The Point Wells industrial area next to Woodway, where a developer proposes to build condos. (BSRE Point Wells)

The Point Wells industrial area next to Woodway, where a developer proposes to build condos. (BSRE Point Wells)

On point: Rival high-rise condo critics look to join forces

Woodway and Shoreline announced a pending agreement to confront Point Wells development concerns.

WOODWAY — After years of tussling over a prime piece of waterfront, the cities to either side may be on the verge of forging an alliance.

Leaders from the town of Woodway and the city of Shoreline on Friday announced that they’re hammering out an agreement for a united front when it comes to the fate of Point Wells, industrial land on Puget Sound where a real estate company wants to build thousands of luxury condos. BSRE Point Wells’ plans call for buildings of up to 17 stories in an area surrounded by single-family homes.

A draft agreement could come out early next month, with open discussions possible at each city’s Sept. 23 council meeting.

The pact would put the cities on the same page when it comes to issues that have caused neighbors the greatest anxiety: traffic increases, blocked views and landslide hazards. Allowing public access to the waterfront, which is closed off now, is another area they’ll take up.

“The cities believe there is a realistic way to achieve a successful and sustainable redevelopment of Point Wells that enhances the character of the surrounding communities,” according to a Friday press release. “However, both cities agree that BSRE’s current ‘Urban Center’ proposal does not adequately consider the environmental conditions at the site or the transportation infrastructure that will serve the site.”

Point Wells covers 60 acres in unincorporated Snohomish County and has been an industrial site for more than a century. Its main use now is storing marine fuel. To get there by car, there’s only one two-lane road.

Woodway and Shoreline, which is in King County, have expressed an interest in annexing the unincorporated area. The two municipal governments started a mediation process late last year, after an annexation proposal from Woodway upset officials in Shoreline.

Local governments on opposite sides of the county line also have fought in court over who should provide sewer service to Point Wells.

BSRE Point Wells, part of the Israeli company Blue Square Real Estate, has been seeking approval for its project since 2011, when it submitted an application to Snohomish County’s planning department to build more than 3,000 condos.

The project appeared to have died last year, after the county denied BSRE more time to fix major problems with its application.

Representatives for the company dangled the possibility of a smaller-scale development on its property, but also continued to press their case in court.

In June, a King County Superior Court judge granted BSRE another six months to work on its plans. The judge never addressed the reasons the county denied the project, only the deadline. Attorneys for BSRE last month asked the state Court of Appeals to revisit the county’s grounds for denial, which included building heights, seismic risks and proximity to marine waters, among others.

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

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