The Lynnwood City Council at its Dec. 2 work session reviewed the final details of the draft development agreement between the city and the retail real estate investor firm looking to redevelop Lynnwood Square.
At the meeting, the council was briefed on the final draft of the development agreement between the city and the San Diego-based Merlone Geier Partners for Northline Village. The proposed mixed-use development on the 19.1-acre site would include multi-family housing, retail, professional office and entertainment spaces, located near 44th Avenue West, 200th Street Southwest and 196th Street Southwest. The project also proposes extending 198th Street Southwest and adding a new east-to-west street through the development.
The Dec. 2 meeting was the third in a series of pre-hearing briefing before the public hearing scheduled for Dec. 9.
During the meeting, Economic Development Director David Kleitsch presented amendments to the proposed agreement that were previously brought up at the council’s July 15 meeting. Among the concerns was the term length of the agreement, which was reduced from 25 years to 15 year, with the chance to extend the agreement 10 additional years based on the project development. An example of a need for this extension would be if Merlone Geier completed any of the development’s park or public space aspects.
The term assumes five years before the arrival of the Sound Transit light rail extension and 10 years for what Kleitsch called “absorption.”
“When you have this amount of square footage, it takes a while to absorb that space,” Kleitsch said.
Other highlighted changes to the proposed development agreement include wider sidewalks on 44th Avenue West and more shrubbery to shield future parking garages from view on 44th Avenue West. Additionally, Merlone Geier will be providing a pavilion in the development’s public space.
Other changes to the draft agreement included additional language that gives the developer the option to take advantage of multi-family tax exemptions (MFTE) in order to include affordable housing. In addition to being part of the city’s regional growth center, Northline Village sits in Lynnwood’s opportunity zone — a federal government-approved, IRS program that is established by census tracking to find low-income areas.
However, with the lack of language in the agreement regarding affordable housing requirements, Councilmember George Hurst said he was concerned that future developments would not include any in an area that low-income residents would benefit from.
“My concern is right now we’re looking at market-rate housing,” he said. “But is that going to serve the population?”
According to the current proposal, future housing at Northline Village would be market rate and Kleitsch said that developers are currently under no obligation to include affordable housing units. He also pointed out that the city is currently working on developing a housing action plan with Snohomish County to set city guidelines for affordable housing. The city is also developing on a South Lynnwood Neighborhood Plan to address other opportunity zones in the city.
Additionally, Klietsch said the proposed agreement is a concept plan for the site, not what the proposed buildings would be used for. However, he added that the development could be exempt from the rules of future city policies regarding housing.
Other questions from the council included clarification on the proposed development’s grid street pattern, which are expected to improve access to the area, and gateway designs, which include adding more design elements through with signage and landscaping.
Following the Dec. 9 public hearing, the council is scheduled to vote on whether to approve the proposed development agreement. However, some city officials are worried that timeline is too soon to make a decision on such a large development.
“I find it hard to believe that we can vote on an ordinance right on the same night as a public hearing on such a complicated and important development,” Hurst said.
In other business, the council reviewed proposed amendments to the city’s fee schedule. According to the draft ordinance presented by the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Director Lynn Sordel, city staff is recommending removing a bicycle registration fee that is now considered obsolete.
Other proposed amendments include updating fees for recreation events, like renting the covered shelter at Lynndale Park for full day rental for Lynnwood residents from $148 for 51-100 people to $162 per rental, and $170 to $186 peer rental for non-residents. Additionally, city staff are also recommending that the full-day per hour fee to rent the Lynndale Amphitheater be increased from $40 to $50 per hour to $68 to $78 range hourly.
“We have very good data of what it costs us to take care of these rentals with the garbage removal, bathroom cleaning, etc.,” Sordel said.
City staff also suggest that the golf course green fee for non-profit tournaments be reinstated to include a $25 to $30 per person fee, Sordel said.
–Story by Cody Sexton