Fourth-generation Olympia resident and landowner Sarah Smyth McIntosh has a vision: she wants to see the now-vacant, former Delson Lumber mill site she has on the West Bay waterfront join with the adjacent and vacant former Hardel Plywood Plant site to support a $60 million commercial development that will also have public benefits—perhaps a trolley on an old rail line that already runs through the property.
While encouraged by becoming a member of a stakeholders committee that is to help determine the future of the Olympia waterfront, she feels hampered by several recent steps the City has taken that she feels counter its efforts to consider the property owners whose property is being affected. The 11-member stakeholders committee in formation is to include city, community, business, Native American and Port of Olympia representatives.
Smyth McIntosh says the first recent step by the City that she disagrees with is that it has already required parks and trails through a subarea planning process. While the plan is a laudable idea, she admits, it was done without input from area property owners, she says.
“Nothing will happen without it being marketable, economically feasible,” she points out. “They went forward with a waterfront trail. That does not speak partnership to me.”
The other step was when the City put Hardel’s requested rezone to urban waterfront on hold, even though it is consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan, says Smyth McIntosh, who is also an attorney who represents Hardel.
“They shouldn’t have allowed the trail amendment to go forward and not Hardel,” she says. “If you can’t market the property, the parks don’t get built, do they?”
Meanwhile, Smyth McIntosh plans to build Smyth Landing, an eight-unit condominium across the street from the waterfront on West Bay Drive. The $8 million project, which has been in planning since 1993, is expected to break ground by 2001. The project features a relatively new live-work concept, with four of the units being offices that also feature living quarters. The other four units will be luxury condominiums.
In the meantime, a downtown housing committee and group of city consultants say city property along Percival Landing across the Bay could best support private development. One potential site is a parking lot on the southwest corner of the Olympia Avenue and Columbia Street intersection that could be turned into a five-story condominium with retail space on the ground floor.
Prices for the new residential structures with a waterfront view could be as much as $166 per square foot, with some 1,800-square-foot units going for about $300,000, the committee says.
By Kamilla K. McClelland, Business Examiner staff