Posted: 15 Dec 2017 By: Mike Dey
On Oct. 30, the West Seattle Blog reported a proposed rezoning of the Joslin Building at 9250 45th SW in the heart of Fauntleroy’s retail area. On Nov. 8, representatives of the FCA Board met with the two owners to confirm the report and better understand their intentions so that FCA could begin an informed discussion with the community.
One of the owners lives in the Arroyos and the other is a former Seattle resident now living in Tacoma. At the meeting, they confirmed the Blog’s account and their desire to replace the existing structure with a 5-story mixed-use building with no on-site parking. It would have commercial on the bottom floor and 32 apartments above, each measuring 400 - 500 square feet.
The property is currently zoned “neighborhood commercial” with a 30-foot maximum height (NC1-30). The lot has an 8-foot slope.
In their rezone request, the owners not only asked for an upzone to 50 feet but also a change from NC1 to NC3, which is a significant density increase from what currently exists in the Endolyne triangle (see map). The city defines NC3 as “appropriate in urban villages and moderate to large-sized neighborhood business districts where increased commercial and residential densities are favored.”
Under new city rules, the 50-foot height would be measured from the average point of the slope (4 feet below the SW Brace Point Dr. level and 4 feet above the 45th Ave. SW level). The building would extend out to the minimum setbacks required by the city and would eliminate the parking spaces there now.
When asked why they had included the upzone request to NC3, the owners said they did not know and would have to look into it. An architectural firm out of Denver is representing them in negotiations with the city.
They indicated their desire to have the nicest looking building in the area and one that would fit in with the neighborhood. They anticipate a year to receive the required permits.
At FCA’s monthly business meeting on Nov. 14, the issue of the rezone and replacement of the Joslin Building took center stage for board members and the several community residents who attended.
Discussion highlighted two applicable provisions in the current HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) proposal expected to be voted in by the City Council early to mid 2018:
The Endolyne triangle would be rezoned to NC1-40 on both sides of 45th Ave SW between SW Brace Point Dr. and SW Wildwood Pl., plus two properties at 45th and Wildwood (see map). That change would allow any new or remodeled buildings there to go 10 feet higher - from the current 30-foot limit to 40 feet. (The requested upzone of the Joslin Building would add another 10 feet to that property.)
The city would not require any on-site parking for an apartment building so close to a bus line that has a published arrival in at least one direction every 15 minutes or less for most of the day.
The discussion that ensued centered on two principal concerns: the height of the building (20 feet higher than is permitted now) and the lack of on-site parking.
Issues around building height included, among others, being out of character with the neighborhood, blocking views for homes east of the building, and setting a precedent for other properties in the Endolyne retail area.
Issues expressed around parking go back decades. Ferry workers and users park here to catch the boat and bus riders park here to catch the bus, depriving residents of on-street parking.
After considerable effort, Fauntleroy won city approval in 1979 for resident-only parking by permit in Zone 3. In recent years, both ferry workers and car rental groups such as Car2Go and ReachNow have gained free parking in this zone. These and other concerns prompted FCA to begin advocating for expansion of Zone 3 restrictions.
Now parking has become a significant concern for triangle merchants as well, even after recent changes intended to improve public safety and at least maintain parking spaces. They report hearing every day from customers who must drive to the businesses about the lack of parking.
The proposed rezone would put additional cars on the street; even tenants of the new building who don’t have cars are sure to have visitors who do. It would also eliminate the 10 off-street parking places on the lot of the present building.
The board established a subcommittee, co-chaired by Vicki Schmitz-Block and Alexis Zolner, to closely monitor developments. FCA expects to have a community meeting on this subject after the first of the year similar to the meetings about the proposed Lincoln Park zip line and changes to Cove Park.
In the meantime, FCA asks area residents to do two things:
Note: A version of this article first appeared in the December 2017 edition of Neighbors.