design merit” for the project is OK. Then two commissioners say they’re wondering why the project came to the Design Commission since SDOT has concerns.
3:18 PM: The idea of digitizing the mural and putting that replica on the site is not a hit with one commissioner (perhaps the original artist should be contacted, it’s suggested), who also says the plaza at Fauntleroy/Alaska strikes her as a “private space.” Another brings up the Spruce project across the street (“The Hole”) and says that it’s just not “a great corner to hang out.” Now, the review of the commissioners’ observations/recommendations – noting that “urban design merit” is the first of two reviews from the Design Commission before SDOT can approve the alley vacation (and send it to the City Council, which gets the final say). The member reading the list of concerns reiterates what has been voiced over the preceding hour and a half.
3:25 PM: The vote – unanimously against approving the “urban design merit” at this stage. So this project will have to come before the Design Commission at least two more times, one for UDM and one for “public benefit.”
Even as the apartment-building boom proceeds in the Junction/Triangle area, a different type of construction project is on the drawing boards: The new Fire Station 32. This has been in the works for a long time, but is just now moving closer to reality; this week, the city applied for permits for the Fire Levy-funded project. The plan is to demolish the current station and build a new one on the same site (38th/Alaska), described in the city’s online files as “a new 3-story structure with basement, elevated parking deck and site walls.”
We took a few followup questions to city spokesperson Katherine Schubert-Knapp, who replies that (a) there’s no design yet – “we’re in the schematic design phase with our architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson“; (b) the interim site for relocating the station during construction has not yet been chosen; (c) the timeline envisions demolition around “the end of 2014-beginning of 2015. The station construction is expected to be complete by first quarter 2016.”
While Station 32 is already key to responses in West Seattle, as home to an engine, ladder truck, and Medic 32, the city’s summary of the project says, “As part of the rebuild, Station 32 is slated for major improvements and conversion to the lead station for Battalion VII, which covers all of West Seattle, southwest Seattle, and Harbor Island, and the industrial areas lining both sides of the Duwamish River.”
By Megan Sheppard
On the WSBeat, for West Seattle Blog
As always, the WSBeat summaries are from reports on cases handled recently by Southwest Precinct officers that (usually) have not already appeared here in breaking-news coverage or West Seattle Crime Watch reports, but that might at least answer the question “what WERE all those police doing on my block?”:
*Along Alki on March 5th, a citizen flagged down a passing officer to express concerns about a man in a nearby coffee shop. The barista greeted the investigating officer, saying that the man had been sitting in the shop for an hour, staring at her, but had not ordered anything. A computer check showed that the suspect was wanted on a $5,000 King County warrant for negligent driving. He was arrested and booked into King County Jail.
*Overnight on the 3rd, both a gas station and a coffee shop near The Junction were burglarized. From one, the thief took lottery tickets, a computer, and some phones. (The cash register was untouched.) From the second, about $800 was missing.
*A citizen reports that on the afternoon of February 27th, he was followed closely, sworn at, and threatened with death four times by a man who was apparently enraged that the victim (riding what was described as a motorized disability scooter) was using the bicycle lane. The victim drove onto a side street to avoid the suspect, who followed him into the parking lot of an Admiral business to continue his tirade. The suspect was a white man, 30-49 years old, with brown hair and a full, short-trimmed beard. He drove a newer, black Volvo station wagon.
Ahead – alert citizens help catch car-prowling suspects, a $5 apology, and 6 more summaries:Read More
(Photo by Doug Branch, shared via the WSB Flickr group)
Two weeks till spring! From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:
4755 FAUNTLEROY AT DESIGN COMMISSION: 1:30 today at City Hall downtown (Boards and Commissions Room, lower level), the Seattle Design Commission reviews 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW in relation to the proposed alley vacation, as previewed here.
FOOD TRUCK IN TOWN: The 314 Pie food truck – no relation to the shop in White Center – debuts in Morgan Junction tonight, 5-9 pm, near Beveridge Place Pub (6400 block of California), speaking of which …
HARRY’S DELIVERY DEBUTS: If you missed our story published yesterday about Harry’s Chicken Joint – which will open its doors soon in the former Meander’s/Jade West spot north of Morgan Junction – tonight they start three-nights-a-week delivery AT Beveridge Place.
NEIGHBORHOOD PREPAREDNESS: 6 pm tonight at the West Seattle (Admiral) Library branch, it’s the next preparedness class offered free via SNAP (Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare).
… lots of nightlife listings (DJ, karaoke, trivia, live music) and even more on the calendar!
As we continue tracking West Seattle development plans, notes of interest this morning:
(Image from November 2012 review – 3078 Avalon at left, 3062 at right)
AVALON PROJECTS APPLY FOR PERMITS: The city’s Land Use Information Bulletin has just arrived in the inbox, with the official announcements of permit applications for two neighboring apartment buildings on Avalon Way – 3062 Avalon and 3078 Avalon. Each is now described as 8 stories, 108 apartments, and 61 parking spaces (changes in the original descriptions for both). Comments are being accepted on both through March 20th; there are “how to comment” links on both notices – 3062 Avalon here, 3078 Avalon here. Neither project has finished the design-review process yet (and no dates are set for their next meetings); both early reviews drew a crowd of neighbors from the street just north of the sites – here’s our report on 3078 Avalon’s September meeting, and our report on 3062 Avalon’s November meeting. At the latter meeting, the architect said the two were likely to be built at the same time.
JUNCTION DEVELOPMENT MAY START IN MAY: With multiple development sites in The Junction in stages of near-readiness for construction, we keep checking with developers about their plans. Most recently, we talked with a spokesperson for 4724 California SW – about 90 apartment and live-work units on the former Petco/Sound Ad Group site – who tells WSB they’re thinking mid-May. The two-building California/Alaska/42nd development still has not announced a start date, after pulling back on two projected start dates last year.
DESIGN REVIEW REMINDERS: One week from today, the 166-unit apartment proposal at 3210 California SW goes to Early Design Guidance – here’s the story we published last week after talking with the architect; here’s the meeting “packet.” Then three weeks from today, the 4755 Fauntleroy megaproject (370+ apartments, 600 parking spaces, Whole Foods) goes back to Design Review (today, its alley vacation goes before the Design Commission).
(Live view from the east-facing WS Bridge camera; see other cameras on the WSB Traffic page)
7:34 AM: Via Twitter, WSDOT says wet roads are leading to some slowdowns today, so if you drive, leaving a few minutes early might be a good idea. No incidents right now in the West Seattle commuting vicinity. And since it’s Thursday, we would look ahead to major weekend closures – if there were any; only semi-nearby closure planned this weekend is the ramp from Northbound I-5 to 6th Avenue South.
8:35 AM: If you’ve noticed some overhead signs missing their usual messages this morning, SDOT’s Peg Nielsen explains:
Some of the Variable Messaging Signs (VMSs), which provide travel times for drivers, are dark coming out of West Seattle due to a malfunction in the time estimating system. The Seattle Department of Transportation is working to find and correct the problem.
Tomorrow (Friday) is the final day of “open enrollment” for Seattle Public Schools, and this morning there are two more pre-deadline tours – Arbor Heights Elementary from 9:15 to 10:15 (3701 SW 104th), Alki Elementary from 9:30 to 10:45 (3010 59th SW).
Thanks to Gatewood Elementary parent Jennifer Dempsey for a peek inside the school, where the halls are decked in a theme that carries through to a big event Friday night:
The students, teachers, and staff of Gatewood Elementary are celebrating Alice in Wonderland week in preparation of the annual Bids for Kids auction this Friday. Under the fabulous direction of art teacher Rachel Moreau, each class not only created fun Alice-themed decor to decorate our hallways, but also produced an original piece of art to help raise money for our school. The students are dressing up as their favorite characters on the day that they have art class, and the class with the most participation will win a tea party.
P.S. Some of the art projects that will be auctioned off are shown in the photos.
If you’re going – the full auction catalog can be previewed online.