Everett Transit trying to build support for transit-oriented neighborhood
EVERETT - The city is exploring reshaping the area around Everett Station into a residential neighborhood where people living there may prefer to ride the bus than hop in their cars.
Everett Transit’s director Tom Hingson is trying to build support for a proposal to allow multifamily housing on the 10 acres surrounding the transit hub. Currently the area is mostly industrial.
The city’s planning commission and City Council have yet to approve the rezone request. The planning commission may consider it next month as part of a docket of code and rezone changes.
Hingson said new development would be market-driven. Development depends on “what people want to invest in,” Hingson said.
Some people, though, question how transit users will be able to afford housing in this area based on Everett’s current development trends.
Lately in Everett, the building trend for almost all of downtown’s newest approximately 400 apartments and condominiums are marketed to upper and middle class people.
Downtown’s new buildings are attracting young urbanites and older people, Downtown Everett Association manager Sue Strickland said.
Everett Transit’s own studies found a large share of its bus riders are low-income.
Resident Arthur Esperanza fears the rezone will push more low-income people out of downtown.
“It seems we’re seeing an increase of condominiums and housing geared more toward yuppies,” Esperanza said. “I’m predicting we’ll see gentrification.”
He was one of 60 people who toured the Everett Station area as part of a public forum led last week by Forterra, a nonprofit land conservation group that supports the rezone.
Developers can get property tax breaks if 20 percent of the units are designated for affordable housing, planning director Allan Giffen said.
Affordable housing group Housing Hope’s director, Ed Petersen, said he sees an opportunity to serve low-income people.
“Absolutely” Housing Hope would consider building there, Petersen told the Tribune last week. “It’s a way to help people live within their means.”
In Denver, a similar area revitalized itself without displacing existing low-income residents, landscape designer Christian Runge of the Seattle firm Mithun said last week. Runge was part of Forterra’s forum.
As part of the Denver Housing Authority’s “Mariposa Healthy Living Initiative,” the area around a transit hub converted to a mixed-income neighborhood with shops, services, arts and public places, and crime decreased, Runge said.
Runge’s design firm worked on the Denver project.
About 20 percent of those items were created as the neighborhood changed, Runge told the Tribune after the meeting.
Everett leaders hope the same transformation will happen at Everett Station.
Community members said at the forum they want to see sidewalks, public green space, artwork, bike paths and public amenities. Two called out for affordable housing.
The area’s existing industrial owners reportedly have mixed feelings on letting residential come in, planner Mary Cunningham said in January. Some developers eye the rezone as a way to profit from the land the buildings sit on, Cunningham said at the time.
One unidentified manufacturing company business owner, though, spoke out against the rezone idea because it will push out jobs.
“You’re talking about all these things that will take away jobs,” the man said.
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