EVERETT— A new plan for the Riverfront development’s commercial area would include a specialty grocery store, a movie theater, restaurants and, over the next 10 years, construction of up 1,250 additional residences.
The property owner, Riverfront Commercial Investment, an affiliate of Shelter Holdings, had to go back to the drawing board late last year when Ikea abandoned a plan to build a store on the 70-acre commercial site. The furniture retailer, in talks with the city of Everett for months, did not provide a reason for shelving its proposal.
On Tuesday, Shelter Holdings unveiled a proposed six-phase plan at a packed meeting at Everett Station.
Eric Evans, Shelter’s director of development, said Riverfront Commercial tried to woo Ikea for four years.
“There are a lot of tax benefits for a big store like Ikea — but it can have a big footprint. It can dominate the landscape,” Evans told a crowd of about 100.
Ikea’s exit paves the way for a pedestrian-friendly plan for a commercial plaza with smaller stores and businesses, Evans said.
Participants, many from the Riverside and Lowell neighborhoods, took the opportunity to view renderings of the new concept and chat with architects, urban designers and transportation engineers involved in the planning.
Before Shelter submits its application to the city, it wants neighbors to weigh in, Evans said.
An application would be followed by a public comment period, said Allan Giffen, Everett’s planning director.
Shelter’s request for feedback included a poster board for a handwritten wish list for retail stores.
Many mentioned Mill Creek Town Center as a model for what they’d like to see.
Kimberly Rashid, a Riverside resident, said she would have liked a nearby Ikea but was on board with the new aims.
“Central Market in Mill Creek, we need something like that,” she said.
“Make it walkable,” her husband, Jibril Rashid, added. “My wife and I want to walk to the grocery store or restaurants.”
Linda Pardee, who purchased a Riverfront townhome about a year ago, was among those who said they were glad the Ikea deal never materialized.
“We didn’t want to bring in a big-box store,” Pardee said. “We wanted something smaller that would create a sense of community.”
Kim Sierra agreed, and shuddered at the potential traffic. “Had I known there was going to be an Ikea, I would have thought twice about purchasing here,” Sierra said “Part of the reason I bought here was because it was going to turn into this nice little walking community.”
Her wish list includes a pet store and yoga studio, along with Thai and Mexican restaurants.
Sierra gave a thumbs up to the plan to build 1,200-plus new townhomes. “If it were all retail, it would turn into a ghost town at night.”
The Riverfront development has two sections. The area with houses, the Overlook at Riverfront, is accessed by 41st Street. The area with townhomes is off Pacific Avenue.
Eventually, the two sections are to meet in the middle and share a road, a proposed three-acre park and the commercial area. The businesses would go on the former landfill that’s also the site of Everett’s infamous tire fires of the 1980s.
Although tons of dirt have been spread over the site to stabilize the soil, the former landfill remains under a 2001 court order involving the state Department of Ecology. The Snohomish River runs nearby.
Shelter said the first phase of the new project would likely involve improving access from Riverfront Boulevard to the proposed commercial center. People in the townhomes complain that they face lengthy road closures from stopped trains at Pacific Avenue and Eclipse Mill Road.
Evans, Shelter’s development director, said Tuesday’s meeting yielded “a lot of good input” from residents about “the types of business and services that they will and anticipate supporting.”
There is no deadline for comments, which can be sent to Riverfront@ShelterHoldings.com.
A land-use application to the city is likely before the end of the year, he said.
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods.