Apartment complex proposed for Rainier Street

City rezoning upper Sims Way subarea

Posted 2/27/19

A developer has submitted a pre-application for a 27-unit apartment complex on Rainier Street between 9th and 10th streets in Port Townsend, city planner Lance Bailey said.

Bill Gustavson is working with architect Kevin Coker on the complex, which would be the first new housing development in the upper Sims Way and Rainier Street subarea.

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Apartment complex proposed for Rainier Street

City rezoning upper Sims Way subarea

Posted

A developer has submitted a pre-application for a 27-unit apartment complex on Rainier Street between 9th and 10th streets in Port Townsend, city planner Lance Bailey said.

Bill Gustavson is working with architect Kevin Coker on the complex, which would be the first new housing development in the upper Sims Way and Rainier Street subarea.

The apartment complex would include commercial use as well, but the specifics have not yet been determined, Bailey said.

The city planning commission met with the city council Feb. 25 to discuss the zoning plan for the 175-acre area adjacent to upper Sims Way, Rainier Street and Discovery Road.

Since Rainier Street was completed in 2017, the planning commission has been working on determining zoning for the areas surrounding the road with input from citizen surveys, public information meetings and a local task force.

The city’s subarea plan articulates the desire for development there to serve as a “gateway” to Port Townsend. The plan aims to create an artisan village along Rainier Street and Sims Way that will include businesses such as Port Townsend Vineyards and the Mt. Townsend Creamery.  

If the city council approves the zoning plan, the area north of Discovery Road would be zoned for residential development, whereas the areas south of Discovery Road along Rainier Street and on the south side of upper Sims Way would be zoned for mixed commercial and light industrial use while allowing for residential use.

“We’re allowing mixed use, but not requiring it,” Bailey said, explaining the vision is a mixed-use area, not necessarily mixed-use buildings.

“We’re already seeing that happen,” he said. “We’ve got a winery, the creamery and now an apartment building being proposed.”

The planning commission hopes the new zoning will attract developers to build affordable workforce housing and businesses that have housing on the upper floors, similar to downtown.

“We’re creating a new district,” city council member Michelle Sandoval said. “What can we do to make sure that the legacy that we leave that Port Townsend has is thoughtful?”

Sandoval and other city council members expressed concern that one type of development would dominate over another, instead of being a true mix of commercial businesses and affordable housing.

The proposed zoning also can affect the incentive for developers to build to a certain design standard in the subarea plan, Bailey said.

“What would stop people from building one-story commercial buildings and not building a nice main street along there?” city council member David Faber asked.

It is possible that a two-story requirement could be built into the zoning codes, Bailey said.

Mayor Deborah Stinson suggested searching for ways to incentivize building multi-story businesses and housing.

Bailey said the planning commission will continue to work on incentives in the coming months as it finalizes the subarea plan. He hopes the commission will hold a public hearing in late spring.

The adoption of the plan would entail an amendment to the city’s comprehensive plan, which requires a public hearing before the planning commission, a state Environmental Protection Act review, a 60-day notice to the state Department of Commerce and another public hearing before the city council.

The possibility of an apartment complex has Bailey hopeful that the new infrastructure and zoning will lead to organic growth of the area.

“It proves what we’ve been saying and conjecturing for a long time,” Bailey said. “Why don’t we have multi-family housing? It’s because we don’t have roads and infrastructure. Well, we put in a road, and we put in infrastructure. What’s the first thing that showed up? Someone who wanted to build housing.”

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