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)

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)

Point Wells condos developer calls design hearing a ‘sham’

The company says there are far more important issues remaining for the project than what it looks like.

WOODWAY — A developer seeking approval to build thousands of condos on the Puget Sound waterfront intends to showcase plans for 180-foot-tall buildings at a design hearing later this month, even though its representatives have called the process “a sham.”

Serious disagreements are simmering between BSRE Point Wells and Snohomish County’s planning department over the next steps in the permitting process — already ongoing for seven years. From the developer’s standpoint, there are more important questions to answer before discussing what the project looks like.

“We don’t think this should even be held at this point,” said Gary Huff, a Seattle attorney representing BSRE.

A presentation to the county’s Design Review Board is scheduled March 15. It’s set for 6 p.m. in the county’s first-floor hearing room at 3000 Rockefeller Ave. in downtown Everett. Board meetings include an opportunity for public comment.

The five-person volunteer board, with one current vacancy, will limit its review mainly to aesthetics. They have no say on traffic, stormwater or any number of other land-use requirements.

County planners will use the board’s opinion to inform their overall recommendation to the hearing examiner about whether the project should be approved under rules for urban center development. Planners have signaled they might recommend denying the application, as they consider it incomplete.

BSRE Point Wells is part of Blue Square Real Estate Ltd., which does business in the United States, Europe and Israel. The ambitious vision for Point Wells includes more than 3,000 condo units in several towers of up to 17 stories. There would be office space and shops along with park areas and an amphitheater. BSRE has offered to remake an industrial pier and open it the public.

The 60-acre unincorporated property has been an industrial site for more than 100 years. There are storage tanks for marine fuels and an asphalt plant there now.

Some of the lingering questions about the condo development involve parking and landslide risks from a bluff. There are long-standing concerns about how the road system in surrounding low-density residential neighborhoods would cope with the added traffic. There’s just a single two-lane road into the property now.

There’s a dispute over whether county land-use codes would limit buildings to 90 feet, just half of what BSRE has sought.

What should happen next is a point of contention, if not outright confusion.

BSRE’s permit application is set to expire June 30.

A hearing on the project had been expected in the late spring. BSRE wants more time to complete its application to address outstanding issues the county identified in October. The company argues that years of legal appeals from neighbors slowed the timeline.

The county earlier approved three extensions. Planning director Barb Mock earlier this year declined to push back the deadline again. The county also has stopped processing an environmental impact study, which BSRE contends is needed before other steps in the permitting process.

BSRE wants until at least April 2019 to finish working on its permit applications. It filed an appeal with the hearing examiner Feb. 16 seeking as much.

“This decision effectively jeopardizes a complex Urban Center development project that is many years in the making, and for which BSRE has already expended approximately ten million dollars,” the appeal letter says.

The letter calls BSRE’s proposal “one of the most complex and expensive projects ever undertaken in Snohomish County.” It accuses the planning department of scheduling “a sham hearing before the Design Review Board” to set up the project for failure.

It’s unclear whether the examiner has jurisdiction to consider that appeal. County attorneys urged the examiner to dismiss it without a hearing.

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

Meeting

Snohomish County’s advisory Design Review Board is set to consider aesthetic aspects of the Point Wells high-rise proposal at 6 p.m. March 15.

Location: 3000 Rockefeller Ave., first floor hearing room, administration building east, Everett, WA 98201.

More info: www.snohomishcountywa.gov/1511/Point-Wells

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