Housing project for Everett college could be delayed

EVERETT — A six-story building downtown for Trinity Lutheran College student housing will likely be built as planned after the developer passed away unexpectedly — although there may be a few months of delay in construction.

The small Christian college plans to lease the new 100-unit residence hall at the southwest corner of California Street and Oakes Avenue.

The college had partnered with the property’s owner, Footprint Investments, a developer specializing in “microhousing” projects that enable people to live affordably in urban settings. But Jim Potter, the company’s founder, died May 6 of cancer.

The college serves about 250 students in downtown Everett. Providing low-cost housing close to classes is an important part of the college’s plans to double its enrollment in the next few years, said Trinity Lutheran College president John Reed.

“Cost is an issue for students,” he said. “We are trying to develop an approach where room and board is more affordable.”

Reed said he didn’t learn of the developer’s illness until a few weeks before his death. The developer had already hired a CEO for his company, and it seems plans will carry forward. At worst, Trinity expects construction could be delayed by a few months.

Right now, the college leases two buildings on Hoyt Avenue near the Everett Public Library’s main branch. Students live in one building and the other is sublet to other tenants.

Trinity Lutheran College moved to Everett in 2007 from Issaquah. The college wanted to get back to its urban roots. The school was originally founded in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood as a small two-year Bible school. Students are required to put in hundreds of hours of community service before graduation.

The new building would put students closer to classes at the school’s main location on Wetmore Avenue. The planned building includes 200-square-foot rooms and common areas for students to gather. The developer would own the building and the college would hold the master lease. Trinity has an option to buy the property in the future.

Trinity’s expansion and the new building means good things for downtown Everett, said Lanie McMullin, the city’s economic development director.

“Any education you bring into a city is a win,” she said.

The city has invested millions of dollars in upgrading downtown, including streetscape projects. City officials have encouraged projects such as the Schack Art Center and the farmers market, now under construction.

Adding more students downtown means there will be more people frequenting local businesses, working in local businesses and participating in philanthropic events, McMullin said.

The building is something of a pilot project for the city, which didn’t address student housing in its codes.

With Washington State University developing a presence in Everett and the growth of Everett Community College, there could be more student housing coming soon.

One of the biggest setbacks to attracting foreign students to EvCC, for instance, is a lack of affordable housing.

“It’s very likely EvCC will need this kind of model soon,” McMullin said.

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