Corner of Elwood and Lincoln Soon to Be a Wee Tad Crowded

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• Topics: Bellingham,

As part of the pre-application process (Type II Process), Arbour North Architects hosted a public meeting for Samish residents, held on May 12th by way of a video conference call. Presenters were Brian Gass of One Real Estate, Inc and Jed Clark, architect at Arbour North. They revealed a proposed mixed-use, commercial/residential apartment complex called Elwood Edge. The 109 unit complex is to be built on the NE corner of Elwood and Lincoln, at the Samish Way/I-5 overpass. The street address is 3805 Elwood. The proposal, as pictured above, calls for a variety of apartments in the following configuration:

50 Studio units

23 One-Bedroom units

27 Two-Bedroom units

9 Townhouses with 3-4 Three-Bedroom units each.

Given the number of bedrooms overall, we can expect a minimum of 154 residents, assuming one person per apartment bedroom, and three tenants in each of the nine, three-bedroom townhouses. Overall occupancy could rise to 186 if the one-bedroom units are occupied by a couple, and the town homes are built with four bedrooms. Possible combinations abound. Regardless, only 130 underground parking spaces are planned for tenant use. According to the architect, the city only requires 124 parking spaces under the current plan.

Commercial parking would be available on the private road to the east of the apartments, but a specific number of these spaces was not offered. My visit to the site revealed a right-of-way with an extremely limited number of possible on-road parking spaces. At present, there is no on-street parking at all on Elwood or Lincoln to the south or west, and the large, already established apartment complex to the north essentially eliminates any parking on the north side of the proposed complex. Further, there appears to be no plan for overflow parking for guests on the premises, and with on-street parking being non-existent, any high traffic commercial activity will be excluded as a matter of practicality. Do we detect a problem here?

Site plan
Site plan

Further to the east of the proposed Elwood Edge apartments, (see site plan at left), is a commercial storage building sharing a parcel with an apartment complex that is now under construction, having been approved on January 23rd, 2020. The complex consists of one building (Bldg 2) with commercial storage facilities and two other buildings with apartment units. Building 1 is to have 8 studio apartments, 28 one-bedroom units, and 26 two bedroom units, while Building 3 is to have 12, two-bedroom units. There will be 74 units total, with a possible occupancy of between 112, with one tenant per bedroom, and 140, depending on the number of couples occupying one-bedroom units. Only 106 parking spaces were written into the city’s consolidated permit (see below) for this parcel at 3815 Elwood.

Since these two projects by the same developer were initially introduced two years apart, June 2018 and May 2020, it was not clear to the neighborhood the full extent of the two combined residential complexes in size and impact. If the second part of this project is approved as planned, the NE corner of Elwood and Lincoln will have between 266 and 326 residents with a total of 236 parking spaces.

There is no indication at the moment that the bedrooms in these two complexes will be rented separately as in the proposed CityView dormitory apartments proposed for the corner of Consolidation and Nevada a short distance away. Questions about the 3815 Elwood complex becoming a private dormitory compound were raised during the pre-application neighborhood meeting in June, 2018. A city planner present opined that these would be high-end units attractive to commuters from Seattle. This remark was greeted with a heavy level of skepticism.

At the recent pre-application meeting, a resident asked who was tracking the cumulative effects of traffic flows from these two projects AND the nearby CityView project. The answer was the equivalent of a collective shoulder shrug on the part of the city staff present. This needs to be planned for, executed, and solved before we are flooded with the autos from these three projects that may have a cumulative number of tenants that exceeds 600.

[Note: If the online pre-application meeting for the project at 3805 Elwood is any indicator, the city needs to step in with some minimum guidance to developers on setting up these kinds of meetings. This particular meeting was set up as a Webinar within Zoom and as a consequence, there was no way to tell who was at the meeting, especially the attendees from the neighborhood. Video of the neighborhood “guests” at the meeting was unavailable. No attendee list existed even as a sidebar. Only presenters and city staff had video coverage when the purpose of the meeting was to get reaction from the neighbors. Granted those who arranged this meeting were novices who apologized for the problems, however, all the more reason for the city to draw up some basic guidance so that meetings replicate, as much as possible, ones that were the norm before the ban on gatherings.]

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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

Michael Chiavario

May 16, 2020

Committee is currently forming to push for refunding the Transportation Benefit District (TBD) iwth the .1% sales tax that it has had for the last 10years. We need to support that and support adequate bus service from this site.

We also need to push for partnerships with local non-profits to ensure that a high percentage of the units are permanently affordable. Every we permit unnaffordable housing construction we move backwards from fulfilling the need of 50% of Bellingham residents to be relieved from being cost burdened for their housing costs.

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Dick Conoboy

May 18, 2020

Readers,

I have exchanged several emails with Sen Doug Erickson who contacted me after reading the above article.  Here is what he had to say to me after I asked him for a comment to post here.  

“Saw latest article from Dick. Infill is killing Bellingham. I applaud him for his article on the massive densification of Bellingham and the harmful impacts that come with it. We need to work together to create the communities that we want to live in.”  

 

 

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