Design Review doubleheader: 4435 35th SW; 3829 California SW

No major issues arose when two development proposals returned to the Southwest Design Review Board in a two-project, three-hour meeting last night. First, the decisions:

*4435 35th SW passed its second round of Early Design Guidance, 3 1/2 years after its first one. (See the design renderings here.)

*3829 California SW passed the final “recommendations” stage on the second try, two months after the first try. (See the design renderings here.)

Ahead, meeting toplines, and what happens next:

4435 35TH SW: About 15 people were in the audience for what “isn’t your usual Early Design Guidance meeting,” as city planner Tamara Garrett said, explaining that this mixed-use building in The Triangle went through EDG in 2009 (WSB coverage here), then applied for a Master Use Permit – and now, after being stalled and sold and redesigned, is back in EDG. GGLO is the architect now; Trinsic is the new owner. The architect pointed out that this site is “on the edge” of many changes, meant to bring more commercial and housing opportunities “in an area where not many exist right now.”

The new proposal is 5 floors residential over 1 of commercial, as was the old proposal; the zoning is NC3-65. The site is 115′ wide by 275′ long, rectangular; the alley is only 16 feet wide, which means the property has to dedicate land to widen it to standards. They are also planning on a six-foot setback so the sidewalk can be 14 feet wide. That fits in with their attempt to enhance pedestrian access around and through the site, so a “hillclimb” is part of their proposal, and they’re also hoping for pedestrian connections in the alleyway, which they say is too steep to make truly vehicle-friendly. But they’re proposing to move a curb cut toward the south end, with a few parking spots for commercial use, while the residential parking access would be to the north, by the alley. They’re also trying to be cognizant of how visible the site will be from multiple busy directions – including what its north end would look like, keeping in mind that the KFC site will redevelop sometime (potentially up to 65 feet), covering up whatever they do.

Toplines for the revised “preferred option”:
Units: 158
Parking: 164 spaces
Retail/commercial: 16,510
4 ‘departures’ from zoning code are requested:
-Parking access (dual access is the real “departure,” it was clarified later)
-(which “begets another departure,” said the architect – technically some parking would be next to right-of-way)
-West side of building, on which some residences would front, requesting an exemption (as did the previous proposal) for a turnaround on the northern part of the property
-A steeper ramp, 20 percent instead of 15 percent

To make the hillclimb/pedestrian passthrough work would require some improvements, including up on SW Oregon, though, as was noted during board questions.

Public questions/comments included:

West Seattleite Diane Vincent asked for more clarity on where the southbound 35th bus stop will move to; the architects said the fare machine would keep its current spot but they want to move the shelters a little further south. So what will happen during construction, with this very heavily used bus stop in front of an active site? she asked – no answer, yet.

Josh Sutton from the nearby West Seattle Y (WSB sponsor) said, “I really like this plan lots more than the last plan,” adding that he strongly supports the hill-climb idea with a pedestrian connection up to the area where the Y and other Triangle businesses are – “that would be a huge, huge public benefit.”

The board had no major problems with the proposal and expressed support in particular for the “hillclimb” concept; it now heads on to the “recommendations” stage of Design Review, with a meeting date to come later.

COMMENTS? E-mail – whether it’s a design comment or some other aspect of the project.


3829 CALIFORNIA SW: This is a three-story, 30-unit apartment building planned for the west side of California south of Charlestown. This was the second “final” meeting for the project; some concerns voiced at the first “final” (recommendations) meeting were addressed in the revisions, from terracing the landscape to removing a second-story rooftop deck that nearby residents said was too close to their homes. Architects say the materials haven’t changed; they added “Juliet” balconies as requested in the previous review.

Public comment included:

West Seattle resident and former SWDRB chair Deb Barker, who said she also had commented at the first recommendations meeting back in April, thought it was “exciting” to see the changes. She was glad to see more windows added, though wanted to be sure a particular one wasn’t just an afterthought. And she wanted to be sure that the landscaping on the eastern side of the property would involve more plants in the ground “for longtime survivability” than just planters.

Board members declared the design “much better” than the last go-round. Chair Myer Harrell wondered about the parapet height on the west side. That gave way to a discussion of the multiple colors proposed for the project, and a suggestion that changing the color for the parapet to red might fix some concerns. That would change the material, too, the architects noted. That moved the discussion to how the scale would be perceived by neighbors. The discussion boiled down to “reinforcing architectural consistency” by reducing the mass on the west side of the building, where it was particularly visible to neighbors.

A lot of discussion centered on the streetfront planter – and as board member Laird Bennion put it, a lot of people walking down the street will judge the project on its quality.

With no major issues, the board gave the project their approval to move out of Design Review. But if you have comments, whether on its design or other issues, you can e-mail

1 Reply to "Design Review doubleheader: 4435 35th SW; 3829 California SW"

  • Diane June 14, 2013 (12:20 pm)

    just want to repeat my comment from the story when this was 1st announced a few days ago “the redesign for 4435 35th SW is maybe the best I’ve ever seen for West Seattle, with stair-climbs and public plaza; so much better than the old design; GGLO does fabulous work”
    this comment was based on the design packet provided at that time; more details were explained last night; the presentation was excellent; I applaud this new developer and design team for initiating the wonderful public benefit of creating a stair-climb up the hill from this very busy bus stop on 35th, and their desire to improve the area next to the stair-climb with greenery; and their proposal to move the bus shelters to the south of the bus stop machines, in order to open up the public plaza, again, fantastic; they also replied to Abdi’s question about weather protection on 35th; the GGLO presenter said yes, it would have ~75% over-hangs; that is huge also, since this bus stop is currently very busy, with many getting off Rapid Ride to transfer to other buses going south on 35th, and will only get busier, with all the new apts being built with limited parking (expecting to take the bus)
    these plans are very exciting to see; my concern is during construction; once this gets through all the design reviews and permitting, it usually takes at least a year to build even a fast-tracked project of this size; I hope they will include plans for significant mitigation at the bus stop during construction; perhaps put up a boarded wall to protect bus riders from dust/dirt, and let the community come together to paint a big temporary mural
    wish we could twitch our nose and have this be done now; love it
    btw, there were only a few of us from the “public”, from the neighborhood; most of the audience was part of the developer/design team

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