ARLINGTON — Plans for a new urban village are in the works on 20 acres of farmland south of Arlington Municipal Airport and within the Cascade Industrial Center.
Paul Woodmansee, cofounder and president of BYK Construction in Sedro-Woolley, is seeking a conditional use permit from Arlington to build the self-contained, mixed-use neighborhood at 16612 51st Ave.
Named the 51st Avenue Urban Village, it would combine 448 multi-family residential units, 21,982 square feet of office building space and 69,058 square feet of retail space.
The proposed layout filed in December by Mount Vernon-based Carletti Architects shows six four-story apartment buildings, eight commercial buildings with upstairs housing and 16 single-family live-work units abutting a large public park. Plenty of parking, walkways, landscaping, utilities and more public spaces round out the project.
“Thousands of jobs are planned, and our housing concept is set up to provide market rate quality housing for the work force those jobs get filled with,” said Woodmansee, who bought the property in June. “The location will allow for residents to walk, bike or take transit to and from work and will assist with causing less congested roads to the CIC region.”
The property is located south of National Food Corp. and north of an old house and Emerald Springs RV Park. It is zoned general commercial, with a mixed-use overlay.
If it sounds like the project’s housing and commercial elements don’t meet the definition of what can be built within the designated 4,000-acre manufacturing and industrial center, consider this a “grandfathered in” project. Arlington community and economic development director Marc Hayes said the city has been working with the developer for two years, well before the industrial center’s status was finalized.
Hayes essentially describes the village as a microcosm of the industrial center’s concept to have housing merged with business and manufacturers within walking distance where people work, creating what would be less impact on local roads.
Space for new housing is at a premium for meeting future needs in Arlington, Hayes said. This project could relieve some pressure.
The centerpiece of the project is a community park that will have a concrete boardwalk, large grassy spaces, public restrooms and a stage for public events, like summer concerts and movies, Woodmansee said.
“We have situated live/work single-family units along the park in an alley-load (narrow house plan) and boardwalk-like fashion that will be a unique living and working community that creates a vibrant small retail or service area near all the park open space,” he said.
Woodmansee said his team is also recruiting a neighborhood grocery store tenant and is in talks with Stillaguamish Tribe officials about building a longhouse example in the park.
Businesses envisioned for the village would be a mix of small retail shops, medical/dental services, offices, a coffee house, a brew pub and restaurants.
Woodmansee said his company is taking advantage of federal tax incentives since the property is in an Opportunity Zone, a program that stimulates capital investment and encourages job creation by giving tax discounts to investors in the project.
Road and traffic
The builder is required to incorporate new roads to alleviate stress on the busy stretch of Highway 531 known as 172nd Street Northeast. The state has already funded a road widening project for 2023.
The project will widen 51st Avenue this year, then extend 168th Street Northeast on the north side of the village west to connect with Smokey Point Boulevard, adding sidewalks, bike paths and landscaping, while a new 47th Avenue will be installed to create a north-south connection to 172nd Street. Eventually, 168th will be extended to 67th Avenue, taking more pressure off 172nd.
The project is anticipated to add 3,870 more daily trips on average to the 172nd area, including 344 more vehicles during peak commuter hours, according to traffic studies.
On Jan. 21, the City Council awarded a $113,295 contract with Murraysmith to design plans for extending water, sewer and a communications trunk-line under and south of 172nd that would serve the urban village and other future CIC tenants.
Contractor BYK Construction hopes to begin building this spring or summer. The three-phase project would wrap up in summer 2024.
A conditional use permit public hearing will be scheduled in the coming weeks.
Woodmansee said he was drawn to build in Arlington by the hometown feel of downtown and the people who remind him of his own Sedro-Woolley. He is eager to get the project going.
“Our goal is to make a fresh, vibrant, walkable community urban village that the people will want to live at,” Woodmansee said, “As well as the people of Arlington will want to visit.”
This story originally appeared in the The Arlington Times, a sibling paper to The Herald.