(Rendering from a package by Cone Architecture)
From Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog Editor
The Southwest Design Review BoardThe first look at 4401 42nd SW ended with the approval to move on to the second phase of the process, with advice including taking into account the surroundings of the project – in particular Catholic Church of the Holy Rosary, whose dramatic entrance and bell tower will be directly across from Genesee.
The meeting was the second half of a double header (this is how the night began) in Senior center / Sisson buildingand was an Early Design Guidance meeting with an emphasis on size / shape / placement on the website – the subtleties of design are the subject of the next round of the process. The project is proposed for (among the “preferred” crowd of the team) 72 small residential units (micro-departments), 6 residential-work units (all “paired and recessed”) and 36 off-street parking spaces. The design package from Cone architecture is here (PDF) and below:
PRESENTATION OF THE ARCHITECTS: This will be a 5 story building – zoning allows up to 55 ‘- on the southwest corner of 42nd / Genesee, replacing the former Ginomai art studio. You mentioned that their community outreach meeting this summer drew an attendee.
The street trees remain. Power lines on 42nd are 14 feet from the property and have no impact on the project, but lines in the alley require a kickback. The entrance is on the 42nd, with a second entrance from the alley. Two zone exits (exceptions) are requested – an “increase in the inclination of the aisle” to 20 percent in order to improve the turning radius and improve the pedestrian paths; and enabling “living functions” on the 42nd for the live work units. The project would have a roof terrace.
QUESTIONS FROM THE BOARD: All five board members were present – chairman Crystal loya, Members Scott Rosenstock, Alan Grainger and John Cheng, and Matt Hutchins. Hutchins wondered about the relationship between the project and the historic brick buildings in the west. The architects said the materials in their project would appeal to this rather than the bulk. Cheng asked how the project would relate to the Holy Rosary in Genesee. That could be done through windows, not so much through mass, replied the architects. Grainger noted that while the entrance to the church is “very clear,” the plan for the entrance to this building doesn’t appear to be clear at all. Rosenstock wondered why the team was so convinced that the entrance to the apartment was on the 42nd instead of on Lake Geneva. The architects said 42. “feels more homely.” Rosenstock was also amazed at the team’s ideas for activating the street level of the project. The team replied that it was early, but they are exploring the ideas for the next phase.
PUBLIC LIKE: Pastor Gil Gilbert from The Junction ChurchIn all of California, only one of the ten or so participants spoke. He wondered about the floods that hit his basement every year; He also suggested that there wasn’t enough space for parking in the alley (though apparently he was referring to another alley on his side of California that is not adjacent to this project site). He asked about the length; 12-14 months, he was told, and no crane.
Planners too Carly Guillory Read a written comment from SDOT and realize that stretch 42 could be a future greenway.
BOARD DELIBERATIONS: In the first round of concerns, Grainger said he was a little concerned about the possible “homogeneous” street level. Cheng said the “three options” presented (as required for Early Design Guidance) didn’t seem like really different options; Loya agreed. In a later discussion, Planner Guillory said the three would qualify to portray “Evolution” – they don’t have to differ dramatically. Hutchins reiterated his concern about possible missed opportunities for this building to “address the feel of the place” given its location – he also noted that the building it is replacing had a distinct presence. The idea of responding to the dominance of the church entrance on 42nd sparked additional discussion, including the importance of the building corners.
They weren’t fans of the “preferred option” 3, exactly as suggested. Some aspects of 2 were supported for possible inclusion in 3, particularly the “lower level plan”. It has been summarized as “an expression of a grander feeling of entry into Genesee (and) a similar articulation at the NW and NE corners” of the building. After further discussion, Grainger suggested that there should be 2A and 3A – “both could be refined to see something we would find more acceptable.” Rosenstock warned that if the project were moved forward with this type of guidance, it might not end until the second phase with an additional meeting. Loya said she feels fine if she moves the project forward in Phase 2 as the interior concepts are strong enough.
(It was also considered that the site in the south, on which there is now a single-family house, will be converted into eight residential and townhouse units.)
The vote to move the project into the second phase was 4: 1 (Cheng was the no). They advocate the two zone deviations (exemptions) that are likely to be requested.
As they went through the checklist of other factors, Hutchins noted that “developing neighborhoods” prove to be correct given the transformation the 42nd SW site continues to undergo – “42nd’s experience is changing”. The SDOT mention of potential greenway status was mentioned again and how this creates another prism through which the project can be viewed.
WHAT’S NEXT: The project will have at least one other board review; The date will be set when both the project team and the city are ready. In the meantime, you can send comments – about design and other aspects – to the planner, Guillory. [email protected].