After receiving support from the West Seattle Design Review Board for a project approximately two weeks ago, HB Management in partnership with the Sweeney family have gained approval for an additional 222-unit mixed-use building across the street. The project, which is at the site of the former Alki Lumber Yard, received unanimous support from the board, while also receiving several recommendations.
With designs from Ankrom-Moisan, the building, at 4440 Fauntleroy Way SW, would complement an adjacent building project to the east that was approved by the board earlier this month. Once completed, the Fauntleroy building will reach seven stories and include 13,000 square feet of retail space and 150 parking spots. As part of the larger Sweeney Block, the building is intended to preserve the history of the Alki Lumber Yard, a Sweeney family-owned retail store that has served the West Seattle neighborhood since 1921.
“Our goals for this site are the same: create a neighborhood anchor, activate the streetscape along 36th and honor the past while planning for the future,” Jenny Chapman, design director with Ankrom Moisan, said.
Previously meeting with the Board for early design guidance in August of 2020, the design team received support for a stacked-lumber concept on the exterior of the building that would represent the historical aspects of the site. However, the team also received recommendations at that time on the building’s massing, the overall design at the street level and the use of materials and color palette in conjunction with the building planned on the eastern parcel.
In looking at massing, the design team made changes that would allow the west building to stand on its own while still forming a cohesive unit with the rest of the Sweeney Block. In new design schemes, the west building would be set apart by stepped massing at the entry courtyard, an added residential entry pavilion, specialized entry canopies and signage at the north corner of the site, which will also be the most prominent corner of the building.
“We were given guidance to further the design so the west site stands on its own,” Chapman said. “These adaptations create unique massing elements and create a strong individual identity for the west site.”
Further, materials and complimenting color palettes will be used to create a distinction between the two sites. For instance, the lighter palette on the west building is contrasted with the darker palette on the east. In making the buildings a cohesive unit, the project team will also implement real wood materials at the street level of both buildings, which is also a nod to the site’s history as a lumber yard.
In designing the street level, the design team also focused on making public engagement a main focal point of the design. Should the project team receive approval from the Seattle Department of Transportation, the design scheme would include a seven-foot landscaped boardwalk feature that extends into an 80-foot public right-of-way. The boardwalk would be accessible to multiple forms of transportation as well as to pedestrians and include seating as an additional way to engage with the public.
Chapman explained that the street level design would be further aided through the use of stacked wood elements and a new entry pavilion with unique signage and lighting that will serve as a unique focal point for the building. On the northern corner of the building would also be a historic sign reading “Alki Lumber.” The sign was previously supported by the design board as artwork as it was original to the 1920s-era lumber yard.
“The design at the street level is enriched with highly textured materials, lighting, signage and generous opportunities for pedestrian strolling and retail spill out. The residential entry court and pavilion provide a break in the street wall and a focal point for the midblock connection,” Chapman said. “The proposed pavilion represents the history of the site as a lumber yard by featuring a wood post porch and picking up on a stacked lumber concept throughout the landscape, seating elements and planting.”
Upon deliberation, the Seattle Design Review Board moved the project along with full support, with the Board noting its approval for the overall massing concept as well as the variation of color palette and materials and how it relates to the eastern site.
However, in moving the project forward, the Board made several minor suggestions. The Board requested that the design team pay attention to the operability of building entrances in regard to security and safety. Additionally, if the boardwalk concept is approved, the Board recommended that the team strengthen the design scheme through additional lighting as a way to enhance security and provide a sense of safety to shoppers at the ground floor retail level.