Developer has agreed to develop trails, parks along Penny Creek

City staff looks forward to benefits from The Farm

By Dan Aznoff | May 17, 2019
Courtesy of: Vintage Housing

The additional population and added revenue are the measureable factors that allowed developers to convince the City Council to approve the 355 apartment homes and 100,000 square feet of commercial that will be part of The Farm.

But it is the recreational opportunities and the improvements to traffic that have members of the city staff smiling. The Farm is the latest project planned for the East Gateway Urban Village (EGUV).

The 17.34 acres along 132nd Avenue SE went through several design phases before the council approved the plan submitted by Vintage Housing Development last month.

“There will be numerous benefits to the city,” said Gina Hortillosa, director of Public Works and Development Services. “Residents will be able to enjoy some new, and very unique recreational opportunities from agreement to purchase the adjacent 58 acres of undeveloped land that had been owned by Pacific Topsoil.”

Plans call for the wetlands adjacent to the development to be a park with raised walkways over native areas. The developer has agreed to maintain the natural acreage for five years, including replacement of any native plants that may be lost during the construction phase.

The five-year period, according to Hortillosa, will allow the city to partner with other private and public entities to determine the long-range vision for the site, as well as determine the maintenance costs associated with the property.

The city can decline the dedication of the property by the developer after five years and restrict access to the wetlands, if deemed necessary, according to the director.

The Pacific Topsoil purchase was required by the city to offset the reduced buffer zone requested by the developer. The buffer zone approved by the council reduced the protected areas around sensitive wetlands to as low as five feet.

Hortillosa said she is personally excited about the new roadways and the pedestrian crossings the developer agreed to include with the project.

Vintage LC has committed to work with the state DOT to synchronize signals along 132nd to avoid congestion from The Farm. The approved plan calls for the developer to build a spine road (132nd Street. SE) through the development that will be coordinated with a signal on 132nd (SR96) at the intersection of 39th Avenue SE.

The improvements have been planned in cooperation with Community Transit for a bus shelter and a 70-foot-wide bus zone. Community Transit has reportedly reviewed the proposed development, and will include adjustments to bus schedule to accommodate the needs of both residents and business located within The Farm.

“This is not a area for the exclusive use of residents in the apartment homes,” said Ryan Patterson, president of Vintage Housing Development. “The transportation options will allow shoppers to access The Farm to shop and to dine. That’s good for the city in terms of new revenue.”

The Farm is expected to generate almost $1 million in sales revenues during the construction phase and an estimated $300,000 per year from additional property taxes and projected retail sales tax from business in the complex.

The city took action to offset concerns that the shops may not attract shoppers from surrounding communities by requiring that 75 percent of the commercial space be leased before the issuing any Certificate of Occupancy for the residential units.

Councilmember Vince Cavaleri described the requirement as an incentive for the developer to find solid, long-term tenants for The Farm.

“That is as close to a guarantee of success as we can expect,” said Councilmember John Steckler. “The more I look into this project and the work that has gone into its success, the more comfortable I am that this will be something the city and our residents will be proud of.”

In addition to the traffic mitigation and preservation of native wetlands, Vintage has also agreed to provide a midblock crossing analysis for access to parcels on both sides of 35th Avenue SE.

The commercial portion of the Farm itself will include a gathering place for public events for families, and public events including concerts, festivals and possibly the farmers market. The community gathering area will include drinking fountains and a public restroom.

School dismissed

Patterson said he has worked with officials from Everett Public Schools to assure the district will be able to accommodate the additional students when finalizing the boundary adjustments for Heatherwood Middle School and Jackson High School, as well as the elementary schools that could be impacted by the sudden surge in the student population.

Plans for The Farm initially called for a charter school to be built adjacent to the development. But district officials have a different perspective.

“The Farm developers did talk about a possible charter school at one point, but we’ve not heard anything more,” said Diane Bradford, communications coordinator for the Everett district. “A charter school would be its own entity, not connected or funded by the public school system.”

Patterson said the original plan for a charter school may need some “adjustments to for potential alternatives.”

The president of the development company was better prepared to discuss the type of tenants the community can expect to find when the commercial portion of the development is open.

Patterson said he could not disclose the names of the potential business that will occupy The Farm, but did say negotiations are underway with a “natural grocer that is not Trader Joe’s” for a 7,000 square foot store that will anchor the complex.

He is also working with the Trust Group in San Diego on two and possible three restaurants at The Farm, including a “high-end pizza restaurant, a high-end cocktail bar, and a coffee shop that is not Starbucks.”

The Trust Group operates both the Trust and Fort Oak restaurants.

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