Public hearing for The Farm scheduled March 26

Developers of mixed-use complex will confront fears of concerned neighbors
By Dan Aznoff | Mar 01, 2019
Photo by: Dan Aznoff Remnants of other attempts to develop the parcel along 132nd Ave. SE still remain as evidence of projects that never broke ground.  The Eastgate Village of medical and commercial space was first proposed in 2015. The current proposal for one of the last undeveloped parcels in Mill Creek is a mixed-use development of almost 400 workforce housing units with 100,000 square feet of commercial and retail space known as The Farm.

Senior Planner Christi Amrine could not hide her smile as she walked to the podium to begin her presentation on the proposed mixed-use development on the eastern border of the city.

Amrine’s report to the City Council came immediately after residents of communities adjacent to the proposed multi-story apartment and commercial complex had raised concerns about increased congestion, stress on city services and concern over a proposed charter school.

The senior planner’s presentation answered each concern with details of the work that had gone to addressing each concern. She laughed at the notion she had access to the concerns voiced by neighbors to help compile her report.

Her report was part of the first step of the Development Agreement needed for the workforce housing proposal. It was also the City Council’s formal introduction to the proposed development.

Residents of Mill Creek will have an opportunity to contribute to the discussion during a public hearing for the City Council on March 26. The regular council meeting begin at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

If approved, The Farm would have 256 apartment units and 26 live/work units built on the 17-acre site above 100,000 square feet of commercial space. The financing obtained by the developer would limit to income the income level for residents 60 percent of the median income for the southern portion of Snohomish County.

“Sixty percent for a family of four means $50,000 or $60,000 of income per year,” said Ryan Patterson of Vintage Housing. “This is not low income housing. These are working families. Some of the rents (in The Farm) could be as much as $1,200 or $1,300 per month.”

The additional residential units are expected to add 827 residents to the city population of just over 20,000.

The project falls within the Eastgate Urban Village zoning district, which has strict architectural and ecological guidelines drawn by the city more than 10 years ago. The EGUV requires City Council approval and public hearings before work can proceed

Some members of the City Council had second thoughts regarding the zoning approved by a previous council.

“This is what was approved, so I guess we’re going to have to learn to live with it,” said longtime Councilmember Mark Bond, who was part of the council that approved the standards in 2008.

Patterson made his second appearance in front of the City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 26, to answer questions from concerned neighbors and addressed concerns from members of the council. His first appearance on Tuesday, Feb. 19, outlined his company’s vision for one of the last undeveloped parcels in Mill Creek.

“We want to be more than good neighbors,” Patterson told The Beacon. “We want to be a thriving part of the Mill Creek community.”

Patterson showed his frustration with segments of the community that has accused his company of “sneaking the project through during the dark of night. He emphasized that the proposed development has had three public hearings and been extremely public about its intentions regarding the potential of the site.

“This is a very public process,” said Patterson. “There have been a lot of issues addressed during this process. The result, we hope, will be a development the residents of Mill Creek can be proud to have within their city.“

The Development Agreement, he said, was an important document that will hold guarantee that both the developer and the city to uphold elements of the negotiations that took place earlier this year.

In addition to the development, Vintage Housing agreed to provide the City of Mill Creek a 50-year lease on 500 square feet of municipal space at no cost to the city except for ongoing utilities.

The developer also agreed to provide a private parking lot designed as a public gathering place for markets, festivals and concerts with a public restroom and water fountain. It has also agreed to pay the city $1 million to mitigate the impact from increased traffic along 132nd Ave SE as well as fund road improvements and additional signals in and out of the development.

Joni Kirk, the city’s director of communications and marketing, suggested the space could be used to host the city’s Farmer’s Market, which is currently squeezed into the parking lot adjacent to City Hall North.

In addition to the residential-commercial complex, Patterson detailed the purchase of the 61 acres adjacent to The Farm that had been occupied by Pacific Topsoil that will be developed into a wetland sanctuary and park. The public areas, he said, would include an elevated footbridge connecting the proposed development to the wetlands.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Michael Scherping | Mar 07, 2019 17:31

I’m all for developing the land here and most of he Proposal looks nice. But the apartments - 350? Or 286? Either seems way out of scale for that area. Too many! Our schools and infrastructure can’t take it.

If you wish to comment, please login.