3210 California SW’s Design Review debut Thursday; neighbors detail concerns

(Proposed ‘preferred’ massing for the development; rendering courtesy Nicholson Kovalchick Architects)
Tomorrow (Thursday) night is the first Southwest Design Review Board meeting for 3210 California SW, the 166-apartment project that’s the first proposal for a block-long stretch of South Admiral upzoned two years ago, after an at-times-contentious process that started more than three years earlier. The meeting was set to happen last month – until neighbors pointed out that the notice had not gone to everyone affected, so the city postponed it at the last minute. Those neighbors live in the single-family neighborhood behind the proposed development plan; while they expect to be at the meeting, they also have drafted a 13-page letter they sent in advance in hopes the board members would have time to consider it. Here’s a copy they provided. It details their concerns, particularly regarding height, bulk, and scale of the new development. Looking at homes to the east along 42nd, you can see its potential top floors in blue to the west.

An excerpt from the letter:

1. The proposed project abuts a much less intensive SF zone of substantially different scale, along its long axis. 80-percent of the abutting single-family residences are one or two-story bungalows on 5000 sf lots. The absence of an alley for access and buffer is conducive to a project of smaller scale.
2. The proposed project is two full stories taller than the buildings on California Ave to its north and south. (See Section D in the project packet.)
3. The development site is of such exceptional length not only for its immediate context, but for Seattle overall. The proposed building is 200 feet longer than a downtown block, with a footprint equivalent to 6 NC parcel lengths and 9 SF parcel lengths. Even with one “break” in the building’s upper stories, the two masses are still each far longer than any other buildings.
4. The current proposal appears substantially greater in height and scale than in representations made in connection with a 2011 rezone.

The project packet can be seen here. This review is the second one on the board’s agenda for tomorrow night at the Senior Center of West Seattle (second floor of California/Oregon building) – at 6:30 pm, they take up the 39-apartment building proposed for 3829 California SW, and then 3210 California SW’s part of the meeting is scheduled to start at 8 pm. There’ll be a period for public comment on each project.

18 Replies to "3210 California SW's Design Review debut Thursday; neighbors detail concerns"

  • Nw mama April 11, 2013 (2:14 am)

    How do we contact the board? I am a neighbor and cannot attend the meeting.. Like many on my street, I have young children and can’t show up to meetings at this time.

  • ScottA April 11, 2013 (7:39 am)

    Nw mama – Michael Dorcy is listed as the planner for this project so he shepards the project through the DRB process.

    From the seattle.gov staff directory his email is: michael.dorcy@seattle.gov

    It’s too bad this site that talks a lot about citizen involvement doesn’t say how to provide input if you can’t make a meeting. (Just be glad you’re not trying to comment on a Landmarks/Historic district project in Seattle – you can’t even view those plans on-line.)


  • Thistle April 11, 2013 (7:40 am)

    I can not even begin to express my admiration for the time and effort that must have gone into the attached letter. I truly appreciate the articulation of the zoning/architectural concerns regarding the project and not just a “we don’t want it here” approach.

  • printz April 11, 2013 (7:49 am)

    new t shirts for sale, WEST SEATTLE A GOOD PLACE TO BE FROM

  • printz April 11, 2013 (7:54 am)

    new t shirts for sale, WHAT WAS WEST SEATTLE LIKE

  • NeighborMom April 11, 2013 (8:12 am)

    Nw mama, I suspect board members read the blog, so you can always make comments here. And I’m pretty certain there is going to be a swarm of residents at the meeting who share your views.

    I agree about the thought and effort that went into this letter. Very clear comments and reasonable requests!

  • ScottA April 11, 2013 (8:18 am)

    NeighborMom – while board members and staff might read this blog it’s important to be a “party of record” and officially submit your comments to staff if you want them to be on the record. You’ll also be mailed the minutes of the DRB meetings about any project you’re signed up for.

  • Seattlite April 11, 2013 (8:55 am)

    Thistle — I agree the research that went into that letter is to be commended.
    I’ve always thought that when a new apt/condo complex requires digging deep underground for parking that is a sign of overdevelopment. WS’s infrastructure can barely accommodate all the current traffic let alone adding hundreds of more vehicles. Where does logic and common sense come into play or is it just about money and more tax revenue?

  • dsa April 11, 2013 (9:48 am)

    Concerning the mockup drawing showing the view: “Looking at homes to the east along 42nd”

    The bird’s eye view seems to be more than the standard five feet off the ground which would make the blue buildings appear lower on the horizon.
    Why is the shadow cast from a sun that appears to be in a northern sky? The homes on 42nd are going to be impacted sunset … ALWAYS.

  • Resident of 42nd April 11, 2013 (10:03 am)

    dsa, yes, that was one of our concerns that we pointed out in the letter. That mockup view along 42nd is really misleading. The new building would be very, very visible from eye level on 42nd street – not just peeking out from behind the houses here and there as the drawing suggests.

  • Sonoma April 11, 2013 (2:10 pm)

    Thank goodness for hideous design – we wouldn’t want our architecture to compete with the city’s natural beauty, would we?

  • dsa April 11, 2013 (4:10 pm)

    Hi 42nd resident, If that is a computer aided drawing (CAD) as I interpert what I see is that the eye could be at approximately 10 feet off the ground. However I am not at the site. For reference notice how it appears that the gutters on the homes are level with the observer.
    And in my other sentence I meant to say that one way these homes are impacted is because they will now suffer earlier sunsets. Having the sun appear from the north with the south facing shadow hides that impact.

  • Resident of 42nd April 11, 2013 (4:28 pm)

    Thanks, dsa. According to the shadow studies in the project packet, our backyards will lose the sun completely around 4 pm as of June 21, and much earlier in the day the rest of the year. It’s not just the sunsets that will be gone – it’s all the light during the afternoon and evening (about 5-6 hours less per day in the summer compared to now; 3-4 hours less in the spring and fall).

  • My2Cents April 11, 2013 (6:16 pm)

    Hasn’t West Seattle compromised it’s unique personality enough? It’s looking more and more like every other U.S. neighborhood of boxes with signs on them and people piled on top of each other.

  • Mke April 11, 2013 (7:51 pm)

    The height of the structure tells me that the developer is looking for top dollar on top units as they’ll have unobstructed views of Puget Sound looking over Schmitz Park.

  • Mke April 11, 2013 (7:56 pm)

    why are the designs of these new apartment / condo buildings so boring, we look like a city in Siberia, seriously! http://www.arcticphoto.co.uk/supergal/rc/rc10/rc1001-06.htm

  • dsa April 11, 2013 (8:35 pm)

    Wasn’t this called a FONSI, Finding of no Significant Impact, or less? It should have been challenged and forced into a full Environmental Impact Statement.
    What is actually happening here is modifying the Urban Village plan which went through extensive community involvement. First add these and then others and eventually it will be one village from Morgan to Admiral. That is NOT what we agreed to.

  • Rick April 12, 2013 (1:29 am)

    As always, it’s about money, not neighborhood. Please tell me, and prove to me I’m wrong.

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