FAQ Topics

Frequently Asked Questions

During this time of social distancing, in lieu of community meetings, we have prepared an FAQ to share updates about the Magnolia Safeway project. We will update this FAQ regularly over the course of project entitlement.

The page numbers associated with questions are where you can find more detailed information in the Design Proposal Document.

Design Proposal Document

The project team has submitted the second Early Design Guidance proposal to the Design Review Board. A PDF is available in two formats:

Select an option: view or download

Living Building Pilot

Why is Security Properties pursuing the Living Building Challenge for this site?

There are both placemaking and environmental stewardship reasons. When designing a new building, we begin with the character of the neighborhood and its unique history. Magnolia is surrounded and historically connected to nature which is the emphasis of biophilic design. And, we want to drive change in our industry to build healthier communities. The Magnolia Village has lived with an outdated grocery store for years, our aim is to deliver a new building that is forward thinking with lasting health and beauty.

Can more than one Living Building be built in the Magnolia Village?

Yes. As a pilot program, the city of Seattle limits the total number of projects but not where they can be built. There are some land use restrictions but none that apply to the Magnolia Village.

What is a Living Building? Why do you get increased height for a Living Building?

(Pages 14-18)

The Living Building Pilot (LBP) program is a land use incentive program offered by the City of Seattle to meet the world’s most rigorous green building standards administered by the International Living Future Institute. The program offers building density and height bonuses to offset the higher cost of design, infrastructure, mechanics, materials and construction for living buildings. The bonus incentives are for all LBP projects not just the Magnolia site:

  • Up to 25-percent more floor area
  • 12.5 feet of additional height for residential construction

To meet this LBP standard, our building total energy use must be 25-percent below the current City of Seattle energy code (one the most stringent codes in the nation) and we can’t use fossil fuels for space and water heating.

We must use non-potable water for all toilets, urinals, irrigation, hose bibs, cooling towers and all water features.

We need to demonstration that we are adhering to the philosophy of biophilic design which is the innate desire for humans to interact with nature.

We are agreeing to use materials that are locally sources and to avoid materials on the Red List which means that they are safe and do not have any negative human or ecological impacts. We are looking at materials that respond to the biophilic nature of project and relate to the natural environment of Magnolia, such as the bluff, forest park land, and Puget Sound.

Do you have to include an educational component for a Living Building?

Yes. This will include an open house, educational brochure and website, and signage around the project sharing the environmental features of the building. Specifics will be determined during the design recommendation meeting (which is later in the entitlement process) but we are beginning to think about how education and the project’s integrated art can relate to each other.


How big will the building be?

The building will be a 7-story Living Building. There will be 6-floors of housing above a grocery store providing approximately 138 new residential units to the neighborhood. The site has 15-feet of grade change from the low point of the site on 32nd Avenue West to its high point along the alley. Although this level of significant grade change is challenging, it provides the benefit of lowering the scale of the building at its east elevation along the alley. With contemplated setbacks, deck modulation, an urban forest along the alley that complements the existing urban forest meandering up the hill to the east, the building will appear screened for most of the single-family homes across the alley and up the hillside.

Why didn’t you study a 5 or 6 story building?

A few months before the January 7th Early Design Guidance meeting, we publicly announced that we are pursuing a 7-story Living Building for this site. The Design Review Board supported that decision at the January meeting. It would be insincere for us to study a massing option that would not meet the project’s program requirements.

Below is a massing diagram of the zoning envelope with the current (HALA) zoning and our proposed building at 7-stories. This is not to suggest that all buildings in the Village will be redeveloped, but to provide context of future redevelopment.

What are the three massing options?

The three massing options are described in greater detail in the EDG packet. Each option has street level perspectives, floor plans, section drawings, distant views taken at street level and with a drone at approximately 20-25 feet above ground.

For this FAQ, we are showing massing comparisons for each with basic pros and cons. The EDG packet page numbers are provided for each option.

Massing Option #1 (Pages 21-27)

  • Bulk of the building is set back from the alley
  • This option is the largest unbroken mass along 32nd
  • Plaza is setback on 32nd to allow for sunlight and air
  • Largest mass is the furthest from the alley
  • The alley is terraced with trees and landscaping
  • Provides the least modulation along the alley façade than the other options
Massing Option #2 (Pages 28-33)
  • Largest setbacks along 32nd out of the three options
  • Two shifts to break up the bulk of the mass into three smaller masses
  • Provides a second level terrace in the middle of the building facing 32nd and the plaza
  • Public plaza is setback on 32nd to allow for sunlight and air
  • This option places the most building mass along the alley
  • Smaller backyard terrace on alley than the other two options
Massing Option #3 (Pages 34-40)
  • Bulk of the building is setback from the alley
  • Most of the mass is along 32nd
  • Building curves to break up the mass, reminiscent of the Magnolia Bluff
  • Public plaza is setback on 32nd to allow for sunlight and air
  • Largest mass is the furthest from the alley
  • The alley is terraced with trees and landscaping
  • The curve allows the mechanical equipment to be consolidated in a E-W direction, minimizing view blockage

Which option provides the furthest setback along the alley?

All three options provide voluntary setbacks in addition to what is required by land use code. These diagrams show the differences between the three massing options.

Massing Option #1 (Page 22)

Massing Option #2 (Page 28)

Massing Option #3 (Page 34)

Do you have a preferred massing option?

The design has progressed. When presenting at the first EDG meeting, Option #1 would have been our preferred design. With more study, we now prefer Option #3 which provides the greatest setback and modulation along the alley. The drawing above is a depiction of massing Option #3 along the alley. With that said, we have provided three viable massing options for the Design Review Board to consider.

Design Concept

This is your second Early Design Guidance meeting, how has the design progressed and what are you proposing?

The Design Review Board supported two important design decisions at the first meeting. These were: 1.) garage access along 32nd Avenue West rather than the alley; and 2.) support for a Living Building at 7-stories.

We have developed three massing options with access off 32nd Avenue West and in pursuit of a Living Building at 7-stories. These massing options take community outreach and feedback and the Board’s comments into consideration.

When will you share building materials?

We are working on the building material selection. This requires more research than a typical project because we are committed to using locally sources materials and products that are not on the Red List. It takes more time but the design response will be weighted to create an environment that inspires beauty and seeks to connect the community, shoppers and residents with the outdoors and nature. This project will have significantly more landscaping than a typical mixed-use project.

I’ve heard art will be integrated into the project, is this true?

We have added Bill Gaylord, FAIA, principal of Bonfire to our project team. Bill has already met with some Magnolia community members and will be meeting with more in line with Covid-19 social distancing requirements. As our art curator, Bill will develop an Integrated Art Plan that will weave a Living Building story through culture, site history and education. This is an important design component for us. The integration of art and placemaking is part of our company’s DNA. We believe that site-specific art creates beauty, social interaction and successful placemaking – all goals aligned with biophilic design.

Parking Access

What is the result of the Garage Access Survey?

Thanks to all who participated in the parking garage access survey. The result of first Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting was for access to the garage to be located on 32nd Avenue West. This was the preference we heard from community members, adjacent neighbors, civic organizations, and representatives at Catharine Blaine School. It is also Safeway’s preferred access.

By default, the Seattle land use code guides garage entrances for new buildings to be sited in an alley, if an improved alley exists. This would mean that the entrance/exit for the underground parking for the grocery store and housing would have been off the alley. Instead, Security Properties engaged requested feedback on garage access location from the community and then asked the City of Seattle to approve garage access from 32nd Avenue West rather than the alley. This is the request that was granted at the first EDG meeting.

How many parking spaces will the project have?

In all our community meetings, we clearly heard the desire for surface parking.

All three massing options include 18 surface stalls dedicate to ADA, family and short-term parking. The garage parking is also consistent for all three massing options with a total of 75 parking stalls for the grocery store and 148 residential parking stalls. Our residential unit count is 136.

Are you still increasing off-street parking along 32nd?

Yes. We are working on the specifics with the Seattle Department of Transportation but we know that by eliminating several curb cuts, the project will add parallel street parking.

Public Life

Did you enlarge the public plaza based on comments from the January 7th Design Review Board meeting?

Yes, we eliminated three parking stalls adjacent to the store entrance and increased the seating spaces with a lower and upper plaza. Walls and steps will also be built for casual seating. The surface parking drive isle is designed as a wonnerf auto entry, which means that it can be programmed as an extension of the plaza for pop-ups and community events.

Is the public plaza the same in all three massing options?

Pages 48-51

Yes. The public plaza is the same in all three options, located on the south side of the property to have the best sunlight for year-round use. It has 3,542 square feet with a lower and upper plaza, seat walls, sitting steps and bistro tables and chairs. The biophilic design will include a rain garden and plants that attract butterflies, bees and birds.

Are you landscaping along 32nd Avenue?

Pages 44-47

Yes. 32nd Avenue West has its own street scape plan which includes scored concrete sidewalk, Evergreen Magnolia trees, Akebono flowering cherry trees, edible landscaping and fixed planters.

The store façade will have recessed alcoves along 32nd to provide bench seating. One of our first observations was the popular use of the existing benches outside of the store.

How are you landscaping the alley?

(Pages 57-58)

Recognizing that there are single-family homes along the east side of the alley, a lot of attention is going into the landscape design. All three massing options voluntarily set back from the alley and include a terrace with a tree planter to allow for large trees and lush landscaping. Once the Design Review Board recommends a massing option, more detail work will commence for that specific design. Among the three massing options, the alley terrace is the largest in Options #1 and #3 but all massing options include:

  • Terrace with trees, grasses, groundcovers and vines
  • Rain garden
  • Storm water art
  • Landscape planters
  • At-grade landscaping


Did you take photographs to show how the project will look from a distance?

Yes. We took more street-level views and drone photos from 20-25 feet above street level.

Each massing option has rendered photographs that show what the building would look like, or if you can see it, from distant viewpoints.

Each photo is labeled in the EDG document so you can see exactly where it was taken and if it was at street level or taken with a drone.

The legend at the right show the location of distant view studies for each massing option, as explained further in the EDG document.

Option #1: pages 26-27

Option #2: pages 32-33

Option #3: pages 38-39


Are you building condominiums?

Yes. All our design work and conceptual floors plans are geared toward condominium homes.

What is your project timeline?

We had been scheduled for our second EDG meeting on April 1, 2020. Currently, we don’t know when the city of Seattle intends to reschedule cancelled meetings. We fully support their efforts to keep our community safe during these uncertain times and concur with the cancellation of public meetings. With that said, our commitment to keep conversations going with the Magnolia community is important. This FAQ is the first digital communication, in lieu of community meetings. We encourage you to send questions through the Contact page. We will update this website and FAQ as news becomes available.

How will you keep adjacent neighbors apprised of activities?

You have our commitment to provide advance and on-going communication for all phases of the project which include early design, entitlement (current phase), pre-construction, construction and store opening. In addition to the information on this website, for project updates and milestones, please send us an email via the Contact page. Every comment will receive a response from the development team via Kym Michela of Michela Communications. Kym will provide the opportunity to add you to the project’s e-mail list, so that we can keep you informed.