Design Review doubleheader, report #1: Second round of Early Design Guidance ordered for 4220 SW 100th


By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

For the first time in months, the Southwest Design Review Board had a full house – this time for the first look (aka “Early Design Guidance”) at nine live-work units proposed at 4220 SW 100th in Arbor Heights.


At meeting’s end, they told the project team to come back for a second round of Early Design Guidance, after an intense hour and a half of comments, questions, and concerns.

The project’s assigned city planner Tami Garrett asked if anyone had questions before the meeting – and they did. About parking, and even about who the board members were and how they were appointed. (Like the city’s other DRBs, they are volunteers, appointed by the City Council. When there’s an opening, it’s announced publicly, with a call for applications.)

Three were present – Matt Zinski as chair, with Robin Murphy (a fill-in and former member) and Alexandra Moravec.

Here’s how the meeting unfolded:


(Here’s the “design packet.”)

From Lemons Architecture, Jonathan Lemons described it as a “nine-unit live-work community,” planned by new owners Claremont Partners LLC for the former Church of Christ site next to Brace Point Pottery, zoned NC1-30, currently holding a building that he said is 24 feet tall at its highest point. “Historically this has been zoned as a commercial area.” He recalled the building’s history as a grocery store; in the city’s 1961 zoning map, it was a commercial zone. “Downtown Arbor Heights,” as one resident pointed out.

47 percent of the “ground plane” is proposed as open space, Lemons noted, compared to 82 percent site coverage with the existing building. He noted that parking access would be from the alley, and that there would be a “gap” of up to 30 feet between these buildings and the properties to the north. The storefronts in the live-works will have wood awnings, for a “nice warmth and character for these storefronts so they are places where people will want to be, businesses that can be successful,” Lemons said, with “a continuous retail edge.”

Though Early Design Guidance usually just focuses on size and shape, often with black-and-white drawings, Lemons showed some conceptual sketches, repeatedly referring to the intended look as “warm.” He also explained live-work, saying it could either be the resident running their own business at ground level, or leasing that space out. He showed a page of “possible options” for the business space -“an art gallery, photography studio, juice bar, bakery … any number of spaces could occupy that.”

As is required at EDG, Lemons showed three massing options – the tallest of which would pull the project further back from the property line. The first one would “create a lot of density on the street” but would get closer to the north edge and would have less parking. The second one would set the buildings back further from the street to create an open space but would get even closer to the north edge; it would have a “woonerf,” which he explained as a space to be used “both as a pedestrian and motor court.” The third and preferred-by-development-team option is the one that would be 30 feet away from the north property line, Lemons said, and steps down to two stories fronting the intersection. “It creates a separate place for parking” toward the back of the site, he said, one that also would function as a woonerf. It would need a new curb cut so the cars could enter and exit from/onto California SW.

From the design packet, he showed the differences between how the existing building relates to nearby properties, and how the proposed project would relate to them; despite being a taller building, theirs would shade neighbors less, he said.


The second part of Design Review meetings involves questions from board members; Zinski opened by asking about the request for a zoning-rule “departure” involving the parking configuration; Lemons replied that they wanted “a more generous retail space” in part of the building. Zinski also asked about the landscaping plan, which Lemons hadn’t gotten to when his 20 minutes ran out. (You can see it in the packet.)

Murphy wondered why the “preferred” design breaks the project into two separate buildings. “We understand that this is a very big building compared to some of the (nearby) houses,” Lemons said, saying that otherwise it “felt out of scale with the neighborhood” if there wasn’t a gap. Murphy also asked about screening on the north line; Lemons said there’s a row of trees currently along the property to the north, and that they intend features to echo that.

Moravec asked about the lighting; Lemons said it would be oriented toward the ground. She also asked for more details on the setbacks in the preferred scheme. On the north, they have walls that would be 25 and 30 feet from the property line; on other sides, because it’s an NC (Neighborhood Commercial) zone, there are no setbacks required, but they plan a green strip at least a foot wide along some of the storefronts.

Murphy expressed concerns about the parking configuration and whether it could be successful.

Zinski asked for clarification on some of the exterior elements envisioned on the buildings, and then “can you briefly described why this is a great project?”

“We are an office that doesn’t do a great volume of work … we feel very honored to work on this project … this has always been a retail site, and the adjacent site has been a live-work … a bigger apartment building would be out of scale with the neighborhood.”

Zinski then asked “what is absolutely essential to maintain the greatness of this project?”

“The scale … and proportions,” said Lemons, “and putting the parking on the back.”


The crowd had grown to standing room only by the time Zinski laid out ground rules and requested that because of time constraints, people limit themselves to two minutes. Some written comments also were gathered from cards that were made available.

Some of those who spoke identified themselves, some did not (it’s always optional).

First: Jonathan Fisher, who said he lives a block away: “What improvements are you making to the alley, to the right of way at California/100th, what parking is going to be available to a visitor to these businesses?”

Lemons’s team said the frontage of the alley would be paved and sidewalks would be improved and there will be street parking along California and 100th, “five to eight spaces.” But the question was repeated, where will customers park? The spaces on the back of the building could be made available to them, but that’s up to the businesses.

Another attendee asked, “How are pedestrians going to get there? We don’t even have a bus any more.”

Zinski then stepped in to reiterate the rules. The person concerned about transportation said, “Part of design is function … I don’t see the function of this building at all fitting into the neighborhood. Yes, 50+ years ago it was a Thriftway, but for (all the time she’s lived there) it’s been a church.” She said the neighborhood “is the only one in Seattle where multiple generations stay in the neighborhood because it’s residential, it’s quiet, it’s family-oriented …This is not the culture of our neighborhood. And the views – I’m going to lose my view.”

Third to speak said he is “two doors down from this thing … I love the neighborhood. It’s fantastic, it’s quiet, it’s relaxed, it’s a freakin’ neighborhood …This is never … If you’re going to do something small, do a townhouse … Something needs to happen at this corner. It doesn’t have to be retail. I’m not going to leave my house to buy a cup of coffee down the road.” He said there’s a retirement home nearby and is sad for their future. He also expressed concern about shadowing from the building. “They can say what they want about the distance … (and the height)… I know we’re all 30 feet, I guess I could sell my property … This isn’t a retail area.”

That brought applause from around the room.

Next person, Frank, “three houses to the north of this,” said he thought it was “playing fast and loose with the height, with the additional boxes on top,” and said he would feel more comfortable with balconies facing 100th, no roof garden, a height more like 30′. “It appears the building is significantly higher than 30 feet … it’s not like you’re putting a flagpole up, you’re putting an additional structure, people on the roof …”

After him: “Do those work centers, are they required to have a business in them, or is it going to be part of their house?” Zinski said that a live-work is required to have a work component that could be a home-based business. “So it might not be retail,” said the resident. “It could be someone who prepares taxes,” offered Moravec. She reminded attendees that the site “is zoned commercial … that is what the city of Seattle has designed it to be.”

Next, a resident said he didn’t think the businesses would be viable without people coming from other neighborhoods. Walking in the area would be infeasible because of the topography, he added.

Then a self-identified “system engineer” who said he couldn’t understand why the building has no basement and no underground parking. He also wondered “why so many units?”

Then, a resident who said she understands it’s been commercially zoned forever, but “for 30 years it was a church with a very small congregation … the current building, as sad as it is, has more parking.” She also voiced concern – “for the future environmental review” – about stormwater runoff in the area, a problem, she said, even before redevelopment.

Zinski noted that there will be an environmental review (comments on that should go to Garrett, by the way) which would involve such concerns.

Loren Lukens, who owns and lives at Brace Point Pottery next door, said he was glad to see neighbors there. “I think it looks great … I have a business there and I’ve been there for 20 years … it’s been great for us. I would like to have more business there next to us in beautiful downtown Arbor Heights.” He said the phrase is “tongue in cheek” now but he hopes it will come true.

“Where’s the shade on your place, Loren?” asked an attendee. “You’re the least affected.”

Lukens went on to say the project “could make my life more difficult,” but he saw that as a separate conversation.

He was followed by a person identifying himself as a third-generation resident and voicing concerns about parking – “why can’t you put some underground parking?” He also asked reconsideration of “size and shape … those buildings are very large compared to our house …it’s going to be a monster looking down to the west, like a King Kong looking down at the little houses.”

Next to comment, Laurie Yamashita, walked to the front of the room and thanked everyone for coming. She said she is owner of an assisted-living facility nearby, with capacity of 15 residents, “frail, elderly dementia clients.” They chose it because it was quiet, and designed it to fit in with the neighborhood, she recounted. They met with neighbors to be sure it would fit in. The pottery shop fits in – “quaint, quiet, peaceful, loving … that’s what Arbor Heights is about … it’s a residential area,” she said. Her issues: “I think growth is good, but, it’s a basic right for neighbors to have quiet enjoyment … the developer is going to deprive us and our dementia clients of a quiet enjoyment that is not going to happen with the small city that is going to be planted in here.” She voiced concern that crime has gone up in West Seattle “since all the apartment buildings have gone up.” She said she’s worried about various types of potential businesses – “could a 24-hour nightclub go in?”

Then a resident “directly across the street” who said he is a third-generation resident of the neighborhood. “It’s a very quiet neighborhood, I love the neighborhood,” and he came back here after living in other states. “The community is a community, it’s not a town … the church used to be the community center …” He worked at a grocery there when he was 14. “I want my neighborhood to stay a livable neighborhood … You live in the city but you don’t feel like you live in the city…. I’m not opposed to change, but at least (think) out the scope, how big it is … This is too big. … I would like to see this go into more serious review,” especially its maximum height, he said.

The person who followed said the site hadn’t been used as “a commercial zone” for more than 30 years. He said the project looks like “a lovely building … it just doesn’t belong in our neighborhood.” He mentioned traffic with “cars going really fast getting to and from the ferry,” and said he’s worried that the businesses would bring more of that. “When was the zoning last addressed? Was it addressed in 1950 when the Thriftway was built and hasn’t been (reviewed) since then? What’s going to stop someone who wants to bring in a wood shop and be making furniture with a buzzsaw at all hours?” A commercial space like Brace Point Pottery, he wouldn’t mind – that drew some applause – but this wouldn’t fit with “the rhythm of the neighborhood,” he concluded.

Next: “We’re talking about a nine-unit potential strip mall in Arbor Heights – could be a nail salon, hair salon, coffee shop – we don’t know (what it will be) … what’s the signage considerations? (Could) someone have neon? … What fit in 1950 as ‘downtown’ doesn’t fit as 2017. We really need to step back and look at this thing and say, ‘the zoning has never been considered but we really need to’.”

Then: “Why does it have to be 9 units? … For me it’s like the developer is squeezing every penny without consideration of neighbors …” He said he was happy to hear about the project until he heard that it would be nine units. “Can you scale it down to four, maybe five-unit condos, townhomes, high ends, that we don’t have any concerns of retail, drainage, all this other stuff …it will work and we’ll all be here to support that.”

More applause.

Then a question if a show of hands could be taken. No, said Zinski, “we have a good cross-section of comments.”

“This is about design, not wishes,” added Moravec.


Only five minutes remained until the scheduled start of the next project review.

Moravec summarized hot button items, concerns about use as a commercial space, parking, height, runoff, shadows, use, “some we have control over, some we don’t.”

Murphy said that this is an extreme friction point – NC-zoned property in a sea of single-family homes. “There is a scale issue here – the zoning is indisputable, if the zoning allows it, it allows it, but there’s a context, whether it integrates with the neighborhood.”

Zinski repeated the “isolated zone” summary – “how is this best suited … the notion of breaking up the mass makes sense … so that it fits with the smaller-size houses … I think options 1 and 3 start to do that, I don’t know if they are fully successful with identifying the rhythm and pattern of the neighborhood … Related is the zone transition … I respect that the applicant is trying to set the building away from the zone to minimize impact on the neighbors … 1 and 3 are most successful at doing that … but we heard from the public that the preferred option doesn’t take that transition far enough … I guess if I were to look at this project I would lean toward 1 and 3 for the building mass itself, but I’m not sure they have gone through and studied it enough how to” make it work. “I think they could have spent a little more time on massing diagrams and studying the context of the building scale to the neighborhood and less on building finishes.”

Murphy said Option 2 shouldn’t even have been presented – “there’s no way it works … my preference would be Option 3 but it’s got a lot of scale issues … you asked the applicant what the most important thing is, he said scale, then the community said that’s what’s wrong with it, is scale … this feels like a high rise in Belltown, not in Arbor Heights.”

Moravec aid she agrees that Option 3 is preferable -“I am fine with the departure they are requesting and will reduce backing up on the alley. In terms of height, bulk, and scale, I like this project very much, I understand it might be out of character with existing houses in the neighborhood – there are things we can ask them to do like take off the roof gardens … that makes it a worse project for me, but better for neighbors.”

Zinski said that their direction should be how the mass can best relate to its surroundings, start to pull from that, “how it can look at the zone transition and the envelope of their mass … they may lop off the roof gardens … I think there’s options for how they can address that…. In terms of parking and flow and function of the project … I think the applicant needs to best study how the vehicular (access) best serves the project … is the vehicular circulation, location of parking, quantity of parking, location of trash, is that the best design that they have for option 3? … (we’ll give them) the guidance that they should study that.”

Murphy said the three options all seem to have similar scale, and if an option with fewer units had been presented, perhaps the neighbors would feel better, “but we don’t know, because it wasn’t presented.”

Zinski expressed appreciation for the shadow diagrams and asked the architect to “be sure that they are legible and true” so everyone understands what they mean.

He then ran through a list of the formal design guidelines that relate to everything they had discussed and identified, and that the project will be asked to work with. (You’ll see the official list of these in the city report on the review, which should be available online within a few weeks.)

Then the big decision – would they request a second round of Early Design Guidance?

The three agreed yes – they like Option 3 but “the massing requires some study” especially in how it relates to the neighborhood, said Zinski. So they should come back with a revised version and “a couple of (other) options” in that vein. “Reducing the scale?” asked Garrett. Yes, the board agreed. The main points they want to see include:

*Reduced massing, relationship to the neighborhood
*Vehicular access with best use of the site
*How to be good neighbors with the property to the north

Moravec said that for those concerned about signage and lighting, the Recommendation phase of Design Review will address those. “If you didn’t see a lot of that now, that’s why.”

They also said they are leaning toward supporting the requested departure.

And they want to see “more diagrams” for why this massing makes sense, Zinski added.

BOTTOM LINE: This means there will be at least two more meetings for this project – the second Early Design Guidance review that was just decided on, and then at least one Recommendation meeting before anything would be finalized. In the meantime, if you have comments, you can send them to planner Tami Garrett,

When the date for the next meeting is set, it will likely appear on the city website at least a few weeks before an official notice is sent out – we watch all the spots where that might happen and will publish an update as soon as there’s word.

52 Replies to "Design Review doubleheader, report #1: Second round of Early Design Guidance ordered for 4220 SW 100th"

  • Jort January 5, 2017 (10:39 pm)

    Here was an interesting new right that I wasn’t aware of here in Seattle: “I think growth is good, but, it’s a basic right for neighbors to have quiet enjoyment…” 

    Oh, so now there’s a civil right to “quiet” neighborhoods? Holy crap, I better get on the phone with the city, I hear noises all day and night sometimes!

    My other favorite is the comment about this development constituting a “small city.”

    Yeah, it would be pretty small… it’s 9 units. Why, where I come from, you’d be pretty hard pressed to call 9 units a “small city,” much less a small town.

    Also, it’s always much appreciated to read public comments that begin with, “I’m not against growth,” or “I’m not anti-change,” but then expressly and clearly state complete and total anti-growth and anti-change sentiments. Perhaps these people are only opposed to change and growth in their neighborhoods, but not other people’s? I think there’s a clever acronym for that I heard once, somewhere, NIMSC? I think? Not In My Small City? I can’t remember…

    • cjboffoli January 6, 2017 (12:04 am)

      Quiet enjoyment doesn’t literally mean silence. It is a  tenant of the law that basically says citizens have the legal right to live in peace, without unreasonable disturbance, on their property.  It provides a mechanism to guard against by nuisances created by neighbors.  In an age (and a locality) where selfishness too often prevails over a sense of collectivism I happen to think it is a vital covenant.

      • Jort Sandwich January 6, 2017 (9:57 am)

        OK, I’m not sure how 9 live-work units are going to utterly violate this sanctity. 

        It’s not like a drag racing track is moving in next door.

        Did you know that sometimes hundreds of people can live in small, dense areas and the neighborhood can still live in “peace” and without “unreasonable disturbance?”

        It’s called a city. We live in one. 

      • cjboffoli January 6, 2017 (11:14 am)

        tenet of the law. Not tenant. Rackin frackin spellcheck.

    • MsD January 6, 2017 (12:20 am)

      Surely you’re aware of the quiet enjoyment covenant?  It actually is a legal right.

      • Joe Szilagyi January 6, 2017 (12:07 pm)
        “Surely you’re aware of the quiet enjoyment covenant?  It actually is a legal right.”
        What state, county or city code discusses that one…?
  • CAM January 5, 2017 (10:53 pm)

    It really is remarkable the completely ridiculous things people are willing to say about renters. 

    • WSB January 5, 2017 (11:54 pm)

      This is not a rental project.

      • CAM January 6, 2017 (12:37 am)

        Thank you for the correction. Rereading it I can see that now and I think my misinterpretation was due to the description of these as live-work units, which I am used to associating with rentals. It’s still slightly bothersome to me that people associate any development with only negative effects. But rereading without my filter, the comments can be interpreted as largely related to the introduction of new retail/commercial space. 

        • CAM January 6, 2017 (1:43 am)

          This kind of comment is particularly frustrating, “She voiced concern that crime has gone up in West Seattle “since all the apartment buildings have gone up.”” And the idea that one type of business is acceptable but all other businesses would be a detriment to the neighborhood. 

          • Jort Sandwich January 6, 2017 (9:58 am)

            It’s also statistically inaccurate. Crime has been reduced, per capita, with the arrival of more apartment buildings.

  • talk show host January 5, 2017 (11:39 pm)

    I live on 100th a few blocks east of here and I am pretty much 100 percent in favor of this project. While neighbors certainly have legit concerns about building height and privacy, this neighborhood desperately needs a destination within easy walking distance. 

    The parking concerns raised by my neighbors are somewhat laughable since people park any which way they please on residential streets and the fact that there’s plenty of parking everywhere. This is even less of a concern if the businesses attract pedestrians. 

    Also, people like to say it’s the vashon folks speeding down 100th. It’s not. Same cars and trucks every day blazing down 100th and turning east of MVD. Slow down, people. Seriously. 

    • Joe Szilagyi January 6, 2017 (12:08 pm)

      100th absolutely needs Beach Drive style big “shatter your wheel well for being a speeding ass” hard bumps on it. 106th as well. 

  • GLC January 6, 2017 (12:14 am)

    First, the right to quiet enjoyment of your property is a “property” right and while there are limitations to those rights, its certainly a valid concern for how this development might impact those neighbors nearby. 

     Regarding the size, its actually 18 units. The proposal includes 9 units with 9 “work” spaces that can be rented out.  Since this area is unlikely to support any retail businesses in sustainable way, these spaces will end up being rented as micro apartments. So we’ll have 18 units, with parking for 8 in what is otherwise a quiet, single family neighborhood of much smaller homes.

    The comments from everyone I heard were regarding the sheer size and scale of the project. For example, with a 3 1/2 story project next door (44 ft as proposed), the property to the north, will no longer have any direct sunlight in the winter. 

     I think the neighborhood showed that it has significant concerns about this project which need to be addressed, meaning the project needs to be significantly scaled back.  A more appropriate development would 3 or 4 single family dwellings appropriately scaled allowing  plenty of light and airflow to adjoining neighbors. Better yet, partner with the Flemming House next door and develop transition housing for early stage dementia patience who aren’t ready for full time care but need a place where assistance is available.

     The fact is, the current project is completely out of scale for this neighborhood. We’ aren’t talking about an arterial through major parts of the city with several block of retail, apartments, condos and other commercial development. We’re talking about a 100′ block in a quiet neighborhood with limited transportation options (everyone will have a car).

    • Mizliss January 6, 2017 (9:16 am)

      Please don’t speak for “the neighborhood”. Many of us, including the neighbors to the east of the proposed project, support it. We just aren’t squawking as loudly as the NIMBYs. So far I’ve heard no objections from the immediate neighbors, only support. It does surpass the 30 foot residential limit, and I’d like to see that change (in my perfect world). The building that’s there has been decaying for years and I’m delighted that it’ll be replaced with something functional and attractive. I do wish it were a little lower. 

      Full disclosure: although we live in the neighborhood, we don’t live in the immediate vicinity of the building.

      • HelperMonkey January 6, 2017 (9:37 am)

        I live in the very immediate vicinity (shared alley) of this proposed monstrosity, and can tell you at least the people who live right next to it are definitely opposed. Maybe move it to your block, MizLiss, and see if you feel differently about it? I think a good compromise would be a standard row of a couple townhomes, but these developers (who surely do NOT live in this neighborhood, and I am guessing would be opposed to this going in next door to THEIR homes!) are bound and determined to try to squeeze a commercial core into a residential neighborhood. A residential neighborhood that again – has limited transit, no sidewalks and limited street parking. This is so foolish. 

  • anonyme January 6, 2017 (6:35 am)

    I’m not against the idea of some quiet retail businesses in downtown Arbor Heights, but can understand the dismay of nearby neighbors.  Depending on the business, it could mean lights, activity, traffic, and possible other noises (music, etc.) at odd hours.  There would need to be strict restrictions on the types of businesses allowed and hours that they could be open.   For example, the developer mentioned a bakery; bakeries start work in the wee hours of the morning, so that would be a bad idea.

    I also didn’t realize that the units had both balconies and a roof deck overlooking the nearby homes.  This has happened with new construction in a few areas around AH, and I view it as a terrible intrusion.  It feels like a prison guard tower has been built, with 24 hr. surveillance of people trying to enjoy their own gardens and properties in privacy.  Just because something is not strictly illegal does not make it OK to show blatant disrespect to neighbors.

  • anonyme January 6, 2017 (6:37 am)

    I’m not against the idea of some quiet retail businesses in downtown
    Arbor Heights, but can understand the dismay of nearby neighbors. 
    Depending on the business, it could mean lights, activity, traffic, and
    possible other noises (music, etc.) at odd hours.  There would need to
    be strict restrictions on the types of businesses allowed and hours that
    they could be open.   For example, the developer mentioned a bakery;
    bakeries start work in the wee hours of the morning, so that would be a
    bad idea.

    I also didn’t realize that the units had both balconies
    and a roof deck overlooking the nearby homes.  This has happened with
    new construction in a few areas around AH, and I view it as a terrible
    intrusion.  It feels like a prison guard tower has been built, with 24
    hr. surveillance of people trying to enjoy their own gardens and
    properties in privacy.  Just because something is not strictly illegal
    does not make it OK to show blatant disrespect to neighbors.

  • anonyme January 6, 2017 (7:21 am)

    Looking again at the design, I have one more observation regarding lighting.  The developer mentioned that lighting would be down facing so as not to be intrusive.  However, if there are a row of lights, whether at 40 ft. or at street level, this will be like giant light beacon in an otherwise sleepy neighborhood.  It’s a lot of lights, and the higher up they are on the structure the more obtrusive they will be.  And will the parking area in back not have 24 hr. lighting – the parking lot that borders homes?  Last – in my experience, businesses tend to leave interior lights on all the time.   With all that glass, the neighbors will have to install blackout blinds and wear sleep masks.

  • Michael Waldo January 6, 2017 (7:36 am)

    It seems obvious but probably to late, that the commercial zoning of this parcel is out of date with current reality of the neighborhood. Folks comment that it will be nice to have businesses to walk to in Arbor Heights but we have no idea what kind of businesses will go in the space. I always though live/work was geared toward artists and craftsman.  it will be an interesting  project to follow.

    • Alkiobserver January 6, 2017 (10:00 am)

      Spot on about the zoning issues Michael. Clearly the developer is going for the most bang for the buck. By limiting the retail sizes to sub 1500sf it allows them to forgo any parking. The fantasy they are selling is that this is nine people quietly living above their small, quaint shop/home office, but the potential reality that must be considered, is that this could very well likely end up to be 20 people living above five stores and four restaurants that employ multiple people— with parking for a mere eight cars. 

    • Joe Szilagyi January 6, 2017 (12:12 pm)
      “It seems obvious but probably to late, that the commercial zoning of this parcel is out of date with current reality of the neighborhood.”
      This is a VERY sticky issue. It reminds me of that couple that bought a house in Ballard, on I forget which street, circa 1999. From before then through the end of the recession or so (2010) some company was buying up the houses, something like that, making them rentals. Then once leases ran out they threw up bid old 3-4 floor tall rowhouses. This was a couple blocks north of Market/downtown Ballard. This couple wouldn’t sell–their right to not do so. But the rowhouses totally came up to their property line, as that was the zoning.
      They complained on KOMO News, loudly, and the City responded by pointing out that the zoning that allowed the zoning was in place since I believe the early 1940s…
      …before either of these people were born.
  • Janine Bostock January 6, 2017 (7:40 am)

    The height, density and parking are an issue, but it would be nice to have a coffee shop or another small business in the area.  How are we notified of the next meeting? We are moving to the neighborhood in the next few months and this is the first I have heard of this development and would love to attend the next meeting.

  • Ron Swanson January 6, 2017 (8:07 am)

    All this talk about ‘quiet enjoyment’ would be relevant if the proposal was for a shooting range or a rendering plant next door.  It isn’t.  It’s for something absolutely in keeping with the existing zoning and surroundings.  

    • Alkiobserver January 6, 2017 (9:50 am)

      Sorry, Ron, but NINE residential units on top of NINE retail stores with a grand total of 8 parking spaces is “absolutely” in keeping with the surroundings? Come again? Sugar coat it all you want, but like someone said last night, its a strip mall smack dab in the middle of a sea of single family homes. Zoning for this parcel should have been corrected years ago. What’s to keep a Starbucks or a Chipotle from opening up shop in there? Heck, from what I saw last night, it doesn’t look like there would be any way to stop someone from leasing out more than one of these to create a large operation in there. Just because the architect rendered it with sleepy looking storefronts, doesn’t mean that is what will end up there. As a close neighbor of this, I hope for the best, but absolutely plan for the worst.

  • Toni Reineke January 6, 2017 (9:11 am)

    Thank you, WSB, for being there to cover this!

  • Toni Reineke January 6, 2017 (9:14 am)

     After the meeting last night, I learned from the architect that the City of Seattle REQUIRES there to be a commercial component to conform with zoning. Maybe we should take this up with the city.

    • WSArchitect January 6, 2017 (2:54 pm)

      This is true, I’ve had several projects where the developers want residential units at the ground floor and it is not permitted.  The zoning forces you to put a commercial use.  You can’t even get a departure for it.  The Live/work units are the compromise. To rent a live/work unit you must have a business license.  These aren’t rentals so I don’t know how they make you comply with the commercial requirements.

  • John January 6, 2017 (10:12 am)

    I hope NIMBY opposition has hit its nadir in people opposing such a well designed proposal. 

    Let’s see where design review leads this time.  Generally,  architects float the most egregious massing options as opening tactics.  Here the plan is far more fleshed out and looks great.  I will be sorry to see it compromised through the Design Review (NIMBY Review).

  • Wolf January 6, 2017 (10:16 am)

    Let’s be straight about this – squeezing in 9 (+9 work) units in this space is a $$$$ grab by the developer. The architect (by not addressing the direct question by the board member who asked about integration with the neighborhood “rhythm”) and everyone else at the meeting recognized that the proposal is out of scale with the neighborhood.  If the developer manages to get this monstrosity built they’ll leave with a bundle of cash and the rest of us will be left in the shadows, literally.   How about 2 units on the scale with Grace Point pottery? The developer will still make a profit – and we’ll have a new development integrated with our neighborhood?

    • Gretchen January 6, 2017 (11:20 am)

      Why is it wrong for a developer to want to make the largest return on his investment as possible? Doesn’t everyone who invests in anything want that? 

  • CeeBee January 6, 2017 (10:37 am)

    One suggestion – walk the block of California between Graham and Raymond, west side of the street.  There are a number of live-work units there (both street front and entrances on the back side).  You can see the different businesses that have found good homes in that type of unit.  There is only 1 unit not being used as intended, it was sold last year and the new tenant has not opened for business yet, so front windows still blocked.  Just an idea to get a sense of what things could look like.

  • Gretchen January 6, 2017 (11:04 am)

    Some humans will always resist change no matter what.

    Lots of people have these grandiose ideas of what the property SHOULD be, and want to dictate what should be allowed there, and yet no one stepped in to purchase the property to make sure it complied with their own wishes. Someone else bought it and now everyone wants to tell them what to do with it and how to do it. It’s silliness. Shouldn’t they be able to build what they want as long as it complies with zoning? I mean… they did BUY it. How would you like someone telling you what you can do with the property you purchased?

    The complaints I hear are really kind of selfish. 

    “My house will be shaded in the winter”

    (This is Washington State. We rarely get sun in the winter anyway.)

    “Businesses will bring noise to the area”

    (They’re not opening a lumber mill. If you can hear the noise that a bakery or coffee shop makes from inside your home, you have some serious insulation issues of your own that need to be addressed.)

    “There will be more lighting”

    (Yes, there will have to be lights. I doubt there will be a spotlight shining onto your house.)

    “My view will be ruined”

    (Welcome to Seattle.)

    “It will be a modern style and not blend with the neighborhood”

    (There is no ordinance that new construction has to blend with old.)

    “There will be parking issues”

    (Again, welcome to Seattle.)

    If you want to be assured that your view will remain and no one will build a new place next to you and you’ll have plenty of parking and dark silence, I’m afraid you’ll have to move out of the city. I suggest Wilkeson to the south or Carnation to the north.

    These things are going to happen when you live in the city. If you want to keep everything the way it is around your property, start buying the surrounding properties.

    • Alkiobserver January 6, 2017 (12:30 pm)

      Cute, Gretchen, but off base.

      To answer a couple of the questions you posed:
      Q: Shouldn’t they be able to build what they want as long as it complies
      with zoning? I mean… they did BUY it.

      A: No. Zoning isn’t everything. Not by a long shot. If that were the case, Chris Hansen would have a a new arena under construction right now. Your question misses that point along with the point of having public hearings with the community, city planning dept and community design review board. Welcome to Seattle. (To use your quote)

      Q: How would you like someone telling
      you what you can do with the property you purchased?

      A: Welcome to Seattle . You may want to familiarize yourself with land use, building, plumbing, gas, electrical departments and even SDOT, as they all too have a say in what and how you do things with property you have purchased within the city.  Course, your question may have been more about what right neighbors have to dictate what you do with your property, in that case, I would refer you to the answer to your first question.

      • Gretchen January 6, 2017 (1:27 pm)

        I guess I should’ve rephrased my statements. Since I’m in the General Contracting business I am very aware of who can tell me what I can I do with my property and my neighbors are not one of them.

        Comparing the construction of a giant arena to a 9 unit building is comparing apples to oranges. Never the less…This building WILL be built regardless of neighbors opinions. These meetings are mere formalities. 

        • MsD January 6, 2017 (6:23 pm)

          And there you have it.  The total arrogance of the developers/contractors in West Seattle.  I’ll do what I want, when I want, and anyone who is negatively affected can get bent.  I grew up in a family who were general contractors and one of the first orders of business was to be respectful to neighbors of our projects.  The opposite happens here.  This is why I watch closely and make complaints on every single violation (which are plentiful) that I see on the projects in proximity to my home, and have encouraged my neighbors to do the same.

      • Ron Swanson January 6, 2017 (2:00 pm)

        A misleading comparison, Alki. The arena proposal requires a street vacation, a turning over of (relatively useless) public property to private use.  As such it gets extreme public scrutiny. This development doesn’t involve any such transfer.  It’s of sufficient scale for the ridiculous rules allowing (relatively pointless) debate over the color of siding and how big the shrubs should be to apply, but is otherwise ‘by right’ development since it complies with existing zoning.

        • Alkiobserver January 6, 2017 (3:18 pm)

          Touche I suppose, or maybe swing and a miss. I brought up the arena project to illustrate my counterpoint to Gretchen’s assertion that the developer “should be allowed to build what they want as long as it complies with zoning” in that zoning is not the only factor.  It was not to compare the scale/scope to this at all.

          I have no doubt this project will get built in some form, but I take heart in the interest the neighborhood has shown in looking to mitigate the negative impacts. I respect that the developer is entitled to make as much money as they possibly can from their investment. Everyone affected by it is entitled to their opinions about issues that it presents which have a direct impact on their life and home. Those collective opinions matter in matters of neighborhood development, otherwise the city would not require land use notifications and public meetings.

          Though this process can be seen by some as “mere formalities” or “relatively pointless debate”,  it is possible that the combined efforts and feedback of the community, design board, and city could in fact get this reduced in scale and mass, address the parking and traffic issues—while still allowing the developer to profit and new growth to happen—making this a success all around. 

          • Gretchen January 6, 2017 (6:14 pm)

            I can respect that. I guess what doesn’t make sense to me with regard to parking and traffic concerns is that we’re talking about just 1 building, not a huge apartment complex or shopping plaza. There MAY be some small retails shops below or it may be an accting office, insurance office, cafe or art shop. I don’t think we’re talking about a massive influx of traffic and or people. As far as parking goes, that is detailed under the NC1 zone which applies to NC2 and NC3 and reads:

            *Parking Location

            At the rear or side of a building, within a structure, or off-site within 800’. Parking between a building and a street is not allowed. Parking between buildings along the street is limited to 60’. Within a structure, street level parking must be separated from the facade by another permitted use.

            *Parking Access        

            Must be from the alley if feasible. Curbcuts are limited.

            *Parking Quantity

            Depends on land use and location. No minimum parking is required in Urban Centers, and portions of Urban Villages with frequent transit service within 1/4 mile.

            So it is an addressed concern and will be adhered to by developers according to rules and ordinances.

            Funny story….When I moved into my home 5 years ago, the lot was very private. There was a run down dilapidated house that sat kiddy corner to my lot that never maintained their yard and had a falling down detached garage covered in shrubbery and blackberries that I looked at everyday from my back deck. One day I woke up and a crew was out there with a backhoe and bulldozer tearing down trees and demoing the house and garage. (I’ll admit….I was sort of bugged. Afterall, I knew I would lose a chunk of privacy.) They started to build 2 new tall modern houses (of similar design to the one proposed for AH). They do not blend with the other craftsman style homes but they were nice homes never the less. The homes are finished and occupied now and I have come to appreciate them along with the value and sophistication they have brought to my neighborhood. I would much rather look out from my deck and see a stylish home with people who care about maintaining their property than look at a wasted graffiti tagged garage wrought a bunch of stickerbushes. 

            I guess what I’m saying is people should try and be flexible and see the positive side to this. As I said before, people resist change. We are creatures of habit, it’s a natural reaction. I think once the dust settles, most neighbors will appreciate the improvement in the neighborhood and the value that the finished project will ultimately add to their property.

  • GLC January 6, 2017 (12:08 pm)

    CEEBEE, I’m glad you reference the developments between Grahm and Raymond because Arbor Heights isn’t anything like that area of West Seattle. That is a completely commercial zone extending up from the Morgan Junction all the way to the Alaska Junction. The scope and scale of development there is completely different that what’s in Arbor Heights.  The Arbor Heights area is not a viable business location for these units. What we’ll end up with is 9 residential condos, 9 micro-apartments rented out and only 8 parking spaces for these 18 vehicles. Everyone will have to drive because there’s no transit here in Arbor Heights. 

    This project is completely out of scale for this area and should be limited in height (30 feet) and should be residential single family dwellings and/or townhomes for owners.

    I agree with the comments that the zoning is completely outdated.  



    • Peter January 9, 2017 (11:54 am)

      you must have forgotten about the 21, 21x and 22 bus routes that literally stop at the project location…

      • GLC January 9, 2017 (4:37 pm)

        Routes 21 & 22 are limited to commuting hours so they aren’t really options for basic transportation throughout the day.

  • Bisker16 January 6, 2017 (1:01 pm)

    I live in the Alaska Junction neighborhood. I wish the apartments around here were only 18 units! Welcome to our world! I read the same comments everywhere in West Seattle, I get it, I certainly have noise, traffic and close neighbors now, AND they are probably rezoning my neighborhood. I just hate reading all the  occasional ‘sniping’ at each other, everyone is entitled to their opinions. They (developers) are and will be doing this everywhere they can, well, because they can. 

  • anonyme January 6, 2017 (1:49 pm)

    ALKIOBSERVER:  Thank you!!  Brilliant take down.

    I’ve noticed something about those who like to attack others for NIMBYism.  They are seldom, if ever, affected by the issue in question.  They just like to belittle those who are.

    Which makes them trolls.

    • Gretchen January 6, 2017 (2:50 pm)

      Why does expressing an opposing opinion (that is backed by industry knowledge mind you) get you labeled a troll? I’m not attacking anyone or calling names, I’m just expressing an opinion on a topic that I have experience in.

      A lot of people don’t understand the inner workings of development and construction. The risk that is involved, the complexity of working with the city, the money and time that goes into it. Most people go to work Monday- Fri, get their direct deposit payroll / benefits and go home. Never putting their neck out. The biggest risk most people take is their daily commute. Everyone wants to label developers as some evil force trying to destroy their quaint little neighborhood. It’s not the case. This neighborhood has been zoned for this type of construction for decades. Unless you bought your home in the early 50’s you really can’t complain about what’s happening now. Ignorance is not an excuse. Doing research prior to purchasing your home is detrimental if you want to avoid these types of things happening to you.

      Developers are going to purchase a property to get the biggest ROI as they can. It’s a risk vs reward business. Would you be willing to invest your money, time and energy into something that would produce a minimal return in the end just so others can have things their way? Most likely the answer is a solid “no”

  • New Thinking Needed January 6, 2017 (5:46 pm)

     new owners Claremont Partners LLC “

    Google the new owner of the property. Of course they want the most bang for their buck, it is an investment.  Most likely they won’t be living there.  

  • Peter January 6, 2017 (6:08 pm)

    I’m a neighbor to this new project, one block to the west, and
    also in the design field. When I first saw the project notice I was skeptical
    at the “9 live-work units, 8 parking spots” tag line; but after
    reviewing the lengthy design package the architect put together, I was
    pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t hate what I saw. Being a bit younger
    and a newer addition to the neighborhood, purchased our home just over 2 years
    ago, I probably don’t have quite the same mentality as some of the longer

    While I don’t agree with all aspects of the project, I think
    that this will help our neighborhood develop for the better. Revitalizing a lot
    that has been largely unused for what sounds like decades will enhance the
    area. Having a well defined street edge along 100th and parking on the street
    will serve to slow down traffic coming up from Marine View Drive. Establishing
    small business opportunities should be fostered in our highly walk-able
    neighborhood and will add to the community feel. What type of businesses would
    come here you ask, the ones that would be success with in a small neighborhood
    or ones that don’t have high customer traffic. 

    Yes there is an elephant in the room with the “scale”
    of the proposed design. It will be the largest building in the area by far.
    Though, if you think about the size of the church across the street and even
    the pottery shop next door, each large in their own rights, I don’t think this
    will be grossly out of place. Hopefully the design team heard us in our call
    for better scaling and will present a more digestible building at the next
    meeting. As for fear of lighting at night, have any of you been on 100th at
    night lately? The city has installed some majorly bright street lights. I can’t
    imagine a little down lighting and some shop windows overpowering the white illumination
    already in existence. 

    The environmental impact has been raised as a concern but not
    thoroughly addressed by the design team. People have mentioned storm water runoff
    and sun light issues. Do you know what water mitigation currently exists on that
    site now? Its 80% covered by a building and the rest is solid pavement! All the
    water that falls there now is pushed into the streets. Roof top gardens,
    sidewalk plantings and the proposed permeable drive court will handle the
    majority of rain fall on the site, vastly better than the current situation. As
    for the sun light, look at their sun study diagrams. Those aren’t some made up
    mystical charts, they are based on simple science and geography. The fact is
    that the northern neighbors WILL get more sunlight overall, as well as not
    having an 18′ wall right on their property line. The pottery shop will be more
    shaded in the late afternoon and evening westerly sun yes, oh well, you can’t
    win them all. 

    In the end, there will be a building built there no matter how
    much people yell and scream. The best we can do is provide constructive ideas
    on the things that can actually be changed, and then support the small shops
    that open there so that the new comers will love the neighborhood as much as we
    do. We’ll get more being cooperative than fighting things out of our


  • Steve January 7, 2017 (7:19 am)

    In 1989 the pshche of the body politic got fed up with rampant office building construction and passed  CAP (Citizens Alternative Plan).  2017 might be the right time to place a moratorium on the rampant increase in housing density. A record number of living units are coming on the market in West Seattle this year and no one knows if developers will be able to fill them (CAP did not save Martin Selig or most of his contemporaries from bankruptcy).   The guys spinning “For Rent” signs on every corner around the junction might be an indication it won’t be easy for them.

    • Gretchen January 7, 2017 (11:54 am)

      With the city council we currently have… there will be NO moratorium on anything having to do with housing construction. They’re going to keep on building…and building….and building. And with the MHA legislation and the “Grand Bargain”, developers of all new construction must make 5%-7% of all units for low income residents (or pay a cost per sq. ft not to).

      I’m sure you’ve heard their slogan…..

      “Build 1000 homes.”

  • Josh January 7, 2017 (9:51 pm)

    I’ve always wondered about the long-standing apartment building to the very south on 35th (towards Marine View). It, too, must have seemed “out of place” when it was built- Does anyone know how that got developed, or what allowed 1 apartment building to be build there?

    its actually nice, low-key, just odd how it “got there.”

  • millie January 9, 2017 (8:35 pm)

    Having read all the comments (pro/con) regarding this project, I can only say this project is too large for the area (which no longer should be considered commercial/business).  I understand, at one point, the intent was to develop this part of Arbor Heights into a commercial/business zone – times have changed.  Since 1950, when the area was annexed by the City of Seattle, there is no longer a need for an Arbor Heights “city center”.  Arbor Heights is overwhelmingly residential.  Additionally,  infrastructure is lacking – no sidewalks, narrow, non-maintained streets, public utilities, transit, etc.   A few years back there was an issue of sufficient water pressure for the fire hydrants (this may  have been resolved).  Growth for growth’s sake should not be accepted without taking into account the available infrastructure, area amenities (schools, grocery stores),  and impact on existing residents.  We’ve already lost so much of what made this area unique and livable.

  • Mr P January 10, 2017 (12:53 am)

    Lived here ten years . I say build something cool. but make it smaller.  not a massive structure.  Perhaps 7 live in units and 4 business.  You could have a sitting area outside perhaps in the middle or a small courtyard for people to drink coffee or eat a baked good. Like  a Community meeting place.   I’d be down for that.   Also install a giant speed bump and a crosswalk sign.

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