Google Maps image
Highlighted in red, the old Petco space at 4724 California Ave S.W. in the Junction is slated to become a seven-story building with a mix of residential units, live-work spaces and ground floor retail.

UPDATE: 7-story mixed-use project in the works for old Petco space in the Junction; Early design meeting on May 24

Update for May 10
An early design guidance meeting is set for May 24, the first official chance for public comment on a proposed 7-story mixed use apartment/retail complex to be built in the old Petco space in the Junction.

Date: Thursday, May 24, 2012
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Youngstown Cultural Arts Center Theater, 4408 Delridge Way S.W.

With the meeting announcement from Seattle's Department of Planning and Development comes a few more details on the project proposed by Urban Evolution out of Seattle and The Wolff Company of Spokane.

The proposal is for a new seven-story, 80 unit residential building with 18 live-work units and 5,000 sq. ft. of retail and/or office at ground level. Parking for 70 vehicles will be located below grade. Existing structure to be demolished.

PROCESS
The applicants have applied for Design Review related to development of this site. At the early design guidance meeting, the applicants will present information about the site and vicinity. The public may offer comments regarding the design and siting of a development on the subject site; and the Design Review Board members will also offer comments and identify those Citywide Design Guidelines of highest priority in developing the site.

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Original story on April 21
Preliminary documents have been filed with Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development, making plans for the next big project in the Junction official.

The Wolff Company (Spokane-based) and Urban Evolution (out of Seattle) have partnered to buy the ex-Petco space at 4724 California Ave S.W. and turn it into a seven-story mixed use building with around 100 units – some of those live/work, retail space on the ground level and underground parking.

Chris Rossman and Matt Corsi with Urban Evolution (they started working together 2.5 years ago and come from different sectors of development: Corsi spent 20 years as an engineer on large-scale projects and Rossman has been focused on development throughout his career) said the project is in truly preliminary stages right now. They are hoping to have a Master Use Permit to build from the city by the end of 2012 and envision construction could begin around the middle of 2013.

For now, Rossman and Corsi said, they are focused on gathering as much community feedback as possible, instead of sneaking the project in and hearing from the public for the first time at public design review meetings. It starts with a walking tour of the site with the Junction Neighborhood Association, a fact sheet on the project released to the public in the coming weeks, and providing avenues for feedback (at this point, they have set up a website, 4724 California, where the public can submit comments and sign up for future updates).

“Matt and I came out here (last year), fell in love with the site: obviously the location right here on California, close to the Junction, next to all the great retail was great …” Rossman said. They found a partner for the project in Wolff and “we got to the point where we were very confident that we could build a great building on that site that was small in scale, but what we thought would be a great addition to the neighborhood.”

Corsi said Urban Evolution decided to partner with Wolff because the companies are “culturally-aligned” in being “long-term, if not indefinite holders of property, so they have a different outlook than the build-and-flip guys who want to come down, make a bunch of money and leave.”

The neighborhood plan for the Junction has zoning for buildings up to 85 feet, and Rossman said bringing higher density projects to the area “is a delicate balance between adding that bulk and scale to a block that has traditionally seen single level retail, but I think there are ways to be sensitive to that and that is one of the primary goals that we are trying to achieve with our design.”

“We are really going to be focused on the ground level and how the building interacts with the sidewalk and retail; we want to do something that blends in well and is perceived as part of the neighborhood there, that is inviting, that is appealing visually, that attracts cool, local retail tenants and that adds to the neighborhood fabric, not detract from it,” Corsi added.

One the retail front, they said the goal is to find locally-owned businesses (not big box retailers) that compliment the existing Junction array.

“We want to be very transparent in this process, we are really looking for the neighborhood to tell us what they would like to see,” Rossman said. “Obviously we need to make economic sense of the project, but as much as we can incorporate the neighborhoods wants and (address) the hot buttons, for lack of a better word, we want to be sensitive to that and have an open dialogue.”

This is Rossman and Corsi’s first project as partners, and they said their focus is developing from a “community integration standpoint.”

“We don’t want to sterilize the neighborhood, we want to do something cool or funky that is going to be there for a long time, that has some meaning to it, that I can take my family out to and say, ‘Hey look at this, we did this, isn’t that cool?’” Corsi said.

When asked how they infuse “meaning” into the project, Corsi said part of the preliminary process, before architectural schematics are drawn up and the design review process is in full swing, is to learn from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, local historians and culture buffs to get a sense for the who, what, where, when and why that makes West Seattle a great place to live, and incorporate those lessons into the design.

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