By John Wolcott SCBJ Freelance Writer
ARLINGTON — A comprehensive commercial development plan for Arlington’s Island Crossing freeway zone is under way, with Dwayne Lane’s Family of Auto Centers among the property owners working to create “a new economic engine” for the city, company President Tom Lane said.
“All of the property owners at Island Crossing are working to develop an area-wide permit approved by all regulatory agencies,” Lane said. “We’re talking about planning this area as a region rather than individual properties and working out traffic mitigation, environmental and economic issues. The regulators like that approach because then they know the full impact of the entire development.”
David Kuhl, Arlington’s community development director, said he anticipates the preliminary plan for the so-called West Arlington Sub-Area, which was presented at public hearings in October, will go to the city planning commission and the council in January. Also, a Stillaguamish River shoreline plan for the valley should be finished by June and approved by the end of next year, he said.
“I think 2011 will be a year of putting planning, studies, and proposals in place to go forward,” Kuhl said. “Lane has been talking with property owners about the master plan for the Island Crossing area. When the shoreline plan is approved, it should be time to move forward,” he said, noting that full implementation of the idea could stretch over the next 30 years.
The planning area covers Lane’s 15-acre site adjacent to I-5 and south of Highway 530 and extends north of Highway 530 to the West Bluff area of the Stillaguamish River and south to the Smokey Point I-5 interchange, where Arlington’s southern boundary meets Marysville’s city limits.
The whole plan deals with development goals that envision higher density development, a pedestrian-oriented environment and retail structures up to three stories high in concentrated commercial areas, according to city documents. Street patterns and housing developments are other important segments of the plan, along with new regulations for on-street parking, walking areas and open space to make the neighborhoods more attractive for living, working and shopping,
Currently, the Smokey Point neighborhood of Arlington has shopping centers, hardware and grocery stores, fast-food outlets, gasoline stations, medical centers and a new Wal-Mart store that opened in late October. Just across I-5 to the west is Marysville’s Lakewood Crossing shopping center with Costco, Best Buy, Target and dozens of other merchants.
A few miles north at Island Crossing, commercial development includes Denny’s and Patty’s Egg Nest restaurants, several gasoline stations, a motel and the Stillaguamish Tribe’s smoke shop and tribal offices.
“Old Town” Arlington is three miles east on Highway 530, which stretches between the Stillaguamish River on the north side and farming enterprises such as Garden Treasures and Foster’s Produce &Cornmaze on the south.
A few years ago, near the end of the 20 years the Lane auto dealership spent winning protracted legal contests for commercial rezoning and annexation at Island Crossing, including its 15-acre proposed dealership site, Lane bought property on Highway 530 at 59th Avenue NE but never began development.
“Right now, we have no plans for that nine-acre property,” Lane said. “It’s zoned general commercial. I imagine at some point we’ll have it for sale.”
Lane’s Arlington-area property plans at Island Crossing and Highway 530 became a fresh item of interest after his announcement that the family’s Chevrolet dealership would return to the city early in 2011, occupying the former Oso Lumber Co. building on Highway 9.
The new site is only a few blocks from the downtown Lane dealership site that was closed in late 2009 when General Motors canceled contracts with hundreds of dealerships across the country due to the weakened national economy and GM’s eventual bankruptcy.
“When I got a call from GM saying they want to reopen many dealerships, we negotiated for a new contract and then found a great location on Highway 9 that had once been a Ford facility for many years,” Lane said.