An architectural model of the planned development of 3,080 waterfront condos at Point Wells near Woodway. (Blue Square Real Estate)

An architectural model of the planned development of 3,080 waterfront condos at Point Wells near Woodway. (Blue Square Real Estate)

Judge gives Point Wells high-rise project another chance

A successful appeal allows the developer another 6 months to seek approvals for about 3,000 condos.

WOODWAY — A massive condo development proposed on Puget Sound has another shot at life.

A judge has given a developer six more months to seek approval for approximately 3,000 condos at Point Wells, after Snohomish County denied the project last year. The land-use petition revisited a hearing examiner’s conclusion that BSRE Point Wells’ project could not be built, as proposed. On appeal, the Snohomish County Council upheld the examiner’s decision.

An attorney for BSRE, an acronym for Blue Square Real Estate, said she believed the court had ruled correctly.

“We are continuing our review of the order and have no additional information at this time,” said Jacque St. Romain from Seattle law firm Karr Tuttle Campbell.

Snohomish County’s attorneys also were studying Judge John McHale’s decision from Tuesday and consulting on how to proceed, said Jason Cummings, the county’s chief civil deputy prosecutor.

The order gives BSRE until Dec. 18 to reactivate its permits for the high-rise project. The decision focused on whether development applications had been processed correctly under the urban center code in place when they were submitted in 2011.

McHale specified that the extra six months would serve as a one-time opportunity, “rather than as an avenue for future reactivation requests.”

BSRE’s plans call for 46 buildings at Point Wells, an unincorporated area next to Woodway. Almost half of the proposed buildings would exceed 90 feet, with the tallest reaching 180 feet — roughly 17 stories. The surrounding neighborhoods consist almost entirely of single-family homes.

Plans at Point Wells also envision shops, a public pier and an open-air amphitheater.

If approved, construction could last 20 years or longer.

The site has been in industrial use for more than a century and would require an extensive environmental cleanup. It’s currently used to store marine fuels and for mixing asphalt.

County planners last year recommended that hearing examiner Peter Camp turn down the project. They noted that the application had been pending for seven years, and that BSRE had already received three deadline extensions. BSRE’s representatives asked for more time in consideration of court appeals and other circumstances that slowed their work by several years.

Camp declined to grant an extension, and the permits expired about a year ago.

Under the recent court decision, BSRE still must address those issues the examiner identified last year.

Throughout the project, traffic and transit access have been major sticking points.

The examiner also faulted the development plans on other grounds. He said they placed proposed buildings too close to marine waters. He said there was unfinished work to address landslide and earthquake hazards.

The property backs up to a 200-foot tall bluff to the east. It’s situated on a type of soil that would be less stable during an earthquake because of a process called liquefaction.

Woodway and the neighboring city of Shoreline both hope to annex the 61-acre site. As is, the only way to drive there is through two-lane Richmond Beach Drive in Shoreline. The proposed condo development would include a second access road to 116th Avenue West in Woodway.

Last year, BSRE reported spending more than $10 million on the project.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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