A proposed 140-unit student housing complex in Everett could add another big building to north Broadway.

A proposed 140-unit student housing complex in Everett could add another big building to north Broadway.

EvCC is taking Everett to court over student housing project

The college fears the 140-unit complex will lead to vacancies in its dorms and create congestion.

EVERETT — In an ongoing dispute, Everett Community College is asking a judge to stop a housing project by a private developer.

The city of Everett, which is a party to the court action, says the college is acting to protect its financial interests.

The college is appealing a hearing examiner’s decision to allow a 140-unit complex on North Broadway.

EvCC officials worry the project would adversely affect parking and traffic flow while potentially siphoning students away from the college’s two dormitories, according to a petition filed Oct. 22 in Snohomish County Superior Court.

The seven-story structure, with five floors of housing and two levels of parking and retail space, was proposed by Koz Development. They also are named in the litigation.

In June, Everett’s planning department approved designs for the project. The location is a triangle-shaped piece of land at 1020 N. Broadway, where Lilly’s Garden restaurant now stands.

EvCC told the judge the city shouldn’t have allowed the proposed building to be labeled “student housing” because the college wasn’t involved. To EvCC, student housing is more than just a home, but also has conduct rules and support services. That includes counseling, planned activities and supervision — none of which would be provided by Koz.

EvCC accuses the developer of using the term “student housing” to reduce the required parking, according to court documents.

The building is set to have 59 spaces of parking, which EvCC has said in the past was not enough.

If the housing were not for students, the city would have required Koz to build a minimum of 90 stalls under current city codes. The college says Koz would not have been able to build on the site without the reduction in parking.

“The city believes the college’s opposition to the project is based mainly on the college’s desire to avoid economic competition with its own housing project,” wrote Meghan Pembroke, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office in an email Thursday.

The new building would offer affordable options for students at EvCC and the Washington State University branch campus, Pembroke said.

“It will house students not currently accommodated by EvCC’s existing housing, such as students who live with a spouse or partner, students with children and students who have pets,” she said.

EvCC declined to comment for this story.

In an emailed statement, Cathy Reines, a founder and owner of Koz, said the project will assist in the revitalization of the area and provide much needed retail along Broadway.

One of the college’s two dormitories. Mountain View, is owned by Koz. EvCC signed a long-term lease with the developer and is responsible for student placements, along with staffing, security and extracurricular activities. The college has a similar agreement with another company that built Cedar Hall.

EvCC expected the dorms to fill quickly when they opened in 2016 and 2017, but in the first years they operated they had a vacancy rate of 14 percent. Fall 2018 was the first quarter the buildings reached capacity, leaving 38 students on a wait list, according to court papers.

Under the city’s direction, Koz is required to rent 75 percent of the units to students, Pembroke said. The developer also cannot lease to a student with a car unless a parking stall is available.

As of Thursday, Koz and the city had not responded in court. A hearing in the case is set for December.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.

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