By Meghan Hall
While construction may have slowed, plans for future development are still moving forward throughout the city of Seattle. A new 277-unit residential development was pitched to the Seattle Southwest Design Review Board at the beginning of August, one that will strive to anchor the rapidly growing neighborhood known as the West Seattle Triangle.
Located at 4406 36th Ave. SW, the project is proposed by the Sweeney Family, of Seattle, in partnership with HB Management. Ankrom Moisan is the architecture firm of record. The basic programming of the building will include seven stories of apartments over a single ground floor of retail. The retail and commercial space will total about 12,000 square feet. The vast majority of the units—173, to be exact—will be one-bedroom residences around 600 square feet. There will be 49 studio apartments, at about 450 square feet, and 28 open one bedrooms, which will total about 500 square feet. The two-bedroom units will be the largest, at 900 square feet.
The goal of the project is to anchor the neighborhood as it continues to develop and evolve. The current property is comprised of two parcels that are part of the Alki Lumber Yard, a family-owned business that has operated in West Seattle since 1921.
“The Sweeney family’s long-term vision for the site includes a heritage retail presence for Alki Lumber, along with ample space for curated neighborhood retail and residential capacity for 500+ neighbors,” design documents explain. “The Sweeney family sees this project as both a link to the past and a commitment to the future.”
The future of the neighborhood is largely unknown, and will be determined by the introduction of the light-rail to West Seattle in 2030. The project site sits at the intersection of Fauntleroy Way SW and SW Avalon Way, two major thoroughfares and entry points into the West Seattle Junction area. Currently, the community is a diverse mix of retail, multifamily and institutional uses. The project team hopes that moving forward, the development will establish a design and development precedent that promotes an active pedestrian experience.
“This evolving and eclectic area will be home to a future light-rail station,” documents state. “The project comprised of two sites, hopes to establish a new retail core along 36th, creating a neighborhood anchor for current and future residents, commuters, and shoppers.”
The most recent early design guidance meeting focused on the Eastern site. The western site, at 4440 Fauntleroy Way SW, is also slated to become seven stories of multifamily housing as part of a second phase of development.
In a unique twist and reference to the site’s history, the project team has proposed stacked lumber massing. Stacked wood piles, according to documents, provide unique ways to organize the building’s form and space on the large site. The material can produce an organized, yet irregular modulation, and it creates two distinct faces along the long linear side and stacked ends. The team’s preferred option would include long stacks—long linear massing—in an “M”-like shape. A through-block passage will open up to the sky, and open courtyards will be nestled in the building’s setbacks.
The massing scheme will place the rough edges of the stack toward Avalon, Fauntleroy and Oregon, and the major upper level massing modulation will be oriented in the North/South direction. The retail promenade, which will be located on 36th, will be defined by a continuous street-level setback. Additional upper-level massing shifts will emphasize the project’s courtyards.
Materials will also be inspired by the project site’s history. Currently, the Sweeney Family and HB Management are exploring the use of wood and wood-like siding of various colors. Retail canopies will be inspired by simple forms, and barn doors and existing signage will be used to spur the materials palette for the project’s retail spaces.
“The material story for this project, starts on the site. Alki Lumber has been in business since 1921. There is a rich palette of textures, forms, and features from which to draw inspiration,” documents state.
The Sweeney Family and HB Management will continue to refine its design proposal as it prepares to present the second half of the project—located just across the street—in the coming weeks. Combined, the Sweeneys and HB Management are hoping that both buildings will help set a new tone for West Seattle.