4755 Fauntleroy alley spat: ‘Getting It Right’ advocates’ letter

(West side of 4755 Fauntleroy, rendering by Fuller Sears Architects)
One week ago today, the 4755 Fauntleroy Way mixed-use project’s path through the approval process hit a sudden pothole when Mayor McGinn sent a letter to SDOT, saying the department should recommend the City Council reject the project’s request for an “alley vacation” to facilitate 370 apartments, 600 underground parking spaces, and retail including Whole Foods Market. The “vacation” would involve the city agreeing to sell a section of alley on the property to the developers. The mayor cited concerns including most notably the proliferation of supermarkets in central West Seattle and the wages and benefits that non-union Whole Foods would offer its staff, points that had been made at prior hearings on the project by members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21, which has recently become involved with an advocacy campaign called “Getting It Right for West Seattle,” focused on this project.

Our initial coverage a week ago, which you can see here, includes the mayor’s letter, Whole Foods’ response, project background (we’ve been covering 4755 Fauntleroy for a year), and 185 reader comments. Then last Wednesday, we published a followup including the developers’ response (see it here) and what happens next – the project’s referral to the City Council Transportation Committee for a public hearing on the alley vacation. (No date yet; SDOT communications director Rick Sheridan tells WSB, “In terms of schedule, the earliest a recommendation could be delivered is the fall.”)

In the past week, all this has circulated into regional media. And now there’s a followup – Getting It Right for West Seattle has sent a letter to the Transportation Committee’s chair, West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, and e-mailed us a copy late today:

"Getting It Right for West Seattle" letter to Councilmember Rasmussen

As you’ll see if you scroll through it, the letter is signed by representatives of more than two dozen local businesses, three unions including UFCW Local 21, 22 people identifying themselves as West Seattleites, four political/advocacy groups, and five clergy/faith-group representatives. If you can’t read the embedded document, the heart of the letter reads:

This project, if approved, would be the largest multi-use development ever built in West Seattle. While acquisition of a public right of way would greatly increase these developers’ profits, the project in its current form will:

• increase West Seattle’s traffic and congestion;
• degrade pedestrian safety;
• create low-wage jobs and housing unaffordable to those workers;
• drive away existing local, small businesses; and
• set a lower standard for future development in West Seattle.

We are aware that the Seattle City Council has final authority over alley vacations. We urge you as chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee to let the Executive’s decision stand.

Once that committee has a hearing and takes a vote, the alley-vacation request would then move to the full Council. If it voted to approve the request, the mayor could veto it; if he did, the council could override it, and that would be the final say (pending legal challenges, etc.). Before this letter arrived, we had been working on a separate followup we expect to publish tomorrow, with other updates.

P.S. If you are just coming in on this – this project was first proposed a year ago for a site including the former Huling (and briefly Gee) auto property along Fauntleroy south of Alaska, plus the Shell station north of it, the Howden-Kennedy Funeral Home west of that (they are moving to a new location in Sunrise Heights), and another former auto-sales property at the corner of 40th/Alaska. It would abut the Alki Masonic Temple on two sides; the developers announced during the May Design Commission review that they would pay to improve the Masons’ parking lot.

118 Replies to "4755 Fauntleroy alley spat: 'Getting It Right' advocates' letter"

  • smokeycretin9 July 23, 2013 (5:12 pm)

    I thought the mayor opposed it because Whole Foods in non-union and by opposing it, he’s got the Grocery Store Workers union in the back pocket of his spandex pedal pushers.

    • WSB July 23, 2013 (5:29 pm)

      You can see his letter in the links back to last week’s coverage. UFCW 21 endorsed him last week two days after his letter went public, yes: http://www.ufcw21.org/content/ufcw-21-endorses-mike-mcginn-mayor-%E2%80%93-again – we noted that along the way last week.
      They also endorsed him in the last election, according to that news release.
      Beware some of the regional media on this – I’ve been covering this project for a year and it still took half an hour just to write the background in this story. The process is complicated and (as we just confirmed with SDOT) has months to go. – TR

  • JD July 23, 2013 (5:38 pm)

    Whole Foods being non union is a load of crap considering they are a co-op and offer decent benefits. All the UFCW see’s is that they can’t “organize” them and therefore should not be in business.

  • G July 23, 2013 (5:39 pm)

    Unions are opposing a project that will bring needed jobs to an area because said jobs don’t meet their pay criteria (and don’t pay union dues)? Newsflash: some people are looking for PT work, or supplemental income.

  • Orca July 23, 2013 (5:50 pm)

    Nice to see the names of those who feel it proper to join in the foolish mayors kiss up to the unions. I am not a fan of Whole Foods but this use of permit denial to force Union membership is really disgusting..
    Check out the column in the Seattle Times regarding this move by this mayor.
    The list of names give us a choice of choosing who to do business with..or not..

  • No longer a customer July 23, 2013 (5:51 pm)

    Wish I’d seen this before I shopped at some of these businesses last weekend!

  • Mickey July 23, 2013 (5:52 pm)

    What about the connection between the Mayor’s letter and the $50k the unions have promised his campaign? http://mobile.seattletimes.com/story/today/2021402680/track

  • Alki Area July 23, 2013 (6:04 pm)

    This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. I get the unions are against it because, will, it’s in their interest to have more members. Fine. But these ‘arguments’ are beyond absurd and anti-reality:

    • create low-wage jobs and housing unaffordable to those workers
    ? As opposed to the current jobs there (none) and what housing in the heart of West Seattle is EVER going to be ‘affordable’ to grocery baggers (even IF in a union). NONSENSE. How is this different than ANY SINGLE OTHER project in the last 10 years in West Seattle. Can the baggers at Safeway afford to live in the apartments attached? I don’t even REMEMBER that argument coming up.

    • drive away existing local, small businesses;
    ? B.S. A Whole Foods and a drug store will drive away who? Why wasn’t this an argument against Safeway or QFC? (sigh)

    • increase West Seattle’s traffic and congestion;
    ? Again, same argument against QFC and Safeway. Or ANY BUILDING AT ALL. Seattle has grown from 0 to 500,000. Sorry about reality. But it will keep growing.

    • degrade pedestrian safety;
    ? INSANE. It will VASTLY improve it. Have you SEEN the lovely pedestrian safety there TODAY? I dare you to take your life in your hands and try to cross from our “iconic corner” (ugly old gas station) across Alaska without being hit. I can’t be ANY worse than the completely non-existent safety we have now. (bangs head against wall).

    Simple solution. If you don’t like it. Don’t shop at Whole Foods and it will go out of business. If the apartments are not “affordable” then they will sit empty until the price drops.

  • Organize July 23, 2013 (6:05 pm)

    I sure hope there’s a counter coalition forming and a letter-writing campaign underway to voice the other side of the argument for those of us who support Whole Foods coming to West Seattle. The mayor has definitely lost my vote over this one.

  • DTK July 23, 2013 (6:08 pm)


  • Teacher Man July 23, 2013 (6:13 pm)

    I am a union member, church-goer, long-time West Seattle resident, neighborhood landowner, daily West Seattle Bridge commuter, local business shopper, bike rider and I am disappointed by this letter. Am I going to shop at WF, probably not, do I think this project will enhance this ramshackle part of our community…YES I DO!

    West Seattle has to change and transform. If this were not a community truism, we would find our environment here to only have a few temporary native American fishing camps.

  • Teacher Man July 23, 2013 (6:15 pm)

    Let me know if there is a counter coalition…I can bring 12 signatures w/o even trying

  • smokeycretin9 July 23, 2013 (6:21 pm)

    Are all the workers at the proposed basketball stadium making “living wages”?

    Me thinks not.

  • Peter on Fauntleroy July 23, 2013 (6:24 pm)

    I’m shocked so many businesses are opposed to having hundreds of new customers. Shooting yourselves in the foot much? Also, notice how they voice all the standard anti-development talking point but have absolutly no constructive suggestions for what they do want.

  • Mickey July 23, 2013 (6:31 pm)

    If you think this is NUTS, email the City Council: council@seattle.gov. I did!

  • AlkiGrl July 23, 2013 (6:59 pm)

    I applaud this letter and know this is just the beginning because a lot of my neighbors would totally sign on to this. None of the above comments reflect what I hear when I talk to my friends and neighbors about what’s going on at the Junction. Nothing about this development is sustainable or local. I don’t want to end up like Ballard. I’m copying this letter and taking it to all my neighbors to sign. Already, a lot of businesses in my neighborhood have the sign up and I will thank them for it.
    Wsblog, is this letter downloadable?

    • WSB July 23, 2013 (7:10 pm)

      You can download it from the Scribd link but this also reminds me that I have been uploading docs as PDFs too since one person told me they aren’t allowed to access Scribd at their workplace. Stand by, will add that.

  • My two cents ... July 23, 2013 (7:03 pm)

    I don’t want the mayor (or unions) telling me that I don’t need (or need) another grocery store. If it is a sucres – then fine, it will stay on business. Given the reputation of While Foods pricing, do the unions fear what? Service?

  • Orca July 23, 2013 (7:08 pm)

    Interesting that all 15 of the last comments support the project or maybe they just do the just not support the mayor (small “m”) and his really silly ideas. This is just the latest insanity.
    At least there are no bicycles to spend Money on this time.

    Can’t we ever have a normal decent Mayor in Seattle??

    I am not sure about any of our new choices….but one of them has to be an improvement

  • MrB July 23, 2013 (7:08 pm)

    McGinn got the endorsement from the Grocery Union. Mission accomplished.

  • G July 23, 2013 (7:11 pm)

    I usually try to stay even-keeled and I’m not anti-union, in general, but I’ve got two words for these unions who think they know what’s best for West Seattle – butt out!

  • RitaCoop July 23, 2013 (7:13 pm)

    I think it is a good development. I have friends who work at Whole Foods and at Trader Joes and the wages and benefits provided by Whole Foods are better then the Trader Joes. It will be good to have a modern and attractive development here in West Seattle. We need it! We don’t need this mayor obviously electioneering and getting paid by the union- he just lost my vote! Right now there is nothing on this corner except old car lots and decrepit buildings- an attractive development with more retail and more apartments will be great and will bring more business to the resturants and shops at the junction. This is a ridiculous power play by a mayor for purpose of votes! Also Getting It Right for West Seattle only post comments that agree with their point of view. I know 3 people who have posted comments positive to this development on their website and they were removed after moderation! I will boycott the businesses who signed this letter and support anyone who wants to present a petition for the development!

  • WS July 23, 2013 (7:14 pm)

    I love West Seattle small businesses. Can you imagine west Seattle without them? I’m with them over ANOTHER big chain. Good letter, and I will work even harder to patronize these businesses.

  • Lifetime WS July 23, 2013 (7:20 pm)

    How many of the two dozen businesses on the letter pay living wages?

  • Tuesday July 23, 2013 (7:47 pm)

    Executive order. Executive’s decision. I’m getting really tired of these kinds of decision. Organizations functioning within the law should not have this kind of rug pulled out from under them at the last minute. I haven’t kept up with all of the details, but it seems like this has been in the works for a long time. Millions in planning, etc. I mean, if McGinn really cared about livable wages, he could have pulled this a long time ago. It’s just so infuriatingly political. I so wish I would not have read the list of businesses supporting this letter. Yes, we get it, you want to make the most money possible in your small business. But don’t pretend you all the sudden care deeply about pedestrian safety. How stupid do you think we are?! I love supporting small businesses. But I support them because many are BETTER at what they do than other places… not just because they are the only game in town.

  • G July 23, 2013 (7:51 pm)

    “Nothing about this development is sustainable or local.”

    Point taken, but I would have to disagree. Local jobs are, well, by definition, local. Local jobs put money back into the local West Seattle economy, at the bookstore, at the hardware store, at the boutique. As far as sustainability, I’m not sure what that term really means in this context.

  • denise July 23, 2013 (8:15 pm)

    Good point Lifetime WS! And I won’t be spending money at those businesses who supported that letter. This mayor has proven to be a total buffoon; this issue was the last straw. I cannot wait to see him voted out of office!

  • trickycoolj July 23, 2013 (8:32 pm)

    If only we had a grocery store coming in for people with “living wages” to actually be able to afford to shop at.

  • PigeonPointBen July 23, 2013 (8:33 pm)

    @JD for what it’s worth wholemfoodsmis most definitely not a co-op. it is privately owned.

  • Boy July 23, 2013 (8:35 pm)

    The mayor was all in when it came to the new arena for the sonics. Was he going to make sure all the soda jerks and peanut venders were going to get paid 50k a year. The city was giving up some city property on this project. The madness has to stop.

  • WTF July 23, 2013 (8:37 pm)

    Have (most) of you missed the point of this completely?!?!?
    Agreed a mayor of a city doesn’t have the right to stop free enterprise, regardless of his agenda to position for votes; his love or hate for unions, or the opposition’s argument for higher wages & better insurance, etc., etc. But, don’t you see the destruction of West Seattle happening right before our eyes? Do you HONESTLY believe that we NEED another “grocery” store in that area…last count within 2/10 of a mile we have three! Will a fourth, clearly over priced store help bring equitable commerce to our area? NO. And, the continual mixed use concept of 370 x 2.5 = 925 more people, 600 u/g parking spaces, is a recipe for disaster. You people think the traffic, congestion, crime, and just plain lack of a place to breathe are bad now…just wait.
    Look at the bigger picture, because aside from being annoyed at a mayor most of you voted, the bigger issue here is the fact that WS is becoming such a cliche that it’s going to be an unbearable place to live, work and play. Hang onto your wallets. It’s going to be a bumpy, expensive ride!

  • Mark July 23, 2013 (8:49 pm)

    I was getting lunch at the Whole Foods at Westlake and talked to my burrito architect about this. He told me he had worked for Kruger/QFC for 10 years and his net pay and health care were better at Whole Foods.

    Isn’t this discrimination? As we champion rights for all and fight against our government from policies that discriminate, shouldn’t we throw this yahoo battery powered bicycle incompetent mayor out?

  • Amanda July 23, 2013 (9:00 pm)

    Wow! Power to the PEOPLE people! That is an impressive letter and massive follow up to the Mayor’s letter. I am really happy that these West Seattle residents and Business Owners are standing up to Corporate interests! We don’t want Ballard do we? I am in full support of what these Businesses are standing up for and will shop there will pride and pleasure!

  • smokeycretin9 July 23, 2013 (9:16 pm)

    People people, it isn’t like Walmart is moving in. This shouldnt be little store vs big store. It should be West Seattle vs mayor McSchwinn and his tactics at buying votes and financial support from another crooked union.

    I cannot for the life of me see how Whole Foods is going to affect Alki Tatoo, Mountain to Sound Outfitters or Many Moons Trading Co. unless there is a back room at Whole Foods where I can get a tatoo, a SUP, and some used clothes on consignment.

    Focus your anger someplace where it is deserved, the mayor, while still supporting your local business owners please.

  • DTK July 23, 2013 (9:17 pm)

    Two words – Get out while you can before property values plummet because of gridlock and urban blight.

  • JVP July 23, 2013 (9:30 pm)

    I personally really like “the Ballardization of West Seattle”. This place is getting a good energy. I want our little local shops and restaurants to succeed, and to do that we need more people in the walkable core of the Junction.

    I hate driving to other neighborhoods when I want a nice dinner, and now I don’t need to. Me and my wife drive way less than we used to, and we love it!

    How many cool restaurants and shops were here before the area started to get more dense in the core? Not near as many.

    It’s not like this project is displacing a bunch of cute old bungalows, it’s replacing a car lot and gas station. I think the changes we asked the builder to make look really nice.

    Keep yer election season politics out of my neighborhood! I want the blight gone sooner than later. If they succeed in killing this project, then what? What is the end game here?

  • JVP July 23, 2013 (9:32 pm)

    Why isn’t all this energy directed at getting light rail to here? Now THAT is a movement I could get behind.

  • Lance July 23, 2013 (9:32 pm)

    What a crock. Low wages? What planet is the letter writers from? Whole Foods pays good wages. And as mentioned, for many, the take home pay is more at Whole Foods compared to QFC or Safeway.
    It is interesting looking at the signers of this letter. I understand West Seattle Produce wanting to do anything it can to keep Whole Foods out because it’s a competitor next door. Doesn’t make their complaint right, but it’s understandable.
    I believe in supporting small business, but I also believe in supporting employees who work in the larger local stores like Bartell’s, Safeway, QFC and such, regardless if they are union or not. When Whole Foods comes into the area, I plan on supporting their employees by shopping there too. I also don’t understand how in a cashed strap city budget, the city doesn’t look at the potentiometer income in city B&O tax and sales tax revenue potential then the small businesses that would go into that property (uhh where have you been since the property went vacant). And the small business employees probably would not earn as much nor have as many employees that Whole Foods bring in either.

    It’s obvious Mayor McSchwinn used this as a means to get union backing for his hopefully failed attempt at reelection. Once he got it, he released the hounds and infairly is targeting Whole Foods where he didn’t put up a stink when Safeway asked for a vacation on Admiral.

    Perhaps Mayor McSchwinn’s sister is the mayor of Port Angeles and just is using to get his name further into regional and national coverage, negative as it is.

  • nop July 23, 2013 (9:34 pm)

    voting Mayor McBike out and going with Bruce Harrell. Time for some real leadership and Police taking care of the Police.

  • Amanda July 23, 2013 (9:42 pm)

    @JVP – Light rail for allowing this Development? That’s something I could get behind.

  • Mickey July 23, 2013 (10:03 pm)

    Oh come on, WTF – sky falling much? What is equitable commerce? Is there a Whole Foods in WS? then we need one. You think that 2.5 people will live in each of those apartments? You think if you don’t build it, they won’t come? Growth is coming, and it can be a good thing. Sounding very NIMBY!

  • Robert July 23, 2013 (10:11 pm)

    It’s sad to see so many people ranting against the mayor’s position and unions in general without even attempting to shape a coherent argument grounded in facts or history. They mistake invective and name-calling for argument. It is incredible how nasty and vindictive people can be.

  • AlkiGrl July 23, 2013 (10:12 pm)

    The more I read the comments the more I doubt most of you are local. So you don’t like the mayor. So you don’t like unions. So you work for the developer and stands to profit in some way. My friends and neighbors would NEVER threaten to not shop at local businesses so they could have a shot at shopping at whole foods. But I can pick out a couple of locals that have concerns about what the alternative is or are skeptical. That’s cool. I get that. I think there are tons of alternatives. There’s no shortage of developers that want to be here. Let’s not sell ourselves short. Thanks to the real locals here that are interested in having a real dialogue. I’m interested in hearing more, just not the usual lines coming repeatedly andmindlessly

  • Denny July 23, 2013 (10:12 pm)

    WTF and other folks concerned about “overdevelopment”. The proposed buildings are much smaller than what could be built there, and has much more parking than is required.
    In other words, stop this development and you might be really unhappy with what you get instead.
    While the bridge traffic at rush hour is bad (for up to two hours), and the peak time busses can be full, West Seattle will continue to add population, so that farmlands and rural hillsides across the county don’t.
    This density will be built in the Junction, Triangle, and along major arterials, as it should.
    At the same time, the majority of West Seattle will remain Single Family Residences, as it should.
    This is the balance of living in a vibrant, growing part of the country.
    You don’t want to be Ballard? I don’t want to be Detroit.
    Furthermore, this increased density will create local WS jobs so more people don’t have to cross the bridge. Not just at the now infamous Whole Foods, but for other shops, services, construction, management and more.
    I support this development and at the same time shop at many of the small businesses who signed this letter. I’m surprised by some of them, and the clergy who got rolled into this union posturing.
    We should not let West Seattle get played by the politics of a mayor in election season, a labor union with a vendetta and some out of state developers who build a product they want to control.
    If you’re unhappy, show up at the (way too many) public meetings where you can take an active role. I have. Demand quality affordable housing with competitive businesses and shop where you wish.
    The West Seattle I was born in continues to evolve and I embrace it all.

  • BMS July 23, 2013 (10:23 pm)

    This just make me so mad! I live across the street from the weed-filled, empty lot, so I was very excited that it was to be replaced with a Whole Foods. I don’t understand how the current lot is more safe than this “mega” complex.
    I don’t understand why the mayor decided to get involved now and with this building. Why didn’t he and the “Get it Right” advocates make such a fuss when the building that’s going in at the southeast corner of Alaska Junction was approved. Actual local businesses (besides Super Supplements) with lots of foot traffic were bought out. How is that building improving pedestrian safety and the Fauntleroy building is not?!
    I understand people’s concern about the increase in traffic. It will get worse. So bring on more Rapid Rides, buses….and should I even suggest the city would seriously consider a Light Rail station in West Seattle???

  • steve July 23, 2013 (10:23 pm)

    This isn’t about the Mayor people, whether you hate him or love him. It’s about getting development that’s good for West Seattle. This project is a dog, but it could be better if we all demand it: more walkable, fewer big chain outlets, more local business, human scale. It’s great to see these folks–especially small business–speak out for community values.

  • Teacher Man July 23, 2013 (10:28 pm)

    Why is it that if we disagree with AlkiGirl we are not “real locals.” I am a part of a west Seattle family that has been a “real local” of West Seattle for five generations. We currently have four generations living here in West Seattle ranging from 9 months to 92 years old. While we may not see eye-to-eye on everything, we do have a long famial perspective on how West Seattle has adapted over the century we have had family here. Agree to disagree, but be mindful of classifying who is a “real local” and who is not. My family’s 100-and-some years in West Seattle does not make us any more or less “real” than anyone of our neighbors whether they have been here sixty, sixteen, or six years…or six months or six days!

  • kgdlg July 23, 2013 (10:33 pm)

    Can someone, anyone, please post the starting wages at the following groceries in the junction, and note whether union or not:


    I don’t think I have seen one WF employee comment here about low wages. And yet, we are all assuming this based in the mayor’s letter. People were drooling for TJs for gods sake, and yet WF is so evil?

  • AlkiGrl July 23, 2013 (10:41 pm)

    @BMS Yes to more rapid ride and other bus lines! The developer has to provide a public benefit in exchange for the alleys, I’m down for a rapid ride bus or 2 WITH service hours paid for at some level. But I still want a different design.

  • MellyMel July 23, 2013 (10:53 pm)

    Amen steve. “This project is a dog, but it could be better if we all demand it” Exactly. Who cares if the mayor’s c*ckblock has a thin rationale. Use the opportunity.
    Do you really think that if Whole Foods took a pass, that the alternative WS would be left with is the space remaining an empty lot?
    Ever hear of an exclusion of the middle fallacy? (Here’s another, “West Seattle — love what’s happening or leave it!”)
    There is a lot of useful middle ground to be considered.
    I am pretty sure that the retail developer of that site would try a other prospects before calling it quits.
    @DTK – are you taking your own advice and in the process of moving out of WS?

  • Grant July 23, 2013 (11:19 pm)

    The national unemployment rate for teenagers is 24% and here we have a mayor who is directly killing entry-level jobs, because they don’t fit his “vision.” I grew up here (knew the alley before it was famous), and this development fits the neighborhood wonderfully. If it were’t an election season, or if McGinn were just a more magnanimous character, he would be praising the density of the project, and how perfectly it connects the Junction to RapidRide lines. The ultimate way to reduce bridge traffic, it seems to me, is to have a more vibrant, self-sufficient WS economy, so one doesn’t have to get on the bridge in the morning to begin with.

    Just my opinion. In any case, the public and the free market have already spoken. The design looks pretty nice and Whole Foods, and the other tenants to come, are willing to risk their capital here (lucky us). I’m surprised that the development seems a threat to tattoo parlors or WS Bowl, but I’m much more optimistic: these new apartment dwellers will surely want a place to go bowling and, if that’s their thing, get tatted.

    All’s well, except in the mayor’s mind.

  • MrB July 23, 2013 (11:29 pm)

    This “whole” debate is really about election politics… don’t let the noise confuse you. McGinn is after every vote possible, and he took a calculated risk that union votes are more important than the vote of common-sense citizens. Make your choice and vote.

  • McFail July 23, 2013 (11:38 pm)

    The developer (who is not Whole Foods) is not going to walk away nor is the hundreds of apartment units that they propose. People are coming to West Seattle… If not Whole Foods it will be another large (mega) corporation that can fit into the main floor (without the alley vacation) or they will redesign to provide room for a lot of chain stores that may be in direct competition to some local businesses in the coalition. I’m sorry, but a Chipotle will single-handedly close some of you…


    I’d rather have a Whole Foods that is trendy and will cater the new development as well as the already in construction developments (that the Coalition ignored). I don’t think Whole Foods thought, West Seattle is wanting a Whole Foods but more that their demographic is moving to West Seattle. If you don’t like it, don’t shop there and continue to support your local businesses


    Lastly – the mayor, unions, and small businesses are not looking out for the best interest of the community – just like large corporations, their bottom line is money. We’ve seen a lot of small businesses come and go because either the community did not support them or frankly they were just not good enough… and not because of mega projects.

  • dsa July 23, 2013 (11:53 pm)

    Great letter, glad to see one thing finally happen that will help to keep West Seattle livable.

  • West Seattle Lifer July 23, 2013 (11:56 pm)

    AlkiGirl, I’m pretty sure that the developers you are referring to would have been here by now if it were that easy. The property has currently been vacant for six years. If this project is not completed, put a number on how many more years we will be looking at the existing blight. It sounds like you live on Alki. Please drive to 4755 Fauntleroy and pretend it is in your front yard. This project will also bring jobs and customers to West Seattle and is being endorsed by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

  • cj July 24, 2013 (12:00 am)

    You know the people West Seattle really should not have to suffer the consequences of viewing important community issues as if they were just propaganda for a horse race. Seriously 300 units? 650 parking spaces? So its not the only multi unit project in recent years but to our little peninsula that’s pretty big. Do we not have any limits here? The only issue I have with the reaction is its a big late, but still I don’t recall seeing those numbers.

    • WSB July 24, 2013 (12:42 am)

      CJ – Just for the record, since comments tend to get repeated and I try to avoid having factual errors repeated – it’s currently 370 apartments and 600 parking spaces. And yes, the biggest development we’ve seen here. But aside from maybe something down on W. Marginal Way SW, or Harbor Ave, it’s also the biggest “empty” site. That approximate number of apartments first emerged in September of last year:
      Our first report on the project was the preceding July – almost exactly a year ago – at which time “five floors of residential” over retail was all that was specified.

  • B-Check July 24, 2013 (12:33 am)

    I agree totally with Steve on this – let’s make this development a walkable, pedestrian-scaled space, with some public area, vegetation/trees, etc. The actual business is less concerning to me, though I would hope there are spaces for smaller local businesses too.

    I agree change is necessary and this corner is a huge gateway to WS and currently kind of an embarrassment. But I do also see the mayor’s position – keeping small blocks that allow people to walk to, from, and through a shopping area is important. Also, it seems the residential growth is slower than the rate of grocery space being added – what does that mean? Short-term, customers going to Whole Foods will not be going to other local grocers, though most of them are other national chains. Too bad someone can’t build a grocery to serve some of the food “desert” areas, such as Delridge or White Center.

  • McFail July 24, 2013 (1:09 am)

    WSB – Can you recall the number of times the public had the opportunity to weigh in on the project? i.e. public notice/hearing, SEPA, design review, design commission, etc…

    • WSB July 24, 2013 (7:11 am)

      McFail – there have been eight public meetings, four in the Design Review process (which means the meetings were here in West Seattle), four downtown before the Seattle Design Commission, which is specific to the alley-vacation request – if a street or alley vacation is requested, the Design Commission has to sign off on the “urban design merit” and “public benefit.” I’ll add dates/links in a bit.

  • West Seattle Lifer July 24, 2013 (1:10 am)

    kgdlg, I’m with you and I would add Costco to that list, I believe they are non union, What are the chances that union members shop Costco and Trader Joes. Pretty good I’d guess. So why all of a sudden the hard feelings?

  • PigeonPointBen July 24, 2013 (2:40 am)

    @ Kgdlg: Safeway, QFC and the PCC are all union. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are privately owned (not publicly held and traded corporations) whose owners have fought unionization for years. The best way to keep your money in your community is to shop at the member owned co-op.

  • homesweethome July 24, 2013 (7:03 am)

    I hope the business owners that signed this letter get the fact that some of us drive over to Interbay to shop at Whole Foods. And when we’re over there we stop at other local to that neighborhood shops that guess what — we could be spending those dollars right here near home. Short sighted action on the part of these local businesses.

  • F16CrewChief July 24, 2013 (7:11 am)

    Curious, whatcha guys going to buy at Whole Foods that you can’t get at our current local West Seattle businesses?

    The comments in this thread sure don’t seem to reflect the feelings of people I talk to in person. Matter of fact, I’m not sure I’ve spoken with one person that supports this project. Kinda weird seeing all this “Build baby, BUILD!” comments.


    Sadly, Magnolia may be the last overdeveloped neighborhood left in Seattle soon.

  • F16CrewChief July 24, 2013 (7:17 am)

    What’s even sadder to me is those in this thread that said they won’t shop at the businesses that supported the letter. Say goodby to the little guy I guess.

    What happened to West Seattle?

  • Amanda July 24, 2013 (7:18 am)

    It’s exactly what the Junction doesn’t need. Another grocery store? Really? The more I thought about JVP comments, the more I agree. You want to add 600 more residents of West Seattle, but don’t want to fight the Metro cuts? You want more development, but no light rail? I hate to break it to you, but once the Viaduct comes down AND the buses get reduced – West Seattle is going to be in Serious trouble. We need to ask the City and the Mayor to do something about THAT. Once we get a real plan for mass transit, add new developments. But respect what the current residents and Business Owners are asking for.

  • WS July 24, 2013 (7:25 am)

    What I like about the letter is that folks are getting involved in a positive way. By saying NO to this mega-project we can shape what will come in. The only way to get to a good project is to say NO to this bad versions. This is a HUGE opportunity for all of us to reshape it. Want the park on 40th? This developer can pay more…but only if we say NO first. Want a safe and truly pedestrian-friendly Mid Block Connector? Gonna have to say NO first. Want more transit? Same thing, say NO first. That is how it works. The letter writers just gave all of us more power to get a project that works for all of us.

  • McFail July 24, 2013 (7:55 am)

    Here’s a quick list of tenants that might be interested in moving in if Whole Foods goes…and the developer looks for alternatives-
    Mod Pizza, 5 Guys Burgers, Sushi Land, Value Village, Goodwill, Buffalo Exchange, Yogurtland, Red Mango, Chipotle, Cold Stone Creamery, Molly Moon, Top Pot, Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, Baguette Box, Specialties etc…
    Large chains mixed with “local” businesses that are popular and wanting to expand… Mouth watering yet? I’m sure these guys can shut down our small businesses…

  • TripleT July 24, 2013 (8:35 am)

    Whole Foods wanted the city to hand over public property on the cheap like every other greedy corporation these days. The Mayor said No. Whole Foods may look nice on the outside but they take more out of a community than they add. Their employment practices are not what they claim. Their organics program is not what they claim. Good for the Mayor for actually using public resources to DEMAND something from hugely profitable corporations rather than subsidize the rich once again. I think the mayor is actually starting to create a long lost of accomplishments for this city. And this is one of them.

  • Better for all July 24, 2013 (9:05 am)

    The grocery shopping experience has rapidly changed. It’s becoming more experiential. Most families shop at multiple locations not just one store in order to get different things at different places. West Seattle is now a destination and Whole Foods will make West Seattle even more attractive for a wider audience giving a wonderful spillover effect to all businesses. People from all over the city (esp. throughout WS, Mt. Baker, Beacon Hill, Columbia City) come to West Seattle hit Trader Joes, Met Market, QFC, etc. (and soon Whole Foods) then make an experince of it by grabbing lunch at the West Five or Elliots, then maybe the stop into Click or a consignment store. Buy the kids shoes at the Sneakery or purchase that gift at Curious Kids for the birthday party the next day. Whole Foods coming to our community only stengthens all of the businesses in our community by making it a more attractive destination. This helps all the little businesses as well as the other anchors too.

  • Jason July 24, 2013 (9:17 am)

    I’m tired of all the whining… I hope the builder pays off whoever it takes, the alley is vacated, and the project is built. Maybe even bigger than planned. Everyone wants more, but they don’t want to pay more taxes. Everyone wants less taxes. Well guess what people, there’s only one way to fix that: Increase density and the number of taxpayers.

  • Magpie July 24, 2013 (9:38 am)

    If the true issue is about living wages, I find it interesting that many of the businesses that signed this letter probably pay minimum wage and certainly not $15 per hour. Seems a little hypocritical to me. Gridlock is an issue, but I have friends that work at Whole Foods and used to work at Met Market and she gets paid more at Whole foods.

    If the mayor is against more gridlock, then at least be honest about it. I don’t think that going after Whole Foods for not paying a living wage makes sense. Now, a wage that affords a person to live in WS? I know a family that makes well over 100k and still couldn’t find a house they could afford in WS. Maybe he could make the alley in to a new bike lane.

  • wscommuter July 24, 2013 (9:47 am)

    I’m a pro-union/support local business person who’s lived in W. Sea. since 1984 – seen many changes over the years … and I support the development of the Huling properties and such in the Fauntleroy triangle (and there will be more when Alki Lumber properties start turning over). That area of W. Sea. is a blight, for the most part. There are better uses and yes – market forces are going to lead to more apartments/condos and chain stores. McGinn’s ploy is a shameless grab for attention and political gain – I hope after the election, we’re done with him and his narrow, silly views.

  • Reagan July 24, 2013 (9:54 am)

    While I am anxious to see that ugly corner and the big dig get developed I do have to agree with the Mayor on this one. There are already 10 grocery stores within two miles and if there is going to be another one, I think the least they could do is provide good jobs. I mean think about it, even with the people who would rent out the apartments, there are only so many people shopping in West Seattle. With another store that means business with drop off from the surrounding stores and that translates into less jobs for those workers…so if we’re replacing jobs, let’s at least make sure they are good jobs. Get it right.

    • WSB July 24, 2013 (10:14 am)

      Reagan – 10 within 4 miles. The first seven ARE within two miles:
      Metropolitan Market (WSB sponsor)
      Admiral Safeway
      PCC Natural Markets (WSB sponsor)
      Jefferson Square Safeway
      Junction QFC
      Trader Joe’s
      West Seattle Thriftway (WSB sponsor)
      Couple miles more, you add two additional stores:

      Westwood Village QFC (3.5 miles)
      Westwood Target grocery (3.5 miles)
      Roxbury Safeway (4 miles)
      And if you want to include Costco as #11, it’s also 3.5 miles, though it’s not in West Seattle (I wouldn’t have guessed it’s that close, but that’s what Google Maps says – from 4755 Fauntleroy). Anybody with some research time on their hands want to look around to see if there is a similar concentration any place else in the city?

  • F16CrewChief July 24, 2013 (10:04 am)

    Yeap, most of you seem to have missed the point here. The small businesses that oppose this project probably do pay their employees less than the PROPOSED living wage ordinance in Sea-Tac. The small businesses that support the letter against this project would also be EXEMPT from the PROPOSED living wage ordinance in Sea-Tac. The small businesses that oppose this project are not against more possible people living in West Seattle that could potentially become clients, but they oppose the unfair breaks this developer is seeking. This developer catches a break while all other local businesses foot the bill.

    The fact is, Whole Foods and the developer are trying to get US the taxpayer, to give them breaks on their project, while paying their employees less than what it would take to live in the very apartments above them.

  • WSSgal July 24, 2013 (10:23 am)

    This article came out last night. Interesting perspective


  • Grant July 24, 2013 (10:27 am)

    There are ninety thousand West Seattleites. Food is an essential item. That doesn’t seem like too many stores to me. I don’t get it. If people find grocery stores unappealing for some reason, then it’s a better idea to keep them concentrated in one corridor.

    (This is a reach, admittedly, but the thought has occurred to me:
    We can add McGinn to that illustrious list of political figures who have embargoed food for ideological reasons.)

  • McFail July 24, 2013 (10:32 am)

    F16CrewChief – “Yeap” What breaks as a tax payer are we “giving” them? How are small businesses footing the bill? Explain your point please…

  • WS Dweller July 24, 2013 (11:08 am)

    All the comments about Unions hating on non-union grocery stores are pretty ridiculous. Do any of you actually know anyone that works or has worked at a Whole Foods? They are EVIL in not only their treatment of workers, but also their product marketing is a bunch of lies.

    You can also get a part-time job at a Union gig; it’s asinine to think you cannot. Also, Whole Foods is NOT a co-op and their benefits are not decent. They are on the low end and the pay is shitty.

    I am NOT a fan of McGinn, it’s a relative idiot, but all the Union bashing is just ridiculous.

    Full disclosure, I have worked for Unions in the past, although not currently. I know many people who have worked for Unions and in general find them to be better employers than non-union shops.

    Also, I find the most valid point of the letter it be the following

    “create low-wage jobs and housing unaffordable to those workers”

    That, to me, is key. If your employees in a major food chain (that charges WAY TOO MUCH MONEY for most regular items) cannot afford to live in the apartments above the store, something is wrong. Very wrong. We need more AFFORDABLE housing and better paying jobs, not the opposite.

  • wseadawg July 24, 2013 (11:14 am)

    The jobs Mayor Gridlock really cares about pay $150k+ per year, and exist in South Lake Union. Recognize a politician’s fig-leaf when you see it.
    For the residents of WS, it’s about how to mitigate the negative impacts of growth on the neighborhood. Certainly positives exist with any new project, but after the honeymoon, we have to live with this behemoth. At that time, we won’t be talking about “living wage” jobs. We’ll be talking about traffic, parking, shadows, access, transportation impacts, noise, pedestrian traffic, side-street short-cutters seeking to avoid ever-longer waits at intersections, single lane access down the side streets due to insufficient new tenant parking, causing spill-over parking on side streets, and how nobody patronizes the little shops anymore because there’s nowhere to park. my alt-mode commuters, no heads in sand, please. More residents means more cars on the streets. I wish that weren’t the case, but it’s a fact we have to deal with.

  • Lance July 24, 2013 (11:15 am)

    “Thou shall tell me your payroll figures, sayeth McBike, unless thy be partakers of the union”.

    A question I have… Where was Mayor McBike when Amazon/Vulcan requested vacations with all the Lake Union building? Amazon is not union, so why should they get a free pass?

    Just because a shop is not union, doesn’t mean that they are paid poorly. Look at Costco. They are paid reasonably and have great benefits.

    There are also former Kroger workers that work for Whole Foods saying that the end take home pay is better at Whole Foods.

    I do agree with many comments here saying that if Whole Foods didn’t go in, then there will be other major players that will potentially hurt more small businesses here in West Seattle. There’s more benefits, than not.

  • F16CrewChief July 24, 2013 (11:31 am)

    McFail, by requesting alley-vacation, the developer will own a larger footing of land. The proposed project requires this vacation in order to accommodate 370 apartments and 600 parking spaces. Large developments increase property taxes. 370 occupied apartments by property taxed exempt residence more than covers the property tax owed by the development owner. The commercial tenant with lower waged employees also reaps the benefit of property tax safety net from apartment residents. I guarantee that was a sweetener from the developer to get Whole Foods in.

    However, the surrounding community also has the now burden of the increased property tax, except Mr. Produce stand across the street doesn’t have 370 apartments to pull money from to pay those new increased taxes. So guess what, he has to raise his prices or be taxed out of business because Whole Foods and Mega Apartment Inc. across the street got their project approved.

    Thats just the way I see it.



    This I don’t know, but if the alley vacation is denied, does the developer decrease the size of his project, potentially opening the door for smaller business to open up in the commercial space Whole Foods was hoping to occupy?

  • kgdlg July 24, 2013 (11:43 am)

    What is most frustrating about this “too many grocery stores” argument, is that people seem to be denying the very obvious and commonplace logic of “clustering” similar stores together. Look around you, it happens with car dealerships, electronics stores, furniture stores, etc….and yes, grocery stores too. Here is a little blurb on the phenomenon that links to a deeper explanation if people want.


    Obviously, WF would not be a part of the project if they had not done their homework on WS demographics. They are moving here exactly because TJs moved here. Because there is room in their market segment to make a lot of money.

    And I would like to disagree that the developer can “easily” find another anchor tenant. Grocery stores are notoriously picky about their design and footprints. It would be really hard to find another tenant this large, willing to take that much space and pay that much rent. My guess is that killing the WF concept kills the project. So the choice is not WF or something else. It is WF or nothing there for a long time. These are big lots that have been vacant for a very long time. Blame that on the Huling Bros! In many respects it is a perfect location for more “big box” as it isn’t the Junction and it is so convenient to the WSB (you bet WF is depending on people coming from South Seattle for them) so it isn’t just the WS market they want to penetrate, it is likely the whole South of the City market.

    Personally, as I have said before, there are elements of a WF that will very much excite me and my family. I would still like to see that comparative pay scale of local groceries, however. If WF is so evil, how have they been named one of the top 100 companies to work for..anyone who works there care to chime in?

  • kgdlg July 24, 2013 (11:46 am)

    F16CrewChief, how is paying for an unused strip of alley a “break”? My understanding of an alley vacation is that the developer will have to pay the City market value for it. The City is not “giving” anything away. And, there will be a City Council process that will impose restrictions on the public benefit that comes in return for this purchase. Sounds like there is room right there to go and make some demands about how to better improve the project…

  • F16CrewChief July 24, 2013 (12:06 pm)

    Kg,”Break” was a poor choice of word, I admit. But the alley vacation does seem to be the only way the developer can proceed with it’s current plans I believe? If such a large project is able to move forward because of the approved vacation, then property taxes for everyone will increase. Now if the project cannot move forward without the vacation, then does the developer back out, or decrease the size of the project, thus keeping area property taxes lower from their smaller parcel?

    I’m no expert here by all means, but I think the mayor is just trying to keep things from being over-developed and taxes low. He took an odd angle attacking Whole Foods employment practices if he indeed just opposes the size of the project.

    But I could be all wrong here, but I do love the argument:-)

  • McFail July 24, 2013 (12:10 pm)

    Thanks F16 – Great point, there’s a lot of issues – thanks for explaining. Any development in this area will increase property taxes which is good for our government and community… It’s a business deal between the developer and the tenant just on a large scale – as long as someone is paying the takes, who really cares? I personally like the value of my home increasing to where it was when I purchased it and had to pay thatescalated property tax. However, I hear where you are coming from.
    I thought the same thing, a smaller foot print could bring potentially bring in more corporate “chain” businesses that I believe can create more direct competition to our neighborhood local businesses…

  • Queenie July 24, 2013 (12:25 pm)

    I don’t think we are suffering for a lack of available space for small retail and local business to set up shop in West Seattle. Driving down California, I see a TON of vacant retail space, some of which has been vacant for years now. The Safeway remodel still has vacant retail that has never been filled. There is a whole office building down the block that’s largely vacant and countless other shopfronts. Our problem is certainly not a lack of small retail space.

    If I were the developer, you can bet I’d rather have one large tenant I knew would lease before breaking ground than a mass of empty storefronts for years, and its hard to see how the latter benefits anyone.

  • Baxtie July 24, 2013 (1:28 pm)

    I agree with the poster who said Whole Foods just makes this area even more attractive. Lots of my friends from Beacon, Mt. Baker and Columbia City come over here to shop at multiple grocers (TJ’s Safeway Met Market) then indeed hit up our small local businesses to have lunch, grab an ice cream at Husky Deli, buy craft beer at Beer Junction or whatever. We are becoming a ‘destination’ and that’s good for small local businesses as well as bigger chains. This is a GOOD thing. Welcome to West Seattle Whole Foods!

  • DSC July 24, 2013 (1:48 pm)

    So frustrating! I really want a whole foods and think it will really improve the eyesore of the area. So disappointed McGinn is making this political with the union. Ugh. I just emailed city council.

  • kgdlg July 24, 2013 (2:00 pm)

    F16 I gotta disagree again. I don’t think McGinn’s position has anything to do with keeping taxes down, not at all. This is an overt political statement to side with the Union. They don’t want competition from a non-union grocer, and they made a contribution to his campaign, end of story.

    If anything, I would expect McGinn to be pro development for so many other reasons including increased tax revenue. That parcel will go from paying just taxes on the land to paying taxes on a project worth probably about $100M dollars. That is a lot of revenue for the City.

    And yes, I suppose that as these lots develop, homes will increase in value around it, and yes, taxes will go up as well. This is part of how cities evolve and change. The upside being that you can sell your house for more later on because folks can walk to WF to dine or shop.

  • L.Rail July 24, 2013 (2:01 pm)

    Improve the transit system in WS before anything else. Stop the madness and develop a proactive and thoughtfully laid out light rail transit system or subway that will alleviate traffic congestion and get people downtown quicker than an automobile during rush hour.

    Why are we spending a billion dollars on a tunnel half the city did not want? So people can now pay a toll to travel on what was once free of charge? Or was it to considerably raise property values and development opportunities on downtown waterfront property once the viaduct was removed? Couldn’t those funds instead have been better used for the city’s growth, like funding a parkway to replace the viaduct and a light rail or subway system servicing areas like West Seattle or Ballard?

    Stop catering to these land developers. They are the mafia of Seattle. They are a special interest group who unscrupulously lobby and bribe our local government so they can make as much money possible in overdeveloping our city’s neighborhoods. The way our local officials are wrapped around their fingers should make you want to vote out every existing incumbent in the upcoming election. Your intelligence is being insulted. They do not care about you or your families or the quality of your life. They want money and no amount will ever be enough to satisfy them.


  • F16CrewChief July 24, 2013 (2:58 pm)

    Kg, I’m trying to stay positive about the mayors position…geez! LOL

    Seriously, I just flat out oppose another super market. I prefer PCC over Whole Paycheck…I mean Foods anyways. But the growth is inevitable, I know. I like to think West Seattle will stay the way it was, but too many people have discovered our secret paradise. The mayors argument seems a bit shortsighted for sure with both Trader Joes and Costco near by. He more than likely is trying to ponder to voters. But I’m also hoping maybe a small part of him is trying to slow some over-development down or at least get some concessions from the developer. Maybe Whole Foods can go up next to the new Sonics Arena both the mayor and I support:-)

  • cascadianone July 24, 2013 (4:14 pm)

    Building new, dense apartments and retail is HOW WE GET a West Seattle Subway. If we “overbuild” and thus meet density targets, the transit planners will respond by diverting resources here. Then we can step up and demand a fully underground/electric/grade-seperated light rail/subway line to downtown. It’s going to involve growing pains and be an expensive investment, but we can make West Seattle into an amazing neighborhood in the next decade or so. Support Seattlesubway.org!

  • Kgdlg July 24, 2013 (4:47 pm)

    F16 you are way more optimistic than I. Basically I think he is killing two election birds with one stone here. Giving something big to labor while gaining some of steinbrueck’s voters by opposing big density. Call me pessimistic or pragmatic or just doubtful but this is how I see it.

    Did he ask for stadium concession workers to be unionized?
    Did he ask for amazon call center workers or factoey packagers to be unionized?

    Just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, even if there are elements of the project I disagree with. Yuck, election politics on the back of of our hood.

  • AlkiGrl July 24, 2013 (5:23 pm)

    Any development is not the right development. Sustainable development and smart density in my mind is people live, work, and shop in the same community. That requires: GOOD jobs, affordable housing, and local shopping options. We have the local shopping options in heaps, halleluja! Affordable housing is disappearing as are good jobs. But some jobs are better than others, and the union grocers slamdunk Whole Foods in healthcare benefits. SO, replace a good job with a bad job.. and a national chain? NO WAY.
    @Baxtie: I don’t want to be a destination shopping community. I want people here to live, work and play in place. Nice if folks want to move here, hopefully we’ll have affordable options.
    @cascadianone: The only Subway we’ll attract with this monster of overdevelopment is Subway Restaurant. “Build it and it will come” is not the best planning strategy when we’re losing much needed bus lines and those we have are packed to the brim.

  • Amanda July 24, 2013 (6:43 pm)

    Is there a percentage of the development that is mandated to go towards new roads/sidewalks around the development? What if that was upped? 1% of eligible city capital projects needs to go towards public art. What is that was the case for new developments but into say Metro’s budget, or Seattle Subway?

    • WSB July 24, 2013 (7:51 pm)

      Amanda – That’s the thing about this suddenly coming up and being summarized in other places so blithely and quickly. We have been covering this for a year and it is complicated, to say the least. One of the many, many details in our reporting along the way is that on the east side of the development, fronting Fauntleroy, the building is pulling back so there can be parking and a bike lane. That’s part of the “public benefit” that was discussed at the four Seattle Design Commission meetings downtown. Also, the developers say they are facilitating a crosswalk at the Fauntleroy/Alaska/39th corner between this development and Spruce (former “Hole”). I am not noting these in defense of the project, but, if questions are asked, I have a year of coverage to draw on. It also should be noted, for anyone who didn’t pay attention previously (not saying you didn’t), that UFCW Local 21 has been very consistent in its raising of concerns about the development. All of my Design Commission coverage notes their turnout, which I found remark-worthy because I have covered the Design Commission’s proceedings on multiple other projects and usually the public turnout – whether from an organized group or not – is negligible. No matter what the viewpoint, it’s always heartening to see somebody care (some local residents – including a few who were on the Triangle Committee a while back – showed up for some of those hearings too).
      You also mention art; that too was discussed in the most recent Design Commission hearings, particularly on the north and west sides of the project in multiple small “plazas.” This is the 59-page PDF constituting the “packet” for the SDC’s last review of this :
      P.S. The policy governing alley/street vacations, from which the mayor quoted, can be read here in all its detail:

  • Todd July 24, 2013 (6:58 pm)

    Well, I am disappointed that the petitioners of this letter published all of the names in this way. When she came in, she said it was just a petition to allow a further vote on the current proposal. I initially declined to sign, but she insisted is was just that – a petition to allow a public comment on the proposed alley vacation. I figured, what’s the harm in letting people have a say? I guess a lot…Where was all the opposition to Whole Foods when they were supposed to be built where “the Hole” is now?
    I have a lot of reservations about many of the projects currently under way, or planned – but the general idea of the Fauntleroy project is good to me – it is on a transit line, and is basically transforming a large, unused lot into new business and housing, with much more available parking than most (if not all) of the other projects under way.
    I don’t think pedestrian safety is going to be an issue, any more than it is now. Traffic congestion? That’s another story.
    I think “Get it right for WS” should be a little more upfront when asking people like me for a signature – just tell me you flat-out oppose all development and I’ll know where you stand.

  • vincent July 24, 2013 (7:45 pm)

    No one goes to west seattle anymore, its too crowded.

  • KC July 24, 2013 (9:04 pm)

    Fortune Magazine ranks Whole Foods at #71 in the top 100 places to work in America as voted by their employees. So, Mr McGinn, it seems obvious what you’re up to here. You seem to be against places that people like to work to favor your voting base and masked by some lame alley excuse. How many other top 100 employers do we have in WS?

  • KC July 24, 2013 (9:15 pm)

    Another union seems really fixed on driving thousands of jobs building airplanes out of the state by playing hardball with their demands. Do unions still have a place in 2013?

  • Tuesday July 24, 2013 (9:34 pm)

    @Todd – Thank you for posting how you were really approached. It makes me wonder how many other businesses that were included were mislead as well. Any other businesses listed care to comment on their experience?

  • Grant July 24, 2013 (10:19 pm)

    Thanks for sharing, Todd. That’s remarkable.

    And thanks, TR, for posting the city’s policy regarding alley vacations. You know what word never once comes up in it? “Mayor.”

  • Diane Swierenga July 25, 2013 (1:37 am)

    @alkigrl, you should run for mayor or actually Queen, since you want to be the dictator of what goes where, who goes where, how they go where you tell them to go, how much it will cost, what they can do to please you, etc, etc. News Flash – businesses can’t just go print more money because we “demanded” that they meet all our ever changing criteria for the privledge of locating their business in our community.
    Change is the only constant. You can’t control everything that happens. Get over yourself!

  • Baxtie July 25, 2013 (6:57 am)

    I’ve lived in a community where we did not have a grocery, a coffee shop, a decent restaurant or bar. It was not a destination anyone wanted to go to. There are lots of these communities out there and very little business. Alki used to never be able to support much of a retail district. The combination of visitor and increased residential density is what supports our beloved places like Ma’ono, the Swinery, Beer Junction. This development brings both a area-wide attractor along with increased residential density that helps support all of our lovely businesses.

  • MrB July 25, 2013 (8:07 am)

    All of the chatter about wages and what’s best for the neighborhood is all just a distraction from the reality that this is classic graft and corruption.

  • John July 25, 2013 (12:09 pm)

    As a small business owner in West Seattle, I need to point out that I do not pay my employees (or, notably, myself) union wages and along with many of the other shops here we are often held up as an example of what makes West Seattle great.
    I am personally offended by the use of the expression “living wages” to describe union pay. My employees and I are still alive and doing well thank you very much.
    It’s fine if you are for or against this development, but deciding on an alley vacation based on whether or not the proposed tenant is a union shop is just wrong.
    Most of the other small business owners I’ve spoken to are excited to have more customers, which we need to survive. Please take this into consideration.

  • namo July 25, 2013 (12:30 pm)

    time to move to farm town.

  • Explain like I'm five July 25, 2013 (12:58 pm)

    Can someone, in an unbiased way, please explain why a union (UFCW Local 21 in this case) is so adamantly opposed to a new Whole Foods opening? I don’t understand why it would matter to them?

  • Dreading Weingarten July 25, 2013 (1:20 pm)

    If ANYONE thinks that McGinn gives any hoot about concerns over size, mass, scale and parking, then you have been living in a bubble.

    If the public thinks more criteria and more public involvement need to be included with street vacations, then get the laws changed!

    If people think that ‘big box’ is not appropriate in the city, then get the zoning codes changed!

    But, the basics of that development were settled a LONG time ago, and are something McGinn would never question because he fully supports more development.

    This is the worst case of duplicity that I’ve ever seen on the part of the Mayor.

  • M July 25, 2013 (2:18 pm)

    Actually the Whole Foods Employee medical plan is better then the Union’s – I was once a member of 1105. Whole foods empahsizes medical savings accounts and pays employees to stay healthy and have healthy lifestyles

  • TypoWS July 25, 2013 (2:26 pm)

    @Todd – Soooo thankful you told everyone how your name came to be there. We have frequented your business and supported you from the beginning. It’s really sad when people LIE to obtain signatures with nary a thought for the potentially negative impact they may cause.
    Would LOVE to hear from any other folks who’s name/business are on the letter as to what they think and whether they were told the TRUTH about what they were signing.
    To me, this all looks like another attempt by McGinn to influence the outcome of an election by misleading the public.
    @Dreading Weingarten – DUPLICITY is spot on as to what McGinn is doing.
    Follow the money and do a side-by-side comparison of his involvement with other major developments in the city. You don’t even have to look far. Just read this excerpt from the Feb 2012 State of the City Address by McGinn:
    “Last week we learned that Amazon was planning a major expansion – right here in Seattle. They are looking at three blocks in the Denny Triangle along Westlake with a reported intent to build a one-million square foot building on each block. That would more than double Amazon’s already substantial footprint in Seattle. In the words of one observer, “in terms of jobs for Seattle, this is off the charts.” We have put together a team from the city that is already working directly with Amazon to support their project.
    “We want them to build here.”
    Don’t take my word for it – you can read it for yourself here:
    You may also be interested in McGinn’s statements about the Amazon deal, which included an “alley vacation” among other things: http://council.seattle.gov/2012/09/21/statements-of-mayor-mcginn-and-councilmember-tom-rasmussen-on-public-benefits-proposed-for-new-amazon-development/
    I love West Seattle and understand legitimate concerns about infrastructure to support growth as well as the desire to keep our wonderful neighborhoods the way they are.

    I am also a strong union supporter, having always joined when possible and even serving as a rep to management on behalf of fellow employees. I believe in unions and think they provide important protections and services.

    McGinn’s actions and letter are an attempt to influence voters. He is just using this WS project purely for political reasons. NOT out of respect for West Seattle residents. NOT out of respect for protecting our wonderful small businesses. And – news flash to unions – certainly NOT out of respect to you.

    Sad to see an elected leader posturing like this in our fair city.

  • Boy July 25, 2013 (5:29 pm)

    Park and ride

  • Fearing Weingarten July 26, 2013 (2:08 am)

    @WSB YOU are the best journalists in Seattle. I have spent the last day reading the articles about this development, and ALL the comments. Speaking as someone familiar with the SMC and the process, you ROCK bigtime. I admit I am looking in from another n’hood. And not gonna mess with your community aims and goals. @TypoWS I am actually only Fearing Weingarten bc they are coming to my neighborhood, bought a huge plot at 23rd and Jackson, and nothing DPD is doing here is addressing that — there is even a 23rd Ave Action Plan process, and nada about engaging the community with that developer and nada about a full block upzone proposal at 23rd and Union–as far as I can ascertain based on talking to people who are in the supposed Core Team and who are increasingly feeling like they are just fronting for the city to allow McGinn to throw some oney at some pet projects and then issue a press release. It’s fear of the unknown and no negotiating position for the community that sets up — McGinn continuing Nichols style — a confrontation. I’d say my experience is that people can work things out, and especially since the Central Area does want development it’s crazy how we are now getting setup for an experience just like West Seattle when it really does not need to be that way.

    @Todd — now THAT freaks me out. Seriously. WSB you would do us a service, because these folks from the union and SAGE were at community meetings early on where we were trying to figure out how to approach Weingarten (no joy on that point) but they were DEMANDING to know WHAT SIDE ARE YOU ON!!! WILL YOU OPPOSE WALMART!!!! They really pissed me off. I felt like the community should talk about what WE want and try and get that. Yeah we don’t want a WalMart, and Weingarten finally said that Walmart was not in the picture. But, sheesh, there are ways to ‘attract’ who the people want and THAT is what we need to do. Otherwise, change laws and procedures to even handedly prevent what we don’t want. But, it cannot be done after 2 years into a process. Actually, it can’t be done based on the specific ‘user’, it is all about size, mass scale, open and community space requirements and what the DEVELOPER will payback or do with the space.

    I heard SAGE talking about how great hanging an organizing hat on ‘public benefit’ was about 10 years ago. Quickly, I found that they will cut a deal, even if it means a developer builds something that is negative for a community. The Neighborhood Plan and Comp Plan ‘aspirations’ and ‘goals’ are BS other than what is established in the FLUM, along with precise provisions lot by lot in a Neighborhood Plan, and the SMC, no matter HOW much the city tries to use that stuff. The Dearborn Project had a deal that SAGE worked out. What totally killed it was, not only the developer seeing the writing on the wall, but the FACT that the FLUM and concrete lot based land use in the South Downtown plan was totally inimical to what that developer was proposing (a suburban style big box mall).

  • Todd July 26, 2013 (12:00 pm)

    It’s a double-edged sword – development. I’ve also lived in West Seattle a long time – my mom graduated from WSHS in the ’50’s and we moved back here in 1980 when I was 12. I remember the Junction in those days…Penny Lane Records, West Seattle Speedway and Hobby, Meredith’s, Vonn’s, JC Penny’s and the building on the lot we’re talking about was a tire store – in fact, it was on my paper route. Jefferson Square was Jefferson School – and was abandoned for several years. We saw first-run movies at the Admiral and I stood in an around-the-block line for Friday the 13th part 2! People only came over here to go to Alki.
    But by the time I turned 21 in 1989, the Junction had almost died completely…so many store fronts were empty, no nightlife, no cool restaurants, just a few taverns scattered up and down California and we all went downtown to have fun. Then, slowly, it turned around – they took out the parking meters, Jefferson Square was developed, The Rocksport opened, Huling took over all of the auto dearlerships and we started to get more places to shop and hang out.
    It’s hard to balance the small-town feel we all love about our area, but still embrace the eventual outcome of a growing economy – population growth and change.
    I know there are a significant number of people who have moved here in the last 10-20 years, and may not have the history here and really appreciate the vibrant businesses we now have and it may be hard for the “long-timers” to have the same appreciation, but it’s happening with or without us. My only hope is that the local government has enough of a backbone to stand up to large developers and not give away the farm without it being a genuinely good fit for West Seattle. It’s already too late for California and Alaska – they changed the zoning and lined the former owner’s pockets while displacing several small businesses – The Rocksport included (still hurting from that one!)
    How can we keep reducing the lanes on all of our main arterials and expect to accommodate all of these new residential units? There are not an equal number of jobs to go with them (after construction is done, anyway), so everyone’s going to need to leave West Seattle to work…can you say traffic? New businesses are good, they do create jobs, they add tax revenue, they provide choice, but they also attract more people – whether coming in to visit or moving here to live.
    Other cities and towns are not fairing nearly as well as we are right now (Detroit just filed for bankruptcy…Bankruptcy!), so we just need to make sure it’s a good balance – that’s what I thought the whole “Getting it right for WS” was about, but after visiting the website, I get a different feeling – strongly anti-development vibe. We’re going through growing pains…we’ve seen it happen to Belltown, Ballard, etc…watch out, because Georgetown will be next! I think it’s great that there’s so many people with enough passion to actually care and have an opinion – it shows people give a damn, no matter which side of the fence you’re on.

  • Diane August 7, 2013 (12:50 pm)

    THANK YOU Todd for the fantastic historic perspective of development in our neighborhood

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