Designs by Dr. Sharon E. Sutton FAIA
Getting it right for West Seattle, a commmunity coalition that hopes to influence development in West Seattle in a positive way, commissioned two design alternatives to the projected intended to be built at 4755 Fauntleroy Way S.W. Their ideas, while not part of the actual design process are intended to suggest alternative concepts. The Alley Concept uses a more meandering path through the site while the Market Concept removes the idea of a central anchor tenant in all likelihood replacing it with more small retail shops.

Design alternatives offered for 4755 Fauntleroy Way S.W. promote safety, human scale and West Seattle Gateway

Hoping to influence the design process late in the game, community coalition Getting it right for West Seattle (GIRWS) in association with UCFW 21 presented what they see as more desirable design alternatives to the mixed use project aimed at 4755 Fauntleroy Way S.W. in a public meeting Nov. 18.

That project has passed through multiple design reviews, been held up due to the need for an alley vacation by Mayor McGinn and the site is now being prepared for future construction. The alley vacation covers north to south and east to west alleys on the site that currently exist, "only on paper" but would need to be sold to developers Lennar Multifamily & Weingarten Realty before construction could begin.

Elena Perez and Deb Barker presented two design alternatives that the coalition commissioned from architect Dr. Sharon E. Sutton FAIA.

The project, "the biggest in the history of West Seattle" said Perez if it goes forward "will set the precedent for the rest of West Seattle. So this is our opportunity to really plant a flag and say look, we really welcome development that falls in line with that. We do think a win-win is possible. We think development can come in and be very profitable and good for the developers and also be a positive for our community."

The two concepts they shared were part of a presentation that pointed out potential safety problems such as numerous semi trucks, panel trucks and other delivery vehicles that would necessarily come to the site daily. In the existing design, done by Fuller Sears Architects, access to the property for delivery trucks, cars as well as pedestrians would be through a central pass through alleyway, with a green wall separation for pedestrians, from Fauntleroy Way S.W. through to 40th S.W.

GIRWRS did a study of the Whole Foods store in the Roosevelt neighborhood of Seattle to learn how many trucks visit daily. They found that between 5 to 31 panel trucks and 4 to 7 large semi trucks are now coming to that store. They maintain in the current design traffic and pedestrian safety would be impacted.

They also pointed out that the developers are intending to create a small 30 foot by 30 foot outdoor plaza at the corner of Alaska and Fauntleroy Way S.W. with seating and a water feature The idea of a "West Seattle Gateway" as previously suggested in the Triangle Master Plan and others with a "boulevard concept" was not acknowledged or included in the current design.

The two alternatives

Instead the plans from architect Sutton offer a more elaborate look. Following an online survey with 357 respondents. She took that feedback and looked at areas where human scale, small retail and neighborhood fit were successful.

The "Alley Concept" suggests a meandering path through the site, a reduced footprint for the anchor tenant (presumably Whole Foods), by 10,000 square feet, a location facing on Fauntleroy and an oval or egg shaped structure at the corner of Alaska and Fauntleroy that would serve as a more grand "gateway" for the project and community. Delivery trucks would enter the site from Edmunds Street. Retail shops would fill the northwest corner. Sutton looked at Post Alley and Alley 24 in Seattle and other lively pedestrian friendly urban centers.

The "Market Concept" suggests possibly eliminating the large anchor tenant completely and replacing it with a more human scale blend of retail shops. Sutton patterned the idea off Post Alley, Melrose Market in Seattle, Grand Central Market in Los Angeles and the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. An interior event space would face the new city park intended to be installed mid block on 40th S.W. She also suggested multi level rain gardens to process run off from the site.

"What we're asking of the City Council" said Perez, "Is that they not approve the alley vacation, the sale of our two alleyways until a community benefit agreement is reached with local Seattle stakeholders where we basically give our blessing."

The design alternatives are not binding on the developers obviously but according to Getting it Right for West Seattle are meant to suggest more creative approaches to West Seattle development.

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