Monica Wooton
Monica Wooton

Nothing takes the place of your voice, your involvement, your shared expectations regarding the Albertsons/Safeway development and its impact on the definition of the “sense of place” of this neighborhood — the place you set down roots, cared enough to raise a family in and call home: Magnolia.

Big change is on the horizon for our neighborhood. If you haven’t been involved before, now is the time to get involved. If you have, continue to let the city planner and developer/architects know what you think about the new seven-story Albertson’s to Safeway development in the Magnolia Village.

This design is being presented to you and the Design Review Board, whom you can influence through public commenting going on now.

I am smart enough to know that there is no stopping this development — so, I have stubbornly, conscientiously and dutifully agreed to help in the hard work of making this building welcoming and welcomed into our neighborhood through collaboration and compromise with Security Properties, the developer, in the Albertson’s Advisory Council work.

I am writing this to let you know that the AAC work is much less influential or important than the work you can do by giving your input on this project’s design.

The AAC has worked hard and collaboratively to shape the development into much more than it was first proposed.

Bulk and mass, cohesion of design and materials are quite literally about to be carved in stone. The work of this group, while honest, earnest and demanding, is not a substitute for community members many opinions and ideas. You must speak up now!

I am not a fan of the city’s universal up-zoning and its uniform density overlay without regard to Seattle’s unique neighborhoods. Seattle’s strength has long been its diverse neighborhoods, each with its own look and feel. Magnolia seems abandoned on that front with the up-zoning in Magnolia’s village. But, that is another editorial!

I believe this building still has some Seattle design guideline lingering issues dealing with bulk, mass and transitions into the neighborhood, as well as some architecturally confusing language and cohesiveness issues in its current new design.

I think the Living Building Pilot program that the developer will be participating in to get an added story and extra floor-to-ratio area has some accountability problems. I am working on these issues on the AAC. As should all of you in participating by public commenting.

This building will stand on one side up to four+ taller, and on the other side up to three+ stories taller than the buildings it will sit next to. It will tower mightily over the long established one- and two-story homes and back yards of the single family zone across the alley from it.

It will take out their privacy, sunshine and ability to most likely use solar energy. It will be up to three+ stories taller than the two other tallest buildings in Magnolia — four-story condos both in the village — each building having about a fourth of the mass of this structure, with at least 1/6th the housing units.

Additionally, we know that this site and the requirements that Safeway proposes for its store make the massing and design options of a very big structure limited.

It would be irresponsible not to note this building will not fit in easily with the current Magnolia Village style of small, intimate shops, the quaint, newly reimagined village streetscape and the historical small town, island feel and pace of the Magnolia Village and neighborhood.

I writing this to remind you that you have the opportunity (I would like to write obligation) to speak up about your opinions for improvements — to help make the building serve our neighborhood well and fit in nicely!

Magnolians must stay in charge of our neighborhood’s future density, new developments and building designs.

To accomplish that means each of us must participate in the process of public commenting and design review occurring now on this first project of consequence coming our way!

Current public commenting on proposed building design is open now.

The plans and explanations for the building design can be found at Permit and Property Records — Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections page, Project # 3034353-LU, Design Review Recommendation Proposal, 44MG, 5/17/21. Write comments to: prc@seattle.gov. Plan to attend and speak at the public Design Review Board Zoom meeting at 5 p.m. June 23, Meeting: https://bit.ly/Mtg3034353; Listen Line: 206-207-1700; Passcode: 187 453 5676

Sign up to comment, https://bit.ly/Comment3034353.

 

— Monica Wooton is the chairman of the Albertson’s Advisory Council. The perspectives reflected in this editorial are her opinions.