Madrona Bay Real Estate Investments of Bellingham submitted a full development package to the city on July 19th for a 136 unit, 408-bed dormitory type apartment building called CityView at the NE corner of Consolidation Ave and Nevada St. An artist rendering of the building appears above. A neighborhood meeting on the project took place on July 8th as described in my article CityView Pre-Application Neighborhood Meeting - Some Hot Moments.
This begins the formal permitting process which will likely require a hearing before the hearing examiner to resolve a height variance. Other issues with respect to the permitting process would then be decided by the planning director. However, the developer may request that the hearing examiner review the entire development proposal, in which case any hearing would be open to comments on all aspects of the permit application. The application six years ago to develop a four-building dormitory style complex on the site was also referred to the hearing examiner in its entirety upon the request of the developer, Ambling University Development of Valdosta, Georgia. The hearing examiner’s decision in that case essentially put an end to the project as the developer decided the permitting requirements were too onerous.
Many of the same problems of the Ambling plan exist with the new development plan. Issues related to traffic, noise, density, storm water runoff, groundwater infiltration, building height, habitat destruction/corridor disruption and critical area encroachment all speak to the inappropriateness of a 408-person dormitory surrounded by single family homes.
Unfortunately, Madrona Bay Real Estate Investments, solely represented by its owner, Morgan Bartlett, continues to be coy in its representation of the complex as multi-family housing. The presence of 136 apartments in which each apartment contains 3 bedrooms, each having its own bathroom, is not the normal configuration for an apartment of that size marketed to families. Although a family could rent one of these units, the rental rate, likely around $2,100 per month, is prohibitive. Ostensibly the claim could also be made that three young workers or three senior citizens might join forces to rent such units at $700 per month each but I will not hold my breath until that takes place.
Meanwhile, the residents of the Puget Neighborhood and adjacent Samish Neighborhood have organized around a core group that opposed the attempt of Ambling to build its enormous dorm complex at the same site. The substantial war chest of monies collected to assist the opposition to the Ambling project still exists; legal assistance in defeating that earlier project was anticipated but never necessary.
Those who wish to stand in solidarity with the Puget and Samish Neighborhoods can sign the community letter to Mayor Linville. Proceed to this link to view the letter and sign in support.