By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Now there are two redevelopment projects on the way to construction in the heart of The Junction, after 4508 California SW cleared the Design Review process last night.
This was the Southwest Design Review Board‘s third review of the yet-to-be-named building, which will be the third mixed-use Junction redevelopment for Leon Capelouto, after Capco Plaza (42nd/Alaska) and AJ Apartments (42nd/Oregon). This one will replace the building that currently holds Lee’s Asian Restaurant, Kamei Japanese Restaurant, and The Naked Crepe.
Last night’s meeting was sparsely attended, with two community members commenting. David Reddish of Caron Architecture led the briefing on design changes made since the project’s last review one year ago (WSB coverage here). Here’s the packet:
As recapped last night, 58 apartments are planned, plus 12 lodging units, 17 underground parking spaces, and ground-floor retail space. Reddish said the project is intended to create spaces for smaller retailers, as the current building does. Other design points:
It has a 2-story brick base, with dark-bronze-finished storefronts and lots of glass. Brick is common in The Junction, the architect noted. That’s a “simple and elegant way to (signify) a change in use at the street level.” He also pointed out the second-floor amenity level, “more like an outdoor living room,” with a kitchen, living room, and seating. There’s also an outdoor fire pit. Street level will include light poles, bike racks, and places to hang the Junction’s distinctive flower baskets.
Floors 3-6 are residential, with setbacks. There’ll be a roof deck with a fire pit. The landscaping plan includes some bioretention planters to meet stormwater requirements, as well as some P-Patch type space.
Since this is an “infill” building (7 stories on a block long zoned for 8 and now via HALA upzoned to 9), there won’t be much to see on the north/south facades, just patterns to “modulate” things a bit. The building is “primarily an L shape.”
BOARD QUESTIONS: Scott Rosenstock asked about the decks. Since “the units are so small,” Reddish said, they’ve tried to include them wherever possible. John Cheng asked about the material on the north side; Reddish explained how the “bays” are called out via materials. Matt Hutchins asked about the “bevel” on the facade; that was meant to echo some of the historical architecture touches nearby, Reddish replied. Chair Crystal Loya also wondered about the materials for a white line “wrapping” part of the exterior – it’ll probably be metal, was the reply.
PUBLIC COMMENT: Lora Radford, executive director of the West Seattle Junction Association spoke first, lauding developer Capelouto for the project’s “thoughtful” materials. She said one thing the project’s missing is a “public benefit” and perhaps this building could include a mural – to help retain some of the community feel that many perceive to be lost with redevelopment. Perhaps a mural honoring the Duwamish Tribe, she suggested. Or maybe if there’s no space on the building, the developer could fund one elsewhere in The Junction.
Deb Barker, West Seattle community advocate and former Design Review Board member, said it should be more obvious that the residential units are SEDUs. The California-facing decks seemed like little more than fire escapes, she said. Overall, there are “too many things going on with this building … horizontal elements, vertical elements,” windows of varying designs, etc. She also wondered what’s going to keep people from sleeping in the storefronts before it’s leased, given that the AJ’s commercial spaces weren’t occupied for more than a year after the building opened. Capelouto answered from the gallery that he already spends $100,000 on security and is in The Junction a lot himself observing how things are going.
BOARD DELIBERATIONS: Board members had questions about some relatively minor points. Rosenstock was concerned about an “ominous” space near the commercial access on the alley. They also talked about the north and south facades. They discussed about Radford’s suggestion of a mural, which they have no power to mandate, but thought it might be worth considering on one of the facades. Hutchins observd that the “L” shape on one side of the building has a “strong personality” but that falls away elsewhere. Regarding the decks, board members thought they were OK as proposed. Regarding the wall at ground level, they wanted to be sure the brick wraps around to the street. The lighting and other street-level features were received well.
Overall, as they summarized their recommendations, no one had any particularly strong critiques for the project, just a few minor points about the frame around the wood and the lighting. The north wall could be “simplified” a bit; the northwwst side might be perfect for mural or other “neighborhod cuolture” touch so they encourage the projec teamto work with WSJA. (uplights)
WHAT’S NEXT: City planner Tami Garrett will write the final report on the meeting. She also reviews other aspects of the project outside this board’s scope, so you can still send comments to her at email@example.com. That’s only part of the process for getting demolition/construction permits, so don’t expect to see work at the site any time soon.
P.S. It’s been four months since the other heart-of-Junction redevelopment project, 4747 California SW, won SWDRB approval (WSB coverage here), and that’s still working its way through the permit process