Option 6 is the preferred design option of the developers’ new plans. Photo courtesy of Seattle DPD
Option 6 is the preferred design option of the developers’ new plans. Photo courtesy of Seattle DPD

CamWest/Toll Bros., the developers for the Seattle Children’s Home site, were approved to move on to next phase of the Master Use Permit application process last Wednesday, March 19.

CamWest’s Andrew Miller presented the three new design proposals, which were requested by the Design Review Board (DRB) and the audience at the last meeting. The development would repurpose the site for 62 town- and row houses.

Option Six, the new preferred design, would decrease density on Ninth Avenue West and move it to 10th Avenue West, remove two exceptional trees but have two pocket parks and have 62 units and approximately 122 parking spaces. (View all three proposals at www.seattle.gov/dpd/AppDocs/GroupMeetings/DRProposal3015522Agenda ID4813.pdf.)

Suggested changes

During its deliberation, the DRB -- which eventually approved the proposal to go forward -- said it didn’t feel like the designs presented were anything new. Audience members echoed that, saying they felt these designs were basically the same as the previous three.

During the deliberation process, the DRB suggested:

-Reducing the amount of pavement on the site;

-More documentation on how the setbacks are relative to adjacent blocks, especially on Ninth Avenue West (this was a contingent change);

-More activation on the streets with stoops or porches on Ninth Avenue West;

-Dedicating more space to pedestrians and less to cars;

-More open space between buildings, especially north to south;

-Keeping the external, but not internal, significant tree; and           

-More variety on 10th Avenue West.

Option Six would take density off of Ninth Avenue by moving a few units to 10th Avenue. This creates three large openings on Ninth and nearly doubled the space between buildings, Miller said.

The developers included some of the community’s suggestions from the last meeting, including a hill climb on Ninth and moving the driveway access.

The designs presented were a mixture of shingle, brick and urban aesthetics.

The development will continue to keep the McGraw cottage on the corner of 10th and West McGraw Street. The attempt to landmark the building was denied.

With the hill climb and two pocket parks, “we now have connectivity throughout the site,” Miller said. Currently, the site is a closed campus, with fences and signs; this will be “much more residential than the institutional use that’s here now.”

Community concerns

The development requested four design departures (three are the same from the last meeting): increasing structure width from 60 feet to 140, 160 and 200 feet; decreasing front-yard setbacks from 5 feet to 0 feet in some cases; decreasing vehicular-access roadway surface width from 24 to 20 feet; and bay-window projections, which would cut into the easement by 2 feet on each side.

The preferred proposal would remove two of the site’s exceptional trees. If they were to leave the trees, it would push density to the outside of the property. “Removing the trees allows us to take density off Ninth,” Miller said.

Many of the meeting’s attendees said this shouldn’t be an either/or situation; instead, they should keep the trees and compromise with fewer units. The developers stressed that they love trees and acknowledged that they want them out of selfish reasons: because trees add value to the property.

Marty Kaplan, chairperson of the Land Use Review Committee (LURC) for the Queen Anne Community Council, stated that LURC was pleased with the project’s progress and happy that the developers were working with the community.

LURC still had concerns, however, about parking and the bulk and scale of the proposal. He asked the DRB to consider whether the two significant trees should be sacrificed for more units. He supported the bay windows, saying they add interest.

“This [may be] a project with two too many units,” Kaplan said, adding he’s still in favor of density.

He also requested the pedestrian areas and parts of the project treated with porous concrete or pervious pavement to reduce runoff and create interest.

Future Queen Anne members spoke, saying they’re concerned that CamWest/Toll Bros are “cramming” 62 units on the site, which “won’t just impact but alter our neighborhood.”

Other members from the community group spoke on behalf of the trees, the impact to nearby pedestrians and kids walking to nearby schools, the density on 10th and the lack of diversity to the plans. Each time, nearly the entire audience raised their hands to show solidarity with the group’s complaints.

Other audience members echoed similar complaints and asked for environmentally friendly plans. 

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