Olympia committee reviews multifamily proposal plan on Henderson Park Lane


Olympia Site Plan Review Committee held a presubmission conference on a proposal to develop 36 multifamily units on Henderson Park Lot 4 at 2102 Henderson Park Lane SE that is part of a Binding Site Plan (BSP) specific for a commercial development.

Project applicant Glenn Wells noted that the site was the last vacant lot along Henderson Park Lane, where the first two lots had been developed as hotel buildings.

The architect mentioned that the developers had explored various uses for the site, but retail or office options would not be viable because of the size and location. Instead, the team was proposing a 36-unit multifamily residential building, as there was a need for more housing in the area close to downtown.

"We need residential downtown. The only caveat is that it was not anticipated as part of the binding site plan. So, we are looking at modifying the binding site plan to include a residential building on lot 4," Wells told the review committee.

In the narrative, the applicant stated they plan to build four-story residential units and 42 parking stalls on the site. The applicant expressed his interest in discussing the BSP modification process.

Wells noted the small site size, with a 25-foot steep slope buffer along the southeast edge of the property. The design proposed minimally encroaching into the 25-foot setback area. "We believe our Geotech report would show stable soils, and it would allow this encroachment."

BSP modification

Olympia associate planner Lydia Moorehead outlined the process needed to modify the Binding Site Plan (BSP) for the site not designated for multifamily. She advised the applicant that they need a surveyor to prepare a revised BSP that changes the note specifying the allowed use.

This revised BSP would then go through the final BSP approval process, which is an administrative review. Moorehead added that the city owns two of the tracks in the BSP. The city council would need to pass a resolution authorizing the city manager to sign the BSP amendment.

Moorehead explained that the site is zoned as Commercial Services - High-Density District (CS-H), which allows multifamily uses such as apartments.

She added that the city would use Residential Multifamily - High Rise (RMH) district regulations for the multifamily proposal. The standards include meeting the requirements, such as ensuring that setbacks are satisfied - 10-foot front setback, 20-foot rear setback, and 10-foot street side setback. For interior portions of the lot, a five-foot setback applies.

The associate planner asked the developers to include calculations demonstrating compliance with the maximum allowed building coverage of 85% of the site. The site plan should also show the open space designated. Moorehead noted that the code requires 10% of the site to be set aside as open space.

In reviewing the site plan, Moorehead pointed out that some parking stalls appeared to encroach into the buffer area along the toe of the slope.

She suggested working with the geotechnical report to reduce the buffer width if the soil allowed or pursuing a hearing to justify needed encroachments.

Wells responded that with such a narrow site, shifting the building further from the buffer line would leave no room for parking.

She also mentioned that parking is not allowed in buffers, so the applicant should shift the parking stalls shown partially within the buffer either outside the buffer area entirely or go through a hearing examiner process to justify why parking is needed there.


Moorehead confirmed that plans showed parking lot islands but wanted to confirm if they meet the size requirements of 144 square feet and 12 feet wide, with each island containing a tree, shrub, and ground cover.

When discussing parking requirements, Moorehead informed the applicant of the city's updated standards that allow multifamily developments to provide between half a parking stall and one and a half stalls per dwelling unit. For the proposed 36-unit building, this equates to a range of 18 to 54 parking spaces.

She noted that the plans currently showed 42 parking spaces, giving some flexibility to reduce the amount provided on-site.

EV charging requirements

Deputy Building Official Jeff Finch discussed the new electric vehicle charging standards. He explained that 10% of parking spaces must have operational EV chargers installed, 25% need to be "EV capable" with raceways and capped wiring in place, and 65% must be "EV ready" with underground conduit installed.

He noted that the electrical room and service must be sized to accommodate 100% of spaces wired for EV charging in the future.

"That's a new change and something that's going to have to be in your design and your site plan, clearly showing where the infrastructure is going and how you're going to achieve that," Finch told Wells, who assured him they have strategies for EV requirements.


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  • BobJacobs

    I have to wonder about development regulations and their enforcement. It is so common for developments to be allowed to deviate from these regulations in order to build larger developments. Why? If the regulations are reasonable, enforce them; developers can build less expansive projects. And if the regulations are not reasonable, then change them to allow for larger developments.

    As it stands, it looks like our local governments are bending over backward to give special deals to developers. This reduces the public's confidence in our government officials.

    Bob Jacobs

    Friday, November 3, 2023 Report this

  • Southsoundguy

    Abolish zoning and democratic control of land.

    Monday, November 6, 2023 Report this

  • Yeti1981

    Washington (especially Thurston County) is quite possibly the most difficult place to build housing. Builders must overcome an extreme amount of obstacles to get a project off the ground. At the same time, we are in an extreme housing crisis. I agree with Bob, if regulations are reasonable (for safety, etc,) then enforce them. On the other hand, if they are unreasonable, get rid of them. If you need help figuring out what is possible, ask someone in the industry. No, developers can't just build less expensive projects. That isn't how it works when as much as 23% of a project is development costs alone. Builders, especially the hundreds of small local folks we have here, deserve to get paid for their skilled labor. That means they must take on projects that pencil. You can't force a project to pencil, unless you don't plan to pay the working people who dedicated their time, labor, and skills.

    Monday, November 13, 2023 Report this