Shoreline proposes compromise on Point Wells condo development

WOODWAY — The city of Shoreline is dangling a possible compromise in front of the Israeli developer trying to build thousands of high-end condos on a waterfront industrial area.

To allow the

Point Wells project to go forward, Shoreline wants a deal on traffic and a possible future annexation of the 60-acre property on the opposite side of the King-Snohomish county line. If that offer or something like it gains trac

tion, it could save the city and developer costly legal battles.

“This is the start of the discussion,” Shoreline planning director Joe Tovar said.

“They build it to (Snohomish County) code, but limit it to the number of trips that come out of our traffic study.”

Other parties at the table, however, may not be so keen on the pitch.

They include Snohomish County, Woodway and an active neighborhood group.

The property owner who wants to build the $1 billion project is BSRE Point Wells, part of Alon Group. Snohomish County planners in March accepted the developer’s project application to be built under county zoning for urban centers.

One of the main points of controversy has been Point Wells’ relative isolation. It’s only reachable by a two-lane road through Shoreline, in King County. Railroad tracks run through the property, but there are no plans for a commuter rail stop there.

A century-old marine-fuel depot and asphalt plant currently occupies Point Wells. The owner wants to shut down those operations to build 3,081 housing units and shops in buildings of up to 17 stories. Plans also call for a public pier and beach access.

On Thursday, an attorney working for the developer called Shoreline’s offer a welcome, though expected move.

“We’ve been talking and generally anticipated what it would say,” Gary Huff said. “We’ve made a lot of progress, particularly in the traffic area, but there’s a lot of work left to do.”

BSRE Point Wells has no preference as to annexation, Huff said.

Snohomish County and Woodway do, though. County leaders in the past have been wary of further cross-county annexations, such as Bothell’s.

Woodway town administrator Eric Faison pointed out that while it’s necessary to drive through Shoreline to get to Point Wells, it’s also necessary to drive through Woodway; the road to the property goes through a small portion of the town after crossing the county line. Woodway borders Point Wells to the north and east as well.

“While we do not agree (with Shoreline) on the issue of annexation, we share concerns about the potential impact that this project could have on our communities,” Faison said.

Woodway, Shoreline and the Save Richmond Beach community group all filed a lawsuit to challenge the county’s zoning for the property. In April, the state’s Growth Management Hearings Board agreed that the county’s actions violated state growth and environmental laws. Those violations remain unresolved.

Woodway this week decided to seek a court order to enforce the growth board’s ruling that the county’s zoning at Point Wells is illegal, Faison said.

“We do not believe that litigation is the best solution to this problem, but we believe that we do not have any other option at this time,” he said.

Caycee Holt from Save Richmond Beach said she understands Shoreline’s desire to compromise, though she’s worried about what it means in real terms for people who already live in her northwest Shoreline neighborhood. The homeowners group, like Woodway, has no qualms with the property being developed, but wants to see a smaller-scale project.

“I get it, they’ve been presented with an urban-center-size bag of lemons, and they’re trying to make lemonade,” Holt said. “But from a community perspective, we have serious concerns about the impacts this is going to have for the community and for Puget Sound.”

In a press release, Shoreline Mayor Keith McGlashan argued that the city is the most logical provider of police, fire and other municipal services at Point Wells.

Shoreline is asking the developer to limit traffic to specific vehicle counts and levels of service, a measure that traffic engineers use to gauge road performance. The city’s proposal would prohibit the developer from adding extra phases of the project if it reaches maximum traffic levels.

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

Get involved

The city of Shoreline has scheduled a meeting to update people about Point Wells from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

City staff also plan an update during a City Council study session at 7 p.m. Sept. 6. The location is Shoreline City Hall, 17500 Midvale Ave. North.

The city is accepting written comments at council@shorelinewa. gov.

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