Downtown college housing proposal moving forward
EVERETT - A proposal to build a six-story student dormitory building downtown at the corner of California Street and Oakes Avenue is moving forward.
The 99-unit building would benefit Trinity Lutheran College two blocks away and be populated with college students only. The college wants to grow its enrollment from about 200 students to 500 later this decade, college president John Reed said.
The City Council will decide whether or not to approve the plan soon. The city’s planning commission recommended the project last week with most of its concerns addressed.
Chuck DeLaCerda, the owner of The Austin restaurant next to the development, though, remained highly concerned last week how the development will impact his business.
The project will take away the parking lot next to the restaurant, and he’s worried about adjacent construction noise next door.
“We just turned the corner here” financially, DeLaCerda said. He’ll lose 33 parking spaces to construction,
and that could kill his business, he said.
“I’ve seen strong businesses fail in situations like that,” DeLaCerda said.
It appears DeLaCerda was never contacted about the project before the meeting.
City planners see this proposal as a pilot project to evaluate if more student housing can be opened up elsewhere in the downtown core, planning director Allan Giffen wrote in a staff memo.
The proposal, though, could open up evaluating other
micro-housing solutions downtown.
“It gives us an opportunity to not only look at student housing, but other high-density development in the future,” Giffen said last week.
Parking is limited downtown, and commissioners wanted assurances cars wouldn’t spill over onto the streets if the college backs out. Trinity Lutheran has yet to sign a 10-year lease with Seattle-based developer Footprint Investments for the building.
The commissioners tied in a requirement that if the college abandons the building that the college still would have to provide parking to the new tenants in the college’s parking garage off of California Street.
This proposal for Trinity Lutheran’s students would keep most students’ cars off the street. The proposal mandates one off-street parking space per room, and in this case the plan calls for students to park at Trinity Lutheran’s existing 358-space parking garage. About 40 spaces are taken up by a rooftop garden the college installed about five years ago.
Commissioners also wanted assurances the loss of parking wouldn’t impact Comcast Arena. A decade-old plan for the arena pinpointed nearby parking lots that help traffic find places to park.
It’s something that needs to be talked about in the future, commissioner Loren Sand said.
Reed, Trinity’s president, disagreed downtown parking is limited post-meeting.
“I’ve got 320 stalls that aren’t being used,” Reed said.
Footprint operates fully furnished “micro-housing” apartment buildings in many Seattle neighborhoods and has developments in Oregon and California.
Most of the company’s projects attract young urban professionals who rarely drive cars, Footprint’s CEO Cathy Reines said. The rent prices at these developments vary between $500 to $1,000 a month.
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