The newly updated site plan shows CamWest/Toll Bros’ plan to add a street in the middle of the unit and add more space between the units on 9th Avenue West. Photo courtesy of CamWest/Toll Bros
The newly updated site plan shows CamWest/Toll Bros’ plan to add a street in the middle of the unit and add more space between the units on 9th Avenue West. Photo courtesy of CamWest/Toll Bros

CamWest/Toll Bros. returned to the Queen Anne Community Council’s Land Use Review Board (LURC) with more updates on its development for the former Seattle Children’s Home site (901 W. McGraw St.) on April 28.

The developer is turning the large site into town- and row houses with a few pocket parks. It was approved to move on to the Master Use Permit application process at the last Design Review Board (DRB) meeting in March. Despite that approval, the developers had made some changes and wanted to return to LURC again, said LURC chair Marty Kaplan.

“I really agree with the commitment you’ve made to keep advancing the plan,” Kaplan said. “It’s evident it keeps getting better.”

When the developers received that approval in March, the development had 62 units, with its central plans being to keep the historic McGraw cottage, keep the site’s exceptional trees and add a hill climb on the site.

Now, Toll Bros. has removed three units and pulled some of the units away from the street to open up the space even more.

CamWest/Toll Bros. plans to submit for the Master Use Permit “as soon as we’re ready,” which CamWest’s Andrew Miller hopes is within the next 30 days. After it submits, the city must comment back, but the city is behind on projects, he said. The developer then must respond and apply for a Design Review Board (DRB) meeting. Miller expects the meeting to be in August or September.

Changes in the plan

On Ninth Avenue West, the developer has pulled the homes about 14 to 15 feet to give the trees room, developer Eric Campbell said. It also widened the openings along the street and took out a few units. The total number of homes is down to 59 from 62.

“We pulled back and made some units smaller, [which gives] the separation the neighborhood wanted,” Miller said.

The company also added a street to divide the middle cluster of homes, “which brings in more light and air,” Miller said.

All of the homes will be 4-Star Built Green, Campbell said.

Campbell said they are looking for suggestions from LURC and the community regarding the pavement treatment, brick and shingle styles. He said they would return to LURC to discuss those plans in the future.

The site only has one entrance, something neighbors have fought throughout the development process. The developer plans to create a narrow entrance that pedestrians and vehicles can use. The design is Scandinavian, and the idea is that “small streets slow down speed,” Campbell explained. One board member cautioned against this type of street, saying he’s seen it abused in Seattle.

The developer had requested and was approved to have a departure narrowing the driveways from the required 24 feet to 20 feet. This was so “pedestrians can cross quicker and…the narrower the street, the slower the cars go,” Miller said.

Neighbors at the meeting continued to offer suggestions, asking for architecture that isn’t too modern and would blend into the streetscape on 10th Avenue West. Another neighbor requested double handrails on the hill climb. The hill climb will be a public easement, Campbell said. 

Controversial elements

Landscaping is the next big adventure for the project, Miller said. The city doesn’t want the developer to plant street trees along Ninth Avenue West because there are already so many trees there and new trees could interrupt the root structure of those existing trees.

Trees have always been a point of controversy for this development. One neighbor requested the developers continue to look at drip lines and make sure the trees will not be harmed. Another requested the developer save four elm trees on the property.

Parking has been another hot topic. The city doesn’t want to see cars in an LR-1 zone, Miller said. That’s why the developer has tried to include as many two-car garages as possible, to free up the street for guest parking.

Campbell reminded the crowd, “You’d be surprised what we’re paying for the property,” noting the money was going to a good cause.

“We’re not trying to be deceptive,” he said. “It’s going to be starting in the [$600,000 range] and going way up from there.”

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