DESIGN REVIEW: 4401 42nd SW gets OK to advance to next phase

(Rendering from packet by Cone Architecture)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The Southwest Design Review Board‘s first look at 4401 42nd SW ended with approval to move to the second phase of the process, with advice including, heed the project’s surroundings – especially Holy Rosary Catholic Church, whose dramatic entrance and bell tower will be right across Genesee.

The meeting was the second half of a doubleheader (here’s how the night began) at the Senior Center/Sisson Building, and was an Early Design Guidance meeting, meaning the focus was on size/shape/placement on the site – the finer points of design are the subject of the next round of the process. The project is proposed for (under the team’s “preferred” massing) 72 Small Efficiency Dwelling Units (microapartments), 6 live-work units (all “paired and recessed”), and 36 offstreet parking spaces. The design packet by Cone Architecture is here (PDF) and below:

ARCHITECTS’ PRESENTATION: This will be a 5-story building – zoning allows up to 55′ – at the SW corner of 42nd/Genesee, replacing what was the Ginomai art-studio building. They mentioned that their community-outreach meeting this summer drew one attendee.

The street trees will remain. High-voltage lines on 42nd are 14 feet from the property and won’t affect the project, but lines on the alley will require a setback. The entrance will be along 42nd, with a secondary entry off the alley. Two zoning departures (exceptions) are being requested – an “increase in the drive-aisle slope” to 20 percent to improve where the turning radius would be as well as improving pedestrian pathways; and allowing “residential functions” on 42nd for the live-work units. The project would have a roof deck.

BOARD QUESTIONS: All five board members were present – chair Crystal Loya, members Scott Rosenstock, Alan Grainger, John Cheng, and Matt Hutchins. Hutchins wondered about the project’s relationship to the historic brick buildings just west. The architects said the materials in their project would address that, rather than the massing. Cheng asked about how the project would relate to Holy Rosary across Genesee; that might be done via windows, not so much by massing, replied the architects. Grainger noted that while the church’s entrance is “very clear,” the plan for this building’s entrance doesn’t seem clear at all. Riffing off that, Rosenstock wondered why the team felt so strongly about the residential entrance being on 42nd instead of Genesee. The architects said 42nd “feels more residential.” Rosenstock also wondered about the team’s ideas for activating the project’s street level; the team replied that it’s early but they’re exploring the ideas for the next phase.

PUBLIC COMMENT: Pastor Gil Gilbert of The Junction Church, across California, was the only one of the 10 or so attendees to speak. He wondered about flooding that hits his basement every year; he also suggested there’s not enough room for parking access in the alley (though he seemed to be referring to a different alley, on his side of California, which is not contiguous to this project site). He asked about construction length; 12-14 months, he was told, and no crane.

Also, planner Carly Guillory read a written comment from SDOT noting that stretch of 42nd might be a future greenway.

BOARD DELIBERATIONS: In the first go-round of concerns, Grainger said he was a bit concerned about the potential “homogenous” street level. Cheng said the “three options” presented (as required for Early Design Guidance) didn’t seem to be truly different options; Loya concurred. In later discussion, planner Guillory said the three would qualify for showing “evolution” – they don’t have to be dramatically different. Hutchins reiterated concerns about possible missed opportunities for this building to “address sense of place” given its site – he also noted that the building it’s replacing had a definite presence. The idea of responding to the church entrance’s dominance on 42nd generated additional discussion, including the importance of the building’s corners.

They weren’t fans of “preferred option” 3 exactly as proposed. Some aspects of 2 were supported for potential incorporation into 3, particularly its “lower-level plan.” It was summarized as “expressing a more grand sense of entry on Genesee (and) similar articulation on the NW and NE corners” of the building. After further discussion, Grainger suggested there should be a 2A and 3A – “either one could be refined to see something we would find more acceptable.” Rosenstock warned that if they advanced the project with this kind of guidance, it might still wind up with an extra meeting, just in the second phase. Loya said she felt OK with letting the project advance to phase 2 because the interior concepts are strong enough.

(It also came up in deliberations that the site to the south, now holding a single-family house, is being redeveloped into eight live-work and townhouse units.)

The vote to advance the project to the second phase was 4-1 (Cheng was the “no” vote). They’re in favor of the two zoning departures (exceptions) that are likely to be requested.

As they went through the checklist of other factors to address, Hutchins noted “evolving neighborhoods” as applying given the transformation that side of 42nd SW continues to go through – “the experience of 42nd is changing.” The SDOT mention of potential greenway status was mentioned again, and how that puts up a different prism through which to view the project.

WHAT’S NEXT: The project will have at least one more board review; the date will be set when both the project team and city are ready. In the meantime, you can send comments – about design and other aspects – to planner Guillory,

26 Replies to "DESIGN REVIEW: 4401 42nd SW gets OK to advance to next phase"

  • WTF September 6, 2019 (5:31 am)

    Yay! Another apartment building.

    • Alki Resident September 6, 2019 (8:30 am)

      People have to live somewhere – don’t hate on apartments. 

      • Erithan September 6, 2019 (6:55 pm)

        It would be nice if they built actual apartments though vs over priced dorm rooms><

  • Rick September 6, 2019 (8:12 am)

    And an ugly one at that.

    • WSB September 6, 2019 (8:38 am)

      Reminder that this is phase 1 of Design Review, where the rendering is size/shape only.

  • Sillygoose September 6, 2019 (9:04 am)

    This is a horrible location for this type of mass structure.  When are the developers going to be forced to provide adequate parking?  The parish members have no place to park as it is for Mass.  Now we have to deal with 36 more cars on the street.  This is a historical street most building are constructed of brick why is this design even considered? Not to mention is a dog area provided as all of these apartment dwellers seem to own a dog that they allow to urinate and poop in the landscaping or sidewalk,  so should we assume now the beautiful lawn on Holy Rosary property is the new poop area!! STOP BUILDING IN WEST SEATTLE

    • WSB September 6, 2019 (9:17 am)

      Again. The Early Design Guidance rendering *does not show materials*. That’s the next phase. This is a proposed size/shape. As for dog runs, some projects include it. Would have been a great public-comment question but nobody there asked it.

    • AMD September 6, 2019 (9:45 am)

      This location is walking distance to the Junction and all the amenities + transit that offers.  It will be 10 years away from having light rail service within walking distance by the time it’s built.  The problem isn’t buildings without car storage for everyone.  The problem is people with cars who think car storage is the city’s responsibility and they don’t need to buy homes with storage for their vehicles.  There is absolutely no reason to drive up home prices by requiring storage for vehicles for the people who don’t need it.  Stop blaming developers when you don’t have parking.  Stop blaming the city when you don’t have parking.  The problem is the car owners who don’t plan appropriately for their vehicles.  THAT’s who you blame when you don’t have street parking for shopping.  It’s okay to have buildings that aren’t for people with cars.  There is PLENTY of other housing for people who do.

    • Peter September 6, 2019 (11:45 am)

      “When are the developers going to be forced to provide adequate parking?  The parish members have no place to park as it is for Mass.” Well then, when are the churches going to be forced to provide adequate parking? 

    • Goldengirl September 6, 2019 (1:00 pm)

      The space also backs into two schools the traffic congestion will be outrageous and I believe poses a threat to students with that level of density from an infrastructure standpoint will taxes be levied or will the church be exempt who owns the property and forthcoming apartmentswish holy rosary and Seattle luthern would organize attendance at the next design meeting 

    • CAM September 6, 2019 (4:57 pm)

      Less than 2 blocks from the central business district of the neighborhood is a terrible place to put multifamily housing? Also, I used to live in an apartment building on that block. My neighbors were all respectful about cleaning up after their pets. They got fined if they weren’t. Tell me, do your neighbors who own their home have someone showing up to fine them every time they don’t clean up after their pets?

  • wsres September 6, 2019 (9:31 am)

    Thank you for encouraging meeting attendance. There’s so much complaining without action on here at times.

  • Chris K September 6, 2019 (10:23 am)

    We all have to address the reality of housing in this City.  We have to add more density, and not everyone will be able to drive a car.  We need to make more investments in public transit and learn to rely on our own feet to get around, as well.

  • AlkiResident September 6, 2019 (11:18 am)

    I love when people say STOP BUILDING in west seattle…. yet it was ok when YOUR home was built and it was ok for YOU to live here.  

    • SillyGoose September 6, 2019 (3:20 pm)

      My house was built in 1909, it is a true architectural master piece that is a representation of most of West Seattle until this square ugly garbage started being built with no parking and yes we have our own garage.As for the Church parking it had a huge piece of property that was used for parking but them sold to Hope Lutheran long before you were ever born Peter!

      • Mike September 6, 2019 (10:00 pm)

        Thank you sillygoose!  You should add that your house also doesn’t require more than 72 toilets that flush into our already over burdened wastewater treatment system.  Apparently people want more density but don’t want to increase infrastructure to support it.  The ecosystem will eventually return the favor and it will win.  Air pollution isn’t the only pollution.

        • John September 8, 2019 (9:01 am)

          MIKE,You should be asking SILLYGOOSE whether she had replaced those 1909  6 gallon flush toilets.I always enjoy devouring the red herring responses such as `”72 toilets” ( all 72 toilets are low flow 1 1/2 gallon) which have nothing to do with burdening our wastewater system.  Our waste system is overburdened  precisely because the old homes such as this true architectural masterpiece combine their sewer with their storm drain (downspouts).  Having the sewer and storm drain combined leads to the system being overwhelmed during storm events.   The new 72 toilet building does not connect to the system the way SILLYGOOSE’s masterpiece does.  New construction is required to do storm drain mitigation, which is often seen as those concrete ‘open caskets’ along side a new residence.  These absorb and buffer the surge of storms allowing infiltration into the soil rather than a hard-line to the system.Yes we do need more density to actually reduce the infrastructure through efficiency.  Two good examples are the low flow water fixtures and LED lights and efficient appliances that reduce consumption.   No one but the uninformed or intentional mis-leaders are suggesting that our infrastructure  of water and power should limit our habitat.

          • Sillygoose September 9, 2019 (10:24 am)

            Oh John such a master at ignorance, we have the highest
            efficiency toilet’s
            money can buy, out down spouts go into our rain barrels and any over flow waters out landscaping. Our old clay sewer pipe recently replaced as well.  I have lived here 60 years we had created a nice quiet safe community with single family dwellings and families that are invested in this community unlike the self absorbed give me give me give me people moving in now with no regard to anything or anyone but themselves!!! Our home is not only in the Published Book of “Historical Homes of West Seattle” it has a file full of historical photos at MOHI ,  as for giving you my address we have enough idiots knocking on our door why would I want to add to the list?   

          • John September 10, 2019 (10:16 am)

            SILLYGOOSE, Thank you for responding.  As a lover of Seattle’s architecture both historical and modern, I have devoured the Seattle Architecture books.  My copies are dog-eared  and filled with my notations.  I have never trespassed or even door-knocked a home. I have taken every opportunity to enjoy the house tours that were formerly a Seattle tradition.  I  am proud to have opened our albeit modernist  home for such tours and would be happy to do so in the future.I am relieved to discover, through my question not accusation, that you have gone to great lengths and costs to update your home.  Very few homeowners choose to or can afford to do so.  And your defense certainly sparked debate.  Thank you.

      • Peter September 6, 2019 (11:55 pm)

        Then it was their choice not to have parking. Not the developers fault, not other residents’ fault. That gives them (you) zero grounds for complaining about parking. 

      • John September 8, 2019 (8:37 am)

        Sillygoose, is your a ‘true architectural master piece’  that is a representation of most of West Seattle  featured in Classic Homes of Seattle?  I would love to see this true masterpiece or at least drive by.  Please share with us where it is.  PS> Do you have a car that fits in that 1909 garage?

      • Jim September 9, 2019 (11:29 pm)

        I am constantly amazed at the short memory of long time West Seattle residents. You all voted for increasing density so you could rent out your basements, attics, and garages. And now, you do nothing but complain about the effects of your votes. Look in the mirror folks and take some responsibility. Your greed caused what is happening, and IMHO, West Seattle has benefited from the growth. This area has been sort of dumpy for many years. It is coming back to life now. Yes, many of the new apartment buildings are ugly, as are all the “Darth Vader” houses, but as a retired architect I know how over-regulating architectural design has caused that. It is close to impossible to get any sort of building built because of all the codes and restrictions. Granted, many are for the safety of residents, but many regulations seem designed to prevent anything of beauty or innovation being built.

  • Goldengirl September 6, 2019 (11:48 am)

    Who actually will own the apartment building is the church developing and maintain ownership or someone else

    • john September 6, 2019 (2:32 pm)

      Good question but why when we can demonize a greedy developer ruining the life styles of West Seattle?

    • HR member September 9, 2019 (12:35 pm)

      The land was purchased from the church.  Neither Holy Rosary nor Hope Lutheran ever owned it.  It was another church.  

  • Jim September 9, 2019 (11:17 pm)

    Can anyone tell me the history of the Modernist building that exists on the site? It’s a rare and quite good example of mid-century Modern architecture. The architect was clearly influenced by European Modern Masters like Le Corbusier. Anyone know the architect? I walk by it frequently and admired it. I hate to see it go. And I do hope that someone photographs it for documentation of historic West Seattle.

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