EVERETT — The Everett Housing Authority must complete an environmental impact statement for its proposed redevelopment of the long-vacant Baker Heights housing in north Everett.
The public housing built during World War II was shuttered in 2019 when it become too expensive to renovate. The housing authority has proposed replacing it with the Park District, a mixed-income, mixed-use campus with some buildings up to 12 stories and 1,500 housing units and 45,000 square feet of commercial space.
Everett government affairs director Jennifer Gregerson wasn’t surprised that the potential change to the property from single-story buildings required environmental review.
A schedule for the proposed project has the authority publishing a draft of its environmental impact statement by this fall for public comment and review. Public meetings are likely through the winter.
Redeveloping the property in the Delta neighborhood, which has some of the city’s lowest average household income, could bolster some of the amenities nearby on the 12-acre property.
“We’re really focused on the transformation of the Delta neighborhood,” Everett Housing Authority director of development Jason Morrow told The Daily Herald in January.
Zoning code changes are needed to allow commercial use and taller buildings. The authority applied for the city to cede some of the streets that currently run through the property. Those things are up to approval of a planned development overlay, development agreement, environmental impact statement and street vacation by the Everett City Council, planning commission and staff.
Agreements like that could give let the city require the housing authority to pay for other improvements in the area such as bike lanes and sidewalks, Everett planning director Yorik Stevens-Wajda told The Herald last year.
The project’s impact to nearby wetlands west of the property was a concern to the state Department of Ecology, according to a March report after a month-long scoping period. Ecology staff asked about stormwater runoff collection and treatment during construction and operation of the development.
Some comments worried about parking in the area and how the taller buildings and population density would fit in an area that mostly has single-family housing.
The housing authority is seeking parking standard changes from the city and hoping to design a campus that encourages biking, walking and using transit.
If the city allows civic and commercial use in the generally residential area, the housing authority could bring in a child care or early education center, library, cafe, stores and other amenities residents want, Morrow said.
Apartments and townhomes would have plenty of income-restricted units and some that are market rate. That helps ensure the project can be paid for and space can be maintained, as well as dispensing with outdated models of putting low-income residents in one place.
“We fundamentally believe that communities are healthier when there’s not just concentrated poverty,” former executive director Ashley Lommers-Johnson said in January.
For the proposed 12-story buildings, that could mean more expensive rents in the upper floors that would have expansive views of the Cascades and Possession Sound, Morrow said.
The Delta Neighborhood Association is set for an update on the design during its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The Everett City Council was scheduled to hear an update on the proposal next Wednesday.
Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @benwatanabe.
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