High-rises in Everett examined

EVERETT – High-rise condominiums with spectacular views of Possession Sound and the Olympic Mountains might rise from the west end of downtown Everett.

Shops topped by four stories of housing could fill in vacant lots along Broadway.

People might be able to walk to commuter trains at Everett Station from their new condos.

Everett hopes to find room for 27,000 more residents over the next 21 years, and on Tuesday night city planning commissioners heard where they might live.

The meeting was a step in the creation of a new comprehensive growth plan for Everett. The City Council approved a preliminary proposal last year and is scheduled to vote on a detailed plan in mid-2005.

A consultant Tuesday presented various housing possibilities for downtown and surrounding areas, where new high-density housing is most feasible.

“We’re looking at the long term,” said John Owen, a partner in Makers Architecture and Urban Design of Seattle. “This is not all going to happen right away.”

Owen and city officials will take the ideas unveiled Tuesday to developers, who will suggest what the city could do to assist development in specific locations. That could include everything from tax breaks to zoning changes to planting more trees, Owen said.

The planning commission doesn’t want to pursue what might end up being pie-in-the-sky ideas, planning commission member Drew Nielsen said.

“It doesn’t really do any good to make rules in a vacuum, because if it doesn’t fit what developers will and can do, it doesn’t get anyone anywhere,” he said.

Developers’ wishes will ultimately be balanced with residents’ concerns and the city’s overall vision for development, Nielsen said.

C.J. Ebert listened carefully to the presentation Tuesday. He’s both a planning commission member and a developer.

Ebert cautioned against moving too quickly to try to meet population-growth goals. Incentives for developers, such as the types of tax breaks given for downtown housing in the past few years, should be accompanied by guidelines that ensure high-quality design, he said.

Ebert was optimistic that developers would be interested in building more multifamily housing downtown. The Everett Events Center, new restaurants and new stores have helped make downtown a more attractive place to live, he said.

Reporter David Olson: 425-339-3452 or dolson@heraldnet.com

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