115-apartment plan for 3417 Harbor SW passes final phase of Design Review

(Rendering by Atelier Drome Architecture)

The Southwest Design Review Board voted last night to give its final approval to the 115-apartment proposal for 3417 Harbor SW, just north of the west end of the West Seattle Bridge. All five board members were there for the online meeting – eight and a half months after the first review at the board’s last in-person meeting – along with the city’s assigned planner Crystal Torres and architect Michelle Linden from Atelier Drome Architecture. Board members agreed that the architects had done a good job of followup on the recommendations from the first meeting. Most of the board thought the east side facing Harbor could use more balconies. Linden said that the current design reflects SDOT‘s rules on how to use space above streets, but she would see if it is possible to add balconies.The board also wanted the architect to rethink the materials for the southeast-entrance area. Public comment came from neighbors on 30th behind the building. One said they appreciated meeting with the developer and architects, but the building just isn’t in keeping with the overall character of the neighborhood. The others also said the building wasn’t what they thought should be in the space, again because it is out of character. Design Review boards, however, only have say over the design (see the meeting packet here), not veto power over projects. You can still comment on other aspects of the proposal, though, through the planner – email crystal.torres@seattle.gov – as it continues to go through other reviews for land-use and construction permitting.

30 Replies to "115-apartment plan for 3417 Harbor SW passes final phase of Design Review"

  • Mike November 20, 2020 (1:24 pm)

    Another big box with inadequate parking.

    • Kram November 20, 2020 (1:45 pm)

      Isn’t that what all buildings are?

  • Stevie J November 20, 2020 (2:04 pm)

    Can someone please explain to me what “neighborhood character” means? Especially in the context of a gravel lot with a single home on it sandwiched between an elevated freeway offramp and an industrial port railyard? It seems to me that the 100-200 people who will live in this building will bring a lot more character to this area than currently exists. 

    • AMD November 20, 2020 (2:18 pm)

      It’s a misguided notion that the way a neighborhood looked decades ago is the way it should always look–often overlooking the fact that redlining, biases in lending, and other forms of discrimination are why it looked that way (both in terms of who can live there, and how many people).  If you look back far enough, this peninsula was just trees, valleys, and rocks.  Picking a point in time where a neighborhood was the way you personally liked it and deciding it should be that way forever is just anti-progress.  I’m glad to see this building was approved.  I look forward to meeting my new West Seattle neighbors when it’s done.  :)

      • Kelkouska November 20, 2020 (2:51 pm)

        very well put, AMD.

      • Spooled November 20, 2020 (3:20 pm)

        It’s not so misguided a notion when one spends two decades paying off their home.When you spend your entire savings on a down payment for one of the biggest commitments / risks of your life the last thing you want from your new neighborhood is drastic changes.

        • AMD November 20, 2020 (3:53 pm)

          What you’re describing is “unrealistic expectations.”  The idea that something will stay the same indefinitely because of your personal stake in it is not realistic.  That’s akin to saying the work that went into building Blockbuster into a giant corporation should have prevented the internet takeover of entertainment.  Congrats on paying off your home, though, and in twenty years at that!  I hope to some day be in the same boat.  :)

          • old timer November 20, 2020 (8:02 pm)

            See if your lender will permit extra principal payments.  When I had a mortgage with Washington Mutual, I had extra money every month on top of the regular payment, applied directly to the principal. Especially in the early years, when so much of the payment goes to interest, doubling the amount going to principal can have a big effect down the line, and since the amount is small, it can sometimes be affordable.  Reviewing your situation thru the years, adding as your income increases,  can speed things along.   It is a form of saving, especially if you can trim 10 years off of a 30 year loan.  Now, if you are a house flipper, or a frequent mover, this  probably won’t work for you.

    • Kram November 20, 2020 (3:09 pm)

      I think neighborhood character means ‘NIMBY’.

    • Bert November 20, 2020 (8:53 pm)

      I understand those criticizing the use of “neighborhood character,” and in this case am not seeing entirely what will be lost. But I think it’s fair to recognize something is lost (if not “character,” call it what you will) and that trade-offs or sacrifices are being made. Does anyone remember what 15th and Market NW once looked like? The Sunset Bowl? It’s great there’s more density, but we should be allowed to miss what was there. 

  • Kent November 20, 2020 (2:15 pm)

    The neighbors are going to get lots of cars parked on their already tight streets for long periods of time.  A total of 115 units with 65 stalls. That’s 50 renters in one building without a car. Do people really live in Seattle (WS especially) without owning a car? There’s a difference between owning and using on, and owning and not using it, but still needing parking for it when not in use. 

    • Kelkouska November 20, 2020 (2:51 pm)

      I do not have a car.

    • Peter November 20, 2020 (3:09 pm)

      “Do people really live in Seattle (WS especially) without owning a car?”Yes. About 20% of Seattle households, roughly 140,000 people, do not own cars. That’s the overall figure, but among renters car ownership is significantly lower. According to analysis be the Seattle times, most non-car owners are renters.

    • Derek November 20, 2020 (6:09 pm)

      I don’t have a car and I own a home with a garage. Bike and bus. You’re in a city. Embrace public transit. I rent a car when I go to the mountains.

    • Chemist November 21, 2020 (12:35 am)

      I think Herbold had some data about West Seattle’s rate of car-ownership and used it during a debate with O’Brien and Johnson about required parking changes on the PLUZ committee a few years back.  West Seattle had significantly lower rates of carless households compared to Capitol Hill/Downtown, etc.  She still lost most of her amendments.https://publicola.com/2018/03/08/morning-crank-adapting-parking-policies-for-the-next-50-years/

  • heyalki November 20, 2020 (2:36 pm)

    architecture has really gone downhill in modern times

  • West Seattle fan November 20, 2020 (3:14 pm)

    I have seen many projects with this architect throughout the city. The have a quite a  following and worked with many well known Seattleites who have sculpted and cultivated our diverse communities. It is encouraging  to see this project come along and approved despite the bridge closure.   A brand new building will certainly be more welcoming than the current state of the location. The rapid ride bus line is close by, when I would assume many people who live in this building will not have a car, the way of the future for climate change that is thankfully happening all over the country.  

  • J November 20, 2020 (3:26 pm)

    As if traffic along Harbor Ave isn’t bad enough, narrow street and back up with the traffic light.  Feel bad for the neighbors, parking will be on their street , also a very narrow street.  Another box built in West Seattle!!

  • WS Dad November 20, 2020 (3:33 pm)

    This won’t get built in next few years anyway, as rents where they are,  inclusicpve of concessions and bad debt, are no where near where they need to be to offset the current costs of construction.

  • skeeter November 20, 2020 (3:48 pm)

    It’s funny.  Some folks say “115 units with 65 parking stalls” is not enough parking.  I actually see it the opposite.  That is way too much parking.  West Seattle has far too many cars already.  I don’t really want another 65.  I’d prefer to have just 5 or 6 parking stalls so we could actually continue to get around West Seattle in cars, busses, etc.  We should be removing parking spaces, not adding more.    

    • Anne November 20, 2020 (5:35 pm)

      Yeah right- more people more cars— no way that all folks in all those units – there will be a majority with no car. You may wish as hard as you want-that they’ll all bike/bus-( some will no doubt)but no cars won’t be a reality. Just look around the areas of other new builds in WS- ones with little to no parking included- (specifically because they’re built close to transit) -the streets around them are clogged with parked cars. Residential neighborhoods bordering these builds have become parking lots for them.

      • PublicROW November 20, 2020 (9:42 pm)

        So what. The street is public right-of-way and anyone is free to park there, not just the NIMBY homeowners on the street.

  • Graciano November 20, 2020 (4:13 pm)

    West Seattle has TOO many people already, No more high density buildings… More green spaces!   By the way Harbor Ave looks, maybe thats a bad idea.

    • heartless November 20, 2020 (7:25 pm)

      The ethical route to more green spaces is high density housing like this.

      So even if you for some reason preferred the original gravel lot to this new building, you should at least embrace its density for contributing to the green spaces you seem to desire.

  • TJ November 20, 2020 (5:35 pm)

    I feel bad for those houses just behind it. They are floor to ceiling windows and now will only be able to see into someones apartment.

  • Mj November 20, 2020 (6:20 pm)

    TJ – the owners of the affected homes could have purchased the property being used for the apartments to protect their views.

  • John W November 21, 2020 (2:51 am)

    Two points:1) Monetize ALL Street Parking.  Doing so would eliminate all of these complaints about lack of parking  by established neighbors.  If you store your vehicle on the street, you pay.  Easily set up in this age of “Good to Go” digital passes.2.  Seattle has no “View Rights.”   The builder of the two houses  with walls of glass understood this unprotected volatility of the views from his development.  He and his family had 15 years of  enjoyment (and profit) of his neighbor’s view.  Remember, we have no view rights whether it be new construction or new rules preventing tree trimming, views are disappearing.

  • Foop November 21, 2020 (7:20 am)

    This has access to the C line and water taxi, people who choose to live here might not need a car. A shame there aren’t more commercial amenities walking distance from here though.

  • Nicole November 21, 2020 (9:34 am)

    Currently own a condo next to this and Parking is horrible. Rush hour when the bridge is open caused major delays to get anywhere. That lot with a huge structure is going to cause more traffic and once again the parking is a huge issue. Way to many units for that small of a lot. 

    • heartless November 21, 2020 (10:45 am)

      John W, up above, has a good solution for that.  Would you endorse monetized street parking?

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