EVERETT — The neighborhood was supposed to transform 15 years ago.
These days, east of Broadway and south of 32nd Street, most of the fences are topped with barbed wire. Truck loading zones outnumber the flower beds. Warehouses line roads that dead-end under the freeway.
What’s called the Everett Station District is a work in progress. The boundaries extend to Hewitt Avenue to the north and 41st Avenue to the south. Local leaders and business owners in 2014 formed a group to talk about the future. That partnership became the Everett Station District Alliance. They picture a vibrant neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb some of the city’s projected population growth.
“This is an essential task and a great opportunity,” said Ed Petersen, president of the board.
Long-term revitalization also must tackle the street-level social issues that have plagued Smith Avenue, which is home to the Everett Gospel Mission. The surrounding blocks have seen up-close the effects of opioid abuse, homelessness and property crime.
A public update on the alliance’s work is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday at Everett Station’s Weyerhaeuser Room. The group in August applied for federal nonprofit status and elected its first officers, including Petersen.
The alliance counts 43 members and keeps growing, he said. The board of directors has 11 members. Of those, seven own property in the district.
The alliance on Tuesday plans to present its work so far, along with architectural drawings of what could be possible.
Much of the conversation revolves around the expected opening of an Everett light rail station in 2036. The city and others have been trying to figure out where parking will go, and how to get pedestrians and bicyclists from Smith Avenue to the heart of downtown. Not everyone can walk a mile uphill, and Broadway is not the easiest arterial to cross.
The area around Everett Station is part of the city’s Metro Everett plan, which could bring upzoning to the downtown core. Some of that could extend to a lesser degree to some areas east of Broadway. The proposal might see City Council action later this year.
Everett Station opened in 2002, but attention on that area has lagged since, Petersen said.
Key themes for the alliance are economic development, parking, green space, safety, and transportation connections, he said. Pedestrians and bicyclists need to be able to get around. So must buses, taxis and trucks. The district needs to attract people to live in new apartments above shops and restaurants. It also must suit commuters in a hurry, and accommodate existing industry.
“Freight corridors are being carefully protected,” Petersen said.
The alliance has been kicking around big ideas, especially for ways to move crowds from the transit center to Colby Avenue. Some examples sure to generate conversation are a covered escalator, a tram or a gondola. There also is talk of a farmers market.
HopeWorks already has one commercial building at 3331 Broadway, which falls within the district. It plans to break ground in 2018 on a site next door that will combine affordable housing with workforce training space. The goal for that property is to provide an example for the neighborhood, said Petersen, a leader at HopeWorks since its formation.
The alliance is not the only group focused on the area. The city since April 2016 has been convening meetings with Smith Avenue business owners, and many of those folks are active with the alliance. Their group is focused more on problems related to drugs and crime.
It still needs to be determined where parking will go for light rail. The City Council recently approved the purchase of land for parking at 3600 Smith Ave., the site of a former mill.
The alliance suggests that Sound Transit build a parking garage east of Everett Station. The move could free up acreage of Everett Transit parking areas west of the station. Those spots usually are full every morning long before the start of the business day, Petersen said.
“Surface parking is not the highest and best use,” and the land could become housing, he said.
The alliance likes the thought of a community center near Everett Station, Petersen said. He believes the right development in that space could become the heart of the neighborhood.