City Council questions need to put parking lot up for sale
EVERETT - City Council members are questioning the timing of Everett Transit’s plans to put part of Everett Station’s parking lot up for sale.
Everett Transit wants to market the southern parking lot at Smith Avenue and 32nd Street for development, but council members question if there is a pressing need to do this. Everett Transit has received inquiries previously from developers, but no firm offers are on the table right now, agency director Tom Hingson said.
To market the land, Everett Transit plans to ask the Planning Commission to rezone the entire 10-acre Everett Station parcel to mixed-use zoning.
The 242-stall parking lot is 2.19 acres, and the land is appraised at $1.9 million. Everett Transit would move the 242 spaces to a multi-story parking garage on the site with the money from the sale.
The entire idea didn’t sit well with council members last week.
It would be hard to believe a developer would be interested in the land without it being zoned for development, Councilman Paul Roberts said. Also, pushing to rezone the entire Everett Station site would require a “robust” process, he said.
The market doesn’t seem right to go to developers, Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher said. “Is this a fishing expedition,” she questioned.
The push to rezone the land is so developers could lock in federal tax credits for the land before the credits expire in 2013, Hingson said.
Councilman Drew Nielsen questioned whether it looks bad to be rezoning land at the same time as going to developers with a request for development proposals.
“It could seem like we have our minds made up,” Nielsen said.
The agency is trying to avoid creating that public appearance, Hingson said.
Everett Transit wants mixed-use development built on the lot in part to create more development around Everett Station. Earlier this month, Hingson noted that the closest stores are not within walking distance from the transit terminal.
The agency’s request to put the lot up for developer bids will come before the City Council for a vote this week after press time.
Council members would be part of the selection process when the bidding window ends.
The site could be used for a high rise building up to 65 feet tall, or a building up to 80 feet tall if a developer puts in residential housing. Everett Station itself is about 65 feet tall.
The agency has to keep at least 242 parking stalls on the site because of conditions attached to the federal funding Everett received for this parking lot.
The city will have the site marketed longer than usual to gather as many responses as possible, Hingson said previously.
The site is unique because it’s the closest parcel to the station, Hingson said.
“You can’t get any closer,” Hingson said.
Everett Station celebrated its 10-year anniversary earlier this year.
By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published March 28, 2012