A view in January of the Riverfront development area, which consists of three parcels. On the northern parcel (top), 190 townhouses have been built. On the southern parcel (bottom), 235 single-family homes now sit. Plans for the middle, undeveloped parcel now include 1,250 housing units, 230,000 square feet of retail space, 120,000 square feet of office space and a 250-room hotel.(Andy Bronson / The Herald)

A view in January of the Riverfront development area, which consists of three parcels. On the northern parcel (top), 190 townhouses have been built. On the southern parcel (bottom), 235 single-family homes now sit. Plans for the middle, undeveloped parcel now include 1,250 housing units, 230,000 square feet of retail space, 120,000 square feet of office space and a 250-room hotel.(Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Riverfront development could add 1,250 more homes to Everett

Many residents welcome a walkable area, but not the congestion that might come with limited access.

EVERETT — The latest proposal for the Riverfront development has brought up the typical concerns about traffic congestion that come with building hundreds of new homes. But some neighbors also are criticizing the design of the site which places parking lots along the Snohomish River, rather than restaurants and stores.

The property owner, Shelter Holdings, went back to the drawing board for the 70-acre former landfill site after Ikea dropped plans to anchor the complex in late 2017.

The project was always touted as a connection to the Snohomish River, said Katrina Lindahl, who lives to the north in the Riverside neighborhood.

“This plan doesn’t bring the community to the river,” Lindahl said. “I think we have overdone the residential part. Get the parking off the river.”

Improving access to the waterfront has been a longtime priority around Everett. Lindahl was one of about a half-dozen people who spoke Tuesday night during a city planning commission workshop.

The Riverfront project consists of three parcels. In the northern parcel, the former Eclipse Mill site, 190 townhouses have been built. On the southernmost edge of the site where the Simpson Mill once stood, 235 single-family homes now sit.

An aerial view from January of the central portion of the Riverfront development, where Shelter Holdings is proposing to build 1,250 units of housing and over 350,000 square-feet of commercial and office space on the site of a former landfill. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

An aerial view from January of the central portion of the Riverfront development, where Shelter Holdings is proposing to build 1,250 units of housing and over 350,000 square-feet of commercial and office space on the site of a former landfill. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The majority of the homes are sold and occupied, according to Allan Giffen, the planning director for Everett.

As shopping habits shift, so have plans for the middle piece of land. Shelter’s original plans included only commercial and retail space. The firm now wants to add 1,250 housing units to the design, along with 230,000 square feet of retail space, 120,000 square feet of office space and a 250-room hotel.

“The economic reality of retail has changed dramatically,” said Eric Evans, Shelter’s director of development. “The shops to survive need a captive audience.”

The complex would be built out in six stages, starting with a middle section where Shelter is working to bring a specialty grocery store and movie theater. About 300 housing units would go in during that initial phase.

Evans declined to name the companies being pursued as tenants.

One boulevard would snake through the mixed-use development connecting to the single-family home neighborhood and the townhouses on either end.

There would be two exits, one at 41st Street and another at Pacific Avenue, where there’s an at-grade railroad crossing. That boulevard could be used by more than 1,600 households every day.

A rendering of the entire Riverfront site. (Shelter Holdings)

A rendering of the entire Riverfront site. (Shelter Holdings)

Many welcomed a mixed-use development, but with only two ways in and out, traffic congestion was a big worry.

“If you look at the Mill Creek Town Center, they have many ways in and many ways out. And they still have a lot of traffic on their road,” said Lori Young, who recently moved into one of the townhouses on the Eclipse site and spoke Tuesday night.

The planning commission is holding a public hearing March 26 about Shelter’s proposal.

The commission will send a recommendation on the project to the City Council. Councilmembers need to approve the changes because the developer wants to amend a 2009-era master plan for the landfill site.

A public hearing would also be held by the council.

The company hopes to get started on the mixed-use site this summer.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.

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