Gateway Boulevard to Connect 236th and 244th
MLTnews recently reported that the Edmonds School district has a potential buyer for the old Evergreen Elementary property next to I-5 and south of 236th.
For those of you unfamiliar with the history of the property, the School District had an elementary school there that operated for about 40 years until closing in 2009. Access to the property was from 237th St SW which comes through a residential neighborhood. The school was demolished in 2011. The City has always viewed this property and the properties to the south as important since a through street could directly connect 236th and 244th through the Gateway Place development.
With a future light rail station planned just north of the property it is an ideal location for higher density, transit-oriented development. To the east of the property there is a single family residential neighborhood but you'll notice in the picture above that a forested steep slope provides a natural buffer. That portion of the property is likely not able to be developed and will provide a buffer between the single family residential neighborhood and what will likely be taller buildings.
The City has adopted similar design standards as the Town Center neighborhood in hopes that development on the property would result in a walkable, compact, mixed-use neighborhood. The design standards cover the Freeway/Tourist zone, which includes the undeveloped parcels, the existing Gateway Place development and some properties on the north side of 244th St SW.
The preliminary design of the future Gateway Boulevard has been funded by the City with a low-interest loan from the state Public Works Trust Fund. The street is being designed along with the Main St. Project (56th Ave W.) and the preliminary design should be complete around March 2014. The School District is involved in the design process and has said that they have a potential buyer lined up under the assumption that the road will be built.
So who pays for the road? The answer is that we don't quite know yet. There are several different scenarios where a city road might be built. In many cases undeveloped property is developed and the roads are designed by the developer's engineer to city design standards. The developer pays for the road to be constructed and when the project is complete, turns over ownership of the right-of-way to the city. This would be primarily smaller infill development projects where the addition of the road has little value to the city other than serving the new development.
In other cases the city might own or acquire the right-of-way and pay for the design and construction of the road. It sounds like Gateway Boulevard may be somewhat a combination of the two. While the City has paid for the preliminary design of the road, the present or future property owners will likely have to chip in at some point. The City does intent to apply for state grants which should help cover some of the costs.
The majority of the new street will be on two properties: the School District Property and another smaller parcel that is currently for sale for $3.7 million. The City will need to acquire the existing street in Gateway Place that connects to 244th St SW. The 6 different property owners who have some ownership of the existing street will likely be eager to hand over the property to the City as development and the connection to 236th would have significant economic benefits to the businesses in Gateway Place.
For more reading, view the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Freeway/Tourist District here [pdf].