EVERETT — They started making memories in their first house while it was still draped in construction wrap.
Brandon Corsi had asked his girlfriend, Whitney Johnson, to stop by the new place on April 8. They hadn’t moved in yet.
Inside the front door, Johnson, 25, found a path lined with rose petals and candles, ending in the shape of a heart. Corsi, 33, got down on one knee, champagne at his side.
The couple are among the nearly 100 buyers who have purchased homes in Everett’s newest neighborhood east of I-5. Eventually, the Riverfront area is supposed to get a shopping district.
Corsi and Johnson are physical education teachers in the Mukilteo School District. Their sale closed in May. During the move, her mom brought over a pot of spaghetti. It fed them for a week as they unpacked. Five months later, many of the upstairs walls remain blank. Decor decisions. Wedding planning. It all takes time.
“We could grow in this house,” Johnson said. “We have two bedrooms for kids someday.”
There are 60 occupied houses in the Overlook at Riverfront development east of 41st Street. Another 22 houses have pending sales contracts, and 153 more are planned for construction, according to the developer, Polygon Northwest. The same builder is behind The Towns at Riverfront east of Pacific Avenue. There, 36 townhomes have been sold, 22 have sales contracts pending, and 132 more are slated for construction.
At some point, the two developments are supposed to meet in the middle and share a road, a city park and a commercial area. Residents say they’ve been told not to expect businesses to set up there for several years. There’s hope for a grocery store, a movie theater and restaurants.
The city required the commercial component — the part of the project that would generate sales tax — to allow home-building. The agreement with the developer calls for at least 400,000 square feet of retail space. A certain amount has to be reserved for brands new to the Everett market.
Those elements were key to transforming the former industrial land, once home to mills and a landfill, the city said. Meanwhile, Shelter Holdings, a company run by former Polygon owner Gary Young, has taken over commercial development of the Riverfront. Young declined to discuss those plans for this story.
“The best thing to say is we’re continuing to work with the city and the potential tenants,” he said.
The lack of ribbon-cuttings isn’t holding up home sales.
Ed and Lani Glasser signed papers for their townhome in January, when it was a concrete slab. They were renting an apartment after selling the house in Kirkland where they’d raised three sons.
Ed Glasser, 64, works at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. He knew it’d be hard to top the 2.5-mile commute from the Riverfront to the hospital. They moved in August and unpacked their last boxes this past weekend.
The couple’s new deck faces east, just like they wanted.
“I can lean forward and see Mount Pilchuck, see the river,” he said.
“One of the things I really like about this new neighborhood is, as it starts to fill up, it’s a pretty diverse group,” he said. “We’re probably among the oldest.”
They’ve made the walk downtown a few times, including a trip to the food truck festival.
The Glassers are especially fond of two of their incoming neighbors. Their middle son Scott, 36, and his wife Alicia, 31, were married in September. Not long afterward, they bought one of the Overlook houses. They are supposed to get the keys in December.
Scott and Alicia Glasser work for a Seattle software company. They already share a long commute from their one-bedroom apartment in Kirkland. They figure they can make do from Everett. It’s just a few blocks to I-5.
“We’re willing to spend less and sit in traffic,” she said.
The younger Glassers had a reason to buy quickly: They’re expecting a baby in April. They can’t wait to grab the diaper bag for a 10-minute stroll to the grandparents’ place.
“We could have walkie talkies,” Scott said.
“These are better,” said his father, holding up his cellphone.
Many of the Riverfront properties are marketed as more affordable than similar options farther south. The townhomes are priced around $300,000 and up. Houses run $400,000 to $600,000. Some have small yards, and street parking can be scarce. Residents say it can take a few days to get used to the noise from passing trains, which can block the access from Pacific Avenue. Firefighters have a work-around until the road is built between the two developments.
Some of the floor plans are roomier, though.
Mike and Erica Taggart, both teachers in the Everett School District, spent 16 years in their old house, near 75th Street SE. They didn’t know they were looking for a new place until they walked their poodle Max on the Lowell Riverfront Trail in October 2016. The path runs along the east side of the Overlook and offered a peek at construction.
They decided it was time to upgrade.
That day marked the first of a series of visits to the sales office, to get their names on the waiting list. The Taggarts moved in June, not long before their 25th anniversary. They had the summer to settle in, adding the Seahawks and WSU flags over the driveway.
Their oldest daughter, Jesselyn, works in Denver. Sydney, a former Everett High School softball stand-out, is attending community college to become a teacher, like her parents. Casen, 14, takes the bus to the high school, at least until he can drive, he said.
The Taggarts are meeting their new neighbors slowly, over the mailbox or jogging past. One man told them he bikes a mile to Everett Station to catch the train to work. There is talk of starting a Block Watch group, or founding a neighborhood association. Everyone is new, so everyone is friendly, said Erica Taggart, 48.
Mike Taggart, 54, planted daffodils and tulips out front. He’s looking forward to the blooms.
Two weeks ago, he and his wife hosted his parent’s 55th anniversary party at the new house. Guests can stay a little longer than they used to. For the first time, the Taggarts have an extra bedroom.