Marysville’s star developer search

MARYSVILLE – The city is on the lookout for developers who could build housing and retail sites on the Ebey Waterfront.

“We need to get the word out,” city Chief Administrative Officer Gloria Hirashima said Tuesday. “We think the waterfront is a great opportunity.”

The city’s goal is to stimulate private investment in quality housing and boutique retail, recreation and entertainment. The city first went looking in May, but developers were reluctant because there are no other mixed-use developments in the city.

“They were reluctant to be first,” Hirashima said. “We want somebody to be first.”

She said it’s not like other mixed-use developments haven’t been successful close by, mentioning the Everett waterfront, for instance.

Hirashima said it’s all about perception.

“People who live in town can totally picture it, but outside the audience can’t follow it so quickly,” she said.

Once some changes start taking place, maybe then the developers will come, she said, mentioning the Highway 529 ramps off Interstate 5, the First Street Bypass and the new Civic Campus.

“Downtown’s undergoing significant change the next three years,” she said.

The city owns much of the land in Phase 1 of the project, which includes where the Public Works Department and yard now sits. “We’re going to be very involved in what kind of development it is,” Hirashima said, adding it needs to offer public amenities.

Hirashima said she’s often asked why anyone would want to develop that property, as it’s so close to the wastewater treatment plant. She answers that people thought the same thing about the waterfront trail, but look how popular it is.

“People can change their perception of things once they experience it,” she said.

Phase 2 of the project includes land not owned by the city west of the railroad tracks near the Marysville Opera House.

“It’s a bigger vision than just the pieces we own,” Hirashima said, adding the city would like to see revitalization north to 4th Street.

For Phase 1

The city is requesting information about residential and retail mixed-use developers interested in the purchase of a 15-acre parcel, the lease or purchase of multiple retail parcels, and a willingness to evaluate other parcels adjacent to the waterfront. The city may request firms to submit specific proposals. The mayor and City Council have funded public improvements and structured tax incentives to stimulate growth. Phase 1 of the Ebey Waterfront project lies east of the BNSF rail corridor and involves two areas: •Approximately 15 acres on the southeast corner of Highway 529 and First Street. This phase includes a portion of the current Public Works; the 9‐acre former Crown Mill property and portions of 11 residential parcels that were acquired to complete the First Street Bypass project. •Four retail lots ranging from .1 to .25 acres surrounding Ebey Waterfront Park. The city intends to lease or sell these parcels for development of recreational, entertainment or boutique retail uses. One lot is located along the waterfront and may be ideal for a restaurant or marine-related entertainment. The development of Phase I is expected to coincide with construction of the new I-5/Highway 529 interchange and First Street Bypass. Over the past 10 years, the city has been buying property to expand its waterfront park and public access along Ebey Slough.

•$45 million from WSDOT for a new Highway 529 interchange that will connect I‐5 to State Street and the waterfront development – programmed for 2020. •$43 million for a new Civic Campus five blocks north. It will be home to City Hall, a justice center, police department and community center. Ground‐breaking is slated for this year.

•$10 million for the First Street Bypass to alleviate congestion and improve pedestrian and traffic safety

•$4 million through state grants to improve stormwater controls.

•$500,000 in planning and permitting to expand Ebey Waterfront Park.

For Phase 2

In the long term, the city also is interested in developing the area around the Opera House.

Phase 2 is: •Anchored by the 4.5‐acre city‐owned property located along the water between the BNSF corridor and I‐5. •The remainder of Phase 2 includes three city‐owned parcels that are scattered among the 30-plus parcels between Fourth Street and the water, and between I-5 and the BNSF corridor. This area includes the Opera House, and a combination of restaurants, single-family houses, abandoned industrial buildings, and underutilized commercial buildings. Approximately 25 percent of the parcels are vacant land or buildings. This area still requires improvement and planning and should be ready for private investment by 2020. The city envisions this area will redevelop as a retail district. Anchored by the Opera House and existing restaurants, Phase 2 would develop into an Opera District redevelopment. The city expects a strong demand for walkable and easily accessible retail district providing night‐life that is off the river, but still readily accessible to Phase I residents and visitors to the waterfront.

Amenities

To attract development, the city says Marysville is Snohomish County’s second‐largest city with a population of more than 67,000. Located across I‐5 from the Tulalip Tribe’s regional entertainment and specialty retail center, Marysville has attracted its own retail centers with traditional big box stores such as Costco, Target and Best Buy. Its Comprehensive Plan identifies a need to “revitalize the downtown and downtown waterfront as a key to the image and identity, tourism and recreation potential of the Marysville community.” Since 2009, the city has cleaned up former mill sites, developed a new community park, and constructed a waterfront trail connecting downtown to the Snohomish River estuary. As part of the city’s 2012 Downtown Master Plan, the Ebey Waterfront was identified as a key cultural, recreational and waterfront location with the potential to develop as a distinct residential and retail location. The city has been acquiring property and has prepared to relocate its Public Works and Community Planning offices to maximize the availability of waterfront property. The city owns 24 parcels, totaling 47 acres. For details contact Hirashima at 360-363-8088 or ghirashima@marysvillewa.gov.

In nearby Everett

In June it was reported that the Port of Everett had sold a 5.44-acre site within its Waterfront Place Central mixed-use development to SeaLevel Properties. The company plans to build the 266-unit Everett Waterfront Apartments on the land. Waterfront Place Central’s redevelopment is part of an $85 million public infrastructure investment that includes additional roads, new public spaces connecting the Pacific Rim Plaza and Splash Fountain and building new marine infrastructure at Fisherman’s Harbor. The entire project will include new trails and gathering spaces, up to 660 housing units, Hotel Indigo, restaurants and commercial space that includes retail and marine sales and services. The project is expected to support 2,000 jobs and produce $8.6 million in new state and local tax revenue.

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