Second half of West Seattle Triangle megaproject passes first phase of Design Review

(Renderings by Ankrom Moisan)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Though Design Review is supposed to focus on buildings, the streetscape occupied much of the attention as the Southwest Design Review Board got its first look at the second half of the Sweeney family’s West Seattle Triangle proposal.

The first half, 4406 36th SW, got first-phase approval (Early Design Guidance) two weeks ago (WSB coverage here). Thursday’s meeting was about the building to its west, 4440 Fauntleroy Way SW. Four of the five SWDRB members were present – chair Crystal Loya, John Cheng, Alan Grainger, and Scott Rosenstock (all West Seattleites serving on the all-volunteer, city-appointed board) – along with the city planner assigned to the project, Sean Conrad. The meeting followed the long-standard format, in four segments:

ARCHITECT’S PRESENTATION: Jenny Chapman from Ankrom Moisan led the presentation and noted that developer Ed Hewson and property-owner rep Lynn Sweeney were present as well (they did not speak). Here’s the full design packet. Project toplines:

~217 residential units
~161 parking spaces
~16,000 sf of retail space

She addressed the alley, which will be a “right-out only” onto Fauntleroy with parking access and other functions. Because of that, this building is proposed to direct pedestrian traffic onto 36th, north to Fauntleroy or south to Alaska. The three massing (size/shape) options all take inspiration from the area’s lumberyard legacy, she said.

Option 3 is the one preferred by the project team. It includes a midblock courtyard. The building would be “oblique” toward Fauntleroy:

That’s a response to the Realfine Coffee/Rudy’s building as well as to the potential Sound Transit light-rail elevated guideway, IF it is routed along Fauntleroy – sketched in here:

Along SW Oregon, some sunken residential entries would be close to the sidewalk:

This building, like the one reviewed two weeks ago, also would have a “continuous sidewalk (and) boardwalk.” From there, David Cutler stepped in with more discussion of the streetscape vision. He talked about the Triangle redevelopment guidelines developed in 2011 and how the project fits with them:

They’ve been working with SDOT, which among other things does not support a midblock crosswalk, he said, and prefers parallel parking, contrary to what the project team proposes. They asked for the board’s support of mixing angled and parallel parking as well as the boardwalk and narrow travel lane(s) on the road – here’s the draft concept:

As for departures – zoning exceptions – same as the other building, they want permission for lesser upper-story setbacks in exchange for the extra public space provided at ground level by the boardwalk.

Finally, Chapman talked about materials – though those usually come up at the next phase of Design Review. She showed several concept views hinting at that:

BOARD QUESTIONS: Most focused on the streetscape/pedestrian experience. The architects were asked about their ongoing conversation with SDOT about the street, and said that under some counterproposals the boardwalk wouldn’t be possible. They also were asked about the midblock connection “ending in a blank wall”; Chapman said the “idea is that there’s some kind of sculpture wall there.” Loya sought clarification on the midblock – right now, the best they can do, without SDOT approving a crosswalk, is the “speed table” (as shown in the draft plan). The current travel levels don’t merit a crosswalk.

PUBLIC COMMENT: Emi McKittrick was the first commenter, as she was during the 4406 36th SW meeting two weeks ago. She’s been involved in area development and the community work to shape the Triangle guidelines almost a decade ago. “This project truly meets” the vision spelled out back then, she said, especially the boardwalk, so she urges support for it. The next commenter, identifying herself as a member at the nearby West Seattle YMCA , was worried about area parking availability. The third and final commenter said she felt the project would be a positive addition to the area, and supported the preferred massing.

BOARD DELIBERATION: Cheng voiced concern about the alley being “very visible on Fauntleroy” and wondered how materials will mitigate that. He also wanted to see more canopies along Fauntleroy. Grainger was worried about units with a “hostile environment” right over the parking-garage entrance. Rosenstock asked if the buildings truly have independent identities, or whether it’s all combining as “one megablock.” Discussion ensued about how they are intended to be complementary, but how some street-level touches can differentiate them.

Board members said they’re inclined to support the requested “departure.” They also gave their tentative support to the architects’ hopes in their talks with SDOT; Loya said that in the project’s next meeting, they should show what will result if those talks do NOT go the project team’s way. Rosenstock wanted to see more on how the building’s “gateway” corner will be showcased -“what does (it) feel like?”

They voted unanimously (4-0) to advance the project to the next stage of Design Review, with support for massing option 3.

WHAT’S NEXT: This building and its neighbor will each have at least one meeting in the second Design Review phase, dates TBA. In the meantime, you can send comments about design – or any other aspect of the project – to the planner at

The SWDRB, meantime, is not currently scheduled to meet again until October 1st, when they’re scheduled to consider the mixed-use proposal for 9201 Delridge Way SW.

17 Replies to "Second half of West Seattle Triangle megaproject passes first phase of Design Review"

  • Chemist August 21, 2020 (10:42 pm)

    SDOT going back to 2011 guidance for that street design, and telling the project team to use that (parallel parking on both sides of the 400′ block) as a template even when the bike master plan has called for a greenway on 36th through the triangle since at least 2013, is a failure of SDOT to mesh established long-range plans.  About half the block is currently curb-cuts and the number of current street parking spaces is much lower than the 29 from the guidance.Without larger trucks needing to load lumber, we don’t need to connect the north end of 36th/to Fauntleroy/Avalon.  Parking should be designed to have folks enter from Oregon rather than Fauntleroy, maybe even the north end at Fauntleroy should be closed off with a turn bulb but that’s for SDOT to create a cooperative plan for implementing.  If it 36th isn’t a through-street for vehicles, then you can really simplify the mid-block raised crossing.

    • Ice August 23, 2020 (9:19 am)

      This is a great analysis and suggestions.

  • Vecino August 22, 2020 (9:48 am)

    Do aesthetics really matter for any projects along this corridor when there will be a concrete monstrosity lurking overhead and dripping on pedestrians and cyclists once light rail is constructed? Not like anyone wants to walk under, or adjacent to such structures. Imagine all of those outward facing apartments whose windows are 15’ from the light rail structure. We just got rid of elevated roads under which nobody wanted to hang out except homeless people and drug addicts, and now West Seattle is building nice apartments along what will become an unsightly corridor in just a few years.

    • WSB August 22, 2020 (9:54 am)

      A rendering envisioning the guideway is actually in the packet and shown in the story.

      • Vecino August 22, 2020 (10:01 am)

        Yes, that was my reminder of things to come :-) a big shadow over West Seattle’s businesses and walking spaces

    • Eddie August 22, 2020 (10:05 am)

      So, I can’t really tell. Are you for or against light rail coming to West Seattle?

      • Vecino August 22, 2020 (10:39 am)

        All for light rail, underground where it belongs when in densely populated areas like ours, and as was done in Cap Hill and under other dense areas.

        • Jon Wright August 22, 2020 (4:05 pm)

          Manhattan is densely populated; West Seattle is not. Capitol Hill got a tunnel because of technical considerations, not because of its density.

        • WSJ August 23, 2020 (9:00 pm)

          Dense? LOL

      • Chemist August 22, 2020 (12:27 pm)

        A not-small number of people like the idea of light rail but would have really preferred a tunnel at both ends.  Ballard has folks pushing for upgrades to a tunnel as well as a fixed bridge (not the movable one in the representative alignment) and West Seattle has folks who want an upgrade to a tunnel too and think the alignment over Fauntleroy is terrible, except for being cheaper.  This portion of the representative alignment was only about  40 ft over the roadway and it raises up to like 80 ft by Fauntleroy.

  • Longtime Resident August 22, 2020 (2:52 pm)

    I’ve never wanted to move out of WS so bad.  This makes me frightfully sad.  We have no bridge and yet they are still going to move forward jamming the apartments and light rail location down our throats.  Has anyone noticed all the For Sale signs and declining home values… it’s not the place we wanted for our families.  But I’m glad someone is catching a big paycheck for the exploitation.  Maybe if the city council was working for its city we would have more thoughtful consideration at this very frustrating time but it is clear that they are ONLY self serving.  Recall the ENTIRE city council. 

    • Fauntleroy52 August 22, 2020 (5:40 pm)

      Who is the “they” in LONGTIME RESIDENT’S rant about?  The light rail was voted into existence  by King,  Pierce and Snohomish residents. The apartment project is from other long time residents.Anecdotal sightings of an increase in For Sale signs does not jibe with sales data. In West Seattle, sales data shows home prices are not declining and there continues to be a shortage of listings.I appreciate LONGTIME RESIDENT’s call for council recall, though.

    • Chels August 22, 2020 (5:45 pm)

      The home values are doing the opposite of declining. Single family homes in West Seattle are selling well over list price with multiple offers (usually in 3-5 days), and for several reasons. Without providing a dissertation on the market, I would recommend a little research on supply and demand.

    • KM August 22, 2020 (7:44 pm)

      I just had my house appraised and was pleasantly surprised. Comps looked great too! Not to mention that especially without a bridge, I would love light rail. 

    • Stevie J August 23, 2020 (9:38 am)

      And your single family home was shoved down the Duwamish and Salish Sea people’s throats.

    • bill August 23, 2020 (10:35 pm)

      This is summer. Home buying & selling season. Of course there are For Sale signs. Now show me these declining home values. I’ll wait.

  • Don_Brubeck August 24, 2020 (8:07 am)

    Thank you, Chemist, for thoughtful suggestions.  36th from Avalon to Alaska is a key bike route to the Spokane Street
    Bridge and downtown.  This street plan with angle parking is dangerous.
    If the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project with protected bike lanes is not
    built before this project goes in for land use permits, and still proposes angled parking: expect appeals and delays.

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