Sunday, November 21, 2010
|Map courtesy City of Shoreline|
By Diane Hettrick
First it was the neighborhood of Richmond Beach, sounding the alarm about a developer who had bought the old oil company site on a large chunk of sand in Snohomish County called Point Wells. Too much traffic through our neighborhood, they said. An interest group was formed called Save Richmond Beach.
A heartbeat later, the City of Shoreline started assessing the details and decided they were not pleased about a community of several thousand Snohomish County residents whose only access was through Shoreline.
Police and Fire checked out the plans for the new community and informed the developer the new community was out of their jurisdiction and they would not be providing fire and police services.
The City, deep in the planning for the Aurora Corridor, made no provisions for modifications to the intersection of 185th and Aurora to accommodate a doubling of the traffic.
The School District, thinking they might end up serving children from the new community, pulled Sunset School off the surplussed property list and put it on the reserved list, just in case.
The City and Save Richmond Beach have been working together, exploring different legal and procedural ideas to have some control over the form of the development. They unsuccessfully petitioned Snohomish County for zoning changes and tried to annex Point Wells to Shoreline. See the article Appeal to Growth Board.
At one point the Town of Woodway was being positioned as the bad guy. Woodway is a tiny town of huge lots, expensive houses - somewhere between Innis Arden and The Highlands, and winding streets. "Why didn't the road go through Woodway," people asked? However, Woodway is at the top of the bluff, overlooking Point Wells. There had been a road at one time, but it washed out.
Woodway is no more enthusiastic about the project than anyone else. And now they have joined forces with Save Richmond Beach and Shoreline. See the notice of the joint meeting with Save Richmond Beach and the Town of Woodway Mayor.
The developer, Blue Square Real Estate, held a large, public meeting at the Shoreline Center to present their side of the story. They brought in food, had displays and friendly staff all over the large Shoreline Room, and staged presentations with video and Power Point. People were not allowed to ask questions, but instead were directed to tables with paper and pens where they were invited to write their comments.
It wasn't really an issue-driven meeting, but very much of a real estate sales presentation. They showed photos of the view from Point Wells and plans for the buildings. They talked about creating "villages" with three or four high rise building clusters, some up to 12 stories high. The villages would be somewhat self-contained, each with their own services. Last estimate was for 3,000 units. By means of comparison, that's the size of a typical Shoreline neighborhood.
Since no fire and police are available from Shoreline and the nearest Snohomish County services are in Mill Creek - Blue Square will simply build and staff their own police station and their own fire station.
The Israeli developer clearly has deep pockets with international investors. Just preparing the site is extremely expensive because of the contaminated soil, which has to be dug up and barged off, then replaced with clean soil.
I had the distinct impression from the presentation that these guys are problem-solvers and they have the money to spend on solutions.
Follow-up: Point Wells - Moving people on and off site