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Another Attempt To Develop the Hawley Tract In the Puget Neighborhood

By On
• In Bellingham,

Yet another large, multi-family housing project, called CityView, is in the initial planning stages for the approximately 11 acres located at the corner of Nevada St. and Consolidation Ave (generally in the area behind and to the east of Whole Foods, the mobile home park & the Lincoln Park’n’Ride and between Nevada and Puget Sts.) This is the third attempt for developers to build on what was the old Hawley Tract in the Puget Neighborhood. [Note: the property is still owned by the Hawley Trust] Initial attempts in 2013 by Ambling University Development Group of Valdosta, GA and a few years later by Amcal a similar private student dormitory housing group from California were not successful. Ambling pulled out after an unfavorable Hearing Examiner decision and Amcal never pursued its development plans after a few contacts with the Bellingham Planning Department. The permits issued to Ambling have since expired so any new development must undergo a complete process.

This third round is being managed by Madrona Bay Real Estate Investments, a local firm run by Morgan Bartlett, Jr., that is already quite active in the Bakerview/I-5 area. One major Madrona Bay project is CityScape, an apartment complex of 426 units that has not yet been built. The website indicates that the company has about 6 other small apartment buildings that are ostensibly now in operation.

The announcement of the neighborhood meeting on July 8th, indicates that the planned multi-family development, consisting of one building, will have 136 units with 408 beds and 395 parking spaces, one parking space per occupant for all intents and purposes. Compare that with the highly contested (by the Puget and Samish Neighborhoods) University Ridge student dorm project that was to have 164 units with 576 beds and 420 parking spaces or one space for each 1.4 beds. As you can imagine, parking was a major issue for the surrounding neighborhood of mostly single family homes.

Of course, this is the initial required neighborhood meeting which, it appears, will actually be run by the developer. Most of these pre-application meetings that I have attended are run by consultants to the company or, worse yet, by their attorneys whose favorite dodge to questions is to profess ignorance. “I will take that question back to the management,” meaning “I was sent here to get information and not give it out.” We shall see.

As I write this, I am still awaiting a return call from the developer. The architectural image above shows the one building with 136 three bedroom apartments. There are areas of the parcel that cannot be developed because of environmental regulations. Since the project lists the number of beds, it may be, yet again, a private student dorm project with rental rates at market. I have spoken to the Planning Department and will be receiving additional related documents that may or may not be available prior to the 8 July meeting.

More (much more) to come.

[ Note: This article was modified on July 3rd to include the documents submitted by the developer of CityView. See documents below.]

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About Dick Conoboy

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Dick Conoboy is a recovering civilian federal worker and military officer who was offered and accepted an all-expense paid, one year trip to Vietnam in 1968. He is a former Army [...]

Comments by Readers

Dianne Foster

Jul 08, 2019

Does anyone know what the students are charged at these private “student housing” developments?   Are they reasonable rents for students who often have to choose between paying tuition and buying food?    Privatization has sucked our public sector dry,  both the result and cause of monopoly capital.      A state public bank might be useful in underwriting such public investments in future…

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Dick Conoboy

Jul 08, 2019

Dianne,

To answer you question I went to the website of NXNW the student housing built next to Fred Meyer on Lincoln St.  To my surprise I was redirected to a site named Lark Bellingham.  Not sure if the place has been sold to a new investor or that the managment wanted to refresh the name. And yes a state public bank would allow for great savings on building dormitories, schools, roads, bridges and other infrastructure of the commons.

The rents are by bedroom.

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Dianne Foster

Jul 08, 2019

Thanks.   I believe you can check the current owner through submitting the address to the assessor’s office.  

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