Developers could break ground on The Farm by the end of June

Approval by hearing examiner was last major hurdle to proposed complex
By Dan Aznoff | Jun 07, 2019

The approval of revised plans by a third-party hearing examiner cleared the way for developers to break ground on the proposed mixed-use project known as The Farm by the end of June.

The public hearing was held in late May. The examiner issued his decision during the first week of June.

When completed, The Farm that would add more than 350 apartment homes and 100,000 feet of commercial space on the last piece of vacant land in Mill Creek.

Vintage LP should be ready to break ground on The Farm by the end of the month, according to Ryan Patterson, president of Vintage Housing. The binding site plan was initially submitted to City Hall on March 23 in 2018. The application was accepted as complete by city staff on April 13.

Only two homeowners representing homeowner associations testified at a public hearing on May 23 with concerns over what a member of the city staff described as “minor issues” ranging from the height of fencing and the distance of setbacks from property lines.

Patterson emphasized there were no complaints filed by either homeowner at the hearing.

“It was a very cordial discussion,” said Gina Hortillosa, the Director of Public Works and Development Services for the city of Mill Creek. “While we can’t speak for the developer, there should be no reason why he couldn’t break ground this month now that the project is approved by the hearing examiner.”

Anxious

The developer admitted he is anxious to begin the construction phase of the project on the 17-acre site.

“Everything seems to be a go at this point,” Patterson told The Beacon. “We only need to complete some last-minute paperwork for additional permits before we can to move heavy equipment onto the site.”

Patterson said he would have been happy last month if the required permits could have been issued sooner.

Approval from the hearing examiner means the project now moves to formal Design Review Board review.

Developers of The Farm at Mill Creek have already submitted applications to the design board for Building D and the parking garage. The board is scheduled to review the applications on Thursday, June 20.

The Design Review Board will review this application for compliance with the design standards set by the council. The applicant reportedly intends to divide the project into several submittals to the Design Review Board for review over the summer.

“The developer also has submitted clearing and grading plans to the city, and the city is in the process of reviewing them,” said Senior Planner Christi Schmidt.

She noted that the plans include infrastructure improvements, including stormwater vaults, roads and utilities.

If completed according to the approved plan, The Farm will be a mixed-use development of 10 structures, including a five-story parking garage with 354 apartments, 26 live/work units and 100,000 square feet of commercial space including a medical facility. The Farm will be located in the East Gateway Urban Village with frontage on 132nd St SE (SR96) on the eastern border of the city.

The living units would be in four and five-story structures above the ground floor retail space. The development also includes public plazas and open space, along with landscaping and walking paths connecting to the existing trails on adjacent properties.

As a tradeoff for reduced setbacks from sensitive wetlands for the multi-use complex, Vintage was required to purchase the 58 acres adjacent to the site that had previously been owned by Pacific Topsoil. The developer agreed to provide improvements to the sensitive areas so it could be turned into accessible parkland that could be used to benefit residents across the region.

The city had previously rejected an offer from Vintage to restore damage caused by beaver dams on Penny Creek along 35th Ave. SE because the improvements had been included as part of the roadwork that had been funded this year as part of a separate project.

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