Olympia Site Plan Committee reviews two downtown residential presubmissions


The Olympia Site Plan Committee on Wednesday, May 25, conducted presubmission hearings for two potential downtown housing development projects.

221 Fifth Avenue SW: Apartments

Architect Jeff Walls of Studio 19 Architects said the new construction would include six-story apartments, a lobby, and amenities.

He added the project would have 130 apartment units and 160 parking stalls in the garage. Units will consist of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. The total project area will be 158,745 square feet. The building above is proposed to be a C-shape with a central courtyard facing Water Street.

Walls said one of their focuses is to get a one-to-one parking ratio and wanted to get the city’s if this aspect of their plan is within the code requirement.

Olympia planner Casey Schaufler reminded the applicant that the surrounding 5th Avenue, Columbia and Water Streets are all for pedestrian use and that Olympia’s design review standards require maintaining those streets as pedestrian-friendly.

“The parking structure is not necessarily prohibited but it is not meeting the intent and purpose of those streets,” he said.

“For more pedestrian usable, you cannot have ground-floor residential units. It would indicate more for commercial space,” Schaufler added.

625 Water Street: Condominiums

The Site Planning commission also considered a second project, a smaller six-story building.

Walls described what would be a 30-unit condominium including parking at the ground level for residents.

Olympia associate planner Jackson Ewing said the site might be determined to be located in an “urban waterfront” zone.  “The fact that it is downtown, it would require to go through the standard Land Use review process,” Ewing said.

Ewing also pointed out that if any portion of the project site is in shoreline jurisdiction, it would trigger another review under the shoreline master program and would require a shoreline substantial development permit. “Shoreline jurisdiction would have a height limit of 35 feet instead of 65 as allowed by the zoning code.”

Historic preservation

Marygrace Goddu, Olympia’s Historic Preservation Officer, told the developer that the site for both projects has a long history, noting that Native Americans were active along the shoreline before the 1900s.

The 1920-1945 Sanborn map also indicated construction improvements in those locations.

Goddu suggested that early consultation with interested Native American tribes will be essential for any proposed development at this site.

“Given the proximity to known and documented archeological and historic resources and the high risk of disturbing in-ground cultural resources, it is strongly recommended to be in touch with the tribes,” said Goddu.

“The critical line that brings all of this to bear your project in that code is that cultural resource protection will be given substantial weight in decisions on land use approval, and subsequent permit issuance,” she added.


3 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • psterry

    Why would you think that high cost regulations would create low cost, affordable housing?

    Friday, May 27 Report this

  • Miller19

    Perfect example of useless bureaucracy.

    Sunday, May 29 Report this

  • JulesJames

    I can't know if personal transportation 50 years from now will be fueled by electricity or orange peels. I do know a 1:1 parking ratio means each unit can be affordable. Units without parking might be cheaper in rent, but far more costly in lifestyle restrictions. If a tenant doesn't have personal transportation, their designated parking space has market value they should realize.

    Tuesday, May 31 Report this