Completion of 234th Street townhomes project expected in mid-July

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The 234th Street townhomes project.
The 234th Street townhomes project.

A new development of seven residential townhomes and one commercial space at 5501-234th St. S.W. in Mountlake Terrace is expected to be completed in mid-July.

The six multi-story, 2,200-square-foot townhomes in the development sold within two or three weeks, said co-developer and real estate agent Paul McLaughlin. Ground floor commercial space of 750 square feet at the project’s west end will be taken over by a hair salon; a residential flat above the commercial space is still on the market and listed at $289,900.

The development was originally planned for construction in 2007, but a slowdown in the economy and difficulty in securing financing caused McLaughlin and business partner David Blau to wait until this year to move on the project. “We were ready to sign when our bank, which is no longer in business, called up and said, ‘we are out of money,’” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin not only credited an improving economy for a revitalization of the project, but a change in attitude at Mountlake Terrace City Hall. He said the city “for years was not development friendly,” but with the recent Town Center revitalization plan in place developers are now attracted to the city.

The 234th Street townhomes development falls within the city’s Town Center district.

McLaughlin has plans for a similar townhomes project just a few lots south of the 234th Street townhomes on 55th Avenue West. A planned six-unit development may expand to 12 units if a neighboring parcel is obtained; a separate project consisting of six townhomes is planned for the current empty lot in the 23400 block of 55th Avenue West.

“People are realizing Mountlake Terrace has a lot to offer,” McLaughlin said. “It has great freeway access and there are tons and tons of parks in the city. People that had been looking into Seattle at one point are now looking north.” Comparable homes with two-car garages in Mountlake Terrace are often $100,000 less than what is available in Seattle, McLaughin explained.

— Story and photo by Doug Petrowski

1 COMMENT

  1. I have to disagree with the comment in the article that the City is not development-friendly. I might have been one of the first people to develop and build a small project after the re-zoning on 56th between 240th and 244th. It wasn’t easy but that was partly because of some of my own choices. I do recall that when I was planning a mixed-use facility – two apartments above commercial office space – the City was particularly supportive. I think at the time one of the planners told me that 28% of the residences in MLT were single-occupant residences and that there was/(is?) a need for apartments/condos to support small households. I believe the planners were supportive and helpful to the extent that City code permits them to be – I’m appreciative of the help they gave me during that phase of my project.

    Now, having said that, I do feel I need to point out that someone building on a small, former SFR lot will experience some problems, mostly financial. There is so much stuff in the requirements that it’s financially burdensome to meet them all for a small project – far less expensive on a per-square-foot basis if the costs are spread out over a larger project. My current feeling, after having knocked down one of the single-lot CMU houses and rebuilt from scratch, is that it is most cost-effective to buy a CMU house in good shape, gut it, add on to it, and to put on new roof and completely new exterior facing, as well as pay for all of the sidewalk updating, parking, and utility streetwork that the City will require, rather than to demolish it and begin with an empty lot. One can turn a 1,000 sq ft current SFR unit into about 2,000 or even 2,500 sq ft commercial space with a significantly lower $/sq ft cost. The City may not like that so much but if it wants people to develop small single lots without combining them into large lot projects (I view the Arbor Village development at the 236/56 corner as an anomaly because that many lots are unlikely to be combined again any time soon), a remodel rather than rebuild is the most likely way those will happen.

    So, yeah, it’s not all that easy to build on a small lot in MLT. But that doesn’t mean the City planners aren’t doing their best to help people out in the development process.

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