Mixed-use growth brings more urbanlike mindset
Coffee shop, restaurants, groceries, a pet-supply store and salon ...st a few steps from your front door. It's not downtown Seattle...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Developments on the horizonSome other upcoming mixed-use developments in construction or being proposed:
Zocalo More than 200 condos and senior apartments and space for shops fronting the Bothell-Everett Highway between Bothell and Mill Creek. Under construction.
Mira Vida: A 36-unit condo in Mill Creek Town Center. Under construction.
128th Street Urban Center: Expected to include 300 condos and underground parking at the northeast corner of Interstate 5 and 128th Street. Under construction. Likely to be renamed.
Silver Lake Center: Proposed to include about 180 condo units with retail and restaurants in Everett at Silver Lake. Not yet built.
Coffee shop, restaurants, groceries, a pet-supply store and salon — just a few steps from your front door.
It's not downtown Seattle; it's Newberry Square in Lynnwood.
Mixed-use communities — developments combining space for shops, offices and homes — are a growing presence in Snohomish County.
At Newberry, access to a dentist, day-care facilities and hormone-free beef is as easy as trotting across the parking lot, and Sherry Reed, a director of property operations for Coast Real Estate Services, says it's been drawing some attention.
"We've been 98 to 99 percent occupied for the last two months," Reed said. "A lot of that has to do with what we offer here."
Reed says that since the community opened in December 2004, its location across the street from the Lynnwood Park & Ride has drawn residents and businesses alike.
"It was novel and it was cool," Reed said, but adding that there were some initial bumps. "We had to change our target markets' frame of mind."
For the car-dependent suburbs of Seattle, the prospect of driving to and from basic errands is a no-brainer, Reed said. She said that while Newberry Square drew many initial "curiosity seekers," change is difficult and people "don't understand how [mixed use] benefits them."
"Someone in Seattle is like, 'I need my Starbucks around the corner' — people in Lynnwood don't care."
Developers may be hoping to change peoples' minds.
Construction is scheduled to begin at Everett's Port Gardner Wharf in November, and the project is expected to have restaurants, stores, high-end office space and up to 660 condos by its anticipated opening in 2010.
"The waterfront is a scarce resource," said Ken Olsen, director of land development at Maritime Trust, which is working with the Port of Everett to develop the property. "It's of value to an enormous range of what I'll call stakeholders."
He says stakeholders include everyone from prospective entrepreneurs to people who enjoy riding their bikes along the waterfront — the mixed-use format satisfies a constellation of needs, he said.
"It was a fairly easy thought process for us — given the opportunity — a mixed-use neighborhood makes all kinds of sense," Olsen said.
And Port Gardner Wharf's more than 1.5 million square feet of residential and commercial space might come to be dwarfed by the upcoming Everett Riverfront project — slated to start construction in 2009. Developer Oliver McMillan plans to construct more than 1,000 housing units and provide public open space, walking trails, restored wetlands and 600,000 square feet of retail space.
"For us, in Everett, mixed use is a reality for our future vision of the city — particularly our downtown core," said city spokeswoman Kate Reardon. "We know where you have residential, retail, office — you have a vibrant center."
The changing development might also be a sign of changing demographics.
"There's two main groups of people who are looking to live in these neighborhoods," said Ryan Countryman, Urban Centers project manager for Snohomish County. He said many empty-nesters want lower-maintenance, more convenient homes, and that young professionals are drawn to the urbanlike environments.
The convenience won't come cheap — condos at Port Gardner Wharf range in price from the mid-$300,000s to more than $1 million. Newberry Square tenants can pay anywhere from $875 to $1,515 a month in rent.
"So far, we haven't had very many [mixed-use developments] that are designed to appeal to families," Countryman said.
Snohomish County put out a February 2006 revision of its comprehensive plan detailing an effort to create urban centers, which would provide high-density residential, office and retail development.
"There hasn't been anything that's been built that's been an affordable housing type for lower-income people," he added.
But Countryman anticipates that will change, saying the county has already seen some proposals for more family-friendly developments.
"It's clearly the wave of the future," he said.
Linda Shen: 206-464-3301 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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