‘Alley vacation’ for The Whittaker? Preview what City Councilmembers will see at Tuesday’s public hearing

As we’ve been reporting for a month, next Tuesday is the official City Council Transportation Committee public hearing on the “alley vacation” request by the developers of The Whittaker, the 370-apartment, 600-parking-space project at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, with Whole Foods Market the only announced tenant so far. Two days ago, we showed you the SDOT memo sent to the committee by the staff that’s been reviewing the request for months. Now, the committee meeting’s agenda is out, and it includes other documents:

*Slide deck explaining the Seattle Design Commission‘s four reviews of the project before it voted last June to approve the “public benefits” that are required for alley/street vacations – see it here or via the Scribd viewer below:

*The Whittaker’s presentation – see it here or via the Scribd viewer below:

Again, the SDOT memo and an attachment were featured in this WSB story on Tuesday (and are also linked in the meeting agenda). Toward the end of that story, we noted we were reading the 22-page memo so we could post excerpts for those who didn’t want to go through the whole thing. We never got to add them so we’re doing so now, after the jump:

From the SDOT memo:

*6,597 square feet in the alley to be sold to the developer if City Council approves

*Project is 70 feet high despite 85′ allowed by zoning

*62,750 retail space, 370 apartments, garage for 598 vehicles, 102 bicycles

*Parking for 44 more bikes at street level

*1st step in vacation review is to circulate it to city agencies

–met with Seattle Public Utilities on drainage issues

–met with City Light regarding undergrounding

–meetings with SDOT regarding midblock connector

4 reviews by Southwest Design Review Board, 4 by Seattle Design Commission

“This project is unusual because while a portion of the alley is being vacated, the traditional alley functions will continue to be provided withthe proposed mid-block connector. … The existing public alley provides three points of entry to the block, and after the vacation the midblock connector and the existing public alley will provide three points of access to the block.” …

The midblock connector, as revised, can be supported by SDOT provided that the following elements are included as conditions of the vacation and provided for in the SIP and MUP. The mid-block connector shall include the following elements:

*The total width varies from 44 feet in width to 50 feet in width.
*Two-way vehicle traffic is accommodated
*The drive lane for vehicles is 20 to 25 feet in width
*An 8-foot wide elevated, pedestrian sidewalk is located on the south side of the mid-block connector
*The pedestrian sidewalk is separated from the drive lane by a 3-foot landscaping strip
*The pedestrian sidewalk has continuous overhead weather protection
*The northwest side of the mid-block connector has landscaping to discourage pedestrians
*No pedestrian crossing north/south is provided for in the mid-block connector
*Pedestrian lighting in the mid-block connector
*The northeast side of the mid-block connector has a sidewalk and landscaping at the residential entry
*Vehicles may turn right only when exiting at Fauntleroy Way SW
*Roll-up doors were added to the loading bay area
*A drugstore drive-up window was eliminated.

Truck traffic has been a point of contention; the SDOT memo cites a Transportation Impact Analysis “prepared for this project by the Transpo Group.” The analysis says “It is anticipated that truck deliveries for the grocery store will consist of two semi-truck deliveries, one at 5 am and the other in the evening between 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm. The traffic study also anticipates that an additional 20 to 40 deliveries from smaller trucks (such as small vendors and services such as UPS) will occur throughout the day between 5:30 am and 2 pm from Monday through Saturday and 5:30 am to noon on Sunday. Deliveries for smaller retailers around the site would utilize the curb, adjacent to the storefronts.

“All trucks entering the site will be directed to exit via the north/south alley through a dock-management plan and signage. Through the design workshops with SDOT, the truck maneuvering was improved so that trucks do not cross over the pedestrian sidewalk to enter the site.

“The Traffic Impact Analysis concluded that the overall impacts of trucks on-site are anticipated to be minimal, with the majority of the large truck activity occurring during the off-peak hours in the morning and evening.”

The document refers to public concern in multiple places. Other spots you can jump to if you want to make a quick review:

page 14 – SDOT does not find adverse land-use impacts

page 18 – Design Commission requests SDOT reconsider policy restricting midblock crosswalks so there could be one from the project’s west side across to future park

page 19 – SDOT does not make a recommendation on adequacy of public benefit proposal.

Next Tuesday’s public hearing will start at 9:30 am in the council chambers at City Hall downtown. It allots one hour for public comment, in addition to an hour-plus of presentations.

12 Replies to "'Alley vacation' for The Whittaker? Preview what City Councilmembers will see at Tuesday's public hearing"

  • DTK March 6, 2014 (12:39 pm)

    Urban Village is the ultimate oxymoron.

  • trying! March 6, 2014 (1:02 pm)

    I can’t figure out what is happening on the plan with the Alaska sidewalk? I and many others walk past the site going to Trader Joe’s. The sidewalk is already narrow. It looks like the building wall is right up against the sidewalk. They have cut the branches on the street trees planted in the median between Alaska and the sidewalk because the branches would be touching the new wall, and they have marked at least one tree for removal. These are not large trees! How narrow will this sidewalk be?!

  • enough March 6, 2014 (1:24 pm)

    DTK .. yup.

  • Julia March 6, 2014 (4:38 pm)

    Answered a phone poll the other day, asking lots of questions about this project, primarily what I thought of Whole Foods. Made me wonder if they’re thinking of pulling out.

    • WSB March 6, 2014 (4:41 pm)

      Did they identify themselves? In the comment thread from a related story yesterday, two people reported getting phone calls from project opponents.

  • AEP March 6, 2014 (4:43 pm)

    I am always skeptical when presentation materials show a smattering of happy pedestrians and almost no car/truck/bus traffic. To see how a large complex with a grocery store affects a busy area, pay a visit to the Whole Foods on Roosevelt. Pedestrians dodging cars, trucks blocking traffic, and poor visibility for drivers: that’s the reality I want to see in the presentation package!

    I am not against this project, or increased density per se. It seems that the city decision makers simply do not believe that people need transportation options that don’t yet exist in order for these projects to healthfully function.

  • Jeff March 6, 2014 (5:03 pm)

    AEP, I’m in favor of this project but you are right about these drawings. Same with all the architectural drawings that make California ave appear to be about 300 feet wide to get the angle shown in the picture.

  • Sutton March 6, 2014 (6:14 pm)

    @ trying!

    I looked it up on the 31 page slide deck (look at page 11)…the new area along Alaska is a total of 18.5′ – 12 feet of sidewalk and 6.5 feet of planters by the curb. On the high side of the street it’s 10 & 6.5′
    They must have set the building back a bit along there, because that’s a lot wider than I think we have right now…

  • West Sea Neighbor March 6, 2014 (6:36 pm)

    The project looks great, and I can’t wait for them to finally break ground.

  • Neighbor March 6, 2014 (6:43 pm)

    This looks great. I can’t wait for that ugly intersection to be developed and populated, and for Whole Foods to take the pressure off all the lines at Safeway, QFC and Trader Joe’s. One of the anti-development Union folk stopped by my house recently to get me to petition against the development. He was paid to be out there but didn’t live nearby and didn’t know any facts about the project… only had a few scare tactics based on some outdated and unrealistic traffic study… As someone who walks by the site every day, seeing drug deals taking place among the blight, I really have to wonder if any of those who complain about this development even live nearby, or if they’re just union haters of competition.

  • Julia March 7, 2014 (12:22 am)

    The caller named a polling company — don’t remember what it was. They asked where I shop, if I was familiar with Whole Foods, if I expected to shop this one planned for WS. Then, described Whole Foods as a good employer with high wages; asked if that changed my likelihood to shop there. Also asked if I or my family were union members. And described the overall project and had me rate my level of support. Definitely not the opposition group.

  • AlkiGrl March 7, 2014 (6:02 pm)

    Thanks WSBlog for the update! However, I think the information and quotes you’ve chosen to highlight miss important aspects. The Design Commission meeting on June 20th ended with an approval PENDING a required Administrative Review meeting with the developers to nail down three outstanding issues – one of them being their continued dissatisfaction with the gateway corner design – which has been an issue since day 1 for Design Review board, Commissioners and community members. The Admin Review was scheduled for last Wednesday and the developers canceled because they weren’t prepared… to date I have not been told when that Admin Review is taking place, so the Design Commission recommendation is not complete.
    Secondly, the SDOT refusal to recommend the adequacy of the public benefit is HUGE. Definitely not the norm.

    There is much to draw from what’s included… and not included in the final materials sent to City Council.

    The Weingarten megaproject is bad for West Seattle, and City Council should deny the alley vacation – why on earth would we sell our public property to developers who can’t even be prepared for a required meeting of the Design Commission when they had 8 months’ notice?

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