Yesterday, I sat down with developers Eric Campbell and Brian Wulfestieg from CamWest/Toll Brothers and Natalie Price from Frause public relations to hear more about the updated plans for the Seattle Children’s Home.
The plans will be presented at an Early Design Review Board meeting, tomorrow (Wednesday), Dec. 18, at 8 p.m. at the Queen Anne Community Center (1901 First Ave. W.). View the full report here.
At the meeting, the developers will present three design options:
Design Option 1 — Will have traffic access only on the alley. This option would not have the proposed pocket park and would remove six exceptional trees.
Design Option 2 — Traffic access would be from Ninth Avenue West near West McGraw Street and via the alley on West Crockett Street. This design would not include the pocket park and would remove six exceptional trees.
Design Option 3 — The developers’ preferred option, this would create a pocket park within the development. This design would save all of the exceptional trees except one. Traffic would access the development via the alley on Crockett Street and on McGraw Street. This would create additional parking spots on Ninth Avenue West and make emergency access easier.
The developers hired an arborist study the 86 trees on the site; 23 of the trees were found to be exceptional and healthy. The developers plan to save all of the exceptional trees but one in their preferred-design option. A revised version of the arborist's report lists 14 additional trees in a grove that are also considered exceptional.
Two of the options would have no pocket park, which would take out an additional six trees. In Option 3, there is the pocket park and the houses on Ninth Avenue West are set back farther from the curb to save additional trees. There may be ways to save even more trees than proposed, Campbell said.
CamWest believes the trees are important, too, Wulfestieg said. Despite proposing to save at least 22 of the exception trees in the preferred design, Campbell acknowledges that neighbors won’t be happy with those numbers.
“When we get done with the project, they’re going to go, ‘God, this is significantly more trees than we ever imagined,’” he said. “But...no one’s going to stand up and say, ‘These guys are doing a great job,’ yet.”
CamWest plans to provide more parking spots than are required by code.
“Now, that’s not necessarily us being good neighbors,” Campbell said. “That’s actually us being developers and identifying a market need.”
In the preferred design, traffic comes into the development via West McGraw Street. McGraw’s cobblestones will serve as a natural traffic-calming measure that will slow cars and make it much safer for neighborhood children, Campbell said.
In all three design options, the developers plan to save the McGraw Cottage (built in 1905) and turn it into two residences. The exterior look will be preserved, and the interior will be gutted down to the studs, Campbell said.
At the previous meeting, the idea of the pocket park was proposed. Many neighbors agreed they didn’t see themselves entering the development to use the park.
Campbell sees neighbors accessing the green area near the McGraw Cottage more than the pocket park, but the park will open to the public.
CamWest will need to work out park details, like liability, with the city.
“It is intended to be welcome and inviting, much more so than the closed campus now,” Wulfestieg said.
CamWest has taken to heart the neighborhood’s desire to maintain single-family character and hopes to reflect that in the design, Campbell said. It will be a high-quality-designed homes that are mostly two- and three-bedrooms.
The demographics are all over the board, Campbell said, but the developers are targeting those who “gravitate to walkability and connectivity.”
The code is designed for more density on the exterior of the development. CamWest hopes to put more density inside, “so it can be screened from the outside,” Campbell said. “They’re not going to look like single-family homes, but they’re going to have that single-family character.”
This development is in accord with the city’s push for density, Price said: “There is a really sensitive way to go about that where you’re accomplishing those goals but also getting to where the neighborhood feels comfortable.”
Campbell knows many people in the neighborhood are not happy and says there won’t be any proponents for the development at tomorrow night’s meeting.
“Developing in neighborhoods is always most difficult because it always brings change,” Campbell said.
Still, they voluntarily decided to go through the design-review process because “we really thought we’d get better input.”
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