Former Agilent site to be redeveloped

LAKE STEVENS — A Bellevue developer is drafting plans to build houses in the former Agilent Technologies business park following a change in zoning rules to allow the development.

The Snohomish County Planning Commission last month approved a revision to the portion of the county’s zoning ordinance that deals with business parks, said Erik Olson, one of the county’s senior planners.

The change allows for hundreds of homes to be built on land zoned for business park use, subject to several conditions.

The amendment was crafted so that, at present, it pertains only to the former Agilent property near the intersection of Soper Hill Road and Highway 9. For example, to be eligible for single-family and multi-family housing developments, the property has to contain at least 100 acres under single ownership, a description that specifically fits the 133-acre site.

Without the single-ownership clause, the 104-acre business park site along the north side of 164th Street, known as the Opus Northpointe Corporate Campus, would also have qualified for residential development, according to county planning documents.

An investment group affiliated with Bellevue-based Polygon Northwest bought the acreage from Agilent in April at the discounted price of $5.6 million. The assessed value of the property at the time exceeded $16.7 million, according to the Snohomish County Assessor’s Office.

The large office building on the mostly undeveloped property had become much too large for the Agilent workforce, which numbers less than 200 after a long series of layoffs. At its peak, the former subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard employed more than 1,000 people at the facility. This summer, Agilent moved its test and measurements instrument division into a leased space in south Everett.

While Polygon doesn’t intend to add more office space to the site, it plans to keep the existing building. That structure and surrounding facilities take up about 17 acres of the property.

The amended zoning ordinance allows a maximum of 12 houses or residential units per acre on the remainder of the developable land. In addition to the space occupied by the office building, there are wetlands and utility rights of way that would limit construction in some areas.

But Richard Rawlings of Polygon said the density won’t be that intense, though he wouldn’t comment in detail on the development company’s specific plans.

A traffic study requested by Polygon mentions just under 400 homes for the site, but the developer sees that as a "maximum possible" number. Rawlings said Polygon will strive to make the development compatible with the adjacent neighborhood.

Though Polygon has had preliminary talks with planning officials, it has not submitted a development application yet, said planner Clarissa Stenstrom. The company’s first priority is to lease the office building at the Agilent site to a suitable tenant or group of tenants, Rawlings said.

"Our ability to lease the building has a big impact," he said.

The Soper Hill site was designated for business park use in the early 1980s, when Hewlett-Packard fought for the zoning change in the county’s comprehensive plan.

Reporter Eric Fetters: 425-339-3453 or fetters@heraldnet.com.

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