Graphic courtesy Security Properties: This graphic shows what a plaza outside the proposed Safeway and condo development at the current Albertsons site in Magnolia could look like when finished. Security Properties, the developer, is working with community stakeholders to develop a plan that will suit everyone’s needs.
Graphic courtesy Security Properties: This graphic shows what a plaza outside the proposed Safeway and condo development at the current Albertsons site in Magnolia could look like when finished. Security Properties, the developer, is working with community stakeholders to develop a plan that will suit everyone’s needs.

A group of Magnolia stakeholders interested in the Albertsons redevelopment project and the developer are working collaboratively on the design process to come up with a plan that will best fit the community.

The Albertsons Advisory Council, organized by community member Monica Wooton, and project developer Security Properties, have agreed to meet and review design plans for the proposed project, which entails demolishing the current Albertsons store in Magnolia and building a seven-story, 138-unit apartment building with retail ­— a Safeway store — and parking for 224 vehicles.

Wooton said the cooperative effort is intended to replace the regular community design review process. Because of COVID-19, the city opted to temporarily replace the community design review process with an administrative design review process conducted by Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections staff to prevent development in Seattle from stalling.

“The idea is to make [the committee] a really positive, thoughtful and kind group that looks at all the issues together and comes up with a good, well-negotiated building,” Wooton said.

Security Properties is currently preparing a third Early Design Guidance plan to address areas of the second EDG SDCI planners  would like to see clarified before signing off on the proposal.

Security Properties Chief Development Officer John Marasco said the third EDG should be submitted to SDCI mid-August, after which residents will have a public review period and the city’s report returned. He said it could take between 30 to 45 days from when the plan is submitted to when the city releases its conclusions.

While it is too early too determine how long the project will take, the plan is to start construction in late June or July of 2021, Marasco said, adding it could take 24 to 27 months to compete. He anticipates committee meetings to conclude in March of 2021.

Marasco said he thinks the committee will be very beneficial to everyone involved and that the advisory council’s insight will be valuable.

Marasco said he had worked with other neighborhood committees in the city on different projects, and when he learned Magnolia had a group of residents with concerns and ideas about the project, he reached out to Wooton about a possible collaboration.

“I think the most important thing they can do is bring that knowledge to us,” he said, adding the community stakeholders will help influence the design process. “So I think that’s a positive element in this process.”

Based on community input, one of the biggest challenges to be resolved, Marasco said, is the building’s height and bulk and how to mitigate those concerns.  Having the advisory committee participating, however, will hopefully make the process go more smoothly, Marasco said.

“We’ll have [the committee] right there alongside us to come up with solutions,” he said. “I’m confident that we’re going to be able to come up with a design that they’re going to embrace.”

Thus far, the committee and Security Properties have met regularly since the two parties decided to collaborate in June. Wooton said the work will be a little more intense at the beginning of the process.

“So I think this is a really positive step for the community and the committee,” Wooton said.

She said the committee is comprised of all different people, representing different interests, to make the design process easier “so that it is welcoming and welcomed by the community.”

“[It is] to come together and work out issues and questions about parking and traffic in a positive way and, secondarily, to create a process that will act like a role model for future development coming to Magnolia to positively come together to create something that fits in and serves both the community and to meet the needs of the community and developer,” Wooton said.

Erika Schmidt,  a member of Magnolia Village Integrity, a group formed to ensure community members were both aware of the Albertsons project and shared their thoughts and concerns about the process, said the committee is a step in the right direction.

She said the committee is now focused on educated neighborhood residents about what is taking place.

She said Magnolia Village Integrity members want the new development to be “fitting for the community and that we mitigate any negative impacts to the neighborhood.”

“We just want to continue the neighborhood voice to shape the development,” Schmidt said. “I feel that people need to be aware and voice their opinions. We really feel that this is a great opportunity for this to be done right.”

To learn more about the group and for updates, visit Magnoliavillageintegrity.com.