Photo by Brandon Macz
Brian Runberg with the Runberg Architecture Group listens to feedback from a resident during a design open house at the Queen Anne Community Center on Tuesday, March 26.
Photo by Brandon Macz Brian Runberg with the Runberg Architecture Group listens to feedback from a resident during a design open house at the Queen Anne Community Center on Tuesday, March 26.

Residents give feedback at March open house

Developers behind plans to level the old Queen Anne Safeway and replace it with a store double its size, with roughly 280 apartments on top, took community feedback one last time on Tuesday before proceeding with designs for the project.

barrientosRyan managing partner Maria Barrientos said input gathered from concept boards at the March 26 open house would be incorporated into plans before applying for Early Design Guidance.

The EDG packet will be shared with the Queen Anne Community Council’s Land Use Review Committee and during another community meeting before being submitted to Seattle’s Department of Construction and Inspections, she said, to make sure nothing was missed. Once the packet is submitted, the development team will have about two months to prepare for its presentation before the West Design Review Board.

The Safeway will be replaced with a new urban concept store similar to one opened in Boise under the Albertsons brand. Albertsons and Safeway completed a merger in 2015.

Michelle Fleharty, real estate manager with Safeway, said the Boise store is a testing ground for the new concept, which will eventually be recreated in other Seattle Safeways, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Utah.

“When you go in, you’ll go, ‘Wow, it’s completely different,’” said Paul O’Sullivan of Forecast Energy, a consultant for Safeway.

There will be no ceilings — ducts and all will be exposed — for a more open feeling, and concrete floors will replace linoleum.

The food-to-go options will be elevated.

“They’re all bigger, better, more tasty, et cetera,” O’Sullivan said.

A Starbucks will also be located inside.

The open house focused more on what residents want to see in terms of streetscapes and a public plaza space at the corner of Queen Anne Avenue North and Crockett Street. Attendees were asked to comment on concept boards set up during the open house, indicating with green stickers what design elements they liked and using red stickers for ones they didn’t.

“I wish it could be scaled a little smaller than it is,” said Queen Anne resident Steve Butler. “I think a lot is going to be dependent on how the design fits with the neighborhood.”

There will likely be five stories added to the new Safeway store for the apartment units, which will be divided between 2-3 separate buildings.

Brian Runberg with the Runberg Architecture Group said the allowable 75 feet in building height will likely be used, but there will be opportunities to scale heights down in certain areas.

Townhouses are planned along First Avenue North, which Runberg said architects believe can be raised to include stoops for a more brownstone design. Townhomes with stoops only received one green vote of approval during the open house.

Butler said the plaza space should feel open to the public without a sense that they need to purchase something from Safeway to be there.

The Safeway store’s 50,000 square feet is the maximum commercial space allowed on the site under city code, meaning open areas outside the store will not be able to conduct sales, according to SDCI.

Queen Anne Community Council member Trevor Klein said he liked that the residential portion of the project is being split up across multiple buildings and that the outdoor space will be blended in nicely.

“It doesn’t seem like the hard wall that had people up in arms,” he said.

Barrientos said activation and places to sit and relax were already known desires of the community, but the open house was an opportunity to narrow that focus.
“I know there are concerns about the height,” she said, “and those are valid comments.”

Queen Anne resident Susan Allington said she appreciates the work developers are putting in to make people feel that their opinions are being heard and considered. She favors any design choices that maximize setbacks and make it feel more open.

“It’s big,” she said of the project, “and there’s probably no going back to cozy Queen Anne.”