May 3rd marked the end of the 14-day appeal window regarding the Conditional Approval of the CityView private dormitory project. The neighborhood group that had been formed almost 3 years earlier worked diligently to find a solid basis for an appeal after much discussion and obtaining legal advice, however, the formidable, builder- friendly wall, also known as the Bellingham Municipal Code, stood firm. Other reasons for legal challenges might present themselves down the line so the decision of the neighborhood does not preclude groups or individuals from acting as the project progresses.
Notwithstanding the code wall, several changes from the original proposal were the result of neighborhood efforts including:
• Three buildings instead of one
• Fewer units (106 instead of 136)
• Addition of a shuttle bus to reduce car trips
• Landscaping changes
• Building design modifications
All that being said, the project still faces many hurdles. Numerous conditions have been imposed by the city and it is not altogether clear that the developer will be able to meet them all. Moreover, interest rate hikes will raise the cost of materials and construction loans at a pace we can only guess. Availability of materials through an already unstable supply chain may prove to be an obstacle that raises costs and creates delays. Labor costs and the availability of skilled construction, electric, plumbing, masonry, dry wall, and landscaping workers looms on the horizon for the foreseeable future. That the project will be phased, raises questions about the financial capacity of the developer who paid $1.8 million for the property. The possibility of a flip sale of the property cannot be ruled out. It also remains to be seen whether or not this project will attract the student renters who want to rent a bedroom in a 3-bedroom apartment unit. This ain't done yet.
And so it goes…tiddley-pom.