19 Years Since MLT Burned, Finally a Brighter Future in Site

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19 years ago this week, Mountlake Terrace residents were in fear of yet another fire. On August 6, 1990, the East Plaza (current location of Elite Gymnastics) was destroyed by a fire. Five days later, the West Plaza (Double D Meats, Prime Pizza, etc.) was severely damaged by another fire. Two weeks later, another fire destroyed a home in Mountlake Terrace, nearly killing the elderly woman who lived there. In the next 9 months there would be 13 more fires in Mountlake Terrace.

About a year later, James Arthur Schmitt, a MLT resident, was sentenced to 20 years for starting the fires.

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These fires were the nail in the coffin for Mountlake Terrace as an economic center

With heavy development in the Alderwood area in the 70’s, Mountlake Terrace was already struggling economically because of the close proximity to the major shopping center to the north. The neighborhood that at one time was bustling with small businesses, had been reduced to only a few. As anyone who is reading this probably knows, Mountlake Terrace has never fully recovered.

A brighter future in site

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If you are a Mountlake Terrace resident, you will soon find in your mailbox the August issue of “City Happenings” [pdf], the city’s monthly newsletter. There is an article titled “Building Momentum” that talks about the many infrastructure projects that are happening currently and private development projects that are in process. The city has a vision of the Town Center neighborhood being a bustling business, civic and cultural center once again.

Town Center zoning has been changed to allow buildings up to 6 stories in some places to make private development in Mountlake Terrace more appealing to developers. There are preliminary plans for a new civic center that will be an anchor in the neighborhood. Availability of funds and the bad economy has slowed development plans but there are still many projects underway. You can count on MLTnews to keep you up to date with the status of construction projects in the city.

It’s taken many years but Mountlake Terrace is once again a city that people are looking at to live in and do business in. We will never be able to compete with Alderwood for many businesses, but then again we don’t want a Best Buy in  the middle of our downtown area. Seattle Magazine has even rated Mountlake Terrace as one of the best neighborhoods in the Seattle area due to the affordability, low commute times and many parks.

From the City’s newsletter:

“Envision a place for you and your family to enjoy shopping, eating out, easy access to transit, with city services and parks to visit within a short walk, bike or bus ride from your home.

This vision is coming true.”

Mountlake Terrace 1990 Fire info:

11 COMMENTS

  1. I heard that the old city council was pretty much opposed to change. Only recently has the tide started to turn. Also, there was a lot of opposition in the community to change land-use laws.Eventually, things will turn around…although no one wants it really busy with lots of cars?

  2. Yeah, I heard the only city council was pretty split on the future of MLT. Personally, as someone who lives in the Town Center neighborhood and only a block or two from the business core, I'm very excited about the zoning changes and would love to have more businesses to walk to.If you're interested in reading about how the increased growth may affect traffic and how the City plans on dealing with it, I'd encourage you to read the Transportation Master Plan [pdf]

  3. I heard that the old city council was pretty much opposed to change. Only recently has the tide started to turn. Also, there was a lot of opposition in the community to change land-use laws.rnrnEventually, things will turn around…although no one wants it really busy with lots of cars?

    • Yeah, I heard the only city council was pretty split on the future of MLT. Personally, as someone who lives in the Town Center neighborhood and only a block or two from the business core, I’m very excited about the zoning changes and would love to have more businesses to walk to.rnrnIf you’re interested in reading about how the increased growth may affect traffic and how the City plans on dealing with it, I’d encourage you to read the Transportation Master Plan [pdf]rn

      • I pretty much read the comprehensive plan stuff when it was going before the council and the public was giving their two cents. There were a few citizens who were afraid of change and wanted things to stay the way they were. It seems since the plan was passed, they have disappeared. Maybe not. Just not all that involved since the plan was passed.

  4. I pretty much read the comprehensive plan stuff when it was going before the council and the public was giving their two cents. There were a few citizens who were afraid of change and wanted things to stay the way they were. It seems since the plan was passed, they have disappeared. Maybe not. Just not all that involved since the plan was passed.

  5. I pretty much read the comprehensive plan stuff when it was going before the council and the public was giving their two cents. There were a few citizens who were afraid of change and wanted things to stay the way they were. It seems since the plan was passed, they have disappeared. Maybe not. Just not all that involved since the plan was passed.

  6. I moved to MLT in 1995; it was the only place in which I could afford to buy a home. I’ve been encouraged by the recent changes and improvements, and expect to see it continue to “re-bloom” and even prosper.

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