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Polygon says it can deliver on riverfront site
EVERETT - Polygon Northwest is ready to resurrect the long-stalled Riverfront Development in north Lowell, company officials said last week.
Polygon wants to build up to 1,400 single-family houses and a 400,000-square-foot commercial district on the site. The company hopes to break ground next spring under an aggressive time line it laid out to the City Council last week.
“We’re excited to bring the Riverfront Development to life,” Polygon senior vice president Gary Young said last week.  
Polygon wants to start selling the houses by next winter.
City officials were optimistic but cautious after hearing Polygon’s pitch considering the last developer’s inaction.
“Last time, a developer gave us a song and a dance,” Councilman Ron Gipson said. “People down there deserve a quality product.”
The company has the financial wherewithal to develop the site, Young said.
The city will impose consequences if commercial development doesn’t move forward, Mayor Ray Stephanson said.
City officials were burned before. The city believes OliverMcMillan, the last developer, wasn’t actively pursuing commercial tenants, public works director Dave Davis said.
The site sits along the Snohomish Riverfront in the northern half of the Lowell Neighborhood. The site is arguably secluded. While access into the area is off 41st Street, the nearest group of homes is a short distance away in Lowell.
Polygon plans to build the residential area first and start placing commercial tenants in year 2016, one year before a city-imposed 2017 deadline to develop the site. Commercial tenants need to see residents first before they show interest in a site, Young said.
Young said Polygon has hired a commercial retail consultant for the Riverfront Development site. He plans to bring back a commercial strategy to the council in May.
Lowell neighborhood advocate Gail Chism told the council to make sure Polygon’s homes fit in with the character of the historic neighborhood. Polygon builds large tract housing developments.
“We need to talk about design standards so that community can feel like it’s a part of Lowell,” Chism said.
Derek Straight, Polygon’s vice president, said the new homes would be in an “enclave with a sensitive transition to the Lowell community.”
Bellevue-based Polygon Homes has a 30-year history of building large developments in Washington and Oregon. The Riverfront Development is one of a few major developments Polygon is working on right now. The company plans to build 1,336 new residential units this year in Washington, Straight said.
In Snohomish County, Polygon’s current projects include a 500-unit neighborhood in Lake Stevens and a 1,200-unit development in unincorporated south Snohomish County.
Polygon has a purchase-and-sale agreement in place to buy the 107-acre site from OliverMcMillan, the site’s current owner. Polygon is still assessing the site before it moves forward with the deal.
Polygon has a city-imposed deadline to start residential and commercial development on the site by 2017.
The development site is a public-private partnership that comes with a number of building covenants. The land used to be owned by the city before it sold it to OliverMcMillan. The city has spent millions so far on infrastructure improvements for the site.
OliverMcMillan was under the same development deadlines when it bought the land in 2008 for $8 million. The San Diego-based company wanted to build a mixed-use site with retail and apartments with the city building public space. The Great Recession killed the project.
The empty site used to be a large landfill, the site of the infamous 1984 tire fire, the former Simpson-Lee Mill and the Eclipse Mill.
Polygon will be held to all of the high-quality development covenants OliverMcMillan agreed to. City leaders want to make sure the site helps shape east Everett.
Everett has already spent $80 million buying and preparing the land for development, moving railroad tracks, building a roundabout near the Interstate 5 and 41st Street off-ramp and other site preparations.
Under the public-private partnership with the city, the city is developing a riverfront nature trail as part of the deal.
Everett secured $25 million in federal tax credits in 2009 intended for OliverMcMillan to use to develop the site. When development plans fell through, the city sought other projects to apply the tax credits. Everett may ask for new credits next year for the Riverfront Development, city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said previously.


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